Tag Archives: Holy Spirit

The Best Mistake I Ever Made

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I entered the room shaking like a leaf, cheeks flushed. I had prepared well, yet felt no confidence. I was striving to rely upon the Holy Spirit. However, I was not experiencing the boldness that is ours in Christ. I glanced out the window into the parking lot and viewed many more women entering the building than I had anticipated, most with gray hair. Instead of being encouraged, my anxiety increased.

After years of rebellion, I returned to Jesus (my first love) at age 21. At age 22 I met, fell in love with, and married the kindest man I had ever encountered, who happened to be an insanely good looking pastor.

 

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(YES, a bird pooped in my hair on our first date.)

For his second pastoral call, God planted us in Hammond, IN when I was 27 years old, as my husband accepted the senior pastor role at Covenant Presbyterian Church. By this time I had been in inductive Bible study for 5 years but had never taught one. I did not believe I had the gift of teaching.

Because I felt the void of a weekly ladies study, I inquired about someone leading one. The previous pastor’s wife had taught one, but when she left the study ended. Through prayer and counsel, I realized the Lord was leading me to take on the role of women’s Bible study teacher. With fear and trembling, I sent a proposal to the Christian Education Committee.  However, due to my insecurities, I proposed a young women’s study as that was a little less intimidating than the thought of teaching women older than I was.

Back to that “best mistake I ever made” thing,  I ended up offending most of the older women in the church, many of whom desired to come.  The committee came back and encouraged me to begin the study but invite all of the women in the church.

By God’s grace hurt feelings were healed and the study was comprised of mainly “older” women. I learned invaluable lessons from these dear ladies and they helped me discover I did indeed have the gift of teaching.

Step out in faith and let God take care of the outcome!

“A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.” Albert Einstein

The following is a photo of the several of the beautiful souls who helped shape me.

 

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What is the best mistake you ever made and how did God use it? Who came alongside you to help you overcome your fears? I would love to hear from you!

Needing someone to come alongside you right now? My friend Kelly Balarie is your girl!  I urge you to order her book, Fear Fighting, off of Amazon.

Awaken Courage! Overcome your fears!

Seeking God

I felt the refreshment of the Holy Spirit splash across my face like the salty air of the ocean as I entered the main conference room. The wafting smells of an exquisitely prepared dinner delighted my senses. The energy among the women was palpable. I was experiencing my fourth She Speaks Conference sponsored by Proverbs 31 Ministries.

At each place setting was a Bible verse typed out on parchment paper and rolled up like a scroll. I couldn’t wait to uncurl mine and read the Scripture, which God in His providence had chosen for me, and the ministry He has called me to. I confess I was taken aback as I opened and read:

“…know the God of your father, and serve Him with a loyal heart and with a willing mind; for the Lord searches all hearts and understands all the intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will cast you off forever.” (1 Chronicles 28:9)

Had I sat down in the wrong seat? I suddenly had an urge to trade mine for the unopened one beside me. 🙂
I thought to myself, “Lord, you know I have been a Christian in leadership for over 25 years, do I need a warning that if I ‘forsake’ you I will be ‘cast off forever’?” Then I remembered the words of the apostle Peter: “Even though all may fall away because of You, I will never fall away.” (Matthew 26:33) Peter denied the Lord three times shortly after that. The Holy Spirit gently reminded me of the struggles I had recently had, temptations on every side to return to the sins of my youth. As one who is born again by the Spirit of the Living God can I possibly sin so badly that I will be “cast off forever”? (Nope!) When Christ died on the cross for the sins of His people He did not merely make my salvation possible, he secured it. Not by works of righteousness which I have done, rather because of His amazing grace. However, am I above slipping in my faith and causing others to stumble? (Nope!) I knew it was time to humble my heart and heed the exhortations written before me.

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We “know” God by studying what His Word says about Him and by communing with Him in prayer. We are to serve Him with a “loyal” heart, not a heart that is lusting after the idols of this world. A “willing mind” means we engage with His Spirit, and do not serve for selfish gain. He knows our motives, as all is laid bare before His sight.

