Everything Comes Alive

A video on youtube touched me recently. Although I heard the song on the radio many times, the words spoken before and after the song stirred me in a powerful way.

Before the song started, the lead singer said three sentences.

“People said I’d never be anything.” A person in my childhood communicated a similar negative statement to me again and again.

“They said I was too broken.” I concluded this about myself.

“They said I had too many scars.” I told myself that lie.

I watched the singer of the group We Are Messengers belt out the words to the song “Everything Comes Alive,” and I thought about how God brought good out of my brokenness. I marveled at how He looked past my scars and resurrected what I surmised would stay dead.

This year I celebrate forty years of knowing Jesus as my Savior. After I heard this song with the words spoken before and after, I rejoiced at God’s healing power in my life and how He’s used me in ways I never imagined possible.

The image of the broken young woman I used to be seems like a hazy dream.

I never imagined back then He could take a depressed, suicidal young person and transform her to the point where she worked the last fourteen years with the mentally ill to help them overcome depression and the desire to die.

In no way did it seem possible He would take someone like me who stammered over words and turned red and flushed if anyone looked me in the eye and open the door for public speaking to bring hope and courage.

And when I wrote depressed, negative words in my journal as a teen, I could not have dreamed God would call me to be a writer to help others overcome depression and negativity and draw close to a God who loves them with a forever love which tenderizes and transforms.

I feel certain Darren Mulligan, the lead vocalist of We Are Messengers, the worship band formed in Monaghan, Ireland (oh, how I love his accent, and the fact that we could my kin since my mom’s father’s side of the family originates from Ireland) never imagined in his dark days he would be in a band singing praises to God.

These six sentences verbalized after he sang the song on the video caused my heart to overflow with gratitude as I applied them to my life and circumstances.

“People said I was too broken.”

“But God said something different.”

“He said He’d take me with my bruises and my scars.”

“He never said life would be easy.”

“It can still be tough.”

“But I know this: I’ve got hope.”

Today I praise the God of hope who embraces broken people. And when they take hold of Him in return, everything comes alive.

Note: If you live in the Tampa Bay area, you can see the band, “We Are Messengers” and hear their powerful songs for yourself.

“Enjoy a FREE concert with We Are Messengers and Stars Go Dim, coming to the 2017 Chasco Fiesta in New Port Richey on Friday, March 24th!” –From the JoyFM website.

“Everything Comes Alive” by We Are Messengers

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ga5wTxF6Tc

To read Darren Mulligan’s testimony, click this link:

http://wearemessengersmusic.com/biography

 

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Get Rid of the Piles

I admit I create many piles in my house.

In my office, piles of papers from projects and “for future use” call out for attention.

Piles of mail clutter my counter space until I find time to sort through them.

In my closet sits a pile of clothes to be mended by me who feels awkward and inadequate with a needle and thread in hand.

Not long ago I visited with my brother, Bob, for quite a while on the telephone since he had plenty of free time as he recovered from total knee surgery. As we talked, I conquered piles in my home office. I felt exhilarated and free after I parted with item after item which in the past seemed vital, but on examination no longer held value to me.

As I thought of these piles recently, I remembered what I told some middle schoolers I mentor.

“Don’t let bitterness pile up in your life.”

These young people faced bullies, and we discussed ways to deal with them.

I noticed some tended to make piles of offences in their minds–memories of unkind acts by these foes. At times they communicated to me, “Let me recite to you what’s in my pile.”

Some proved to be ancient history as evidenced by the list beginning with, “Back in third grade…”

I discovered why some young people recover quickly from a bullies’ taunts and mean actions while others remain in torment, sometimes long after the bully or bullies move on to other victims.

The reason? Those piles!

Some forgave and moved on. Others clutched offenses and stacked them up.

For too long I practiced the destructive habit of piling up offenses in my mind. I wallowed in misery because of what people did to me. I repeated out loud their crimes against me with gusto. I sorted through them, rearranged piles, but I failed to get rid of them.

