Archive: December, 2009

"God’s Handprint on 2009," By Kelli Zaniel

From Humbled Beginnings…

We began Mothers on Mission in April of 2009. Equipped with our mustard seed faith, we pressed and planted, fertilized and grew… and God caused the amazing growth from 5 to 15! Our first book was “Birds in My Mustard Tree,” by Suzanne Sheppman. This book will forever tug at my heart. My small mustard seed faith blossomed as Jesus stretched it to a place I never thought possible. I began to expect, hope, anticipate and look for Him. I began reading my Bible not just for information, but for transformation! That is how my small seedling developed into a big, sturdy shoot of faith.

The mustard seed is the smallest seed you can plant in the ground. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds of the air can perch in its shade (Mark 4:30-32).
Faith is complete and humble obedience to God’s will and readiness to “go,” whenever and wherever He calls us. This passage reassures me that the amount of faith doesn’t matter. It could be as small as a mustard seed, but as long as it is genuine, God can use it!
God began a good work in my heart this year. He changed my ordinary life into an extraordinary daily walk with Him. God did all these things, not because of anything I could “do,” for him, but for what He could “do,” for me– which was to revive my heart and to draw me into a deeper relationship with Him. He worked to equip and qualify me to join Him in his activity in our church home. Out of a small seedling of faith, God began a Bible book club, a new mothers ministry, a cookbook fundraiser, a speaker, and godly friends to encourage and be encouraged by along the way.

This past year, God has given me those, “treasures hidden in the darkness–secret riches,” (see Isaiah 45:3). For me, those secret riches are each of you–women who say “yes,” to God. Women who pick up their crosses as they step out of their comfort zones; women who put to death anything that may stand in the way of their relationship with Christ; and women obsessed with following the only One true God. Why does God give us these hidden treasures? He gives them so, “We will all know that He is Lord, the God of Israel, the One who calls us by name,” (Isaiah 45:3).

One of my favorite verses this year has been, “The master was full of praise. ‘Well done my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together,”‘(Matt. 25:21).

Let’s celebrate all that God has done this year. Let’s pray for his affirmation that we are in the center of his will. Let’s be ready to receive our marching orders daily as we join him “on mission,” to reach lost souls, which are abundant right here in our backyards–our local mission field!

Give Up, by Heidi Avery

I’m praying that we’ve all been blessed by these 25 days of giving. I know I have, but as I look back at it and as we approach Christmas day there is really only one act of giving that counts. It’s the single motivating factor to all other acts of giving and it says everything about who we are. It’s the type of giving that separates us from the rest of this world and it’s what identifies us as His children.

Before we can give anything in the name of God we must “give up” ourselves in complete abandon to Christ. Matthew 16:25 tells us… “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.”

Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, our savior. He came to save us from ourselves and yet we still seem to be in battle with our flesh over sin. The Spirit has laid questions on my heart lately and I know whatever my answers are clearly identifies whether or not I am living for Christ or for me. Some of my personal questions look like this…

Am I glorifying God with my attitude today or submitting to the feelings of my flesh?

Am I eating this food right now so my body is healthy and equipped for kingdom work or am I feeding the desires of my flesh?

Am I spending my time wisely today, getting my direction from God or am I wandering around aimlessly, letting my lazy flesh lead me?

Am I giving and working as if for Christ himself or am I looking for my own satisfaction?

These are just a few of the questions in my life that help me keep God on His throne and me off of it. As we celebrate Christ and remember what His birth meant to us, lets also consider what we can do to keep the celebration going, what we can do to keep the giving of ourselves for Him going. Pray for the Spirit to lay personal questions on your own heart and continue to “give up” yourselves not just for 25 days, not just for Christmas, but everyday we live here in this world.

I’ll end with this quote from Stuart Briscoe that sums up my feelings on Christmas completely … “The spirit of Christmas needs to be superseded by the Spirit of Christ. The spirit of Christmas is annual; the Spirit of Christ is eternal. The spirit of Christmas is sentimental; the Spirit of Christ is supernatural. The spirit of Christmas is a human product; the Spirit of Christ is a divine person. That makes all the difference in the world.

