Archive for April, 2015

That time God rested….

April 28, 2015

I am so THRILLED to introduce my friend, Mark Matthys to everyone. Mark is a good friend, talented writer, and has a heart for worship like no one I’ve ever known. He, too, understands God’s heart for Sabbath rest, and I’m honored that he wrote this devotion for us about that very subject. Enjoy!

“And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God created and made.” Genesis 2:2-3

Have you ever wondered why God, a perfect and spiritual being, Who is everywhere at all times and never sleeps, needed rest? Somehow I don’t believe that He finished six solid days of creating, wiped His brow, and thought, “Wow, I’ve been busy. I sure could use a nap.” No, I’m more of the belief that He rested as an example to us. He has given us examples of how to love, how to forgive, even how to pray. So it stands to reason that He also rested as a model for us to follow. Work for six days, rest on the seventh day. Rest is not a suggestion or a recommendation that God spoke to man. Rest is a commandment. In fact, it is so important, that it is the fourth of the ten commandments. “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.” (Ex 20:8)

For us mortal humans, rest is a necessity. It is required for the human body to perform as designed. When we do not allow ourselves adequate rest, our immune system weakens and we open the door to illness and disease. This illness and disease is not just confined to our physical bodies. When we break God’s commands, we open ourselves to physical, emotional, and spiritual weakness. I have recently learned this first hand. My life has been full of busyness in the last couple of months – large projects at work, personal growth and training, and participation in numerous church activities. All of these have held great importance to me for various reasons, and I over-extended myself. As a result, my time of resting in the Word diminished, and I became spiritually frail; my time of physically resting diminished, and I found myself sitting in my doctor’s waiting room; and my emotional health also took a nose dive.

When we push ourselves and do not take time to rest, we are, in essence, making our work and accomplishments our gods….thus also breaking the first commandment – to have no other gods before the Lord our God (Ex 20:3). The devil wants us to think that we have to be continually at work to be worthy. But we already hold worth in the eyes of our Creator. So we need to honor our Creator by being obedient to His commands. In doing so, we will be physically, emotionally, and spiritually healthy in order for Him to work through us to reach the truly lost and sick of our community and the world.

Rest in God. Rest with God. Rest for God.

Heavenly Father, You have set before us a perfect model of how to live our lives. May we strive to be obedient to Your Word, and weekly take the time to rest, just as You have commanded. In our time of rest, let us press into You and hear the words of life and love that You are longing to whisper in our ears. In Jesus’ name, amen!

No More Holding Back

April 28, 2015

When I saw this picture, I gasped.

hold you back

I resonated with these words so much. And then I remembered I wasn’t given a spirit of fear, but one of power, love, and a sound mind. It can be hard to NOT compare ourselves with other peoples giftings…then when something big is asked of us, we can tend to shrink back thinking, “but I could NEVER do that! That’s “too big” for me…I’m not like her…I’m not like him…I don’t have enough experience…if I do this I will fail, etc, etc”

But you & I AREN’T like “her”, and we aren’t like “him”….and that’s exactly why we’re needed. We all bring different strengths/gifts to the table. A rainbow is beautiful because of all the DIFFERENT colors, right?? A monochromatic rainbow would be boring (& also NOT a rainbow)

Shine brightly where you are. Be faithful in the little things, and don’t fear the big things. If you’ve been called to something, you have been equipped & will have everything you need each step of the way.

Two years…

April 6, 2015

Nearly two years ago, my world was rocked. Shaken. Turned upside down.

I got a call on April 12, 2013 that forever changed my life. My brother called to tell me my mom had died in a house fire. I had to get him to repeat it two or three times because I couldn’t comprehend what was being said.

Mom died???

Traumatic is the only word that fits here.

The whiplash effect of that reality led to delayed grieving. At first, I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t “move past it” more quickly. Three months after my mom moved to heaven, I couldn’t understand why it still hurt so badly, why I still couldn’t sleep at night, and why I’d still burst into tears at random moments.

I had never lost anyone that close to me.

Two years later, I’ve learned more than I’ve cared to about grief. However, one of the greatest redeeming aspects has been how the Lord has used me to love on and encourage others who are grieving.

There’s comfort in knowing someone else has “been there”….and in many cases I’ve been the one to listen because, well….I’ve “been there”.

