The Ugly Chair

I was at the ball-field a few weeks ago watching my youngest play baseball and this older gentlemen was sitting beside me in one of those old-school folding chairs that can be positioned on either end. It’s this crazy, rainbow-striped pattern…quite eye-catching. As he was sitting there watching the game, I commented on how he had the “best seat in the house”, because he looked mighty comfortable. A few minutes passed by and the game he was watching was over, so he stood up and said, “Here, I’m leaving this with you.” Now, of course I quickly said, “I’m fine, I got a chair” and “I don’t need it”, but he was adamant that I needed to take it…”It only cost me a few dollars at the flea market.”, he said.

Now this chair has been sitting underneath my carport since then…after riding around in my car for a little while, too. I was honestly trying to figure out what in the world I was going to do with this hideous chair…I couldn’t very well just take it to Goodwill, ’cause I have stuff still in the back of my car that has been riding around in there for close to three months! Too, it matches nothing at my quaint, little house and sticks out like tall tree on an open prairie.

So, it sat.

Yesterday was a particularly hard day for me. Actually this past weekend was a rough one to say the least. I struggled with a migraine for two days (from stress, I’m sure). When our children are hurting, I think as mamas we hurt for them and our hurt is magnified more rapidly than if it was our own. Mamas, you know what I mean! God entrusts us to care for them physically, emotionally and spiritually so they can grow up to be mighty men and women of God. However, we can’t do that without Him leading us and guiding us each step of the way. Because of this hurt, yesterday afternoon, I came outside and was just compelled to unfold the chair and lay outside in the quiet. I unfolded it, got it in just the right position and I laid in the shade listening to birds, cars and tried to remind myself that “this too shall pass.” I cried a lot of tears yesterday for my sweet babies and their innocent hearts and tucked it all into my heart to go to work, leaving the chair unfolded under the carport until next time.

This morning after I came home from taking the kids to school, I decided it was time for breakfast and to finish my coffee. I had already been texting a friend about my frustration and hurt and contemplated going back to bed and pulling the covers up high…but big girls like to eat. As I was wiping off the stove and pulling out a pan for some scrambled eggs, God said, “You don’t need physical food right now, you need Me…spiritual food.” So, I quickly obliged and found a space beside my car with Bible and coffee in hand. I opened it up to Mark 4 where I have vowed to stay at least for 30 days or til the Lord moves me elsewhere. I really focused on verses 21-25 this morning, as I am going through this chapter slowly and with intent.

In theses verses, it talks about using your light. The light of The Lord that lives within us. It’s not to be hidden. The devil is good at bringing things into our path to distract us from the greatness of God. He doesn’t want us to be spiritually perceptive…he wants us to be blind from pursing an intimate relationship with Him. So he throws himself at us in so many ways creative ways to get us to flinch and hide The Truth within us. He had me in a place of darkness yesterday and this morning. The devil did a good job this past weekend, but my babies are covered with a blanket of grace and light so thick that darkness will not and CANNOT penetrate!

I sat outside this morning just being reminded that darkness has no place in my life and with the name of Jesus, evil must flee. Just by reading His Word aloud to the ants, the birds and for my ears to hear I am strengthened and renewed…no need to go back to bed…that’s not where God wants me! In verse 24, Jesus said, “Pay attention to what you hear. By the measure you use, it will be measured and added to you.” God is going to respond to us as we have responded to Him and His Word. I love this quote from Spurgeon and it stirred something up within me:

“The hearer of the gospel will get measure for measure, and the measure shall be his own measure.” And it works out just this way. To the one with no interest in the gospel, the preaching of the gospel seems uninteresting. To the one who wants to find fault with the church or the preacher, they find plenty of faults. On the other hand – the more blessed hand – those who hunger find food, and those who want the solid truth receive something from any faithful ministry.”

I found food this morning in my ugly chair. I am sure that man has forgotten about his small gift to me that evening on the ball-field, but I am grateful to be sitting here right now with my Lord and feeding on his greatness, His mercy and His love. My heart is full…overflowing, in fact…with the knowledge that the more I exercise my spiritual health, I will grow stronger in Him. Sometimes it’s a struggle to release that faith, especially when it comes to your children, but “gifts and graces multiply by being exercised; and God has promised to bless the hand of the diligent.” (Matthew Henry)

As I sit in this ugly chair with my outstretched feet sipping my lukewarm coffee, I am expecting a harvest because God’s Word says so! If you are struggling with darkness trying to cloud the light within you, rebuke it in the name of Jesus. Get into His Word…there is truth and light dripping from the pages. As sit on my rainbow (chair), I am thankful for that generous man and his gesture…

‘Cause when there is a rainbow, there is a promise.