Father, thank you that you “gave up” your son for us and thank you that Jesus “gave up” his life for us. You love us, there’s no question about that. Forgive us God when we are not living for you… help to also “give up” our lives for You. It’s not too much to ask and as you search our hearts you know it’s our desire. Free us from the distractions of this flesh we live in, give us all consuming life in the Spirit.

The Heart, by Heidi Avery

“And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.” Ezekiel 36:26
The heart is kind of like a peach. We all know what a treat a perfectly ripe peach is, don’t we? Soft, sweet and juicy deliciousness at it’s best. The peach, before it is ripe however is quite a different story. It is sometimes still a little green, very hard to the touch and produces a taste nearly void of flavor. Given the right amount of time to bask in the warm nurturing light of the sun it will turn into that soft, sweet, juicy perfection that we all know and love.
The hardened heart is similar to the un-ripe peach in many ways. Though we can not physically give the heart a squeeze, we know it is hard by the sort of attitude it is producing in a person. A hardened heart produces, anger and bitterness and is driven by selfishness. It has an overall attitude that is sadly void of the Spirit. When my heart is hardened it is often a result of specific disobedience in an area of my life. If I am entertaining my own feelings and desires, my own will and glory over His, God can and has allowed my heart to harden.
Remember Pharaoh? He never seemed to learn his lesson, after he hardened his own heart so many times against God; God eventually caused it to continue to be hardened so His glory could be seen. I know that if Pharoh had had the Spirit in him that God would have seen a change in his heart and things may have played out a little differently. The difference between us and Pharoh is that the Spirit does live in us and if our hearts have become hardened over anything God graciously provides a way of escape. However, the timing is still his and the consequences are still ours to deal with.
When God does give the mighty order to soften a believer’s hardened heart that beautiful transformation takes place once again. What was once angry becomes joy-filled. What was once bitter becomes sweet and delightful. What was once consumed with selfishness becomes self-less. When a heart has been softened by the heart healer himself, it is quickly filled with the Spirit again and it can do nothing more than produce the precious attitudes of the Spirit… peace, joy, patience, gentleness, kindness, faithfulness and love.
My own salvation comes to mind when I think of the condition of the heart. I was like Pharoh with a hardened heart towards God. If you had known me before I was saved you would have known that I detested anything to do with God. I thought Christians were crazy, you would have considered me a lost cause. Fortunately for me, unlike Pharoh, God had mercy on me and melted my heart into him and it is my desire to keep my heart in his hands for eternity.
A soft heart is always ready to receive the Lords pursuing and guiding. When my heart is softened my feelings are kept in perspective because I relate to the Spirit more than myself. I desire His will and His glory over my own. Maybe your heart is hardened and you know it shouldn’t be, but you feel powerless to change it… I’ve been there. You’ve got hurt feelings and resentment has been festering and building inside it, but conviction lies around the edges trying to penetrate. Hard as we try we can not change our hardened hearts. But, if it is our true desire to be changed and we seek God for help, He will indeed change us. He will always do that which is in His will and it is His will that are hearts are softened.
It may be a process getting there and God doesn’t just let our hearts be hardened to hurt us, but there may be a lesson that will be learned along the way and there may be consequences too. One thing I know for sure is that God will use it. He will change us through it and we will be stronger and better equipped for His great purposes. Our testimony of His boundless grace and mercy on us and His great love for us will continue to increase showing His glory ever bright and more brilliant than before.
Just as the sun causes the hard and un-ripened peach to move into its sweet, soft and edible state, so does The Son, in His perfect time cause a heart to move into a softened, pliable and love filled state.
Father, thank you for loving us and giving us the Spirit that directs our hearts, keeping them soft and ready to receive you. Forgive us for giving our hearts over to our flesh at times and allowing it to become hardened. Thank you for the lessons you teach us in that place and for the way of escape that you lovingly and faithfully provide us when we are there. We are so imperfect and we need you God. Keep us safe from Satan’s temptations to invest in our flesh. This is the body we live in physically, but it is the Spirit within us that keeps us alive.

