Devotion, Fasting, Personal Growth, Uncategorized

Day 21: “Keep Going.”

come-like-rainTo paraphrase the Apostle Paul in Philippians, “[You’ve] got your eye on the goal, where God is beckoning [you] onward – to Jesus. [You’re] off and running, not turning back.” The 21 Day fast is coming to an end, but you will continue to benefit from a vibrant relationship with God.

This relationship is two ways, however. It’s often said that God is a gentleman, never pushing his way in or demanding anything from you. James promises that God will come close to you when you come close to him.

You must acknowledge him and shift your thoughts towards him daily in order to experience his refreshing. Faith brings full assurance when you draw near to God with a sincere heart (Hebrews 10:22). In other words, you can count on your faithful God; but, it’s difficult to trust someone you don’t talk to or spend time with.

“So let’s keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision—you’ll see it yet! Now that we’re on the right track, let’s stay on it”(Philippians 3:15-16 MSG).

“Let us acknowledge the Lord;
    let us press on to acknowledge him.
As surely as the sun rises,
    he will appear;
he will come to us like the winter rains,
    like the spring rains that water the earth.” Hosea 6:3

Faith, Fasting, Inspiration, Uncategorized

Fasting Devotion, Day Five

(Post submitted by Robyn Kennaugh)

Hebrews 12:1-3 Philippians 3:12-21

The Christian life isn’t about standing by as a spectator; rather, we are all encouraged to be participators. Each of us has an individual course mapped out that only we can run. I can’t run yours and you can’t run mine. In everyday life, there are the ‘super sprinters’ and the ‘persistent plodders’; but in our spiritual life, God is looking for some “FAITHFUL FINISHERS.”

He never mentions that we should finish in record time. He just encourages us through these verses in Hebrews to strip down to the basics, to lay aside anything that would hold us back and to concentrate on crossing the finish line.

Fasting means laying aside things that take up our attention and energy under normal circumstances and focusing on things that God thinks are most important for our spiritual and physical health.

This periodic commitment helps us stay on course to finish our race strong. Remember that doing without something for a short while can help us see something far more important that will last for a long time, for all eternity.

Paul says in Philippians that he didn’t have it all together but he had his eye on the prize; his heart was set on hearing not the adulation of the crowd around him but the applause of heaven and the words of Jesus, “well done, good and faithful servant.”

So if we get despondent while running our race, we should remember Jesus – he didn’t let any hostility or opposition cause him to give up on his mission here… to save you and me.

God, you are so awesome to have a race marked out especially for me. I am thankful for this journey no matter how difficult it seems at times to stay on course. Give me strength to run my race well. Give me vision for my future so that I can run with purpose and passion. Help me to remain faithful at all times. In Jesus’ mighty name, Amen.

Love, Pictures, Uncategorized

Betty and Milton White

On Mother’s Day Sunday, the highlight of my day was spending time with Greg’s grandparents, Milton and Betty White.  They are 88 and 92 years old respectively and have been married for sixty-six years.  As they are getting older, they are less and less mobile but they are blessed to be in a care facility where wonderful people tend to them them around the clock.  Grandad suffers from Parkinson’s and mild dementia so he stays in a part of the facility where the residents receive more specific care.  Neither of them are allowed to get up and move about without help.

Each morning, Nanna is wheeled down to Grandad’s area so they can spend time together.  The nurse pushes them right up to each other and it takes every bit of effort their frail bodies can muster to lean forward towards each other.  They stretch out and when they are a few inches from each other’s faces, they reach a little further.  Just when you are worried they aren’t going to be able to this time, they lengthen one last bit so their mouths meet for a brief kiss.  They can finally relax! It is one of the most precious things I have ever witnessed.

They sit and talk in a sunny lounge room, content in each other’s company.  Even though Grandad Milton drifts in and out of the conversation and is sometimes difficult to understand, his company is the one Betty is after.  What do you talk about when your predictable days are spent with the biggest question mark being what’s for lunch?  Bingo is always on Mondays; the same television shows are shown each day. The one person you crave to spend time with is the one you know best.

In seventy years of being together, Nanna nor Grandad wakes up saying, “I don’t need to visit my best friend today.  We know each other well enough.”  Nope.  Even with nothing new to say, the nursing home staff makes every effort to get them together for their kiss and visit.

God yearns for this same daily visit with you and me.  Sometimes we assume God isn’t interested in hearing from us yet again.  I’ve heard people excuse themselves from praying with, “God has bigger things to worry about like world peace and starving children.  He doesn’t care about my back ache or fill-in-the-blank.”  News flash: YOU AND I ARE ALL HE CARES ABOUT.

God knew us before we were even born and yet his love endures forever (Psalm 106:1).  His love never quits- not after 20, 30 or even 70 years.  He desires to spend time with us everyday.  No matter our mishaps. He loves me longer than my lousy choices. Yes, his love endures forever.  We are actually the only place our Lord’s interests lie. Having us show up for a chat; that’s what he looks forward to each day.

Betty and Milton’s love will not end.  It’s new every morning.  Their faithfulness and loyalty never run out; they are what each other has.  How beautiful and similar to our relationship with our creator.  I pray we can embrace him like the author of Lamentations describes in Chapter 3 of the Message version:

God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out, his merciful love couldn’t have dried up.
They’re created new every morning. How great your faithfulness! I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over). He’s all I’ve got left.

Australia, Faith, God Speaks, Uncategorized

Learning to Drive

Yesterday was my first time driving our Nissan X Trail that we just purchased in Australia.  We found a really great deal and bought it off the internet!  I never did a test drive, leaving that to Greg.  See, I have a confession: I’m scared to drive in Australia.  First of all, the traffic drives on the opposite side of the road to America.  The actual steering wheel is on the right side of the car as well.