This past week-end, I went to my home town of Tyler, Texas. I hadn’t been back since my mom passed away. I had this urge deep down in my soul to go.

I had a vision in my mind of reading Psalm 23 in the grass where her body was last placed by fire fighters. Since she was cremated, I don’t have a grave site to visit, and for some reason this just made sense to me. On Wednesday before Easter, the Lord also gave me the idea to take communion in there, too.

I was on a mission…and I was going to complete it.

So, I headed out to Tyler on Saturday morning, and met my brother at mom’s town home. I didn’t know what to expect, but upon seeing it I was flooded with peace. It actually made things better to see life all around…to see azaleas in bloom, grass growing in the yard, and trees well past budding their leaves.

momstownhomeYes, the blue sky and all the green “life” around it brought a source of joy and strength. There were some structural changes with the remodel of the town home. It was the only one on the street that didn’t have a covered porch. You could tell on the exterior brick wall that one used to be there. A faint line told a story, but most people wouldn’t notice.

sittingingrassIt was good to see that all the glass blown out by the windows had been either cleaned up or buried in the soil. There were no more clumps of ashes…only newly planted monkey grass and blooming flowers declaring LIFE over the lot. Yes, this was a much more pleasant scene than the last time I was there.

I quickly found “the spot” in the grass that I had been drawn to in my mind. I had this desire, this need really, to sit where my mom’s body had been placed. I guess at one point in my life, we had been joined together with blood and tissue, so the fact I was craving that kind of “nearness” shouldn’t be too surprising.

I felt like I went from being 37 years old to 37 WEEKS in utero in that moment. I just wanted my mom.

After settling down, I was able to read Psalm 23 with my brother, and then we got ready to take communion. I had brought a loaf of bread, a small bottle of grape juice, and in true East Texas fashion, red solo cup shot glasses from which to drink the juice! It’s all I could find at the store, and didn’t want to buy a huge sleeve of little paper Dixie cups!

Just as we were getting ready to take communion, the front door opened. A man and his dog came outside, and the look on the man’s face and tone in his voice confirmed what I knew in my heart: We should have asked for permission first.

I had decided as we were walking up to the town home, that it would be awkward to ask permission beforehand. I told my brother that “we could just do our thing and leave.”  Well, apparently we took a little too long, and “awkward” may have been our better option. Oops.

The man showed us NO MERCY even after my brother explained why we were there. He asked how long we’d be there, then proceeded to walk his dog down the street. About three minutes later, he walked out the front door again and asked why we were still there. I explained we were just about to take communion so we could leave, but he started yelling about how he had told us to get our stuff together and get off his lawn (*let’s just say I left out a few colorful words here*). My brother and I said in unison, “You never said that.” He told us he thought we “should have gotten his nice hint…” Oops again.

His wife came outside and asked if we were drinking on their yard. I had my Welches grape juice bottle and held it up as I explained we were just drinking JUICE and taking communion. Although, I’m sure the little red solo cup shot glasses were a little suspicious. Should’ve gone with the Dixie cups. My bad…yet again!

communion

The guy started yelling again and my brother stood up at that point and yelled, “Do you not have ANY compassion for another human being?!?!” I stood there with my mouth open for a couple of minutes, and then offered my apologies for not getting permission first. I explained, through tears, that it was going to be awkward either way and they agreed.

And then there was a total shift. I think heaven came down and intervened because they both started apologizing to us profusely. Turns out they had just woken up and there had been a shooting behind their house last week. So, I’m sure it was alarming for them to walk out and find strangers having a Kumbaya moment on the front yard (although, my brother and I had to be a little less alarming than some gun wielding crazy person. I’m just thinkin’)! They offered us water, and told us we could come back every year and sit on the yard and remember our mom! Ha! It actually added some comic relief.

The couple told us to take our time, and they wouldn’t bother us again. So, we finished having our “moment”.

feetingrass

Before heading off to lunch, I stood there in the grass one last time, and took a picture of my feet in the place that last held my mom’s body on earth. And just like I can rejoice because “He is RISEN,” I can rejoice in knowing that my mom is in a place of eternal joy with the very One who defeated sin and death. This picture reminds me that sin has lost it’s power, and death has lost it’s sting!

It makes me smile, and long for my home in Heaven.

Hallelujah! What hope we have in Jesus!