A New Day is Coming

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A New Day is ComingA day is coming when every knee will bend, and every tongue will confess Jesus is Lord and King. Life is not as it should be. Death, sickness and violence surround us. All creation groans, awaiting the day when it too, will be delivered from its bondage of death and decay.

How do we find hope in the midst of turbulent times? Choose to see a better world. Believe and confess, “Jesus is coming again!” The wolf and the lion will live peacefully with the lamb. Joy and peace on earth will be fully restored. In John 14:27, before Jesus ascends to heaven, He tells us His peace isn’t the same as the world’s. Peace isn’t the absence of conflict but the presence of God.

Our peace and joy were stolen when Adam and Eve believed a lie, and acted on it. At that moment, our connection with our heavenly Father, as the source of all truth, was severed. Satan was given what once belonged to man: dominion over earth.

God intended our physical world to reflect His spiritual world. When He created the human race, He breathed His spirit into man, and earth became a visible replica of the invisible Kingdom.

What was God’s solution to man’s problem? Jesus. He sent His precious son to destroy the works of the devil and restore all of creation. He is coming again in glory and power. With Him, he’ll bring His everlasting Kingdom. We will see a new earth and heaven.

This Christmas prepare your heart for His second coming, and celebrate the Prince of Peace who will come as the King of Kings.

Phil. 2:10-11, Rom. 8:22, Is. 65:25, Is. 11:6-9, Gen. 3, 1 Jn. 3:8, Rev 19:6, Rev 21:1-2

 

Photo design by Julie Clark

www.facebook.com/drawingneartogodcoloringbook

 

Color. Create. Pray!

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Color Create Pray

Necessity is the mother of invention. In the movie, Castaway, Tom Hanks used a bloodied volleyball to ease his loneliness on an uninhabited island. Wilson’s face literally was the handprint of his creator. The creative action taken by Hank’s character coupled with his imagination birthed companionship.

Prayer is my lifeline. It’s the time I set aside to meet with God. I’m learning to color when I pray; it keeps me focused, and unlocks an innate creative bent I believe everyone has. In the Pinterest world, this is called Bible journaling. Whatever we choose to call it, it’s liberating. I find a quiet place to be with our Creator, God. Then I pray and ask Him for a picture or a verse. I draw what I hear and see in the stillness of body, soul, and spirit.

This is intimidating to say the least because I have no art background nor do I consider myself a gifted artist. But the Spirit of God is drawing me, like a magnet, to this amazing form of prayer.

Years ago, a friend recommended the book Praying in Color by Sybil Macbeth to me. Intrigued, I began experimenting with water color pencils. I prayed for my pastor, my kids, and sick friends. I drew whatever I saw in my mind’s eye when I prayed. I also wrote any scriptures or words that came to mind. The results were less than beautiful and often resembled kindergarten pictures but were always joyfully received.

Recently, I attended a scrapbooking retreat with the same friend. She is now doing something similar on her Bible pages. Once again inspired, I took out my pencils and brush to see what God would create through prayer.

The outcome is seen in this simple water coloring. Colored Prayer 9-23-15The experience was phenomenal. God progressively spoke to me about His people and Kingdom. Like the pencil markings of various colors, sizes, and shapes, we’re each a unique and valuable part of His Kingdom. I dabbed the damp brush on the paper to blend the color, and a beautiful, solid, bright ray of color appeared; it became one unified part of a whole picture.

In the same way, when the Holy Spirit descends upon believers in Christ, we shine brightly and emit rays of love, grace, and unity. He empowers us to bring life to others and complete His Kingdom.

I felt God say, “I am Alpha (beginning), Omega (end) and everything in between” (Rev. 1:8). The Kingdom is found in Jesus; it’s past, present and future. Jesus did not say I know the way, the truth and the life. He said, “I am the way, the truth and the life.”

This kind of contemplative prayer is time-consuming, and my thoughts drifted to my schedule. But, when my focus returned to Jesus, He whispered, “Make time for me, and I will make time for you to do what needs to be done. I am time.”

Sometimes creativity springs forth when you step out of your comfort zone, and prayer becomes the handprint of God. His creative spirit breathed life into you so you can commune with Him. He has a deep, insatiable desire to meet with you. Color. Create. Pray. I’d love to hear about your experience.

Be inspired and learn more:

Names Matter

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Names MatterIt took less than a second, but it changed the way I thought about myself for years. She chanted, “Tuna Breath” as I sat quietly by myself eating the tuna sandwich my mother made for me. I was an impressionable preteen, and the new kid at school. The same girl thought it amusing to call me “Ms. Dainty”. Being petite and girlie, I was picked last for any sports teams during recess. Any healthy self-image I had was beginning to spiral down the drain.

