When The Glory Comes

This past Sunday as I watched the Oscars, I was reminded again of the problem of racism. Most days I try to block it out of my mind.

How this issue must break God’s heart. I was raised in the midst of it and have battled against it–and with God’s help won–in my mind and heart. I feel an ache when I see Christians have poisonous attitudes toward people who have a different color skin. I’ve seen racism lift its ugly head in my Christian circles.

I regularly hear people use the “n” word.

It breaks my heart that it is still often the case that the most integrated places in this country are our churches on Sunday morning.

The good news is that justice will prevail. God knows. God sees. God will make things right.

I fell asleep and missed John Legend and Common singing the song that won the Oscar for “best song.” But since then I’ve listened to it and watched the video many times. The song is “Glory” from the movie, “Selma.”

The phrase from the song that has been playing over and over in my mind is “When the glory comes…”

When I hear that, I think of another song that has the line “mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.”

When the Lord comes.

That’s when everything will be set right—not only in the area of racism—but in every injustice on the face of the earth.

Some days I long for Jesus to come back, especially when I contemplate all the evils of this world.

The Word of God talks about the day Jesus will return:

Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn and beat their breasts and lament in anguish, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory [in brilliancy and splendor]. Matthew 24:30 AMP

Until that day, I continue to ask God, “What can I do to overcome evil with good?”

I can love every person who crosses my path. I can let go of fear and prejudice. I can stop seeing myself as better than other people.

One day when preaching the gospel in the streets of a poverty-stricken, mostly African American area near my home, I saw some men in the street who were high on drugs. A part of me believed I was better than them.

I remembered the verse which says that in humility I should consider others better than myself. (See Philippians 2:3) I asked the Lord at that moment, “How do I do that with these men?”

The answer that came to mind was this: “They are better than you, because you hide your sin.” God gave me words of love to speak to those men that day.

Back then I was a member of one of the churches in that neighborhood and taught Sunday school to the teens there. Those teens had been through so much. As I spent time with them, God gave me a heart of compassion to replace my heart of judgment. They taught me so much about the love of God.

I pray that things will get better when it comes to racism, and in some ways they have. I also pray that all of us will deal with the racism that resides in our hearts. Jesus can heal.

Yet people resist Jesus and loving like Him. And because of hardened, hateful, and unhealed hearts, racism will continue—that is until the day the Lord comes and makes all things right.

I’m looking forward to that day…”when the glory comes.”

Here’s the link to the song “Glory” by John Legend and Common which includes clips from the movie, “Selma.”

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It’s a feeling I tend to get on a regular basis when it comes to negative emotions. When circumstances in life become difficult, I can feel overwhelmed by depression, anger, fear or all three.

Recently as I listened to a song on the radio, I thought of a cure for feeling overwhelmed. The song titled “Overwhelmed” speaks of being overcome by how great God is.

Instead of doing this, I’m too often overwhelmed by emotions when being bombarded by negative circumstances beyond my control. God spoke this truth to my heart recently: You will feel that way less often if you keep your eyes on Me and stay in a state of worship, remembering that I am always in control.

Being overwhelmed by His greatness—by His beauty, by all He is and all He has done–causes my problems to look much smaller.

When I keep reminding myself how great God is and magnify Him and His name instead of magnifying the problems in life, I can maintain a sense of peace. I then allow the Holy Spirit to shine through me and influence others instead of letting my fear, sadness, and anger spill onto those around me bringing them down along with me.

When times are hard, the temptation to withdraw from the Lord can overtake me.

“After all, He’s not doing anything to change this crisis,” can be my excuse.

Sometimes I’ve prayed for years, and I become weary of praying, so I back away and try to do something “on my own.”

This is what contributes to those feelings of being overwhelmed.

Today I looked up the word, “overwhelmed.”

I read, “to cover or bury beneath a mass of something, as floodwaters, debris, or an avalanche; submerge, to load, heap, treat, or address with an overpowering amount of anything.”

Yes, that’s how I can feel: buried, submerged, overpowered.

Thank God there is a way out of these feelings—keeping my eyes on the Lord and recalling His faithfulness and how overwhelmingly wonderful He is.

