Servanthood

For the past 25 years I’ve been working at my parents’ trucking business. I’ve been known as Dale’s daughter, which I am completely ok with. I’m quite proud of my Dad & how hard he worked to build what he has. My Dad & I have worked quite closely over the years & I have picked up a lot of his mannerisms/ways; good & bad.

When I saw a picture of myself & my Dad, I was struck by how much I did resemble him & even stood like him. I had never paid attention to that before. I thought about that and wondered if people can tell I belong to God like they do my earthly father.

Does the world look at me and see Jesus? Does my voice, personality and the way I carry myself reflect Him? Do my words sound soft, holy and nice or just tired and grumpy? (I’ve been told I can be like a freight train when I talk: fast, charging, abrupt but meaning well.) Do they see a child of the King?

In Mark 9:33-37 the disciples are arguing about who among them would be the greatest. Can you imagine? You’re walking with Jesus, under his instruction all the time, seeing his miracles, power & authority & you’re arguing who’s his favorite. Man, aren’t we the same still today?

If only I could handle my disagreements, arguments, bad days like Jesus. Remember when the disciples were pushing away the children because they didn’t see their value, like we often do in today’s societies; but Jesus took a child into His arms saying that faith must be received like that of a child. Children just believe. They accept what you say & run with it while we adults have to analyze it to death. (But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 19:14)

To be great in God’s kingdom we must become a servant. This is not how the world thinks but that is exactly how Christ came. He came to seek & save the lost. He came as a lowly carpenter’s son. His triumphal entry was not as a majestic king’s parade, but as one riding on a donkey. Jesus served people regardless of the cost. Mark 10:45 says, For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many. We must be the same. John 12:26, Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.

We should not be so busy that we can not take the time to stop, look and listen for what God wants us to do. Can you imagine the world if Jesus wouldn’t have stopped, touched, loved, healed, ministered to, taught, drove out demons, died on the cross because he was just too busy?

Isaiah 53:1-7
He has no form or comeliness;
And when we see Him,
There is no beauty that we should desire Him.
He is despised and [d]rejected by men,
A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him;
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
Surely He has borne our [g]griefs
And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted.
But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way;
And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He opened not His mouth;

Isaiah 9:6b
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

The Sufficiency of Grace

When you hear the word grace, what do you think of? I think of my Grandma. She was peaceful, humble, faithful, loving, honest, true…a Christian. I never heard her say a cross word about someone. I never heard her say a curse word. I always remember her with her bible on her lap reading or praying. She is who I look up to as a kingdom woman.

There’s beauty in grace. There’s peace in grace. Just saying the word grace brings calmness to the soul.

Grace is defined as the free, unmerited favor of God, manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings. Merriam-Webster defines it as unmerited divine assistance given to humans for their regeneration or sanctification.

Unmerited. Undeserved. Unearned. You do nothing to receive it. You have done nothing to deserve or earn it. God, in his steadfast and abundant love, gives it to you freely; but to him it was costly. His son, Jesus, paid the penalty so that we did not have to. That’s the sufficiency of grace.

In 2 Corinthians 12 Paul writes about the thorn in his flesh & how he asked for it to be removed 3 times and God did not. Why? Verses 9-10 are the answer…But he said to me, “May grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. ESV

Philippians 4:11b-13 says, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. NIV It is not of ourselves that we endure our sufferings. It is through the sufficiency (the plenty, abundance, having enough of) of His grace that we make it thru.

How do we obtain this? First, you must surrender yourself to Christ Jesus. You must believe that you are a sinner. We all are fallen. Admit your brokenness, your inability to save yourself, your transgressions and immorality. Believe that Christ came thru the shedding of his blood to pay the penalty of sin, death. Confess that you need Him; for He is the only way to heaven. Many choose not to believe in eternity. Wouldn’t you rather place your hope in Christ and heaven than nothing? Where is the hope in that?

Marvelous grace of our loving Lord,
Grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt!
Yonder on Calvary’s mount outpoured,
There where the blood of the Lamb was spilled.

Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that is greater than all our sin.
Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace,
Freely bestowed on all who believe!
(Grace That is Greater Than All Our Sin by Julia H. Johnston)

The Potter & Clay

This Sunday at FBC-L, we are singing The Potter’s Hands by Hillsong. I woke up with that song playing through my head this morning. It’s a beautiful reflective piece if you sing the words from your heart and allow God to work as the words speak. It made me think of the passage below.