Along the way God showed me how to deal with these piles–through forgiveness, which came from Him and flowed through me to others.

I confess I slip back into the collection of piles. Not long ago in the prayer room at church, I reconstructed a pile of memories of Christians who should know better who hurt me over the years. None apologized for their actions. If only they would, I thought, then I could dismantle my pile. At the moment I realized Satan gladly helped me reconstruct those memories, even though I desired to forgive and even thought I had.

I needed to reject the resurrection of those rejections. So I went to the table where a bowl of water and a pile of thin strips of special paper presented themselves. I wrote the name of each person who came to mind and a short description of the offense. I placed the pile of papers one by one into the water, and watched them dissolve.

I thank God for this repentance bowl that our church provided.

I’ve done other symbolic actions to deal with my piles, but this proved to be my favorite.

We all hold to excuses for piles in our homes and in our minds, but after my instruction to these young people, and God’s reminders to me, my excuses ring hollow.

Ephesians 4:32 comes to mind as I contemplate the removal of all negative piles from my spiritual life.

“And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” NASB

What joy comes as I follow this instruction from the Lord.

I thank God that He does not hold on to piles. And for His help to deal with mine.

 

 

 

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You Are Loved

“No one loves me,” a middle-aged homeless lady told me several years ago.

Over a number of days that I had contact with her back then, I felt an urgency to convince this woman that I loved and cared about her, and that the source of that love was God.

The truth I wanted her to know was that despite all the rejections she faced from those who were supposed to love her—like her family—God loved her more than she could ever know, and He would never stop loving her.

God did give me a deep love for this lady, and I gave her a heartfelt hug when we parted ways.

Recently as I drove down the street, I saw her at a bus stop. I rarely drive down that street at that time of day. It seemed God had another divine appointment for me—to let her know again that she was loved.

I sat at the bus stop with her, and she told me her latest troubles. She had found a place to live, but she left because “there were too many rules,” and “they were mean to me.”

I offered her words of encouragement. God led me to give her the small amount of cash I had in my wallet and take her to a store to get a few necessities. I drove her to an acquaintance’s mobile home, where she hoped to stay a night or two. The lady turned the homeless woman away. She cried.

With sadness I drove her to the park she said she would sleep in that night. I let her know where she could get some clothes and some assistance. She told me she was saved and now knew God loved her.

“In fact, He sent you to me.”

I feel certain our paths will cross again—if for no other reason than to remind her how much God loves her.

I wanted to do more for her, but I did as much as the Lord allowed.

Because I felt for years that no one loved me–even after I met the Lord–I’m drawn to those who feel unloved. It seems an assignment from my loving God to convince the unloved and those who seem unlovable that they are indeed loved—if by no one else then certainly by the Lord of the universe.

I have prayed with them and for them that they could sense His love. I ask God on a regular basis to let His love flow through me to them.

Today I celebrate that once I felt unloved, and now I feel overwhelmed by the love I receive from the Lord and from His people. I’m free to receive love from family and friends instead of feeling convinced I’m not good enough to be loved or mistaking their unintentional neglect of my needs as them not loving me.

I received God’s healing of my broken heart, and I long to pass along that healing to others. I want others to experience the truth of this verse that reflects what happened in my life:

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3

Lord, continue to use me to let others know this truth: “You are loved.”

“You Are Loved” by Stars Go Dim

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-YbdaR7Plac

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Ignored

Lately there have been a number of people who repeatedly ignore me.

I send a text, an email, leave a message with no reply—sometimes for weeks or even months.

Others who ignore me are those to whom I’ve sent a card with a gift of money or a present by mail with no acknowledgement or thank you.

As a writer, I get ignored by editors on a regular basis. I send an article and then wait for a reply. Many months pass. I send follow-up letters asking about the status of my piece. No answer.