"Finding God in a Hair Cut," By Kelli Zaniel

As I sat comfortably in the salon chair, I pulled out my book and began to read. I heard the clappety-clapping of high heel shoes approaching my chair. I looked up and saw my stylist, Jennifer, standing over me rolling my hair with more color and foil. She asked, “What book are you reading?” I told her I was reading, “Experiencing God Around the Kitchen Table,” by Marilyn Blackaby. “Oh, that sounds interesting, what is the book about,” she asked? “It is about becoming more intimate in your personal relationship with God,” I replied. I added, “Her husband, Henry Blackaby wrote, ‘Experiencing God,’ and that book totally changed my life.” She replied, “That is exactly what I need… something to change my life.” Another customer grabbed her attention and she was gone. I quietly prayed, “God, I am really loving this book and I am only in chapter 2, but if you want Jennifer to have it, will you please let me know?” I didn’t want to hand over my treasured book if she was just going to discard it with the rest of the freshly cut hair!

Jennifer returned for a shampoo and rinse. Before she even turned on the water, her quest for information continued… “These books about God, where can I get one?” I thought to myself, “Okay, God I hear you!” After the primping was done, I handed Jennifer the book and said, “God wants you to have this book.” She joyfully accepted the gift and said, “I will start reading it tonight!”

When I woke up that morning, I was not expecting to be used by God. I was just excited to go to the salon, sit and read quietly and have someone else brush my hair for a while! God’s plan that day was different than mine. He always takes the initiative to call us. In the midst of our daily routine, He brings us to himself and then uses us to accomplish His work. “I chose you to go and bear fruit,” (John 15:16); and I will, “instruct the way chosen for you,” (Ps. 25:12).
God took the initiative to call Simon and Andrew while they were casting their nets into the Sea of Galilee. Jesus intentionally walked by the Sea to extend a personal invitation to the hard working men. “Come follow me,” (see Mark 1:16-17) he said. The men immediately released their nets and followed Jesus.
One day, ole Levi was hanging around at the loathed tax collectors booth performing his monotonous duties. Jesus came strolling by and said to Levi, “Come follow me.” Levi recognized his divine appointment and went with Jesus, (see Mark 2:14).
The stories of the Bible reveal that God calls His people in the middle of their daily routines–most times, when they least expect it. There are no limitations with Him. When I think of the times God stirred my heart, I wasn’t doing anything spectacular. I was cleaning dishes in my pj’s; unloading a pile of laundry; and getting an over-priced hair cut. I am sure that when Simon, Andrew and Levi woke up that morning, they never expected a divine appointment with the “light of the world.” They never expected that their lives would be changed forever by not only following Jesus but “knowing Him.”
After God calls us, then we are responsible for the adjusting. When God called, I was responsible for giving my book away; Simon and Andrew were responsible for casting their nets aside; and Levi was required to leave his job as a tax collector. There may be some adjustments needed in the lives of God’s children before He can accomplish His purpose in and through us. However, once the adjustments are made, expect to be significantly changed by God’s transforming power!
When we make our thoughts and responses, “obedient to Christ,” (2 Cor. 10:5-6) we will bear maximum fruit and God will be glorified…(not to mention the radical blessings we will receive as a result of our obedience)!

How He Loves Us, by Heidi Avery

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 1 John 4:9-10
We can not begin to understand the depth of love that God has for us. The magnitude is out of the field of our human comprehension. I confess that while I believe His love for me, sometimes I get a glimpse of myself and wonder why. But, it’s true and my love for Him was born from that truth and grows deeper because of that truth. I cling to the promise that, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate ME from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus MY Lord (Romans 8:39)
The question on my mind today is… if there were no other blessings ever, would what He did for us be enough?
I’m sharing with you one of my favorite songs. It’s called “How He Loves Us” by the David Crowder Band. If you listen to KLOVE then you’ve heard it, but you probably haven’t heard it paired up with this specific video. Please watch and listen to the words as they pass and store them on your heart.