You can’t have a rainbow without light.

Jesus is the color in our sometimes dark world.

Shine bright in this moment, friend. Use your light, no matter how you are hurting.

Someone needs your light…the light of Jesus. As I am speaking it to you, speak it someone else. Pass the lighted torch of Jesus today

Good Ground

Have you ever bought a bag of potting soil? It contains beautiful, dark, moisture rich soil that we use to plant our flowers in cute little containers for the front porch and/or to enrich the existing soil in our yard. Well, have you ever noticed those little white balls in the soil? They look like styrofoam, but it’s actually perlite. Hmmm? What in the world is that, you ask? Well, it’s actually a naturally occurring volcanic glass. When processed for use in potting soil, perlite is heated to 1,600 degrees Fahrenheit, so that it puffs like popcorn. When it puffs up, it expands to several times its original volume. The result is a white, lightweight material that modifies soil structure. (According to google)

Here’s the function of it: (I promise I’m going somewhere with this)

Perlite prevents potting soil from being too dense, which in turn prevents it from retaining too much moisture and not enough oxygen. Perlite does not retain water. Each particle is comprised of air cells that do not absorb moisture. Instead they hold moisture around the outside, in tiny cavities. This makes the water available to plant roots for a period of time. Perlite used in potting soil keeps the soil loose, and this improves aeration by preventing compaction. Perlite allows oxygen to reach roots as they develop.

Isn’t perlite like the Holy Spirit for good ground? The Holy Spirit allows us to develop roots in the Word and BE good ground. He lives within the follower of Christ and makes himself available to help absorb everything from the Word of God. He prevents us from being dense…ignorant…by reminding us of when we have a heart that is tuned to God, we can be fruitful. Without the Holy Spirit within us, we can become rigid and have a heart compacted with the weight of this world, but through Him we are able to allow the seeds of the Word to penetrate our soil and produce a harvest of 30, 60 and 100 fold!

I want a heart that is constantly being aerated with the Holy Spirit…listening and breathing in the spiritual oxygen needed to reach into the depths of my being and cause a bountiful harvest. I want to welcome God’s Word into my heart, even on the times when it causes a few leaves to die, I know it is for pruning to make me more like Jesus! I’m not going to look at those little white balls in my potting soil quite the same anymore…I am going to allow them to serve as a reminder to always have a heart open to hearing and digesting the Word for myself and planting seed from my lips to those around me! That’s a harvest waiting to happen, friend!

Thorny Ground

We have talked about two other “soils” that have been unfruitful, yet there is one more. The thorny ground. The mental picture I get is one of walking through the woods at my dad’s and constantly have to watch for briars and thorns intermingled with the occasional little green plant. They are somewhat hidden and you don’t realize you are tangled up in them until your ankle is bleeding or when you walk through your trail using your hand to move a small branch out of your pathway and you get a little prick on the end of that tender spot of your finger! Ouch! Those two, little instances can sometimes be the worst pain!

Well, that’s how the thorny ground is that Jesus talks about in Mark 4:7/18-19. The thorns are the things of this world that seem to choke out the Word of God in our lives. Of course, we love Jesus! But we also can get caught up in the love of money, fame, pride, worries and the desires of this world! When those things creep in, like thorns, they choke out the growth that is waiting to happen in our hearts and lives. The devil is quite good at making sin look appealing, isn’t he? He sometimes manages to mask it as something good for us, so that is why it is so important to test everything that comes across our pathway with a little outstretched spiritual arm to make sure we aren’t running into “thorny ground”. If we get pricked a little, maybe we need to turn around and try a different path. I have seen in my own life and in the lives of others that we often go down paths not designed for us and then we are choked out by the thorny soil in which we are trying to plant roots. That’s some of the worst pain…knowing you have good roots yet realizing you let the “thorns” of this world take over your spirit. That stings deep.

As I was sitting here typing this out, I am evaluating my own desires and making sure that if there is something within my life that is trying to take root among thorns, that I will pull up my roots and keep searching for good soil. In Matthew it says, seek first the kingdom of God…and I believe if we are doing that, we won’t be so quick to let our seed fall into thorny ground. We are in the world, but we do not have to be OF it. If you are a child of God, you will look different, you will be set apart and you will not allow the desires of this world to choke out the seed you sow.

