Inspire – Day 323 – Kanye

Have you heard about Kanye West?

The rapper-singer-songwriter-influencer has been holding Sunday Services for the last several months. Sunday Services that sound and look a lot like an alive, excited church. Click here to read more.

I don’t know what your feelings are regarding Kanye and it really doesn’t matter – please know I am not being rude. What does matter is this – people are hearing about Jesus and asking Him to be their Savior. Phil and I watched his Sunday Service from Lakewood Church where Joel Olsteen pastors. Click here to view on YouTube. I am not an Olsteen or Kanye fan but as the apostle Paul wrote to the church at Philippi:

It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice,” Philippians 1:15-18

Kanye appears to be a new creation. He speaks of his salvation. He seems sincere. He wants to change his previous music lyrics to a “G” rating. He is using his platform to spread the gospel through music and the spoken word with a boldness that is refreshing and invigorating. His choir is amazing – amazing – amazing – gifted vocalists who are lifting up the name of Jesus.

I am excited to see what God will do with this eager disciple with a large circle of influence. There is potential to share the life-changing Gospel of Jesus with thousands and thousands of people. Kanye’s recent conversion inspires me to be bolder in my faith and to use my tiny bit of influence to share my love for Christ.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17

May we pray for Kanye. May we have a boldness to speak up. May we not worry about what others might say. Like Kanye, let’s shout, “Jesus is King!”

Cheering you on!

Inspire – Day 322 – Furious

When was the last time you were furious?

I am right now. Furious about pain, suffering, illness, loss, injustices, unfairness.

Why does my friend have to deal with losing her son to addiction? Why do two friends’ husbands have cancer? Why does my friend have to deal with the declining health of both her father and husband? Why is our family circle broken? Why do people kill people? Why do loved ones struggle with alcoholism? Why does my friend’s young son have diabetes? Why is my friend’s husband losing his battle with dementia? Why does my friend’s mom have to struggle to breathe? Why does my friend’s grandson have muscular dystrophy? Why did another of her grandsons have cancer? Why do my friend’s sons-in-law get stopped by the police because of their skin color? Why does my friend have to deal with lymphedema following breast cancer? Why did my friend’s grieving husband have to be disrespected? Why are friends struggling in their marriage? Why are people rude?

My Enneagram 7 personality wants life to be all things good and wonderful. Reality is not all things good and wonderful. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” Can’t we skip the things that make me furious and go straight to the good and wonderful?

Our character can be refined when we are furious. Who we are leaks out for all to see and hear. Am I a patient person? I would like to say I am but the rubber meets the road while standing in a long line at the grocery or fast food restaurant. Ouch.

Do I trust God? Again, I think I do but what happens when an unexpected expense or event presents itself? Do I get uptight and worry? Or do I trust and pray? Ouch again.

My friends, may our furious feelings be used for good. To right wrongs. To rectify injustices. To forgive. To reconcile. Let’s make our corner of the world kinder, gentler, sweeter. Think of the difference we could make if each of us does a little bit.

These words calm me when I am feeling furious. May they calm your heart, too.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,  neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:35-39

May we cry out to God with our furious feelings. Let’s be honest – it is good therapy. May our furious-ness be transformed into faith-filled action. God can and will handle our extensive list of “furious” feelings and He can make something good out of them.

Cheering you on!

Inspire – Day 321 – Generous

Do you have a generous heart?

I like to think I am very generous. I love to give gifts and surprise people by paying for their meal or something unexpected. BUT – my pastor’s message kicked me in the gut this week. It was NOT what I WANTED to hear but God knew it was exactly what I NEEDED to hear. Here’s why.

Friday afternoon, Phil asked a question that rattled me. We have some cash tucked away “just in case” we need it. It’s not in our bank so it can be easily accessed for emergency needs.

Phil’s question to me – “Kathy, what if we give the “just in case” cash to Tom & Susie (fake names) since they have incurred major expenses?” My response – oh, it sounds so spiritual – “Well, let’s pray about it for a couple of days and then we can talk about it.”

My real reaction was: No. No way. We’ve already helped them some. What if WE need it? What if something comes up and WE could use it to help US? Now, that is very spiritual, isn’t it? Phil agreed we would pray about it. Secretly, I was hoping he would forget.