"Need Good News?" By Kelli Zaniel

The first monster storm of the season had arrived! It clobbered the city with its frosty winter storm machine that cranked out a continuous flow of wet snow. The big oak trees that hug the side of our home were adorned with diamond-like ice crystals. The frosty trees waved their gigantic arms as if to signal that a new storm was brewing. The wintery white mix forcefully pushed itself up against all the windows and doors. The cotton-like blanket that smothered the earth now felt like my captor. With only one four-wheel drive vehicle, I felt trapped inside with a six year old, a couple of toddlers, a sixty pound puppy (with digestive issues) and a partridge in a pear tree!

As I gazed out the window watching my husband slip and slide his way towards work, I thought, “I am feeling down and trapped by this winter wonderland…Oh, how I need to some good news!” Immediately, I felt a stir in my heart. It was God’s little tug saying, “I have given you good news, not just at Christmastime but all year through!” I thought, “Yes, God that is really good news…thank you for your soft reminder that when things seem bleak, there is always good news… the gift of salvation packaged up for an entire world through the birth of your precious son, Jesus!”

On that glorious night when Jesus was born, the shepherds were hanging out in the frigid field watching their sheep aimlessly roam around in the darkness. They probably wondered, “Why couldn’t we be resting in a comfortable home eating a hearty meal, right about now?” If the shepherds had not been in the fields that night, they would have missed the greatest birth announcement this world has ever seen! If the angels had printed up baby Jesus’ birth announcement, it might have looked something like this…

What: The birth of the King of Kings
Where: The Town of David, in the local manger
When: Tonight
What to Bring: A surrendered heart

The shepherds were ordinary people performing the repetitious task of caring for their flocks by night when the Holy God, Creator of all things, decided to shake things up a bit. Their humdrum evening was transformed by a heavenly chorus singing and angels shouting, “Glory to God in the Highest,” (Luke 2:14). A celestial birth announcement fit for a King! These ordinary shepherds were personally handed an invitation straight from heaven to seek out and to greet the lamb of God (John 1:36)!

God gave His specific assignment to the shepherds. I love what they did next. They obeyed! After the angel appeared and the glory of the Lord shone around them, they didn’t look at each other saying, “We will begin our journey to Bethlehem in the morning when it’s more convenient!” No, they gathered up the sheep and left immediately. Why did God choose these unlikely shepherds to be active participants in His will? God chose them because He knew they would respond in immediate obedience. God called the shepherds that Holy night and equipped them with information that would transform the world.

The angel said, “I bring you GOOD NEWS of great joy for ALL people,” (Luke 2:10). Not just some people, but for ALL the people. The nice people, the mean people, the undeserving people and all those in between (which, lets face it, is all of us). I began to pray, “Thank you God, for the best news this world has ever known….news that invites all of us into a love relationship with the Prince of Peace!”
I don’t see an arctic prison when I look out my frosty window anymore. I see a world brimming with God’s goodness, love and promises. It encourages me to think that the shepherds were given “good news,” on a dark, cold wintery night probably a lot like this one! Had the shepherds grumbled over their circumstances and kicked through the dirt as they began their journey, they may not have ever experienced Emmanuel, “God with us.”

God decided to turn the ordinary shepherds into extraordinary people as “he guided their feet into the path of peace,” (Luke 1:79). A path that would light the way to God’s most precious gift (see John 4:10)… a friend of sinners (Matt. 11:19); captain of salvation (Heb. 2:10); Redeemer (Isaiah 43:14); and light of the world (John 8:12).

God, I pray that when you look into my soul, you see a woman who will remain humbly submitted to whatever you require. Like the shepherds, I desire to obey with no delay…as you call me, you have my complete attention and immediate response!