This world has nothing for us, friends. Don’t get caught up in the thorns…you are a beautiful rose, waiting to bloom in bountiful blessings!

Stony Ground

When I moved into my house, there was no driveway. It had a makeshift pathway made of years of packed down gravel with a carport sitting over it. After I got settled in, I had a wonderful family friend come and move my carport to a new location in anticipation for a concrete driveway. What was left below where that carport stood was some stony ground. Rocks and hard dirt that went about six inches into the ground. Just until the last month, I had a mulch bed sitting there with nothing in it, because I knew it would be tough to get anything to take root. Well, because I am quite stubborn at times, I bought a hydrangea to plant right in the center. Let me just say, you should have seen my husband trying to dig through all those rocks to get down to good soil to plant my beautiful pink and blue hydrangea! We added some good soil and as of right now she is still thriving. But what if I had just thrown that bush in with that stony ground? I am pretty sure she wouldn’t have made it.

I was quite joyous when I found that bush at the local Home Depot and brought it home to plant, but if it would have been set into that stony ground, the ending would not have been happy. I would have a withering bush…that would eventually die!

That’s just how the seed that falls on the stony ground is in Mark 4: 5:7/16-18. Jesus said the soil of this person’s heart receives the Word of God with joy, but because it isn’t deeply rooted, because of persecution or pressure from Satan, the world or our biggest enemy…our mind, the joy is short-lived. If I had to give an example, it is the ones that are high on Jesus one day and then about ready to jump off the edge of a cliff the next day. They have no roots in the Word. It’s a surface relationship that wavers based on their circumstances. Well, guess what? Jesus is above our circumstances and situations!

How do we get past the stony ground? We must do like my sweet hubby did…clean out the rocks, the little bit of bitterness or anger maybe that is hiding within us. Maybe you have a little bit of doubt or worry that’s lying around in your heart. Shovel those rocks out, my friend. Add some good soil from the Word into your heart! We are getting to what is going to happen in that good soil…and it makes me excited. I won’t spoil things just yet. 😉

Don’t allow your circumstances to dictate your growth in a Father that doesn’t have plans for nothing but a harvest. His plan for you is not to be scorched and withered by this world, but to bloom! Let’s start “chunking rocks” (how’s that Southern lingo for ya) out of our heart today, so that we can flourish for the Lord!

By the Wayside

We were challenged in Sunday School this week to read Mark 4 everyday for 30 days. Usually I follow an app on my phone for daily reading, but lately when I would read, I felt like my heart just wasn’t in it. My heart was on the wayside. I was reading and then not allowing it to soak into the soil of my life and produce…I have been merely checking off a to-do list. As I sat yesterday morning listening, I felt a nudge to switch it up. To take the teacher up on her offer and dive into Mark 4 everyday for the next month.

It starts off with the parable of the shower and the types of ground in which the seed is sown. Now, you must understand that in this parable, the seed is The Word (The Word of the Kingdom) and the soil is our hearts. The first type of soil that is mentioned is the soil that is found by the wayside. I decided to look up the definition of “by the wayside” and found something quite interesting:

By the wayside:  fail or stop before they complete what they set out to do;

I like this…

You see, seeds just like the Word is active and living. Seeds are set out to grow. The kingdom of God is to grow within us, through us and because of us. That seed isn’t just a seed so it can die. It is set out to produce much fruit. However, many times in our lives we allow God to fall by the wayside. We hear the Word and it doesn’t penetrate our heart where it can grow and flourish. It falls at our feet…we trample on it and it is quickly taken away by Satan before it has a chance to do its purpose! The problem isn’t with the seed, but the soil. That soil on the wayside is calloused and hard. The seed lays on the top of it and it is quickly devoured by a hungry bird or two.

Has your heart ever been so calloused and hard that you weren’t able to absorb anything from God’s Word…from the Kingdom? Maybe you feel that way now. Maybe your soil needs a little Living Water? I encourage you to not allow the seed that is sown in your life to fall by the wayside. God wants the Word to flourish in your life and produce much fruit.

Invite Him into your life today. Without Living Water flowing through you, there will be no opportunity for the Word to flourish within your heart. A seed is just a seed, but in the right soil you will see growth, change, harvest and blessings poured out in your life. That’s the path I want to walk!