Then Sunday came and our pastor’s message? Having a generous heart. Sheesh. Seriously, God? Yep, God spoke directly to me. Several minutes into the message, I leaned over to my husband and said, “We have our answer.” He smiled.

Even with agreeing to give the cash, I fear we won’t have enough if we need it. I know God always provides for our needs. I know that He has done so many times over many years. His track record is perfect and yet I struggle with letting go and trusting Him. I know in my head He is faithful – I have to teach my wallet the same. I think God is gently reminding me that I am NOT in control and He is.

I love when I finally move to trust Him – to let go and open my hands up for God to take and to give. There is a peace that settles on my soul. He is so good to me. I want to have open hands for Him to use.

Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Luke 6:38

So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.” Genesis 22:14

May we have open hands and generous hearts.  May God use our generosity to bless anyone He chooses!   Thank you, Pastor Aaron, for sharing God’s truth.  

Cheering you on!

Inspire – Day 320 – Fight

Do you remember Dick the Bruiser?

My Grandma Strader and I watched him on her black and white, snowy picture television that was the size of a large desk. He was a professional wrestler born in Delphi, Indiana. Dick the Bruiser pulverized about everyone he came up against in the ring. His voice was gravelly and intimidating (at least it was to me an elementary-aged kid). I thought he was at least 9 feet tall and the size of a small elephant. In reality, he stood 6′ 1″ tall and weighed 261 pounds – no where near a small elephant!

I remember covering my eyes when things got heated in the ring. I didn’t want to see anyone to get bloodied or hurt. It was upsetting when guys got knocked out or started bleeding but I watched anyway. Maybe because my Grandma was right next to me. I would never have watched it alone.

Friends, much like Dick the Bruiser, we are in a fight. The difference is our opponent is not always visible. He is subtle. He is sneaky. He is a deceiver. He wants to knock us down or completely out. He would love to destroy us or have us give up the fight. Read the words the apostle Paul wrote to the church at Corinth: “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” 2 Corinthians 4:8-9. Re-read those verses, please. In this “fight” – we are not crushed. We are not in despair. We are not abandoned. We are not destroyed. We may come pretty dang well close to it – but with God next to us – much like my Grandma next to me – we will win in the end. We may get bloodied and battered along the way but we will not lose.

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12

But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” I Corinthians 15:7.

The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the Lord.” Proverbs 21:31

May we stay in the fight because we will win!

Cheering you on!

Inspire – Day 319 – Ebenezer

Have you seen stones stacked on top of one another while at a beach or on a trail?

While hiking at the Skyline Regional Park in Buckeye, Arizona and when biking along the shore on Mackinaw Island, I’ve noticed strategically positioned stacks of rocks. Hikers, bikers, walkers and runners have made a point to set up monuments commemorating something – a goal, a personal best, a record time, an engagement, a special occasion, etc.

Ebenezer is a word not commonly used in the United States except at Christmas when referencing Ebenezer Scrooge. In Hebrew it means the ‘stone of help’ as mentioned in the book of Samuel after the Israelites defeated the Philistines. Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the LORD has helped us.” I Samuel 7:12

Samuel – intentionally, purposefully, specifically – set up a stone – a monument – in remembrance of God helping them in battle.

How often do we acknowledge where our help comes from? Are we like the Psalmist who wrote, “My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.” in Psalm 121-2?

Do we believe we can accomplish anything and everything in our own power? Or do we believe Philippians 4:13 – “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”?

Are these words true in our lives? Psalm 46:1 – “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble? Do we go to God for refuge, strength and help?

May we follow Samuel’s example and set up an Ebenezer – our place of remembrance. If you have an Ebenezer please feel free to respond below.

May we never forget what God has done in and for us.

Inspire – Day 318 – Wax

Have you ever visited a Madame Tussauds Wax Museum?

There are museums in Asia, Australia, Europe and America. My first and only visit was during elementary school and it freaked me out. Many of the wax figures were so life-like while others were downright creepy. After reviewing the current website, new exhibits and activities have been added since my mid-1960’s visit so maybe it would be a better experience.