Whoever coined the phrase, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me” was lying. Names hurt. Words convey images to our mind. For instance; when I say chair, you form a picture in your head. Words spoken over us have the ability to bring life or death (Prov. 18:21). Names spoken over me sent a message that said, “I’m not good enough, I’m unworthy, I’m a mistake, something is wrong with me, I can’t do anything right, and I don’t fit in.”

I recently heard Beth Helton speak at a seminar about discovering our identity in Christ. Enthusiastically, she told us she asked the Lord to give her something really cool to share with us. To her surprise she heard, “Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall. Humpty Dumpty had a great fall. All the Kings horses and all the King’s men couldn’t put Humpty together again.” She chuckled at the childishness of it but knew there was a deep truth to it.

Names can shatter us into little pieces. Only the King, Jesus, can put us back together again. He takes all our broken pieces and make us whole again. He did it for me, and he will do it for you; you need only come. Enter his presence in stillness and listen. Is Jesus giving you a new name?

The words Jesus speaks over you heal like a liquid band aid. His words are life and they erase the lies. I felt as though I was living inside a Thomas Kinkaid painting when Jesus showed up and turned my world upside-down. He said something I will never forget, “My darling you are beautiful. I see no flaw in you. I want you to stop beating yourself up. You must learn to love yourself as I love you.” In a separate encounter but just as beautiful, I heard God whisper, “I named and made everything in this world: including you and proclaimed it all good.”

Names matter because people matter.

Made to Thrive

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Made to ThriveImagine a land full of life and beauty. Everywhere your feet trod you sense peace and joy. You lack nothing. It’s just you and your spouse living in paradise with no stress, sickness, demonic oppression or reason to work.

Your father freely gave you this garden oasis to rule over and enjoy. Daily, you stroll the garden talking to one another; sometimes holding the hand of your beloved bride. It’s an authentic, natural relationship because it’s why you were born: to fellowship. Each day, you awake and look forward to sharing your thoughts and heart with the one who gave you abundant life. You never experience loneliness.

Then one day, in a heartbeat, your utopia crumbles when an unfamiliar voice lures your wife to betray your father. It all began with a lie: Did God really say don’t eat from any tree in the garden? God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil (Gen 3:1-2).

Your peace and joy are stolen on the spot. Everything you had is lost because you believed a lie and acted on it. Your connection with your father as the source of all truth is severed.

Sound familiar? It should.  It’s the story and order of creation.  God, your heavenly Father created you for two purposes: relationship and dominion. He spoke creation into being by His spirit, and earth became a visible replica of the invisible Kingdom. When He created the human race, He breathed His spirit into man. You see, God intended our physical world to reflect His spiritual world.

Adam and Eve simultaneously lived in two realms: the physical and the spiritual. They didn’t separate the two until each ate from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Then their eyes were instantly opened, and they saw their nakedness. Both of them ran and hid from God in shame. A perpetual cycle began and the stronghold was born.

If we continue the story, we learn their Father banishes them from the garden and their intimate relationship is broken. Sin, sickness and demon oppression follow. Satan is given what once belonged to man: dominion over the earth

God’s solution to man’s problem was Jesus. He sent His precious son to destroy the works of the devil and restore all of creation (1 Jn. 3:8). Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (Jn. 14:6). He restores our broken connection to the Father, so we can talk with Him in the garden of life, once again.

Events that unfold in our lives operate much like a camera; they leave pictures ingrained in our mind. Those memories can conjure up a myriad of emotions and impact the way we see ourselves, others and God. We all need help at times to break free of those things stealing the abundant life Jesus died to give us.

Choose to break strongholds in your life today. You were made to thrive. Are there events in your life which have caused you to believe lies? Have you spent time with God, your source of truth, to hear what he has to say?

Thirsting for Truth

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Thirsting for TruthThe sun turned variegated shades of orange as it set deep behind the clouds. She took a deep breath and wiped the last tear from her eye. I must be strong for my son, she thought. Just hours ago, she laid her sixth husband, Seth, to rest. Loss had become her constant companion. In fifteen years, she had endured the heartache of losing not one, but six husbands.   Seth was special. She believed the Lord had sent him to fulfill her deep desire to be a wife, and mother. She no longer felt like an outcast, but blessed to love and be loved. Jesus knew the depth of grief, shame and reproach she once felt for not being able to keep a husband and bear children. He mended her broken heart and filled her emptiness with His extravagant love.

