Sep
2

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What if God {is} in fact LOVE

What if the Bible really is God’s Word? What if the Bible was penned divinely by God through man?

I believe it is.

What if God really IS LOVE.

The Bible says: God IS Love (1 John 4:8)

Not God is the best at love, not God loves a lot, not God gives love, not God wants you to know He loves you.

NO, it says GOD is LOVE.

Do you ever just sit and think about what that means?

What if that place deep deep inside each one of us, that place we incessantly try to fill with everything from spouses, friends, dogs, children, chocolate (all good things, well I am not really a dog person) but what if we let that space be filled by the One who actually made us. The One who knit us together in our mother’s womb, the One who even put that longing in us?

What if we opened up our hearts a little more and let more of Love Himself in? Would it make our relationships better? Would we love those around us more?

I don’t know, I am just asking the question.

Years ago a therapist of mine gave me this:

Receiving and Giving

I am a novice when it comes to receiving.

Giving has become my expertise

But giving alone without getting

Becomes soon a fatal disease

 

If the intake valve is not opened

There’s no way to maintain a supply

There comes a point in the cycle of life

When the out-going stream runs dry

 

Straining out love from a vacuum

Is like drinking from the heart of a stone

Try as we may, at the end of the day,

We’re exhausted, frustrated, alone.

 

“Better to give than receive,” we are taught.

Yet another truth I’ve learned just by living:

Only the soul with the grace to receive,

Excels in the fine art of giving.

 

The Rev. Dr. James A Forbes Jr.

Senior Pastor, The Riverside Church, NYC

Copyright 1995, New York City

 

I had to peal it off my refrigerator to type it up. It’s been hanging on up there for the past 6 years. She knew! She knew I had trouble receiving love. I didn’t know that until years later, but she knew. I didn’t know God then and neither did she, but God knew I needed to understand this about myself. SO I ended up with this little poem, which was pretty impactful at the time.

I have come a long way since then, but I am often reminded I need to sit and soak up the LOVE of God before I can really function in any manner for anyone else.

I do forget sometimes (kind of a lot to be honest) and then I find myself running low on tolerance for people, traffic or just life in general. I am quickly reminded that I need to be loved on by the One who loves and adores me most. The One who created the Universe, the One who came down and rescued me. Ahhhhhhh… YES…..

He loves me! He loves you!

It sounds cliché, but the fact of the matter is, it’s 100% TRUE..

It is life changing to let that love in, to humble ourselves to receive His gift of salvation and then to receive His love every single second of every single day… To sit with Love Himself.

Be loved on by your creator, He is good and He loves you. And He does know the world around you is not how it was suppose to be, but that does not change His love for you!

Aug
15

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God KNOWS what is around the next corner!

This next ONLY GOD story is written to encourage you:

1. GOD IS in the details!

2. God is with us in our pain and often wants us to walk forward in Hope, because He knows what is around the next corner!

3. God hears our prayers.

This next couple, they inspire me! They inspire me towards marriage, as I see them honor one another, enjoy each other and love God with all their hearts!

Now let’s  journey back to South Africa, over 20 years ago.

Meet two young couples: Dionne and Bridget van Zyl, and Greg and Michelle Haswell.

Both were married a few weeks apart and served on staff together at a local church in Pretoria, South Africa.

Dionne was later called to the marketplace, and while on a business trip in Germany encountered the presence of God in his hotel room. He took out his journal and wrote down the words “Atlanta” and “Georgia,” not knowing until later that those two words were even connected to each other.

Soon, it became obvious God Himself was calling Dionne and his young family to move to the US and specifically Atlanta, GA.

A few years after the van Zyls moved, Greg Haswell had a dream about “shifting continents.” It wasn’t clear right away what the dream meant, until after he, Michelle and their young daughter Nicole visited the van Zyls while on a vacation in the US. While flying back to South Africa at the end of the trip, Michelle turned to Greg and said, “It feels like we’re leaving home.”