One time after sending several follow-up letters, I called and asked about the status of my article because I knew the editor. We had a friendly conversation about my piece and other subjects. She said she would check it out and let me know her decision. That was several years ago. I’ve heard nothing since. I withdrew the article and had it published elsewhere.

Another group of people who ignore me are those who ask for wisdom when they face a difficult circumstance. They ignore the wisdom I give and make the destructive choice—leading them further away from God and healing.

I confess at times I’ve taken it personally when so many people ignore me. I ask, “Is there something wrong with me?”

When I looked up the synonyms for ignore, the list stirred up hurt: avoid, discount, neglect, overlook, reject, scorn, cold shoulder, disregard, pay no attention to, disdain, pooh pooh, slight, brush off,  be oblivious to, pass over, shut eyes to, tune out, take no notice, turn back on, forget… Yet as I read this list, I realize that I at times ignore other people for a variety of reasons.

As I contemplated my being ignored lately, some truths came to mind.

Sometimes people ignore me because I embrace God and His will and way, and others want to go a different way. So in the end, they ignore not me, but God.

Another truth that came to mind as I thought of how often I pray, “Lord, make me more like You,” is this: God is ignored more than any other living entity in the universe.

At this moment millions ignore His call of “Come unto Me.” Scores of people close their ears to His whisper of how to be healed, helped, made whole. Christians read God’s Word and then do the opposite. He whispers, “Repent,” and is ignored some more.

I confess at times I’ve been the one ignoring the Lord.

So if people ignore me, He knows how I feel. I may be ignored, but I’m not alone when that happens because it’s happens to Him repeatedly.

I can list ten or more individuals who presently are ignoring me and quite a few from the past.

The Lord could list millions.

So what do I do? What does the Lord do?

When Jesus lived on this earth and was ignored, He lamented. (See Matthew 23:37: “Jerusalem, Jerusalem…”) The Bible defines lament as “a passionate expression of grief or sorrow.” He offered them something wonderful, and people ignored His offer. He knew the consequences they would suffer, and it broke His heart.

I discovered it’s OK to feel sad about being ignored and even weep, especially when if a person would receive a truth God has called me to speak to them, their lives would be enhanced—even transformed. By ignoring, they sink deeper into misery. Right now there are a number of people in my life who ignore my encouragement to forgive those how have hurt them. Some these were hurt by spouses who ignored them.

They refuse, and are living in that place of torment spoken of in the Word. (See Matthew 18:34-35. Or read the whole story starting at verse 23)

Jesus also prayed when ignored and on scores of other occasions.

Being ignored by someone can be a prompt to lift that person up in prayer. Sometimes the ignoring comes because of their hurts and heartaches or being overwhelmed by busyness or the pressures of life.

This I do know: God does not ignore me. When I call out to Him, He’s there—even if I don’t feel Him and even if I’ve been ignoring Him for a time. God never withdraws love because of being ignored.

I can make being ignored by people all about me, and I can choose bitterness because I feel hurt and rejected. Or I can use it as an opportunity to bring that person before the Lord and pray diligently for healing and a reconciliation in our relationship and in the other person’s relationship with the Lord.

This thought just came to mind: “When I’m ignored, bring that person to the Lord.”

I plan to continue doing just that.

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Help Me To Be Quicker

As a runner, this goal looms ever before me: to run faster–to improve my time, to be quicker on my feet.

In my spiritual life, I have a “be quicker” goal for this new year.

I thought about where I’d like to be quicker. The following list came to mind. I want to be:

-quicker to say, “I was wrong,” to people and to the Lord. This one reminds me of what my Bible study teacher often told us: “Don’t be wrong long.”

-quicker to say, “I’m sorry.”

-quicker to forgive. This verse comes to mind: “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32 NIV

-quicker to listen. With this one, I think of James 1:19 where the Lord urges me to “be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.” (NIV) The conclusion I come to is that if I determine to be quicker to listen, I will be slower to speak and slower to become angry. Oh, how I need that.