Give Prayer, by Heidi Avery

“I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone.” 1 Timothy 2:1
Timothy reminds us of our call to be in intercessory prayer- giving up our prayers for others. An intercessor is one who takes the place of another or pleads another’s case. Sometimes that’s easy, especially when we know what to pray for others, when we know what they’re going through. Even then, knowing exactly what to pray is hard because we don’t know God’s plan for them.
It’s even more difficult to pray for someone when we don’t know their specific needs. We don’t know the problem and we still don’t know God’s plan. Not knowing God’s plan is what trips me up most of the time as I pray for myself and others.
Until now…
In Colossians 1, I’ve found the answer on how to give effective intercessory prayer! I can’t take credit for this information it’s all spelled out nice and tidy in my bible… okay so I reworded it a little, but I just can’t help that!! Anyway, it’s helped me so much that I had to share it with you…
Colossians 1:3,4, 9-11
“We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus… For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father.”
When praying for others…
  1. GIVE thanks to God for their faith and changed lives in Christ. (Col. 1:3,4)
  2. Ask God to GIVE to them insight on what He wants them to do. (Col. 1:9)
  3. Ask God to GIVE them deep Spiritual wisdom and understanding (Col. 1:9)
  4. Ask God to GIVE them direction on how to live for Him. (Col. 1:10)
  5. Ask God to GIVE them more knowledge of Himself. (Col. 1:10)
  6. Ask God to GIVE them strength and patience for endurance. (Col. 1:11)
  7. Pray for them to joyfully GIVE thanks to God. (Col. 1:11)
So, I’m trying out this God breathed plan for prayer on our sweet Melissa today and this is what it looks like…
Father, I thank you for Melissa. Her faith is in you God and her life is changed because of you. God, give her insight on how best to deal with the little men in her life. Speak clear wisdom to her tired and tested heart. She wants desperately to live for you in every way and only You can show her how. Continue to reveal yourself to her and give her strength and patience to endure this difficult time. Lastly, Lord, give her a heart of joyful thanks to you for these trials that only serve to draw her closer to you.

"A Table for Two," By Kelli Zaniel

Picture a beautiful table draped with white linen, ivory colored plates surrounded by scalloped edges, sparkling crystal glasses that perform sweet melodies with only a touch, newly shined silverware, and a soft glowing light radiating from the glittering candles. Now, picture that you are having dinner with Jesus. The meal has been carefully planned and prepared. The aromas dance from the kitchen and playfully kiss the tip of your nose. The lighting is soft and the atmosphere is tranquil. Jesus has taken his seat as you begin preparing your plate. He eagerly awaits your return. As you approach the table, Jesus pulls out your chair (because he is a gentleman after all) as you graceful take your seat. You have not yet served Jesus, but you decide to sit down and start grubbin’ on the meal. Every girl knows that you never begin eating until your guest is served first. I am sure that Jesus is staring at his “hostess,” right about now and wondering what happened to her manners!

In the past, when I strayed from God, this is what would happen. I would rush around serving myself leaving Jesus empty handed. I would become so “busy,” with things that the world deemed important that I would fail to recognize Jesus’ personal invitation to fellowship with Him…sit with Him, listen to Him and be fed by Him.

I would step up to my personal buffet, serve myself a heavy duty helping of my will, which left my Jesus sitting there with an empty plate. When I invested all my time and energy into other people or things instead of Jesus, I was the one standing in line with no food left to be served and a plate full of emptiness. Am I only serving myself or am I serving God and others? Am I distracted by the menu or am I getting fed?

God knows our deeds. He knows if we are joyfully serving Him and others (see Rev. 2:19); or if we are just serving out of selfish ambition or vain conceit (see Phil. 2:3). God so desires for us to humble ourselves in service the way that Jesus humbled himself. Sometimes serving others is difficult but Jesus wants to, “prepare us for works of service” (Eph. 4:12). If we allow Him to prepare us, our focus will not just be on ourselves, but “the interests of others” (Phil. 2:4).
“Our attitude needs to be the same as that of Jesus” (Phil. 2:5) who made himself, “nothing as he took the very nature of a servant” (v.7). In the example above, the hostess made herself “EVERYTHING,” by only serving herself. That is just the opposite of what Jesus would do. If you sat down with Jesus at a table for two, who would be served first… you or your King?