Today, Lord, help me to choose to be overwhelmed by You and not by the difficulties in my life. And “when my heart is overwhelmed and fainting; lead me to the rock that is higher than I…” (Psalm 61:2 NIV) Let me always remember that You are my Rock.

Please allow this song to help you be overwhelmed by the Lord.

“Overwhelmed” by Big Daddy Weave

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Beyond Me

“This is too hard.”

Often when presented with a task I sense God is calling me to do, that phrase comes to mind.

Today I realize in the past when this statement ran through my mind or came out of my mouth, a sense of shame came along with it.

After listening to a song by Toby Mac recently, I realized that God makes His assignments “too hard” for a reason.

So I’ll depend on Him.

I don’t need to be ashamed of my weakness or inadequacies.

There’s a saying that someone brought to me in my early days of writing when it seemed that getting published was an impossibility: “God doesn’t call the equipped. He equips the called.”

I’ve been reminded lately that it’s when weak people allow God to empower them to do great things for His Kingdom that He gets the glory.

God used inadequate people in the Bible. Often I have viewed the “characters” in the Bible as superheroes, but they had frailties just like me. And success depended on their staying vitally connected to the Lord.

What can follow after my proclamation of “This is too hard” is that instead of choosing to depend on the Lord, I abandon what God is calling me to do. At times I convince myself that certainly I was hearing wrong–that a task so difficult and one I feel unqualified to perform couldn’t possibly be from Him.

The truth He shows me in His Word is this: “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13 NIV)

Today I’m contemplating some of the tasks the Lord has called me to:

–to continue to work with acutely mentally ill patients when it seems I have little strength to do so.

–to proceed in playing guitar and singing to audiences of His choosing when my voice and music skills seem inadequate.

–to be totally transparent in writing about my hurts and heartaches and God’s faithfulness for national magazines.

–to seek publishing for a book I’ve written that reveals lies I’ve believed and truths from the Lord that have helped to free me when it seems many in Christian circles are sold on those lies.

As I determine once again to fully embrace God’s calling on my life, another saying comes to mind. This one I heard while working as a substitute teacher for middle and high schoolers—something I felt ill-equipped to succeed at. Often I felt like quitting, but I knew God had called me not just as a glorified babysitter to these students who too often displayed their worst behavior, but as a proclaimer of truth and as an encourager.

“God gives us the good days, so we won’t quit, and He gives us the hard days, so we’ll depend on Him.

I will continue to depend on Him on the hard days and in the difficult tasks He has assigned to me. And I will embrace that it’s OK and even a reason to celebrate God’s faithfulness and provision if these callings seem impossible or as the song says “beyond me.”

Here is the link to “Beyond Me” by Toby Mac

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Healer of Broken Hearts

Often I feel like I have a broken heart.

One of the things my heart breaks over is people I know and love refusing to receive God’s healing. In my mind I can picture what they would be like after receiving God’s healing touch for their emotional and spiritual problems. I envision what living fully for the Lord and prospering in their souls would look like.

Instead of enjoying this, I am forced to witness them living desperate lives of being in bondage as year after year they maintain hardened hearts and continue to refuse to go to God for healing. Instead they try to heal themselves, but only sink deeper into the muck and mire of this world.

It’s like I’m someone on shore watching as a life guard tries to save a drowning person, but the individual fights the life guard and chooses to keep on drowning.

Recently after receiving an instruction from a speaker on a CD to cry out to God, “Who or what do you want to be for me during this trial?” I asked the Lord that question about my broken heart over those who refuse to receive healing as I mourn the dire consequences of their refusals.

I want to be your healer, was the Lord’s response.

Even though so many people I know refuse God’s healing, if I sink into despair over this, I end up in the same place as them—far from God.

So I prayed, “Lord, please be my healer. Continue to heal me even if they refuse Your healing.”

Although those I love refuse to receive healing, I can receive healing for my broken heart–which breaks over their refusal and over my still unhealed issues.

The verse that came to mind recently and one that has uplifted me repeatedly is Psalm 147:3: “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” (NIV)

I like what the Amplified version adds at the end of this verse: “curing their pains and their sorrows.”

My mind can convince me that the only way I can be cured of my pains and sorrows is for my loved ones to draw near to God. He is convincing me that the only way I can be cured of them is for me to draw near.