Everything about driving here is counterintuitive to me.  I’m looking over my right shoulder when turning right only there are no cars coming from that direction.  They are coming towards me in the lane to my right!  There are traffic circles everywhere and I have to pay attention to stay in my lane and give way to traffic on the right as I use them.  Then, there’s the blinker.  It’s located where I’m normally turning on windscreen wipers in a rainstorm.  So, instead of cleaning the glass each time I need to turn, I find myself concentrating very hard just to flick them with the proper hand when I need to signal.

As we are living in a small country town with Greg’s family until our furniture arrives and we settle in Newcastle, I decided it’s a good place to practice my driving.  We went into town to the Medicare office and to the beach, only about a 15 minute drive. Luckily, I didn’t have to parallel park and pulled straight into a spot.  I had Greg at my side, the left, no doubt, as I was driving and he was a great help to me.  He kept reminding me where to look and encouraging me that I was doing great.  My oldest son, Brett, said when we arrived back home, “Mom, I know a sign that you did well: we are all still alive!”  Thanks for the encouragement, son.

I found myself dreading every turn and traffic signal and wondering how long it would take me to get used to this.  There will be a day that driving will be second nature just like it was in America.  After practice in different cities, day and night, heavy traffic and light, I know I’ll wake up one day and know that I can do it and won’t second guess myself anymore.

It’s much the same with God when we have just given him the steering wheel of our lives.  If we have always been a worry wart, it feels odd to suddenly surrender control and trust a God we can’t even see with our present and future decisions.  Going to God in prayer feels unnatural when we have been seeking our own common sense our whole lives.

To step out in faith feels scary at first.  We can find ourselves looking over our shoulder for impending threats.  Even using new “Christian lingo” feels odd like putting on a pair of shoes that haven’t quite molded to our feet.  At every turn we wonder if God is really there.  Before we truly know the voice of God in our lives, we have to rely on mentors to help guide us.  We must make a concerted effort to trust and believe what we are being taught.  Like using a GPS to help us drive, we must form new habits that will guide our Christian walk like going to church and reading our Bibles. We may even have to research things a little further and use our concordances more often.  Scripture isn’t yet memorized and our road map might seem confusing at times.

With time, however, as God shows himself faithful to us, we begin to know the still small voice that belongs to our Savior and we can quickly respond when he calls.  Even when we have doubts, our confidence comes from a proven track record and familiarity with his ways.

As I look back at the last decade of my walk with God, I have trusted him with more and more of myself.  I have begun to trust God wholeheartedly with my finances and my future.  Things that once felt so hard like giving a tithe, are now second nature to me. Based on experience traveling with God, I now know scripture like I knew my way around Cedar Park. Hearing God’s voice is as reassuring as the nice Australian lady on the GPS; I now know I can trust him.

As I get more familiar driving in Australia, I will be praying for those who are just getting familiar with our Savior.  I will be conscientious of the roads while at the same time never forgetting what it feels like to be a new believer.

Faith, Inspiration, Uncategorized

Surprise!

I LOVE surprises, however, nothing much surprises me.  My schedule, my plans, how money is spent, etc. are all overwhelmingly predictable in my life.  Cause and effect play a big part in how I think.  Do the right things, blessings come.  Obey the word of God and he answers prayers.  Go to work, get paid.  Treat people well and you are treated well by people. Oversimplifying, but you get the point!

Even in areas where some would say I have taken risks like starting a business, going into full-time ministry, and moving across the country, I could always weigh out the consequences and make my decisions based on whether or not I could live with them whatever happened.  Not really many surprises.

In this season of preparing to plant a church in Australia, God is shaking me up on every level.  I’m thankful and exhilarated by this faith walk; it’s fun because God is surprising me almost daily.  I am not surprised by the fact that he comes through for us (his nature is faithful).  I’m not surprised that things are falling into place (God has called us to this).  It’s the manner in which things are happening that’s surprising me.  God has much better ideas than me!

God surprised us with my visa being approved early.  He surprised us when we found airfare for much less than we have EVER seen it, meaning we could book it and go sooner.  People are giving financially to Lift Church whom we didn’t even have on our list to ask.  His provision is amazing.  The way in which our house is being sold came unexpectedly.

If we are truly walking in faith, we must be ready at any moment for God to change our course through new ideas.  He has the answers we need to live a life of peace.  A life centered in His will.  I love Proverbs 16:1: “the plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the LORD.”  This perfectly describes what is happening in our life right now.  We have plans in our minds and hearts.  But at every turn, the answer, what is ACTUALLY occurring is supernatural intervention from the Lord.  HE is providing answers we haven’t even thought up.  Our God thinks outside the box!

God is full of surprises.  He takes a mess we make out of a situation and turns it for good.  He can take a tragedy and use it to become the very life message we speak that ministers to others.  This is how he gets the credit and others can see his glory manifest on earth.

Like the game show, “Let’s Make a Deal,” I’m so excited to see what God has behind “Door Number One!”  The best part is, in this game, there are no dirt piles or mooing cows.  God only trades UP!  He trades beauty for ashes.  He takes us from glory to glory.  It’s not a gamble when we trust God.  But there WILL be surprises.  His ways are not our ways.  His thoughts are not our thoughts.  It’s only going to get better from here.  I’m resting in the chaos that’s before me knowing that God has my answers in HIS TONGUE.  My heart may be full of plans, but God will have the final say and I’m expecting Him to surprise us!

“If I were in your shoes, I’d go straight to God, I’d throw myself on the mercy of God. After all, he’s famous for great and unexpected acts; there’s no end to his surprises.” Job 5:8, The Message