The memory of that encounter still burned in her mind much like the sun scorched her skin on that hot summer day. Sweat dripped from her forehead as she made the journey to Jacob’s well. She chose the middle of the day to avoid being around other women since she was still mourning the loss of her fifth husband.

As a woman, she believed her identity and success rested in getting married and having children to carry on the family lineage. Now, having gone through five husbands and still childless, she was beginning to feel like a failure. Under Levirate law, Seth was the next brother in line to marry her, and had welcomed her into his home. But her mind began to wander. Maybe I’m cursed. What if he doesn’t want to marry me? What glimmer of hope remained slowly began to fade. Am I pretty enough? I’m certainly not as young as I used to be, will I be able to bear children?

Gathering her jug and bucket, she set off for the well to perform her daily chore. Would Seth still be there when she returned? Or would she be a widow destined to a life of loneliness and poverty? Little did she know, she was about to have an encounter with Jesus that would change her life. She would return full of exuberant joy. Her face would radiate beautiful confidence and her heart would be forever changed.

Now she knew her identity came from her Messiah, not other men, her gender, her role or her race. That fateful day, Jesus boldly and lovingly reached out to her. He crossed racial, religious and gender lines to bring healing and wholeness to her heart. In excitement, she left her water jug and raced back to town to tell everybody about the Messiah who turned her mourning into dancing.

All the people including Seth heard her testimony and believed. He let go of his doubts and his heart was changed too. He knew this was the woman God would have him wed and honor as his lovely bride.

It happened just as Jesus had said it would; the following year they welcomed a precious baby boy into this world.

She heard a faint cry in the background that brought her back to her hard reality. Seth was gone now and their young son needed her. She calmly walked over to her son’s bedside, with a warm heart, she quietly leaned over him to gently kiss his cheek. “Good night my dear son, tomorrow is a new day. Jesus will once again turn our mourning to dancing.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Free to Soar

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Free to SoarHe gives strength to the weary and strengthens the powerless. Youths may faint and grow weary, and young men stumble and fall, but those that trust in the Lord will renew strength; they will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:29-31

The American flag, Bald Eagle, fireworks, baseball, hot dogs, The Statue of Liberty and white picket fences saturate our ideas of American culture and freedom.

Earlier this month, our nation celebrated her 239th  birthday. The next day, I turned 50. Milestones cause us to reflect upon our lives. More than half of my life has passed by, and I still find myself wondering where my path will lead. Will I have the energy and resolve to carry on?

A legend about the eagles’ rebirth states around the age of 40, their feathers become so heavy and burdensome, they actually impede their flight. Their talons and beak also age, making it hard for them to clutch their prey. Survival becomes increasingly difficult unless they make a deliberate choice: renewal or death.

This painful renewal process takes patience. The eagle flies to an isolated mountain, and slams his aging, bent beak against the rock so he can pull it out. He waits for a new beak to grow. Then he takes his new beak and pulls out his long, stiff talons, and waits for new ones to appear. With his strength renewed, he plucks out his thick, cumbersome feathers and waits some more, until new feathers emerge.

With his youth now restored, this magnificent creature is able to soar to new heights for another 30 years. I love this picture. It reminds me of God’s process of renewal and encourages me as I wade through muddy water that weighs me down.

Recently, I’ve struggled with seeing others as a new creation in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17). When facing a challenging situation, I’ve been too quick to judge people based upon my past experiences with them. When unhealthy thoughts based on lies enter my head, I must choose to renew my mind by seeking God’s voice through daily, quiet meditation of His word.

Through the renewal process, I’m finding supernatural strength. I depend less on doing things in my own effort and more on God. 50 is but a number and my days are numbered by Almighty God not by man or circumstance.

Sarah laughed when she heard God say she would bear a child in her ripe-old age. But Abraham believed God, and as promised, a nation was born through Isaac. Like Abraham, I believe God. Though, I’m 15 years from retirement, I progressively walk out my calling: one day at a time.

There is some truth to the myth of the eagles’ rebirth. Physical, emotional, mental or spiritual renewal can lengthen our earthly lives. Gradually, God reveals Himself to us as we wait on and yield to Him. He continually renews our mind and heart, allowing us to soar into new levels of freedom (Rom. 12:2).

Take a moment to reflect on your life. Where do you need renewal today? What thoughts seem to plague you or steal your joy? What is God revealing to you about Himself today?