Often I pray that I want to be more like Jesus. Having a broken heart over those who refuse to draw near to God is a sorrow Jesus and I share.

In Luke 19:41-42 I read: “As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, ‘If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace’…” (NIV)

Even Jesus could not force people to receive, just as I can’t, but like Him, I can let go of the sorrow and be full of joy for what was accomplished on the cross. I can rejoice over how it has transformed my life.

I can choose to celebrate that because of the cross the door has been opened for all to draw near and cry out, “Lord, please heal me.”

Today I thank the Lord for the healing He has accomplished in my life. I marvel at how far He’s brought me. And I can see that He’s not finished with me yet—that the healing’s ongoing.

I will continue to pray that those I love will draw near to God to be healed, but I will not allow their refusals to rob me of joy or keep me in the state of having a broken heart. I will open my heart to God for complete healing of my own soul.

Right at this moment, Lord, I bring to You my broken heart, and I receive Your healing of it. And I will be still as You once again bind up all my wounds.

God is so good.

I heard the song “Healer” by Kari Jobe recently for the first time. After listening, the idea for this blog came to mind. Here’s the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yzejd6r9DwE

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The God of All Comfort

“When you’re going through a difficult circumstance, ask God ‘What or who do You want to be to me in this hard time?”

That was the gist of the statement which adhered itself to my heart as I listened to a Graham Cooke CD while driving in the car one day not long ago.

I had listened to this CD message before, but those words meant so much to me at that particular moment as I mourned the course of a loved one’s life and hurt over the wrong choices being made which hurt me and other people.

My prayers for resolution of the difficult circumstances seemed to go unanswered, but Graham offered a reminder of God’s closeness and His desire in this latest trial—to become more to me than He had been before.

So I asked the question.

“God, who or what do You want to be to be in this hard time?”

The answer came quickly.

“I want to be your Comforter.”

With that answer came peace. I knew no matter what lie ahead, God would be there to offer me comfort—to be my Comforter–if I would open my heart to receive. At that moment I basked in his present comfort and in His promise for future comfort.

As I contemplated what God had spoken, I remembered “Comforter” was a name for the Holy Spirit.

And then I recalled a title the Lord gave Himself within Scripture: “The God of all Comfort.”

I looked up those words in 2 Corinthians 1:3: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,”

As I thought of God being the God of all comfort, suddenly He seemed so big and harsh circumstances seemed small in comparison.

The first part of verse 4 brought back to mind a wonderful promise about God’s comfort: “who comforts us in all our troubles.”

Gratitude welled up in me for all the times the Lord flooded my life with His comfort.

The rest of verse 4 reminded me of the next step once I receive God’s comfort: “so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”

Even as the difficult circumstance remains, so does God’s comfort. He comforts me regularly with promises from Scripture, a sure sense of His presence, and the gift of His peace that passes understanding.

Instead of pleas to end what’s happening, my new request when pain starts to well up is, “Lord, please be my Comforter.”

God has honored that prayer.

One way is by bringing people across my path who pray with me and offer words of encouragement.

He’s also brought more people into my life who need comfort. Because of all the comfort I’ve received directly from God and from His people, I’m able to pass it on.

His comfort is not only flowing to me but through me.

Today I read the heading in the NIV Bible that is before verses 2 Corinthians 1:3 and 4. It says, “Praise to the God of All Comfort.”

Praise. That’s what I’m determined to give to God, my Comforter, today and in the days ahead—no matter what happens.

How about you? Are you facing a difficult circumstance that is tearing at your heart? Ask God, “Who or what do You want to be to me during this time?” Then receive all He has for you.

About the song: I googled “song about God as comforter” and found the following song—one I had never heard before. I pray it will minister to you.

“The Comforter Has Come” by Jars of Clay

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Renewal in the New Year

As I thought recently about what I desired in this new year, the word that came to mind was “renewal.”

I like the Merriam-Webster dictionary’s definition of renewal: to make (something) new, fresh, or strong again; to make (a promise, vow, etc) again; to begin (something) again especially with more force or enthusiasm.

Those words can certainly be applied to my spiritual life. In this past year I’ve often felt weary, worn, and weak. Some days I felt I didn’t have the strength to go on.

But the good news is I have a God who can renew and refresh my spiritual life.