Mark 4:4/Mark 4:15

King Jesus

Psalm 101-The Message

My theme song is God’s love and justice,
    and I’m singing it right to you, God.
I’m finding my way down the road of right living,
    but how long before you show up?
I’m doing the very best I can,
    and I’m doing it at home, where it counts.
I refuse to take a second look
    at corrupting people and degrading things.
I reject made-in-Canaan gods,
    stay clear of contamination.
The crooked in heart keep their distance;
    I refuse to shake hands with those who plan evil.
I put a gag on the gossip
    who bad-mouths his neighbor;
I can’t stand
But I have my eye on salt-of-the-earth people—
    they’re the ones I want working with me;
Men and women on the straight and narrow—
    these are the ones I want at my side.
But no one who traffics in lies
    gets a job with me; I have no patience with liars.
I’ve rounded up all the wicked like cattle
    and herded them right out of the country.
I purged God’s city
    of all who make a business of evil.

I decided to include this translation because it’s quite descriptive and I like the wording and verbiage it uses. This Psalm was written by King David as he made a vow to be a leader of integrity. He made a lot of statements of things he would and would not do as a leader of Israel. Now, we know David made some mistakes. He let his eyes wander and managed to hang out with some folks of questionable character. However, he always managed to give praise to the Lord and came humbly to Him to confess his sins. You’re probably thinking that was pretty hypocritical, but not really. David knew where his hope lied and had high expectations for himself…he just wasn’t quite able to meet them. That’s not hypocritical in my opinion…it’s human nature. I believe it is so easy for us to see the faults of David and say, “How could he be a man after God’s own heart, when he did things that were unholy?” If we take a moment to look back at our own lives, we will see that we have done unholy things , even in an attempt to be a person that is striving to be holy…separated and filled with the character mentioned in Psalm 101. Some of our choices my not be as bad as the person beside us, but if it goes against the Word of God, then it doesn’t matter on the scale of bad, badder, baddest.

Now, here’s where I sit and type the word grace. I am so thankful for grace. As David was writing this Psalm, I am pretty sure that he understood that as a king he may try to be all of those things, but he couldn’t measure up. But, there was a coming King…Jesus…that would check all the boxes in those 8 verses and more! He is the perfect King! He will round up all the evil soon and very soon! He is blameless and full of integrity! He is a King that we can look to and worship forevermore!

Leaders will fall short. We will fall short.

Jesus will NEVER fall short.

Look to Him. Focus your eyes on loving, serving and worshipping Him. Even when we fall short, we have a King that sees our heart and loves us in spite of ourselves. The kings of this world will let us down, but King Jesus will always be on the throne serving with integrity and justice!

Psalm 99

In a world where “self” reigns supreme most days, it is good to be reminded that “our Lord reigns”! As I was reading about the holiness of our God, I was in awe of his greatness, majesty and magnificence! I became overwhelmed as I thought of the power that comes from our Father in heaven. However, I think we forget that we possess this same power through the Holy Spirit that lives within each and every believer. We forget that we can do great and mighty things through Him! The miracles of God did not stop when Jesus returned to heaven…I believe we just refuse to tap into the power that lay dormant within us most days! We are holy, because of what Christ did for us…and just as the earth can be moved by God’s presence, we have the ability to move mountains in our own lives through His power!

I am holy, because He is holy.

I have a crown of righteousness, because He wore a crown of thorns.

There are miracles in the waiting for us, sister. Let’s move mountains and watch the earth quake at the greatness of our God!

1 Peter 5:7

Focus on God…not your problem.

Just cast your rod that is weighed down with the problems of this world into the depths of God’s amazing care for you. This is one time that you don’t want to catch anything…you just want to pull back and empty line and know God has everything under control.

Just sit on the dock and let your feet splash in the cool water and rest easy as you let your worries sink to the bottom of life’s lake. There, they are carried away by Living Water and you can smile knowing it was a good day of “releasing” on the water, instead of catching!

Psalm 93

1 The Lord reigns, he is robed in majesty;

the Lord is robed in majesty and armed with strength; indeed, the world is established, firm and secure.

2 Your throne was established long ago; you are from all eternity.

3 The seas have lifted up, Lord, the seas have lifted up their voice; the seas have lifted up their pounding waves.

4 Mightier than the thunder of the great waters, mightier than the breakers of the sea—the Lord on high is mighty.

5 Your statutes, Lord, stand firm; holiness adorns your house.

I love this short psalm. God is in control. He’s in control of this world. It’s the palm of His hand. We may fee like we are standing on the beach getting knocked down by the waves of the storm, but please do not forget that God is mightier than the waves. He can speak to them and they will go calm. Don’t focus on the waves…focus on God…that is greater. You won’t be shaken.