Give In, by Heidi Avery

“Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice.” Proverbs 13:10
You know the saying “opposites attract”, its true isn’t it? We see an opposite personality trait in someone else and we often appreciate their differences and sometimes it’s even what attracts us to them. They seem to have certain strengths where we are weak and we are drawn to them. That’s how it was when I met my husband.
Robert and I are complete opposites and when we met his passion is what I was attracted to the most. He was also very confident, strong and persistent. He knew where he was going and was determined to get there. I admired him.
Me on the other hand, I was insecure, lacking in self-confidence and I did not have a clear purpose in my life. I was most passionate about falling in love. Robert’s presence in my life offered me the love I was looking for and strength for my weaknesses.
Isn’t it funny how what initially attracts you to someone later drives you absolutely mad? His once confident and decisive personality quickly turned to controlling dictator. He’s not really a dictator, but I sure know how to turn him into one.
We’re just different, that’s all.
My husband wakes up early each day, opens the windows, smiles with the sunshine and positively considers his day. He checks his list, refines it, watches the clock and quickly gets busy with life. Efficiently and on a tight schedule he does life until he’s back to bed once again. Really, he doesn’t stop.
Me, I wake up when the kids wake me up, glare at the bright light coming from the open windows and get up… not grumpy mind you, just slowly. Then (after brushing my teeth) I do what ever thing I need to do first. There’s no list, it’s whatever “thing” has to be taken care of right then and there. Could be getting someone breakfast, could be getting them dressed, could be taking a shower, whatever… there’s no routine. I do this all day long until I am back in bed again too. It’s disorganized chaos at its best.
Look, I know my ways are not ideal. I admit I am not good at time management. I’ve tried strict schedules and I just simply can’t keep up with it and failure results. I tremble at the thought of a schedule because I just don’t want to set myself up for more failure. 37 years later I am sadly still low on self-confidence. A wise friend reminded me recently that this is just this time of life that I’m in with young children and she is so right. But, there is still room for change, for better habits to be made.
Robert likes life a certain way and well, he has not been getting it the way he likes and he’s patiently waited for me to change. I’ve been doing it my way without compromise. He has tried many times to offer me help in the form of advice and encouragement in hopes to motivate me and I’ve rejected him time after time after time. I would act offended and irritated that he even thought I needed his help. This has been my consistent attitude about many issues over the years. I’ve carried the thought that he thinks he’s perfect and I’m not. He’s just trying to change me into him and I don’t want to be him.
Last week I went into my quiet time to study scripture about marriage that I’ve read a hundred times or so and to pray for God to shed new light. I looked up husband in the back of my bible and it had this definition: married man; protector and provider; figurative of Christ.
That silent stinging conviction welled up inside of me… again. Figurative of Christ? I have not considered this man that God gave me as a husband to be a figurative of Christ.
In that moment I realized and quickly confessed to God that I’ve been prideful.
God provided me with a husband that covers my weakness with his strengths in a mighty way. Isn’t that just what God does… provides us strength for our weaknesses. Robert’s recommendations have always required me to get uncomfortable and reject myself… isn’t that also what Christ asks of us? Yes, He asks us to take up our cross daily and follow him… it’s uncomfortable.
So, the painful realization that all these years of me pride-fully rejecting Robert’s help has figuratively been me rejecting Christ’s help has affected me deeply. So, what to do?
I am being called to just “Give In”.
I’ve experienced first hand my sinful pride breeding relationship devouring quarrels in my marriage. So, I’m giving in to my husband’s years of advice for me. I have already sat and listened to his ideas to help me to get more organized and create better habits. Because I listened instead of rejecting him I was able to transform his ideas into realistic and attainable goals for me. We compromised and are moving at my pace and not his, but with his ideas as the foundation. It’s good and I fully expect God’s gift of wisdom to be waiting for me because of my obedience. How sad that I’ve missed those blessings up until now, but it’s alright…. better to be a slow learner than to not be teachable at all.
Father, forgive me for my stubborn and prideful attitude towards my husband. You’ve given him strengths that I do not posses and that is a gift to me. Help me to look at Robert as Christ himself, to respect him and allow him to be my help in areas where I am weak. Thank you that you give me the wisdom to “give in” and the heart to want to.