The real Ed Sheeran with wax Ed Sheeran

Wax likenesses of the elite, the famous, the mysterious, scientists, musicians, world leaders, sports icons, etc. filled various rooms. Each crafted to look like the real “live” person. As highly detailed as they were, none had “life” in their bellies. They were fake. They only looked like someone. They were not the real thing.

How many times do we try to fake it? Trying to appear like someone we are not? I have done it. I’ve pretended to be better than I really am. I have dressed like I had more money than my checking account revealed. I went to places that were above my means. And do you know what? I was miserable. It wasn’t me. I felt like one of those wax figures. Made up. Fake. Not real.

When I finally understood what it meant to be loved by God – that I was a daughter of the King, a child of the Creator of the universe, a soul saved by Jesus – that is when I found my true identify. I didn’t have to pretend to be someone I wasn’t. He loved me in spite of me being me. I was finally comfortable in my skin – warts, scars, blemishes and all. I have a deep faith that Jesus loves me and died for me. I know I am His. And, that, my dear friend, is more than enough for me.

For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. Galatians 6:3

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires;  to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:22-24

May we lose our “wax” and be the real us. We are enough because of Jesus.

Cheering you on!

Inspire – Day 317- Reinitiate

What does reinitiate mean to you?

In response to Day 313 (Shrek), a friend wrote to say she could forgive but didn’t want to reinitiate the relationship and asked if I would address this – so here goes. Mind you, I am not a Bible scholar, family counselor or licensed professional of any manner. I do understand forgiveness and reconciliation are not the same thing. I only know that I love Jesus and He has redeemed my life.

Let’s look at these verses about forgiveness:

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” Matthew 18:21-22

“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:14-15

Now let’s consider Paul’s words to the Romans in Chapter 12:18: “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”

And let’s read this: Pastor Shane Pruitt, a contributing editor to the Christian Post wrote an article entitled “Understanding the Difference between Forgiveness and Reconciliation Can Change Your Life.” Here is an excerpt: “…there are other unique circumstances where forgiveness is possible, but reconciliation is not possible or even a good idea. Sometimes the healthiest thing for two people is distance. We’re commanded by scripture to forgive others, love others and be kind to others; however, nowhere in scripture are we commanded to be friends with everyone. Sometimes the best way to forgive someone else is to stay very far away, because they may be dangerous, harmful or even toxic.  Even when reconciliation is not a reality or possibility, forgiveness is still commanded.

The Bible gives direction regarding forgiving our offenders and living at peace but, honestly, I don’t know how to respond to my friend’s question. So, I’ll share my story.

I have forgiven someone who has broken my heart. I have hurt them as well. Several years ago when I asked for forgiveness – I received it – but this person does not want to reinitiate a relationship with me. Although I want it, they do not. So, what have I done? Pray. And pray more. Since they have chosen not to have a relationship, then I have to be okay with it and trust God for peace.

Relationships are hard. Broken relationships are harder. I am thankful God sent Jesus to mend our brokenness. Since I’ve written in circles today – does anyone have Biblical wisdom about not reinitiating relationships?

FYI: Here is an article written by Rose Sweet for Focus on the Family about forgiveness and restoration.

May we inspire each other to live and love well, my friends.

Cheering you on!

Inspire – Day 316 – Tests

How does the word “tests” make you feel?

Some people cringe or shut down when they hear “there will be a test today.” I love to take tests – especially personality, self-examination and lifestyle like the Enneagram, DISC, Myers-Briggs, marriage compatibility, parenting styles, friendship tests, etc. I am intrigued to know why I am the way I am – what/who has molded me into me.

There are some tests I would rather not take. Tests of patience. Illness. Broken relationships. Cancer. Finances. Hardships. Tests that hurt deeply. Tests that cut to the core. Tests that don’t have an answer – well, at least not an immediate one.

