Wednesday, March 27, 2013

In The Spring Of His Presence

Spring is about rebirth and new life for all of God’s creation. It is about growth and the restoration of abundance. This is what God encouraged me to review when His presence paid me a visit. He wanted to open my eyes and deepen my understanding of importance of the death and resurrection of my Savior, Jesus Christ.

I had finished interceding for the Easter Service, when I felt impressed to take a closer look at a large wooden cross laying on the stage. As I knelt down and felt the grain of the wood, God spoke to my heart.

“Lie down on the cross,” He said, “because there is something I want to show you.

At first, I felt unworthy. No Lord! Then, I thought what if someone sees me and how would that look?

God was patient with my objections but He continued to press me to trust Him. Ultimately, I willingly laid down on the cross and positioned myself as Jesus would have been. First, I placed my feet and then stretched out my arms across the horizontal post. When I indicated that I was ready, God quickly responded with,

“Ok…close your eyes and follow Me.”

I had seen the movie The Passion so God used that frame of reference to flash one still slide after another across the screen of my mind. The vivid images progressed from the trial, to the beatings, down the path lined with angry hecklers, and then up the hill where the nails were hammered into his hands and feet. I saw Jesus being lifted up and then I heard the sound of the cross hitting the bottom of the hole. God finished with the final scenes of the crucifixion and Jesus’ death. 

For a couple of minutes afterwards, I couldn’t move. The tears kept coming. I tried to sit up but God kept drawing me back down. I felt totally exposed. When I could not stand lying there any longer, I turned over to embraced the cross like a child crying out for comfort and security. I sensed God’s strong arms rapping around me. It was then that I experienced an overwhelming sense of love, appreciation, and gratitude towards Christ for all He had suffered to give me the salvation I enjoy today.

What was the Purpose for His Presence that day? To give me an experience that would so inspire my soul that I would be catapulted into a fearless proclamation of the cross to all those God would inspire me to reach.

Then He asked,

"Will you be willing to serve Me even more in the days to come?” 

I responded,

“Yes Sir. You can count on me.” 

Does your proclaiming of the Good News need a jolt? If so, allow the God to renew your strength and catapult you into a fearless proclaimation of the Gospel of Salvation. Time is short. We need to focus in on those God sends our way. As Christians, there is really no greater joy then when we have helped another find Christ.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

A Rock, A Lake, and A Camper

South Mountain Christian Camp is a wonderful place for children of all ages to come experience camp life and also hear the gospel of Jesus Christ. Read one of the heart warming stories from executive director, Steve Collins's blog.

The Lake at SMCC
The sunlight warmed his skin and reflected off a thousand ripples in the surface of the lake as Jeffrey listened to the words of his Cabin Director. It was Wednesday morning cabin devotions. A full day of camp lay before them, but right now Jeffrey’s mind was on the past. He gazed at the rock in his hand and recalled what his Cabin Director had said moments earlier: “I want you to imagine that all the things that have caused pain in your life—all the things that burden your mind—are in that rock.” 

Salvation and Baptism
Jeffrey had a lot of pain to fit into that rock. In his mind he could still hear the sound of his drunken father beating on the door late at night while his mother warned him and his siblings to not open the door, no matter what. Those memories blurred into the sharper image of his father’s death which he had witnessed first hand, and Jeffrey cringed. Before the tears could form in his eyes, he shifted his thoughts to the dog his father had left them—the only good thing his father had left them. But memories of coming home from school one day to find the dog that he loved mauled to death soon followed. That’s a lot of pain. Could it even fit into such a small rock?

Trust and the High Ropes
“Now,” the Cabin Director spoke again as each camper looked up from the rock in his own hand, “if you believe that God wants to take away your pain, and you’re willing to give your burdens to Him, I want you to throw your rock into the lake.”

Jeffrey’s entire cabin stood at the same time, but Jeffrey barely noticed the others. He took one good look at the sparkling surface of the lake and gripped the rock tightly. He needed this. He was ready for this. With all the strength his 14-year old arm could muster, he chucked the rock high and long. A full two seconds later, it crashed into the water, never to be seen again.

But it didn’t even take that long for the peace to come. As soon as the rock left his hand, Jeffrey felt it. The burden was lifted. Relief flooded his mind, and Jeffrey found rest for his soul.

“The whole rest of that day, I couldn’t stop smiling,” he later told me. “I just felt like God was telling me that everything was going to be okay.”

