Happy Thanksgiving!

To all my faithful followers and readers of this blog: Thank You. I appreciate you more than you know. May you have a very blessed Thanksgiving!

Norma

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Transition

 

“At the heart of every season of transition, whether you are a missionary or not, God is asking you, ‘Am I enough for you and will you trust Me?'”

James and Molly Bass

During this time of transition, the words to David Bowie’s song, “Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes,” keep circling my thoughts. Our transition, not only involves downsizing our house, but a move to Wichita, Kansas.

Any smooth transition requires acts of surrender and trust. The apostle Paul exemplified this in verses 22 and 24 of Acts chapter 20. “And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me – the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.”

Paul’s life was guided and directed by the Holy Spirit. It didn’t matter where God took him because Paul had relinquished his rights and desires. The Holy Spirit compelled him to take the next step and Paul agreed to it so he could finish God’s assignment on earth.

Likewise, we’re being compelled by the Holy Spirit to move to Wichita. It’s as if we’re being sent. Wichita was never in our original plans and we have no idea what will happen to us there. But through the years, we’ve learned to trust our “Father knows best.” If God wants us to move, then we’re game. We’re dead to our own agenda and our desire is to complete His.

We want to be like pieces on God’s chess board, allowing Him to move and position us where He wants. When that happens, it always ends in checkmate – God wins and we win. We can’t lose when we obey our heavenly Father.

We’ve been processing our hearts, grieving our loss, and going through stages of surrender. We’ve landed at the place of trust, being on board for whatever God has for us. Our transition from Tucson to Omaha, twenty-eight years ago was scary to get out of our comfort zones and sad to leave our precious family and friends. So it will be again this time around. Our time here has been a gift to us and we trust Wichita will also be full of wonderful surprises as we hold tightly onto God’s hand.

“Sometimes God closes doors because it’s time to move forward. He knows you won’t move unless your circumstances force you. Trust the transition. God’s got you!”

Anonymous

Relevant Reflection:

How can you make your transition more smooth by surrendering and trusting God?

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Life’s Checklist

 

“Decisions become easier when your will to please God outweighs your will to please the world.”

Anonymous

 Being compliant makes it easy for me to be a people pleaser. I have lived a great portion of my life wanting to do what others asked me to do. More and more though, as my heart grows closer to God, I desire to be a God pleaser. Recently I read Titus 3:1-2: “Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men.”

The Apostle Paul penned those words to Titus. As a pastor, and spiritual father, Paul wanted his disciple to be aware of what behavior would please God. These verses convicted me as I asked myself, am I living like this?

  • Am I being under the power of those in authority over me? Am I obeying the rules of my government?
  • Am I prepared to do things which benefit others, even if it interrupts my plans? Am I focused on others more than myself?
  • Am I protecting others’ reputations with my speech? Am I affirming and building others up?
  • Am I amiable, inoffensive, and avoiding arguments?
  • Am I kind, thoughtful, and respectful of others’ feelings and rights? Do I seek to understand others by placing myself in their shoes?
  • Am I unassuming, meek, and putting others ahead of myself?

It’s obvious from these verses that God calls His children to live up to a higher standard and not to live like the world does. This is quite the list! In my flesh, I know I can’t perfectly live according to this checklist. I’m grateful though, that the Holy Spirit enables me with His grace to live this way, so that my life can be one which pleases God.

“If we displease God, does it matter whom we please? If we please Him does it matter whom we displease?”

Leonard Ravenhill

Relevant Reflection:

Which of the questions in the above checklist is your biggest struggle? Ask God to fill you with His grace to live a life which pleases Him.

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Grace Forfeited

 

“Idolatry: trusting people, possessions, and positions to do for me what only God can do.”

Bill Gothard

Idols come in various forms. They can be a hobby that consumes our time, finances, and focus. Possessions or positions, which make us feel significant, are also idols. Social media, gives us a false sense of closeness to people. As a child, I comforted myself by reading books. When I became anxious, I bit my nails. Occasionally I still run to the pantry when I’m stressed. There was a season when friendships played too important of a role in my life. I’m familiar with fearing man and wanting the approval of others, which are also signs of idolatry. Anything we go to, to meet a need in our hearts, instead of going to God, is an idol. When we replace God with an idol, we settle for less than second best. Idols are poor substitutes for God.

Even though Jonah was disobedient to God, we can still learn from his life. While Jonah was in the belly of a great fish, he prayed: “Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs” (Jonah 2:8). When we embrace other little gods to try and fill the void in our lives, to calm our anxiety, or comfort us in adversity, then we won’t experience enablement from God. God’s gift of grace is always waiting in the wings for us. But if we choose these other idols then we miss what could meet our needs. The choice is always up to us. We can either run to God for help that will satisfy and last, or we can run to our idols.