It wasn’t long until they also picked up and moved to Atlanta, GA to start a church called Northlands!

Meet Lindsay

Lindsay is young, wise beyond her years, discerning and a generous spirit! One thing I know and love about Lindsay is her natural comfort on stage with microphone. And a little fact I just learned about her that DOES NOT surprise me; the girl preached her first sermon at age 15! Lindsay has spoken so much truth into my life, I admire her so!

Lindsay grew up on the coast of North Carolina and is the oldest of five children! Her family served at the same church for all of Lindsay’s childhood. When Lindsay was 19, their church merged with another church in town. That new church was affiliated with a group of churches, one of which was Northlands Church in Atlanta, GA

A year or two after the merge, Tyler (Lindsay’s brother) would meet his future wife Nicole (Greg and Michelle Haswell’s only daughter) at a conference at Northlands Church.

As Lindsay’s brother was falling in love in Atlanta with sweet Nicole, Lindsay’s heart was breaking alone in her dorm room just an hour north.  It was an (on again, off again) relationship that had ended with a guy back in NC, at the time Lindsay described the entire thing as horrific, more than just the relationship was lost, one of “those” where the pain just runs deeper for several reasons.

The kind of heartbreak that makes you question a lot about life!

Thankfully God knows the plans He has for us, plans to prosper us not to harm us! His plans are ALWAYS better than ours!

Nicole (Lindsay’s brothers girlfriend) encouraged Lindsay to emerge from her dorm room and come to Atlanta for the weekend. It was at the end of that weekend, Lindsay and Nicole ended up snowed in (note, it doesn’t really ever snow in Atlanta) at the van Zyl’s House.

It was at that house, alone in the guest room Lindsay says she felt the “the ties break off.”

She said, “The hardest part about a breakup is the amount of time it takes to get over it! I remember thinking all weekend, ‘I don’t have the strength for this. So many years wasted. Lord, how long will it take to get over this? I need to heal quickly. I don’t want to waste anymore time.’”

Lindsay walked out of that room and suddenly felt free for the first time in a long time. God had answered her prayer, right there, right then!

She walked around the corner and unexpectedly locked eyes with Bruce..…

Let’s pause and connect the dots!

Remember Dionne and Bridget from the beginning of the story, they are Bruce’s parents and also now elders at Northlands Church.

I KNOW, kind of complicated, but the amazing part is, it’s not complicated to God! He knew ALL ALONG!!!!

Back to the story, as Lindsay locked eyes with Bruce who was standing in the kitchen, she thought to herself  “Where have you been all my life”

Then, she quickly looked down shaking her head, “That was weird, no, no, that couldn’t be, I mean, it couldn’t be.”

She kept her newfound fondness of Bruce to herself for 2 months wondering if it was just a rebound situation. She wanted to keep her distance, BUT they “ended up” on the same team to plan a youth conference for Northlands Church.

Problem was Lindsay had convinced herself that Bruce couldn’t like her because he never flirted with her, not even once!

2 months later, Bruce invited Lindsay to coffee and she was freaking out, she had convinced herself he had found out about her crush (ON HIM) and that they could no longer be friends. Her stomach in knots, wishing she could teleport herself out of the very coffee shop.

Bruce started to talk, and very carefully describe how he felt about her. He was being careful because he was convinced Lindsay didn’t like him (because she had been so on guard about it!).

Pressed for time, Lindsay blurted out:

“Bruce, I want to be your girlfriend!”

Shocked at what just came out of her mouth, the few seconds that preceded his response felt like weeks.

He then responded with a smile, “Well that’s good because I want to be your boyfriend.”

2 years later they were married at (guess where!) Northlands Church by guess who Greg Haswell!

I love these two! I love this story! They are both hilarious. I often tell Lindsay, the stories she tells me about Bruce encourage me so much in knowing the kind of man I want to marry!