I challenge you to get involved with the children in your area by offering to volunteer, by giving money towards scholarships or whatever else you feel you can do to support the next generation of believers.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Come...Fill my cup Lord

While exercising this week, I found a purple Play-doh container lying beside the sidewalk. Immediately, I picked it up because it reminded of a purple Play-doh teacup I had made at my Life group meeting. Our task had been to sculpt something about our Christian life. I had been going through a season of transition and was asking the Lord to fill my cup for the days ahead.

As I placed the Play-doh container on the shelf next to the sculpted cup, I sensed the Lord forming two questions for me to consider.

First God asked…

Is your cup empty? 

What does it mean to have an empty cup? An empty cup means I have come to the point in my life where I am draining out self…my self-reliance, ambitions, opinions, speculations, and fears of the future. I have realized I can do nothing without Christ. (John 15:5)

In other words, it is only when I have come to the end of myself that I am ready to receive the infilling of what Christ has to offer. There will not be room for both mindsets. If I try to acknowledge both, then I will become double minded and unstable in all my ways. (James 1:8). Plus, the scriptures clearly state:  I cannot serve two masters (self-centeredness and God). (Matthew 6:24)

Second God asked…

What do you want Me to fill your cup with?

Hummm…Do I want peace, wisdom, joy or humility? Actually, the Lord was asking me what was I willing to work towards in my daily life experiences? The Lord wanted my input but he also wanted my cooperation with His leadership. Each of the qualities I ask the Lord to fill me with will come with a price and a determination to overcome.

As I think about God filling me up, I can’t help but get excited about the possibilities of being more Christ-like. And yet, I am sober-minded about the effort and perseverance it will take to receive all He has to offer. I already know I will need to constantly remind myself throughout of this one thing. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Phil. 4:13) At the same time, I will also be reminding myself that it is God’s good pleasure to give me the kingdom. (Luke 12:32) Developing more of the Lord’s character within will surely give me that overflowing cup I have asked for in the days ahead.

Are you ready to allow the Lord to fill your cup to overflowing? The Lord will not force you to do anything but He does wait for your heart to become open and teachable. You may tell yourself change is impossible. However, I have served the Lord long enough to know that you and your circumstances are not impossible. Therefore, I encourage you to begin your journey today by sending your cupped hands upward and saying:

Come…fill my cup Lord.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Orange Wax Anointing

This week is the first anniversary of Joy in the Morning. Starting this blog was the beginning of what God is calling me to do with my life. 

My prayer has been that each post will inspire the readers to walk with the Lord in wisdom, knowledge and understanding. 

My goal was and is to touch as many lives as possible. Thanks to all who have read and supported me through this start up season. I have appreciated all those who have taken the time to let me know the posts had blessed them.

To celebrate, here was my first post (revised…lol)!

Hark! Was this a sign before I go to the Boot Camp Conference? As I talked on the phone with one of my writer buddies, I was also busy cleaning off my desk. You know the multitasking thing. Well, when I moved the lighted ‘Christ candle’ I keep on my desk, the candle fell over and orange wax went all over my hands, my computer, and my tablet of writing ideas. The wax was hot and sticky, but all I could think about was having to clean up another mess.

Then, the Holy Spirit invaded my thoughts to illuminate the situation. I began to see another reason for the mess. Was the wax pouring out the Lord’s way of anointing and sealing me to write for Him? It WAS the Christ candle I burn daily and the wax fell mainly on my hands, my writing ideas and my laptop.

The candle wax was orange. Oh how fitting. Orange is the color associated with passion and fire. Passion and fire are what I had asked the Lord for as I went into the weekend of learning. Do I feel a little overwhelmed at the task ahead? Yes. However, God’s passion inside of me will catapult me towards my goal of writing for Him alone. The fire is what He may need to put under me at times when I get too comfortable with where I am at in the moment.

Attending Writers ADVANCE Boot Camp 2012 was like a coming out of the shadows. I wanted to learn how to use my hands more effectively to war through my writings. I have struggled to see myself as a writer and that God had truly chosen me to be His “scribble.” (Scribe) (Typos are funny and sometimes revealing as well.) Years ago, scribbling is where I began. And now, after the conference has ended, there is a fresh purpose and excitement filling my soul. I am courageously stepping up and calling out, “Yes Lord, send me.”

What is your unfulfilled passion? Is there something you have not stepped out on because you were afraid? Developing a passion may be scary and it will come with a cost. However, God will be there every step of the way as you search out His leadings. Blessings on each of your passionate journeys.

Lord…Thanks for your inspirations. Without Your guidance and anointing my words would be to no avail. Teach me how to war with my hands so that I can touch the lives you intend for me to touch. And Lord…Give me the courage and strength to see the task through. AMEN!