Almost thirty years ago, I coveted a cobalt blue cable sweater from Land’s End. It was too expensive for us to buy, but for Christmas, my parents sent me the money to purchase it. I remember being so excited and once I received it, it didn’t satisfy. Idols lie to us and say they’ll give us what we desire, but God is the only one who can do that. Only God can fill the void in our hearts and make us content.

Even this morning I chose to spend ten minutes with my Facebook idol, rather than listening to God speak to me. No one and nothing can give me intimacy and contentment, like God can. Idols won’t satisfy my longings, but God’s grace will always give me what I need, to empower me to do what He desires. Let’s not forfeit the grace of God for our worthless idols.

“The true god of your heart is what your thoughts effortlessly go to when there is nothing else demanding your attention.”

Timothy Keller

Relevant Reflections:

  1. What idols do you turn to for comfort, instead of God?
  2. Have they brought you lasting satisfaction?
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Wholeheartedness

 

“The main measure of your devotion to God is not your devotional life. It is simply your life.”

John Ortberg

I love to people watch. Whether it’s at an airport or in the Word of God, I’m intrigued with why people do things. I recently read II Chronicles chapters fifteen and sixteen and I was puzzled by King Asa’s behavior. The King of Judah got off to a good start when the prophet Azariah’s words convicted him to seek the Lord. His courage led him to remove idols and his people entered into a covenant with the Lord. The result: God was found by them and gave them rest (II Chronicles 15:15). Dependence on God brought them deliverance.

But in the thirty-sixth year of Asa’s reign when the King of Israel went up against him, instead of relying upon God, Asa chose to depend on the king of Aram to come through for him. The seer Hanani in II Chronicles 16:8b-9a, went to King Asa and said, “Yet when you relied on the Lord, He delivered them into your hand. For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him.”

I’m curious as to why King Asa started off well and maintained his devotion to God for thirty-five years, but then trusted in a man, rather than God, to deliver them. Since I want to finish well, I wonder why Asa’s wholeheartedness waned.

God doesn’t want half-hearted devotion. He wants His children to be “all in,” fully committed to Him and His will. And when we are 100 percent whole hearted, then He promises to strengthen our hearts, knowing we will need courage to obey.

Sometimes I think I know what’s best and the perfect timing for circumstances to play out. A few weeks ago, I was impatient with how slow I felt things were moving. And that’s when I read these chapters in II Chronicles. Convicted to my core, I repented and asked God to help me remain fully committed to Him, knowing that’s where I’ll find my rest. I needed to depend upon God for deliverance and for His perfect timing. Out of my hands and into His, I gave Him the whole situation and asked Him to make me courageous to always obey His will.

May we rely upon God, and only God, for our deliverance. And may we seek Him to help us become wholehearted in our devotion, fully committed to do His will.

“Simplified living is about more than doing less. It’s being who God called us to be, with a wholehearted, single-minded focus.”

Bill Hybels

Relevant Reflections:

  1. How wholehearted is your devotion to God?
  2. Describe a time when your dependence upon God brought deliverance.
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Fuel to Fight

 

“God never sets us up to fail – only to grow.”

Bill Johnson

I don’t know about you, but my walk with God isn’t easy and at times, it requires a fight. It’s hard to persevere and not give up. In I Timothy 1:18, the Apostle Paul encourages his spiritual son Timothy, who is pastoring the church in Ephesus. “Timothy, my son, I give you this instruction in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by following them you may fight the good fight.” I find two strategies in this verse on how to remain faithful.

The first one is Paul’s instruction. Our marching orders primarily come from the Word of God. When I am seeking God for His direction or for clarification regarding His will, I begin with reading and meditating on God’s Word. We can find no better truth than what’s in the Bible. If you need help following God, start by reading His word.

The second nugget of wisdom I found, is to keep the prophetic words spoken over me on the front burner of my mind. Not only does the Word of God buoy my faith and help me persevere in my walk with God and all He’s called me to, but also the prophetic words others have given to me help build my faith and determination. It’s the combination of the logos and the rhema words, that keep me keeping on. If I follow both, I will fight the good fight.

A few months ago I read Bill Johnson’s book, Strengthen Yourself in the Lord. In it he encouraged the readers to write down on 3×5 cards the promises and prophecies spoken over them. He gave instruction to read them often and to meditate or “mutter them aloud.” He also suggested we regularly read portions of Scripture that the Holy Spirit has quickened to our hearts. Bill carries these promises with him so when he has a few spare moments, he’s able to remind himself about God’s truth regarding himself.