What about you? Are you surrendering your life and ministry to Him? Are you serving Him will a loyal heart and a willing mind?

Give your dreams to Him with a heart that is truly seeking His glory above all. In doing this your plans will not be cast off or forsaken, rather He will establish them. In the above verse, David was speaking to his son Solomon, who indeed stumbled later in his life. We must fix our focus on David’s “greater son” (Jesus) who came in the fullness of time, one greater than Solomon, who was faithful to the end. He graciously gives us the will and ability to serve Him as He desires, because He obeyed the Father perfectly and saved us to the uttermost. After all, it’s all about Him!

The Beauty of a Made Bed

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       “…For we walk by faith, not by sight”— 2 Corinthians 5:7

My legs were heavy as lead. My body felt as if it had weights attached to every muscle group. Breathing became more and more of an effort. It was not my first time experiencing these symptoms, and I knew it was time to get to the ER due to a myasthenia gravis flare-up, yet I was the only one at home. I began calling different friends who lived near me, but every single call went to voicemail. My husband was miles away in Ohio performing a funeral for his dear aunt. I thought to myself, should I call an ambulance? I didn’t want to! I prayed one more time and thought of my 16-year-old son, just down the road, working at Zaxby’s. I called his manager and told her I was having a medical emergency and needed my son to take me to the nearby ER. I bumped my way down the stairs in a sitting position, one step at a time. Joey quickly made it home and helped me into the car, and delivered me safe and sound to the ER. I assured him he could leave me to the professionals, and get himself back to work.

It wasn’t long before I was in a room receiving my IVIG treatments. Many were praying that this would be effectual to my healing or going back into remission.

A week later I was back in bed with muscle weakness, then back to the ER to try a plasmapheresis (plasma exchange) treatment at the recommendation of my neurologist.

The following is what I wrote in a previous blog:

 “After 16 years of living with myasthenia gravis (an autoimmune disease), I long for physical healing. This last hospital stay was for five days of plasmapheresis (plasma exchange). Polluted antibodies were removed, and replaced with fresh plasma. I picture the Holy Spirit coming in and removing my sin and replacing it with more of Himself. May I long more for the table He sets before me. The wine representing His cleansing blood, cleansing mine. The bread His body, broken for me, that I might be whole. By His stripes, I am healed, in this life or the next!”

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I felt much better after the plasmapheresis. I began to enjoy the beauty of a made bed again! Those with a chronic illness know what a privilege it is to get up and make the bed, rather than spend the day in it.

My friends, I continue to learn more and more about “walking by faith and not by sight.” I feel my mind and body are being renewed yet I don’t always see it. I continue to experience “unmade bed” days. Days where walking to the restroom seems like climbing Mt. Everest, only much warmer 🙂

I long to SEE my body strong, and my bed made, every day. Please pray I will find joy in walking by FAITH instead.

 “While we are waiting, God is working.” (Pastor Michael Youssef)

What about you? Are you willing to stand on God’s promises and “walk by faith, not by sight?”

Thou Preparest a Table

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(Flickr Photo Sharing http://www.flickr.com)

 “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.” (Psalm 23:5 KJV)

I used to delight in breakfast in bed, a charming tray of blueberry pancakes with a pat of real butter and the steamy smell of tea in a hearty mug. However, after just being released from my sixth hospital stay over the last year, breakfast in bed has lost its luster. I don’t want a little table prepared and set before me. I realize I sound like a spoiled brat, but the sight and smell of hospital food sends nausea rising from the pit of my stomach.

My thoughts must ascend to a table beyond description. The awe-inspiring table the Lord prepares for those who love Him.

In his book, A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23, Phillip Keller explains that a table (mesa) is the height of the summer range of the mountain.