Here are verses that came to mind as I thought about that truth:

He makes me lie down in [fresh, tender] green pastures; He leads me beside the still and restful waters. He refreshes and restores my life (my self)…(Psalm 23:2-3 AMP).

Renewal is not automatic. It’s necessary for me to get into a position to receive it from the Lord. And when I do, it’s wonderful.

If I want renewal, I need to cooperate as the Lord makes me lie down in green pastures. It’s vital to follow Him and spend time beside the still and restful waters. Those still and restful waters are connected to spending time with Him in prayer, praise, and meditating on His Word.

Too often I get busy, and I fail to take time for rest before Him. So instead of being renewed, I feel defeated, deflated, and for moments at a time despondent.

One goal I have for the new year is to seek times of renewal on a regular basis. Jesus did it, and so must I.

What often wears me out is when I start thinking like the world and like worldly Christians. But God gives me the cure for that.

Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you] (Romans 12:2 AMP).

It’s amazing how quickly I can go downhill in my thinking, especially after someone is mean to me or a new trial presents itself.

Yet as I cry out to God for His truth amidst the lies my mind tries to tell me, I find refreshment, restoration, renewal.

I feel a closeness to God that cannot match any other pleasure.

How about you? Are you feeling worn, weary, and weak? Are you ready to receive renewal from the Lord? Cry out to Him for this wonderful gift that He is always eager to give.

The following song came from a friend in the midst of my crying out to the Lord to renew my soul. God is so good.

“Atmosphere of Heaven” by Grace Williams

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Be Still Works Miracles

This is a reposting of a blog from December 4, 2011.

“Be still works miracles” I read on the sign at a church near my home during my early morning walk.

As I walked closer I saw that I had misread. The sign said, “He still works miracles.”

What the sign actually said and my misreading of it were both true statements.

During the Christmas season it’s often hard to find time to be still. There seems too much to do and not enough time to do it.

At Christmas time quite a few years ago, God taught me about being still during the holidays. That particular Christmas season I got a bad case of the flu. I spent most of the holiday season in a horizontal position.

The good news was that despite all my physical symptoms, it was one of the best Christmases I ever had. The reason? For the first time in my adult life I was quiet before the Lord at Christmas. No rushing around being obsessed with the mall or the mailbox. Instead of baking I was forced to take time to bask in God’s presence.

One evening I felt so bad physically. I turned off the lights in the living room and lay on the couch. Mindy, my seven-year-old lay beside me. We played “Silent Night” on a little music box and looked at the lights on the tree. After about ten minutes I no longer focused on my symptoms, and I lay there in complete peace, stroking Mindy’s hair and thinking of that holy night long ago.

I thought of Mary in the manger greeting her new baby boy who was born to save the world. I felt weary from the flu, and I thought of Mary’s weariness after her travels and giving birth to Jesus. I felt joy and a closeness to God, just as I imagined Mary did.

That night I realized that in Christmases past God had been calling me to “be still,” but I rushed off saying, “I don’t have time.”

Ever since then I have made it a point to take time to slow down and be still during the Christmas season. And when I do it works miracles on my attitude and dissolves my weariness.

During my times of stillness I consult the Lord about how to spend my Christmas season. Being still helps me to hear His still, small voice. He has led me to cut back on my activities and the high expectations I have of myself. I allow God to be in charge of Christmas and the result has been joy and peace.

“Be still and know that I am God”

my Lord reminds me in Psalm 46:10 (NIV) , a verse that often comes to mind—especially at Christmas time.

I like the way it’s presented in the New American Standard Bible where it says,

“Cease striving and know that I am God.”

I confess that I have tended to do too much striving at Christmas. I spend so much time striving to buy just the right gifts that I can forget what Christmas is all about—the gift of Jesus. But I am getting better at being still.

At Christmas time I have learned to take the time to remember who I’m celebrating and that “He still works miracles” and “Be still works miracles.”

What about you? Do you find it hard to slow down during the Christmas season? Try taking some time to be still before the Lord. Allow Him to quiet your heart. Receive the gifts of joy and peace as you meditate on the greatest gift of all—our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Whenever I’m still before the Lord at Christmas, I think of Mary. This version of “Mary, Did You Know?” sung by Pentatonix has blessed me so much lately.

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