He Whispers

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She yearns for joy, love and tranquility;

Like she feels when she’s near the sea.

In the sugary-fine white sand, her feet sink.

He whispers, “I want to change the way you think.”

Light dances across the deep-blue expanse of glass.

He whispers, “My love is endless,

My presence is joy, forget the past.”

Powerful waves relentlessly crash on to the beach,

Captivating her body and soul.

He whispers, “I will make you whole.”

A gentle cool breeze softly caresses her cheek.

He whispers, “Blessed are the meek.”

Seaweed and shells wash ashore.

She feels there is something more to face:

Her Father’s embrace.

Why Wonder?

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The Seven Natural Wonders of the World, Wonder Woman, and Wonderland all conjure up our innate sense of curiosity and excitement.

Dictionary.com defines the verb wonder as being filled with admiration, amazement, or awe.

I was completely awe-stricken when my daughter was born. My eyes were opened to Him as Creator of heaven and earth, perhaps for the first time. A myriad of emotions and thoughts tossed about in my heart and head. Would I be a good mom? Who would she grow up to look like, and what dreams and aspirations would she pursue?

As children grow, so does their sense of wonder. They see the world through fresh, inquisitive eyes. Not yet tainted by the evil in the world, they see endless possibilities.

In the opening scene of the 2015 release of Cinderella, young Ella’s imagination is captured by the clouds. The narrator describes Ella as one who saw the world not always as it was, but as it could be. From a young age, she is taught by her mother to believe in the goodness of others.

Everybody believes in something or someone that stimulates their sense of wonder. The magic of Christmas leaves children “wide-eyed and mystified” Christmas morning. Legends and tales of elusive creatures lurking in the recesses of earth capture our imagination and inspire a sense of awe.

It’s child-like faith that connects us to the wonder of God. The writer of Hebrews says it’s this confident trust in the Lord that brings us a great reward (Heb. 10:35). St. Augustine says it this way, “Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe.”

We can think of faith as a muscle. If we’re to grow in our faith, we must exercise it. Every day, we’re faced with situations that allow us to practice what we believe. For example, when we sit down to eat, we have faith the chair will hold us. When we cross a busy street, we have faith in the crosswalk signal as it illuminates walk.

Then, there are circumstances we face that challenge our faith more. Not long ago, I was talking to my sister who has already sentenced herself to a future with Alzheimer’s. Why? Because science has proven it’s hereditary. I believe God is bigger than any disease and Jesus died for our infirmities (Is. 53:3-4, 1 Ptr. 2:24). Therefore, I can’t think or speak that way.

Am I in denial? No. I don’t think so. I’m simply exercising child-like faith and trusting in the character of the Father I come to know and love. My hope is in Him alone. NOT man.

God is seen and known through our sense of wonder. If you are struggling, take courage, have faith and never lose your wonder of God. All things are possible with Him (Lk. 18:27). Don’t take my word for it but God’s. You can read about it in the greatest non-fiction book ever written and all-time best seller: the Bible. Take time to ponder and pray as you read. You might encounter Jesus in a new and wonderful way.

A song for reflection:

Judge Jehovah

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IMG_3411“All rise. Court is now in session. The Honorable Judge Jehovah is presiding. Please be seated.”

The atmosphere that permeated the air was dead yet alive, chilling yet hopeful, restless yet peaceful.

Stillness broke. The Judge warmly greeted us.

“Today we will hear the case of Shrader v. Legion. Are both sides ready?”

“We are, Your Honor.”

I took a deep breath in—exhaled out and then reached for my glass of water. Confidently, I rose to plead my case. The words, “He that is in me is greater than he that is in this world” rang quietly in my ears. Jesus is my advocate and he was right there beside me even inside me.

“Your Honor, the defendant has been charged with trespassing on private property. In the next hour, I will provide a compelling testimony to show that he and his legion have no legal right to my property. He lied to me and tried to steal my future by taking my courage, beliefs and joy. Therefore, he is guilty as charged and must make full restitution for the pain and suffering he willfully inflicted upon me.”

I caught a quick glimpse of the defendant smirking. He sat with his head tilted and resting on his hand with his elbow cocked on the table in front of him. In the other hand, he played with pen—twirling it between his fingers. Like a wolf clothed in sheep’s skin, he stood.

“Your Honor, under the law, my friends and I have done nothing wrong. I will provide irrefutable proof that, instead of trespassing, she invited us in. We simply obliged.”

 What? Really? How can this be? This man is a liar and thief. I did no such thing! I am a child of God. As such, I belong to Him. This man and his legion have no rights to my mind, body or spirit. I’ll show him. Just you wait.