Don’t GIVE Up, Just GIVE, By Kelli Zaniel

I am not a neatly packaged together person who has always done exactly what God intended for her. Unfortunately, my past is marked by divorce and physical abuse. The evil one had his choking grasp around my life which introduced depression and brokenness to my early twenties. Those things do not define me as a child of God but they do contribute to who I am as a woman of God. Because of those life-changing events, I am no stranger to feelings of abandonment, shame and rejection. Sometimes rejection sticks out its tongue, wags its fingers and hisses right in my face. For this reason, I tend to guard my heart by carefully avoiding situations that could reintroduce me to the howling hisses of good old fashioned rejection.

This is what ended up happening with my friend Mary. Over the past year, I have invited Mary and her family to all of our church events. Regretfully, her answer has always been, “no.” Selfishly, I decided to plop myself down in the shoulder along the easy road and wallow in a puddle of personal rejection. I admit that I pursued my will and not God’s by giving up on her. Never again would I invite her or her family to anything. And just like that, “I was done!”

When I attended Lysa Terkeurst’s speaking engagement this week, she mentioned a “Bible friend,” of hers who never gave up. The “Bible friend,” pursued Lysa with devotion and sincere concern over her salvation. “She always had a Bible verse for everything,” Lysa remarked. After having an abortion, Lysa fell into a deep dark hole of depression. She lay on her couch not knowing what to do or where to go. She looked over and spotted a handwritten note resting on her coffee table. Lysa grabbed the letter, folded back the envelope and discovered a note signed by her unsuspecting “Bible friend.” At a time when Lysa needed it most God reached out His loving and merciful hands through the note as she opened it and read these words from Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Lysa testified that God’s grace captured her that day because of the persistence of a girl who, most of the time, got on her nerves because of her faith. Her message to the crowd and God’s personal message to me that night was, “DON’T GIVE UP ON HER!” We never truly know how our presence or absence in someone’s life will affect them. I knew I had a divine appointment that I absolutely could not miss!

Instead of allowing my fear of rejection to weasel its way back into the core of my heart, I would claim a promise God gave me. “For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those hearts who are fully committed to Him,” (2 Chron. 16:9). God doesn’t ask us to do anything in our own strength. This verse specifically tells us that the Lord looks over the earth for people He can use and equip with the strength necessary to “get the job done!” If I profess to be “fully committed,” then my actions need to follow my words. Do my actions reveal a loyal heart or a self serving one? My actions must follow so that others will know that “Christ’s grace was not without effect,” (1 Cor. 15:10), in my life.

The “author of my faith,” (see Heb 12:2) began stretching me out of my comfort zone once again. I knew Mary had been struggling with the birth of her third child and I knew my mission was to be there to encourage her… not to internalize or to take things personally. Yesterday, I wrapped up Lysa’s book, “The Bathtub is Overflowing But I Feel Drained,” placed a sparkling silver bow on top and ventured out to deliver not only a book to an unsuspecting friend, but to deliver on an assignment God had given me. Instead of “GIVING UP,” I decided to “GIVE BACK.” I gave to my friend that day, but in reality she gave me more than I ever could have imagined when her smiling face greeted me as she opened the door! More importantly, my obedience and accountability to the Lord kept me motivated in my pursuit to humbly serve Him.

“Because His grace was not without effect,” (1 Cor. 15:10) my goal will be, “to please Him,” (2 Cor. 5:9) “by working with all my heart for the Lord and not for men,” (Col. 3:23).

Page 1 of 212