Jeremiah 18:1-6 the ERV says, This is the message that came to Jeremiah from the LORD: Jeremiah, go down to the potter’s house. I will give you my message there. So I went down to the potter’s house and saw him working with clay at the wheel. He was making a pot from clay. But there was something wrong with the pot. So the potter used that clay to make another pot. With his hands he shaped the pot the way he wanted it to be. Then this message from the Lord came to me: Family of Israel, you know that I can do the same thing with you you are like the clay in the potter’s hands and I am the potter.

When a potter’s piece breaks, those pieces are called shards. Those pieces can’t be reused, but the dust from the shards can be worked back into the piece he is presently molding making it stronger, more secure and ready to hold or be used for what it was prepared for.

Our lives are a bit like shards…broken pieces that need put back together. If we allow God to mold us, re-purpose us into his masterpiece, if we were to live our lives thru his eyes, how amazing and different we would be.

Genesis 2:7 Then the Lord God formed a man[c] from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.

Psalm 139:13-16 For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother’s womb.
I will praise You, for [b]I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.
My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
And in Your book they all were written,
The days fashioned for me,
When as yet there were none of them.

Isaiah 49:16 Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands

Beautiful Lord, wonderful saviour
I know for sure, all of my days are held in Your hands
Crafted into Your perfect plan
You gently call me, into Your presence
Guiding me by, Your Holy Spirit
Teach me dear Lord
To live all of my life through Your eyes

Take me, Mold me
Use me, Fill me
I give my life to the Potter’s hands
Hold me, Guide me
Lead me, Walk beside me
I give my life to the Potter’s hand

(The Potter’s Hand Hillsong
Songwriters: Darlene Joyce Zschech)

Shutting the mouth

Proverbs 31 Ministries has an app called First 5. Presently the study is Daniel & we just finished chapter 6. This is the chapter where Daniel was thrown into the lions den. The following 2 paragraphs are an excerpt from today’s devotion by Marissa Henley.

Maybe today you’re still waiting for God’s rescue from your troubles. You’re still in the pit with no escape in sight. You hear the lions snarling, and your deliverance feels delayed. I’ve been there, and I know it’s a hard place to be.

But for those who are in Christ, we all have a rescue to celebrate. When Jesus suffered and died for us, He saved us from the devil’s power. God shut the mouth of the one who prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking to devour us. (1 Peter 5:8)

All these years reading about the lions den and in 1st Peter, I never put the two together. God still shuts the mouth of the roaring lion….thru Jesus. We have that power, the Holy Spirit, residing within us, once we have accepted Christ as Savior.

We do not need to live in fear. He has given us a spirit not of fear but of power, love & self-control. (2 Timothy 1:7) When we humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God, casting our anxieties upon him, we can be sober-minded, watchful and resist the lion; for we are firm in our faith. (1 Peter 5:6-9b)

The hardness of prayer

Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, annointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one that is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And of he’s committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. James 5:13-16

We must be people who pray in faith that they will be heard. We must pray with conviction and belief that God will answer. We must be repentant of our sins so that sin’s covering over us will be removed.

Prayer is hard, especially when we are struggling. But, prayer is a gift that we get to share with others and with God. There is power in the name of Jesus. There is power in prayer. Even through messages such as this. When we are gathered together thru whatever means in His name, God is there. Lift each other up instead of tearing down. When somebody reaches out for prayer, PRAY.

This was not my intended post but the burden of prayer was heavy on me this morning. I don’t know where these blogs will go. What I do know is that I cannot write them or make it through each day without Jesus. He has been my rock, my comforter, my friend in times when I felt I had none. He has been the one that I could just sit and cry my heart out to.

May he fill you today that your cup runneth over. May His presence be so strong that you can not deny Him. Today, may you call out, cry out for the One that died for you.

And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. John 8:32

Who are you talking to?

I’m going to be discussing prayer for a bit. I’ve had a strong conviction that we, myself included, need to dig deeper into our prayer life; maybe even develop one.
We have a responsibility to ourselves, our relationships, God, families, friends, church and our communities to pray. How can we expect to have a relationship, with anyone, if we never communicate with them?