A short, stout man with a pudgy face, rosy-round cheeks and balding head wobbled toward me and led me to the stand.

“Ma’am, please place your left hand on the Bible and your right hand up. Do you promise that the testimony you are about to give will be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help you God?”

“I do.”

Nervously, I looked around the room not sure what would happen next. The Judge smiled and said he would hear my testimony.

“Your Honor, I once felt a huge void in my life and constantly looked to other people and things to fill it. When my first child was born, I gained a new perspective about God as creator and yearned to know Him not just about Him. The more I sought a personal relationship with His son, Jesus, the more I fell in love. He is filling all the empty places in my life with indescribable love, joy and peace that I never knew existed. Then this man intruded in my life and terrorized me.”

Listening intently with a somewhat perplexed looked on his face, the judge asked the defense to speak.

The defendant rose and, after being sworn in, cautiously proceeded to state his legal grounds.

“Your Honor, Mrs. Shrader invited me in when she exhibited one or more of the following behaviors:

  •  unforgiveness
  • willful sin
  • giving place to fear
  • hurt or trauma
  • making inner vows
  • past or present occult involvement
  • generational iniquity

Once I gained entrance, the rest was a piece of cake. My place was secured and she became my playground.”

“Is this true? Did you knowingly or unknowingly engage in such behavior?”

“Your Honor, I can see now that I did not resist Lucifer and his legion. Instead of submitting to God, I believed my enemy. By agreeing with him rather than the word of God, I empowered Lucifer and his legion to work havoc in my life. I repent and renounce those lies now. I am more than a conqueror in Christ Jesus. The Joy of the Lord is my strength and I will keep pressing forth in faith until my circumstances change. I will not give up and I will accomplish ALL the Lord has for me and see His glory.”

“My dear child, it took courage and humility to admit what you just did. Because you changed your thinking and took corrective action by Christ’s authority, you are free to continue a life of mercy, forgiveness, grace and restoration. Go in peace.”

Scriptures for reflection: 1 John 4:4, 1 John 2:1, James 4:7, Eph. 4:27,  Rom. 8:37, Neh. 8:10

When Light Invades Darkness

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Darkness invades LightEverything can be defined by its opposite. Up, down. Left, right. love, hate. Winter, summer.

Nature is full of opposites. The other day, I observed two butterflies fluttering a micro-inch from one another. One was bright yellow and resembled light. The other was black as night and, therefore, resembled darkness. The way they mirrored one another mid-air made me wonder if they were attracted to one another. Then they quickly departed like they didn’t want to co-exist together. A battle of entitlement was underway; darkness was trying to invade light.

The Bible speaks of two Kingdoms: Darkness and Light. The Kingdom of Darkness is ruled by Satan and the Kingdom of Light is ruled by Jesus. Both are looking for people to rule with them. Scripture reveals our enemy as a murderer, thief and the father of lies whose chief objective is destruction. Jesus came to earth to penetrate darkness with light (Jn.8:12). Under his rule, health overrides sickness, deliverance breaks spiritual bondage, forgiveness drives out condemnation and love suffocates fear. We begin to see a complete metamorphosis from brokenness to wholeness in us and our world through Christ.

What is it about darkness that instills fear? When my daughter was younger, she struggled with walking into a dark room in our house. She would cling to me like I was some sort of superhero who could protect her from whatever evil lurked in the dark shadows of a room. Yet, when we turned the light on, the darkness faded along with the fear. Gone in an instant.

Every day you face two opposing kingdoms. The good news is you have access to superhero powers. In the latest Avengers movie, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Tony Stark (Ironman) accidentally creates a monster (Ultron) in his desire to protect the world from evil. Unfortunately, Ultron can’t tell the difference between saving the world and destroying it and sets out to annihilate the human race. At the end, Ultron meets his match in a newly created robot named Vision who chooses to be on the side of life. He sees grace in the failure of human race and considers it a privilege to be among them.

The key to unlocking your superhero power lies within your will. Once you receive Jesus as Savior, you gain entrance into the Kingdom of Light. He becomes resident within you and, as you surrender daily to him, he becomes president. When darkness enters, you are empowered by his Holy Spirit to cast it out with light. Wow! Darkness flees.

When Jesus returns to the earth, his Kingdom will fully manifest and the enemy will be bound (Rev 20:2). In the meantime, you must decide which kingdom you belong to. Will you side with death or life?

A song for prayer and reflection: