With You

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God IS with you.

He is the creator of the universe and He is with you.

Present tense.

He does not reside in the past, however wonderful or horrible yours was.

He does not jump ahead to the future unknowables and fear filled wonderings.

He is here with you.

Now.

Right where you are.

The Lord of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge.

Selah

Psalms 46:11 NKJV

The “Selah” at the end of the Psalm is a word that means “pause and think about it”.

Take this moment, this one right here,  to pause whatever you are in the middle of and think about the reality that God IS with you. It is a gift, a miracle and a privilege to be experienced every day.

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.

Philippians 4:4 NIV

May your day be filled with Selah, the awe, and wonder that God is with you and the desire to have a conversation with Him all day long.

Faith is A Verb

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Faith is not a feeling.

Faith is a believing – the type of believing leads to action.

A faith that is silent in word and deed is no faith at all.

Do something.

Do the thing that faith is prompting and fear is resisting.

“What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions?

James 2:14 NLT

What is God challenging you to do?

What fear is stopping you?

God is bigger than your fear and has a purpose for your faith.

He needs you to be who He has called you to be and do what He has asked you to do.

It isn’t about you, it is about who your obedience will impact.

It is time to put your faith into action.

Home After Irma

It took us 17 hours to drive home from White House Tennessee to Cape Coral Florida and the relief of pulling into our own driveway at 2am last Thursday morning was palatable. Then that strange energy took hold of us all, cat included, and we had to see, check, assess where and how everything was. The obvious damage was to our screens out back and a slight musty smell to our abandoned home. It needed to be aired out. We had power but the water pump would not work. My husband used an extension cord to get it power so we would have water in the morning. What a good man.
Morning came too soon and I dragged myself out of bed to get ready for work. Moments of sheer relief and unbelief at the reality that I was standing in my own bathroom washed over me. I was exhausted but thankful. Felt like a zombie but glad I had a bed even as I had walked by it as I went out the door.
The city had a beat up, blown over, debris-strewn look to it and a strange quietness that permeated as the brutal morning sun baked the land after Irma. There was little to no gas available and most of the stores are still dark.
Remarkably, Cape Coral sustained minor damage compared to other parts of the state. The next community over was devastated and may not have power for weeks.  Convoy of Hope was in the area two days after Irma struck and people from our church helped distribute food and basic necessities to those who needed it most. One of my ministry leaders, had 10 people living with her and some still there until their own homes have power. She is one of many amazing people who have opened their hearts and homes to help others survive this storm.
When I got to work, we began to share our stories. Some stayed to ride out the storm, some thought they would stay but in the wee hours of the morning hit the road to evacuate and others evacuated as soon as Irma was announced. Not one person had an easy time of it. Everyone looked exhausted. Everyone was exhausted. Later when Bobby and I ventured to Sam’s Club later for a couple necessities and I got in line to get a Family Pack Pizza deal, only they were out of pizza.  I stepped out of line, put my phone away and simply took a moment to look at the faces of those around me. What I saw was that we were a store of exhausted people. We are an entire state of exhausted people. Whether in homes, shelters, hotels, with friends or families near or far away, all of us anxiously watched the news stations tell the developing story of a storm that did not behave. Irma did not do what they expected and danced around predictions as she roared over the islands.  She surprised and terrified the experts and held us all enraptured at satellite images of the biggest hurricane ever recorded.  I heard one expert say that Irma was acting like a teenager.
We were at a friends home in Tennessee as we watched Anderson Cooper report from Fort Meyers on Sunday.  My son walked in and said, “Hey, I know where he is at – I think we filmed announcements there”. I looked over at my husband and said,” You know it is bad when Anderson Cooper is in your neighborhood.” I was captivated by the crazy reporter who stood in the hurricane force winds and horizontal rain in Naples. He was a visual representation of our homes, churches, businesses, trees. But when the eye came over Naples and he went down to the street, that was truly remarkable. The sky cleared, the colors heightened, the wind rested and it was quiet for a few minutes. And then Irma continued up the state.
We are in recovery mode now and all working to get life back to normal. Compassion is tactile and everyone I meet is working hard to help those whose recovery is slow going. I am relieved that the storm surge did not overtake 3/4 of Cape Coral’s homes and businesses. I am heartbroken for those whose communities were flooded and ravaged by this massive storm.  I am amazed at the power and awe of nature.
I am blessed to live in such a beautiful place, not just because of the gorgeous beaches but because of the generous hearts of the people that live here.
 And I am glad to be home after Irma.

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Make Yourself at Home 

“I’ve loved you the way my Father has loved me. Make yourselves at home in my love. If you keep my commands, you’ll remain intimately at home in my love. That’s what I’ve done—kept my Father’s commands and made myself at home in his love.”

‭‭John‬ ‭15:9-10‬ ‭MSG‬‬

A home is a place of protection from the outside elements.

It is a place of preparation that you come from every day.

It is the place of provision you go to and find rest in every night.

Jesus told his disciples, his friends, to make themselves at home in his love, just as he made himself at home in God’s love.

I think making yourself home in the love of Jesus is harder than it sounds because the love we are most at home in isn’t God’s.

The love we are most at home in is shaped by the love that we know from our family, from our past relationships and from the world we live in today. The love we are most at home in has come from broken people in a broken world.

The love you may know from the past is probably dysfunctional.

The love you may know from the world is definitely distorted.

The world says “love yourself”, “find the the love you need inside” and “you have all you need inside yourself”. But that love is usually destructive rather than protective.

What if all the love you know is dysfunctional, distorted and destructive?

The love you know is the love you give. It is the home you build and the life you lead. It is the love you are at home in.

Jesus came to show us what it looks like to be at home in God’s perfect love. He came to make a way for you to experience being at home in wholeness of God’s expansive love. To live in it and love from this healthy, all encompassing, forgiving, restoring, amazing love.

A love that is is a place of protection from outside elements.

A love that is a place of preparation for you to come from every day.

A love that is place of provision that you go to and find rest in every night.

Jesus opens wide his arms, points at his heart and essentially says,

“Come on in! My commands are the walls and roof that protect you, my compassion will prepare you to love those around you and my grace is the place of deep soul rest for you to be recharged and refreshed in. Come on in and make yourself at home here”.

Jesus came to heal the love you know and transform the love you give. He came to be your home.

It IS good to be home.

Your House 

  
In the old Testiment, God’s temple was a place to leave the world outside and enter into His presence.  A place to experience His love and mercy. A place to hear His Word and ask for His forgiveness. A place to get your priorities right and your perspective adjusted. A place to for Him to meet with you. It was a place where the sacrifice could be made so that His people could enter into His presence and more to point, that His presence could enter His people. 

In the New Testiment, Jesus became the sacrifice for sins and the Temple of God moved from a building to a heart…yours. A place to leave the world outside and enter into His presence.  A place to experience His love and mercy. A place to hear His Word and ask for His forgiveness. A place to get your priorities right and your perspective adjusted. A place to for God to meet with you. 

Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? 1 Corinthians‬ ‭6:19‬ ‭NLT‬‬

God’s desire is to make your “house” His home. You may not know what to do with your heart but God does. Your mind may seem erratic but God knows how to calm it. Your emotions may seem out of control but God knows how get them organized.

If you give Jesus full access to remodel “your house”, He will make it into His home and you will find that you like living there too.