Here’s more of my list. I want to be:

-quicker to end an argument.

-quicker to act when God’s still, small voice gives me an instruction.

-quicker to pray. This will help me with anxiety and worry, which I battle on a regular basis. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 KJV

-quicker to give a compliment, an encouragement, a hug.

-quicker to worship the Lord and bring Him glory.

-quicker to tell people about Jesus and to give the reason for the hope that is within me. (See 1 Peter 3:15)

Right now as a runner, I’m slow. Not too long ago, I could run for forty minutes to an hour without much effort and at a moderate speed. But then I got away from it. Now that I’m trying to get back, I run as if through mud. I hurt when I run, and I can last only ten minutes at a time.

The same can happen in my spiritual life when I get away from the spiritual, supernatural response to the challenges in life and just do what comes naturally—when I stop exercising my faith. Spiritual responses become harder, and I’m slower to achieve them.

So as I become quicker again as a runner, I’m determined with God’s help to become quicker as a Christian.

I’m certain more “quicker” goals will come to mind in the days ahead, and I pray for grace to embrace each of those and every item on the list above.

Lord, help me to move closer to becoming all You’ve called me to be in 2017 and in the years ahead.

“Lord, I Give You My Heart” (This Is My Desire) by Hillsong

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FHMjhz8aHTw

 

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Take Courage

Years ago I wrote a little song about courage. At the time I was intrigued that a verse in the Bible didn’t say, “Have courage.” Instead it read, “Take courage.”

“Be strong, and let your hearts take courage, all you wait for and confidently expect the Lord.” Psalm 31:24 AMP

I could see God holding out all the courage I needed to face the troubles and tasks in my life as He urged, “Take courage.” So that was the title of my song. Here are the words:

I will take courage–

the courage of the Lord.

I will take His courage;

my faith will be restored.

When my fears are all around,

I will take the higher ground.

Yes, I’ll take His courage—

the courage of the Lord.

Not long ago I heard another song by the same title. It was sung by someone who definitely needed courage. Her husband had early onset dementia and had not long before become violent and had to be admitted to a locked facility.

I never heard this song before, but she sang it with such conviction that it really touched me. The words spoke to my soul. The singer sang about taking courage and about how God is in the waiting. I realized that’s when I really need courage—when I’m in an extended trial—like this loving wife whose husband’s brain continued to malfunction. Because the dementia is early onset, and he’s otherwise healthy, this couple and their family will suffer for many years.

I, too, face situations which require courage and waiting.

But this song, obviously a comfort to her, comforted me in my long, drawn-out trials.

Not long ago I looked up the word “courage” in the dictionary:  “strength in the face of pain or grief” and “the ability to do something that frightens one.”

In some translations of the Bible instead of “take courage,” the verses say “take heart.” The “cour” in courage means heart. The opposite of take heart is lose heart, which I see in Galatians 6:9, a Bible verse that has lifted me up over the years. “And let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary.” NAS 1977

Some people have asked me, “What’s your word for the new year?”

I decided mine is courage. In 2017 I’m determined to do what this song and many verses in the Bible implore, “Take courage.” I also choose to remember that my God is right here with me in the time of waiting to supply the courage I need.

I also want to urge others to take courage: “Say to those with anxious heart, ‘Take courage; fear not…’” Isaiah 35:4 NASB

And when I face yet another trial, I will remember John 16:33: “In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”

I thank God for His generosity to give me courage to face every difficulty of life and as a bonus bring good from each of them.

Lord, I receive Your courage.

Kristene DiMarco  “Take Courage” Bethel Music

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r49V9QcYheQ

 

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Two Lists for a Happier New Year

In place of my blog this week, I’m posting the link to my latest article titled, “Two Lists for A Happier New Year,” published in the January 1, 2017 issue of The Lookout. I’m busy finishing up my two lists and encourage you to consider making two lists of your own.

http://www.lookoutmag.com/two-lists-for-a-happier-new-year/

happynewyear

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