Let’s look at these verses for Biblical insight into our tests:

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. James 1:2-3

so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; I Peter 1:1-7 NIV

“And I will bring the third part through the fire, Refine them as silver is refined, And test them as gold is tested They will call on My name, And I will answer them; I will say, ‘They are My people,’ And they will say, ‘The LORD is my God.'” Zechariah 13:9 NIV

Our tests can be used for our good – for our refining – to draw us closer to God. Dear friends, many of us are being tested beyond our human limits. We are being refined. We are walking through raging fire. We are not seeing answers to our tests. In fact we have more questions than answers. I want to encourage us. Hang on. Don’t give up. Hold on to God. Give our tests to Him. Ask Him to walk with us through the refining process. In the end, we will receive the crown of life. We can make it to the end with Him.

Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. James 1:12 NIV

Praise God in heaven! God’s love never fails. Psalm 136:26. CEV

May you trust God for the answers to your test. He will never fail us.

Cheering you on!

Inspire – Day 315 – Quilt

Has someone hand-made and/or given you a quilt?

My friend Deb is a master quilt-maker. It was a privilege to see her collection of quilts. The decision-making, time and love stitched into each quilts makes them priceless.

I recently read an article about a special quilt started by Michigan born school nurse Rita Smith. The 99-year-old died before she could complete her American Map Quilt. A thousand volunteers from all over the US and Canada are working to finish it.

During an estate sale in Chicago, Shannon Downey found the quilt pieces in a bedroom of where Rita Smith had lived. Downey purchased the entire project for $6. She then announced on social media of her need for volunteers. In one day over 1,000 stitchers said they would help to finish the quilt. Downey started a spreadsheet to match and track the quilt pieces and stitchers. As she went through the fabric pieces preparing for shipment, she discovered Rita had already embroidered two of the states (Alaska and Georgia). Volunteers have until November 15 to complete their handiwork and mail finished pieces back to Downey. A local studio offered space for quilting the pieces. Downey intends to donate the finished project to a quilting museum so the story can be shared with visitors – a story of cooperation and collaboration. Downey said, “Humans are amazing. Community can be built anywhere.” You can follow progress on Twitter at #RitasQuilt. For more of the story, check out the CBS Evening News story on YouTube. I can’t wait to see the finished quilt.

When people come together with/for a purpose, much can be accomplished. It only takes one person to initiate a project or movement. Cooperation and collaboration are essential life skills needed to accomplish any task.

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. Ecclesiastes 4:9

From whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. Ephesians 4:16

May we work together with the purpose of inspiring others to be what God designed them to be. May we inspire others to step up and do something that will make a difference. May we be people who are known for cooperation and collaboration. May we be filled with joy looking forward to the moment we will see our co-collaborators in heaven.

Cheering you on!

Inspire – Day 314 – Devoted

Do you remember the 1998 song “Hopelessly Devoted to You” sung by Olivia Newton-John in Grease?

I’m outta my head hopelessly devoted to you
Hopelessly devoted to you
Hopelessly devoted to you

Sandy (Newton-John) sang about her love for Danny (John Travolta) in the hit musical Grease. “Good” girl Sandy fell in love with “bad” boy Danny. They moved a little closer to the “other” side because of their devotion to one another. A little of the good rubbed off on Danny. A little of the bad rubbed off on Sandy.

Do you remember a hopeless devotion when you fell in love for the first time? When you thought you couldn’t live without him (or her)? When you couldn’t get them off your mind? When you doodled their name on your notebook? When you daydreamed about them? When you couldn’t wait to talk to them or to see them? Hopelessly devoted. I remember once having my heart broken by a guy I was “in love with”. My mother told me, “You will be okay. He’s not the only fish in the sea.” and I replied through my tears, “But he’s the only fish I want.” She was right. He was not the only fish in the sea. I’m grateful I found the right fish – he was and still is a great catch even after 45.5 years.

Ahhh. Hopelessly devoted. Who or what are you devoted to? Does anyone or anything immediately come to mind? Loving someone or something is not a problem – until they/it become our god. Our hopeless devotion needs to be to God – and then it becomes a hope-filled devotion.

“Let your heart therefore be wholly devoted to the LORD our God, to walk in His statutes and to keep His commandments, as at this day.” I Kings 8:61

“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other You cannot serve God and wealth.” Matthew 6:24

So, my friends, are we “outta our heads” totally devoted to God? I want to be. I hope you do, too. May we sing (even if only in our hearts) of our devotion to Him.

Cheering you on!