I realize it may be intimidating to pray. It was for me at first and that’s ok. Just start. Our heavenly Father is there to listen. Maybe it will help to write down what you want to pray about. Prayer journaling is something I started doing last year. It does help to get your thoughts out on paper.


It may be difficult to just sit in the quiet and pray. Just don’t rattle everything off like a grocery list. Take time to speak your prayers and thought to God. Take the time to hear his response. You may not get your answer right then and lets be honest, that’s what we expect.


Here’s something from Isaiah 55:6-11: Seek the LORD while he may be found; call upon him while he is near? let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, that he may have compassion on him and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than yours and my thoughts than your thoughts. Far as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out of my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose and shall succeed the thing for which I sent it.


You see, His mind is not like ours. We are not wired as his because we are sinners. Our thoughts are not always pure, true and holy but His are. They are higher than we can comprehend. His language is of love, power and kingship…YET he reaches us right where we are.


He waits to hear from us. He want us to tell him how we feel and what our needs are. He wants us to be honest with him. Like your best friend that sits and listens, we also need to do the same by practicing to wait. Wait for his will to prevail and fall upon us if we are truly seeking it.


Be still my soul, be still. Be still my soul be still.

Bob

Today is Bob the brain tumors 19th anniversary . On August 16th, 2000 our worlds were turned upside down when it was discovered that Ashton had very large brain tumor.

I can remember that day very clearly. We had a MRI earlier that morning. Her doctor noticed neurological issues and thought best she have one. She had several strep infections that spring and summer with the last leaving her walking strangely. That is why we went to the doctor.

I went back to work. I’m sitting at my desk and Danny McFarlin calls. I specifically remember looking at the clock, it was 4:10 pm, because I thought it odd he would call. Dad was sitting over at the other desk. Danny told me that I had to get Ashton to St Louis Children’s now. I asked what was going on. Linda, he said, just get her to the hospital now. What’s wrong I kept asking and he said she has a very large lesion in her brain. I asked what that was and he said they’ll explain everything there. He said to stop by Hillsboro Hospital get the MRI scan and take it with us, but leave now.

I started freaking out. My dad asked me what was going on and I told him. I said we have to go now, we have to go now. My Grandma Grace was staying with Mom and dad at that time so they had to make arrangements that she would be taken care of. Dad went home to get Mom and I went to pick up Ashton from the babysitters. Ashton and I were in the backseat as we drove to get her MRI scan and head to St Louis.

Mom tried looking at it but she couldn’t understand it. I was just out of my mind with worry. So we go to Cardinal Glennon first and we were at the wrong hospital. They sent us over to Children’s by Barnes. We were admitted through the ER and the doctors came in to talk to her. She told them all kinds of things that I never knew. She was seeing double and was dizzy a lot. She never complained. They then took me and Dad out to see the scans.

She had a grapefruit sized tumor attached to her brain stem. They were admitting her and doing surgery. I fell apart again in my Dad’s arms. Of course I had notified Mike McKinney at Fillmore Baptist what was going on, it was a Wednesday so they were praying for us. I couldn’t reach my sister Diana but she was told at church.

The next day we met her neurosurgery team. Dr. Jeffrey Ojemann was lead surgeon.. The next day at 7 a.m. they told us that she would be in surgery.

You have no idea how devastating it is watching them wheel your child away with no clue what will happen. My entire family came to the hospital. It was a 12-hour surgery. I knew something was wrong cause we hadn’t received our calls from the nurse.

At 3 p.m. the surgeon came to speak to me and said he has to do emergency surgery and needed my permission. She had developed three blood clots and two had combined. She had a stroke on the table.

Around 8 p.m. dad and I were allowed to see her. Her head was swollen . She couldn’t move and had no reflex functions. I again fell into my dad’s arms crying. She was in ICU for a week and moved to the neuro floor.

It was another week before she woke up. When she did, the first thing she asked was “Where is Papa”, my Dad. God has blessed me with wonderful, supportive parents and family. God knew what I needed way before I did.

Ashton was in the hospital for two months with very intense rehab. She had one year of PT, OT and speech therapy three times a week. Since then she has had three more brain surgeries, over eight years of chemo and radiation. She still has functional deficits and is 60% blind in both eyes.