A mesa (Portuguese and Spanish for table) is the American English term for tableland, an elevated area of land with a flat top and sides that are usually steep cliffs. It takes its name from its characteristic table-top shape. It may also be called a table hill, table-topped hill or table mountain. (Wikipedia)

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The Island in the Sky mesa/district of Canyonlands National Park, as seen from the Needles district. (Wikipedia)

Phillip Keller likewise explains that mesas are remote and hard to reach. The shepherd goes up early in the season to survey the wild country, remove poisonous plants, etc. He goes before and “prepares a table” for the sheep. Christ goes before us to prepare a table for His people.

He has spread the feast! Will you come? Though He goes before us and prepares the way, our enemies are ever present. “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8) As the sheep must stay close to the shepherd to avoid being devoured by a predator, we must stay near to Jesus to avoid being devoured by the evil one. We must stay in continual prayer and communion through His Word. We must walk in the Holy Spirit, not in the flesh.

“Stay close to the Shepherd! The distant sheep, the roamers, the wanders fall prey!” Phillip Keller

After 16 years of living with Myasthenia gravis (an autoimmune disease), I long for physical healing. This last hospital stay was for five days of plasmapheresis. (Plasma exchange). Polluted antibodies were removed, and replaced with fresh plasma. I picture the Holy Spirit coming in and removing my sin and replacing it with more of Himself.

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May I long more for the table He sets before me. The wine representing His cleansing blood, cleansing mine. The bread His body, broken for me, that I might be whole.

By His stripes, I am healed, in this life or the next!

I close with this piercing question from Phillip Keller. Meditate and ask yourself the same thing.

“When I come to the Lord’s Table and partake of the communion service which is a feast of thanksgiving for His love and care, do I fully appreciate what it has cost Him to prepare this table for me?” Phillip Keller, A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23

Comfort From the Staff by Cheryl Lutz

Grace“Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4 NKJV)

 

Hello friend,

My soul was weary and heavy laden.  Conviction of sin weighed me down.  The Holy Spirit used an illustration a friend had given me on finding comfort in God in the darkness of trials. My revelation was more on finding God in the darkness of sin.  I had sinned against the Lord.  I didn’t “make a mistake” or have a slight “issue”.  I had sinned.  I couldn’t blow it off, and I also knew I couldn’t wallow in it, allowing Satan to immobilize me. Jesus came to take our sin so that we might experience grace and forgiveness.  I had to call my sin what it was, and take it to Him.  I pictured a white canvas, and in my mind I painted it as black as could be.  In the middle, I drew a red cross.  Yes, my sin was real, black, and ugly.  BUT GOD!  He sent His Son to the cross to take the ugliness for me.

As Joni Erickson Tada says,

 If you think your sin is too great for God to forgive, crawl up the cross and tell Him it wasn’t enough!”

WOW.

Did you know we have a “staff” to comfort us in our affliction and conviction?

The staff represents our beautiful Holy Spirit.

According to Philip Keller in his book, A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23, the staff is a symbol of concern and compassion, which a shepherd has for his sheep.  Just as the Holy Spirit draws us to Christ, the staff drew the sheep into intimate fellowship with the shepherd.

Even when we go through the “valley of the shadow of death” the “rod” gives us protection and the “staff” brings us comfort.

As the shepherd gently uses his staff to disentangle a lamb from a thorn bush, so our Good Shepherd uses the Holy Spirit to disentangle us from our sin.  He loves to hear His children cry to Him for help, that He might pour out His abundant grace upon us.

How about you? Are you trying to hide your sin from God?  There is no place where you can flee from His Spirit, dear one.

Are you wallowing in your sin and allowing Satan to use it to immobilize you?  Meditate on Joni’s illustration.  Are you telling God His work on the cross wasn’t enough?

Contemplate the words from: It is Well With My Soul, by Horatio Spafford.

“My sin- O the bliss of this glorious thought!—my sin, not in part, but the whole, is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more; praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!”

How about you? Is it well with your soul?  Take the time to sing and praise His good name!