Bill Johnson writes: “When we treasure His promises by holding them close to our heart and anchoring our soul in them through prayerful meditation, we are demonstrating that we believe they are true, and we are showing practical trust in the One who has given them to us.”

In order to fight the good fight, we must be infused with His fuel: the Word of God and His prophetic words spoken over us.

“I can’t afford to have thoughts in my head about me that God doesn’t have in His. It’s impossible to be consistently effective in fulfilling His purposes unless I am continually training my mind to think of myself according to what God says about me.”

Bill Johnson

Relevant Reflection:

Make a list of God’s personal logos and rhema words He’s given to you. Declare them aloud.

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A Life Well Lived

 

“The root of all steadfastness is in consecration to God.”

Alexander Maclaren

Anyone can start a race well, but few finish well, in the race called life. King Uzziah got off to a great start, but when his success raised the ugly head of pride, he sinned and reaped the consequence of leprosy. (II Chronicles 26). Success can lead to pride, which leads to sin. But Uzziah’s son Jotham, observed what had happened to his dad and chose instead to fear the Lord. “Jotham grew powerful because he walked steadfastly before the Lord his God” (II Chronicles 27:2). Jotham’s firm belief and faithfulness to God gave him authority.

A dear friend of mine passed away recently, just 48 days shy of her 101st birthday. Germaine was like Jotham, steadfast and loyal to God. She was a powerful intercessor, full of faith and without fear of the enemy. Germaine had the gift of discernment and ministered deliverance through prayer. Many women who struggled with infertility, were able to give birth, after Germaine had prayed.

One of the qualities I admired most about Germaine was her deep intimacy with the Lord. She loved Jesus more than anyone I know. Her obedience, as well as the glass covered photo of Jesus marked up by her lipstick kisses, proved her love for the Lord. What God told her to do, she did, even if she didn’t want to.

Germaine knew who God was and who she was in her relationship as His daughter. Because her identity was firmly attached to Christ, she walked in her God-given authority and was free to be who God created her to be. She feared God, which left no room to fear man.

Germaine didn’t just start her Christian race well as a 48-year old, but kept interceding for hours and mentoring others for the rest of her life. I would love to hang with her and told her often, “When I grow up, I want to be just like you!”

These past few years, more than anything else, Germaine longed to be with the Lover of her soul. Yet, she knew God had her still on earth for a purpose. Philippians 1:21, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain,” summarized her life.

Yes, many start their race well, but few finish well to get the prize. Germaine, thank you for being one of the few. Your legacy will live on.

“Beginning well is a momentary thing; finishing well is a lifelong thing.”

Ravi Zacharias

Relevant Reflection:

How can you intentionally be steadfast with the Lord so you finish your race well?

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Remember Me

 

“Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat…”

Mother Teresa

Years ago I went through a season when I felt forgotten by God. I had physical pain from a herniated disc, as well as spiritual and emotional distress from not having a clear purpose in life. I floundered as I tried to see through my confusion and depression, and felt God had placed me high up on a shelf, only to be forgotten. I now know that was a lie from the enemy to discourage and to distance me from God. Hannah struggled with similar feelings as a result of her barrenness.

In I Samuel 1:11, Hannah cried out to God, “…if you will only look upon your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son…” God answered her prayer in verse nineteen. “Early the next morning they arose and worshiped before the Lord and then went back to their home at Ramah. Elkanah lay with Hannah his wife, and the Lord remembered her.” I can imagine how encouraged and comforted Hannah must have been.

I experienced similar emotions last Christmas when my daughter gave me a bookmark made by a friend from ministry school. On it was a prophetic word that God heard my prayers and will answer them. Tears instantly came to my eyes. Knowing that God had not forgotten, but remembered my prayers for loved ones, gave me an anchor of hope.

It was at one of my lowest moments, when I felt overlooked, that God showed me He remembered me. I was picking up mentoring material at Body Life Ministries, when the founder, Rick Waymire, gave me a tour of his facility. As he showed me the various ministries he supplied printed and audio material to, I asked him how I could become one of them. Rick then prophesied and I wept. That began what eventually became Restoring Hearts Ministry.

Even though I felt forsaken, God had never left me. Even though I felt abandoned and neglected, high up on a shelf, God remembered me. And even though I felt useless, God was working quietly within me, to form His character, for what He had up His sleeve next.

When you struggle, remember: God has not forgotten you. He hears, remembers, and will answer your prayers.

“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

Hebrews 11:5b

Relevant Reflection:

In what area of your life are you like Hannah, desperately crying out to God to answer your prayer? Rest in the fact that God remembers you. Thank Him ahead for His answers to prayer.

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