By the grace of God you would never know that she had problems. This young woman is a true miracle of God and his great work that he can. You have no idea how many times we were told she wasn’t going to make it or she would never live to this day. She has surpassed each one.

2014 surgery

So today as I sit during her MRI and wait for the results at Costas, I thank God for Bob the brain tumor. If we had never found him, Ashton would not be here today. So, happy anniversary Bob. You have been a big part of our lives for a long time. You can go away now. 😋

Me & my girl

The roaring lion…

This week has been crazy busy. I haven’t had time to sit down to write. Most of my time honestly was reading the Bible and praying; which is a good thing…a great thing to be busy with.

My heart was burdened with prayer requests:

Friends with sick parents. Friends giving into the world’s temptations and lies not believing the repercussions to come. Friends just struggling to get through the day. Friends with marital problems.

Family having surgery. Family beginning to walk through the shadow of death. Family awaiting diagnosis and test results. Family as caregivers struggling to balance it all.

The world. Why must we kill each other? Why must we kill innocent children? Why must our children and educators be forced to teach things against their Christian faith? Why is it wrong to stand up and believe in Christ? It is still my legal right as it is yours to believe in whatever it is you believe in. (See end of post below)

Why can’t we agree to disagree? I already know the answers to these questions. I just wanted to “speak” them.

Fear is creeping into our culture and Christianity. When I say Christianity, I define it as believers who have accepted Christ Jesus as savior. He was born of a virgin and walked this earth as God and man. He was unjustly, yet in the Father’s will, crucified. He rose from death and after walking 40 days as the resurrected savior, ascended to heaven now sitting at the right hand of God the Father. Once you accept Christ, believe he is the only way to heaven, confess that you are a sinner (and ALL people are) the Holy Spirit resides within you. You are sealed. FOREVER carved into the palm of his hand. Your name is written in the Book of Life.

We are reading each week of another Christian denying their faith and renouncing Christianity. I question they truly were Christians. The bible says in the end days there will be a falling away. I believe we are seeing that now. The adversary is working over time friends…..

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your cares on him, because he cares about you. Be sober-minded, be alert. Your adversary the devil is prowling around like a lion, looking for anyone he can devour. Resist him, firm in the faith, knowing that the same kind of sufferings are being experienced by your fellow Believers throughout the world. The God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, establish, strengthen, and support you after you have suffered a little while. To him be dominion forever. Amen. 1 Peter 6-11(CSB)

John 10:10 tells us that the enemy “comes only to steal and kill and destroy”(ESV). One of the primary ways he does this is through fear. The enemy’s intent is to keep our eyes riveted on our fears and. stop us from trusting God and making wise decisions. Until Christ’s return, fear will always exist on this earth.  Remember, fear is a liar. Pray for boldness and courage. Peace and security. Trust and confidence.

The true, roaring Lion of Judah is coming again. His roar is one of Power, Might, Truth, Justice, Love and Peace.

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 (NKJV)

(The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble,)

HUMAN RIGHTS
(775 ILCS 35/) Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
(775 ILCS 35/1)
Sec. 1. Short title. This Act may be cited as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
(Source: P.A. 90-806, eff. 12-2-98.)

(775 ILCS 35/5) 
Sec. 5. Definitions. In this Act: 
"Demonstrates" means meets the burdens of going forward with the evidence and of persuasion. 
"Exercise of religion" means an act or refusal to act that is substantially motivated by religious belief, whether or not the religious exercise is compulsory or central to a larger system of religious belief. 
"Government" includes a branch, department, agency, instrumentality, and official (or other person acting under color of law) of the State of Illinois or a political subdivision of the State, including a home rule unit. 

(Source: P.A. 90-806, eff. 12-2-98.)