Thanks Bruce for being an inspiration to me by leading your wife in such a beautiful way

God knows what details have to happen in order to get us from here to there! He knew Dionne would have the dream and he and Bridge would to move to Atlanta. He knew Greg and Michelle would then follow to start Northlands Church. He knew Tyler would visit, meet and marry Nicole. He knew Lindsay’s heart would break, He knew she would be stuck at the Bruce’s house in a snow storm (IN ATLANTA- where we don’t have snow storms). He knew He would answer her prayer to “heal her quick” so that when she walked around that next corner, she would see her future husband for the first time!

Yes, God knows! So Let Him write your story!!! He knows what is next in your life too!

!


Aug
3

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Help! By Stasi Eldredge

Below is what the blog world calls a guest post (this is my first “guest” to stop by my blog) and I couldn’t ask for a better person honestly! It was Stasi’s book Captivating that opened my heart to the real tangible love of Jesus Christ just this past winter. It was seconds before something would happen that would test my faith to the core.

God’s timing is ALWAYS perfect… 

Stasi Eldredge wife of John Eldredge for all you dudes out there are both amazing writers, communicators and lovers of Jesus! Find more about them at Ransomed Heart Ministries 

Stasi and her team have been so kind to not only stop by my blog, but also give my readers (that’s you) the first chapter of her new book that launched JUST YESTERDAY.

The book called {Becoming Myself} is sitting on my couch, I just got it. I will dig in soon, I do hope you enjoy!!! {Putting the Pencil Down’s Only God Stories will return SOON!}

Now, Welcome Stasi…..

You’re not supposed to blog on Fridays.  Or so I’ve been told.  But I am not good at timing these things.  Nor at following directions as to what I’ve been told. The thing is, Friday or not, I need help.

So I reach for the Word and I look up references for “help” and God leads me to exactly what my heart needs.  I need to know that he will help me.  I am the man in Mark 9, asking again, “But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”

“’If you can?’” said Jesus.  “Everything is possible for him who believes.”  Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief.”

Psalm 18:6  In my distress I called out the LORD; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice, my cry came before him, into his ears.

18:16 He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters, he rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me. They confronted me in the day of my disaster but the LORD was my support. He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.

Psalm 30:2  O Lord, my God, I called to you for help and  you healed me.

Isaiah 40:27  Why do you say, O Jacob, and complain, O Stasi, “My way is hidden from the Lord, my cause is disregarded by my God“?  Do you not know? Have you not heard?  The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.  He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.

41:9  I called you.  I said, “You are my servant. I have chosen you and have not rejected you. So do not fear, for I am with you; so not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

I need help.  Even if it’s a Friday.  I need help to believe that the issues in my life that I am tired of losing battles to are not disregarded by or unimportant to God.  I need help to believe that though I am ashamed of my failures, God is not.  I need help from my strong God to reach down and take hold of me, to rescue me from enemies and patterns of behavior and beliefs that are too strong for me.

I need to know that my God is doing this because he is good and he is mighty and because he delights in me.  My faithful God answers my cries for help.  He knows what I need.  I look again to him with faith, in weakness, unable to save myself, and I cry for help.  I look again to him who does not grow tired of me or my cries—to the One who has called me and chosen me and promised that he will help me.

And I feel my faith rise.  My belief.  My knowing that nothing truly is impossible for God—not ever changing, freeing, delivering, and helping me.

Jesus still says, “Everything is possible for him who believes.”  Living water has been sprinkled on my parched faith, my battered hope.  I cannot make my own heart rise, but this God, this Jesus, this faithful one—he reaches down and rescues me.  He rescues all of us again and again and again as we call out to him for HELP!

Each and any day of the week.  Even Fridays.  Thank you, God.  Oh, thank you.

Thank YOU Stasi for stopping by and for this 1st Chapter Becoming_Myself_Chapter_1 of your new book! We are thrilled to have you! We love visitors. 

God is writing the story of our lives!

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