(775 ILCS 35/10) 
Sec. 10. Findings and purposes. 
(a) The General Assembly finds the following: 
    (1) The free exercise of religion is an inherent,

fundamental, and inalienable right secured by Article I, Section 3 of the Constitution of the State of Illinois.
(2) Laws “neutral” toward religion, as well as laws

intended to interfere with the exercise of religion, may burden the exercise of religion.
(3) Government should not substantially burden the

exercise of religion without compelling justification.
(4) In Employment Division v. Smith, 494 U.S. 872

(1990) the Supreme Court virtually eliminated the requirement under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution that government justify burdens on the exercise of religion imposed by laws neutral toward religion.
(5) In City of Boerne v. P. F. Flores, 65 LW 4612

(1997) the Supreme Court held that an Act passed by Congress to address the matter of burdens placed on the exercise of religion infringed on the legislative powers reserved to the states under the Constitution of the United States.
(6) The compelling interest test, as set forth in

Wisconsin v. Yoder, 406 U.S. 205 (1972), and Sherbert v. Verner, 374 U.S. 398 (1963), is a workable test for striking sensible balances between religious liberty and competing governmental interests.
(b) The purposes of this Act are as follows:
(1) To restore the compelling interest test as set

forth in Wisconsin v. Yoder, 406 U.S. 205 (1972), and Sherbert v. Verner, 374 U.S. 398 (1963), and to guarantee that a test of compelling governmental interest will be imposed on all State and local (including home rule unit) laws, ordinances, policies, procedures, practices, and governmental actions in all cases in which the free exercise of religion is substantially burdened.
(2) To provide a claim or defense to persons whose

exercise of religion is substantially burdened by government.
(Source: P.A. 90-806, eff. 12-2-98.)

(775 ILCS 35/15) 
Sec. 15. Free exercise of religion protected. Government may not substantially burden a person's exercise of religion, even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability, unless it demonstrates that application of the burden to the person (i) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest and (ii) is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest. 

(Source: P.A. 90-806, eff. 12-2-98.)

(775 ILCS 35/20) 
Sec. 20. Judicial relief. If a person's exercise of religion has been burdened in violation of this Act, that person may assert that violation as a claim or defense in a judicial proceeding and may obtain appropriate relief against a government. A party who prevails in an action to enforce this Act against a government is entitled to recover attorney's fees and costs incurred in maintaining the claim or defense. 

(Source: P.A. 90-806, eff. 12-2-98.)

(775 ILCS 35/25) 
Sec. 25. Application of Act; home rule powers. 
(a) This Act applies to all State and local (including home rule unit) laws, ordinances, policies, procedures, practices, and governmental actions and their implementation, whether statutory or otherwise and whether adopted before or after the effective date of this Act. 
(b) Nothing in this Act shall be construed to authorize a government to burden any religious belief. 
(c) Nothing in this Act shall be construed to affect, interpret, or in any way address any of the following: (i) that portion of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution prohibiting laws respecting the establishment of religion, (ii) the second sentence of Article I, Section 3 of the Illinois Constitution, or (iii) Article X, Section 3 of the Illinois Constitution. Granting government funding, benefits, or exemptions, to the extent permissible under the 3 constitutional provisions described in items (i), (ii), and (iii) of this subsection, does not constitute a violation of this Act. In this subsection, "granting", used with respect to government funding, benefits, or exemptions, does not include the denial of government funding, benefits, or exemptions. 
(d) The corporate authorities of a municipality or other unit of local government may enact ordinances, standards, rules, or regulations that protect the free exercise of religion in a manner or to an extent equal to or greater than the protection provided in this Act. If an ordinance, standard, rule, or regulation enacted under the authority of this Section or under the authority of a unit of local government's home rule powers prohibits, restricts, narrows, or burdens a person's exercise of religion or permits the prohibition, restriction, narrowing, or burdening of a person's exercise of religion, that ordinance, standard, rule, or regulation is void and unenforceable as to that person if it (i) is not in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest and (ii) is not the least restrictive means of furthering that governmental interest. This subsection is a limitation under subsection (i) of Section 6 of Article VII of the Illinois Constitution on the concurrent exercise by home rule units of powers and functions exercised by the State. 

(Source: P.A. 90-806, eff. 12-2-98.)

(775 ILCS 35/30) 
Sec. 30. O'Hare Modernization and South Suburban Airport. Nothing in this Act limits the authority of the City of Chicago to exercise its powers under the O'Hare Modernization Act, or the Department of Transportation to exercise its powers under the Public-Private Agreements for the South Suburban Airport Act, for the purposes of relocation of cemeteries or the graves located therein. 

(Source: P.A. 98-109, eff. 7-25-13.)

(775 ILCS 35/99) 
Sec. 99. Effective date. This Act takes effect on July 1, 1998. 

(Source: P.A. 90-806, eff. 12-2-98.)