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Depression

Someone needs this today. Christ followers are not exempt from depression! Depression holds no prejudice and often strikes the most committed of believers. If you are weary, worn and maybe depressed, do not let shame tell you that you do not have enough faith. It is not up to us, and playing the role of savior is a crushing burden. The point is not how big our faith is but how big our Father is.

After a great victory in 1 Kings, Elijah runs away and seeks refuge under a tree. He is in the depths of depression asking God to let him die. The angel of the Lord visits him, and it is important to note what he says as well as what he does Not say to Elijah. The angel does NOT state; you need to pray more. He does not say; you just need to have more faith. The angel of The Lord does not tell Elijah if you had a more consistent quiet time you would be better. The angel says to Elijah, get up and eat, so he ate and slept some more. Then a second-time the angel tells him to get up and eat some more or the journey ahead will be too much for you.

Friends, it is good news that our adequacy is not dependent upon us. We have a Savior outside of ourselves who lived to know every ache, pain, and ounce of turmoil we feel. God isn’t shaking his head in disgust at your depression. He longs to touch you and give you the nurturing rest that only he can offer.

If you find yourself feeling blue or outright depressed, I pray that you leave it at the foot of the cross where all our struggles are known, accepted, accounted for and redeemed. The story of Elijah demonstrates God longs to acknowledge our most basic needs first; then in due time, He will take care of the rest.

We often are good at giving grace to others but not ourselves. I pray you love yourself today where you are, not where the enemy says you should be.

You are loved!

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Come and See

Please, come and see.

The wise men came to see the baby, Jesus.

Throughout Jesus’ ministry scores of people, a blind man, a bleeding woman, a man seeking healing for his daughter, and multitudes more would come and see.

Countless came to see Him crucified.

After He defeated death, Mary came to the empty tomb, unknowing she was there to see Him.

Jesus himself invited the disciples to come and see where He was going.

This Christmas season we come and see all the lights.

We come and see all the shiny stores with a million gift options for every person.

We come and see all the parties and people dressed up to celebrate.

We come and see all the beautiful trees and decorations.

All of these are wonderful, and I love looking at them, but they are not the hope of Christmas.

We have gotten so far from the original intention of the season that it has also become about coming and seeing a lot of junk too. We rush, we hustle, we plan, we drive all over trying to locate that perfect gift while the deafening roar of a tight schedule is screaming hurry up you have to be somewhere. I am as guilty as anyone.

This Christmas I want to encourage us all, myself included, to come and see.

Come and see the elderly who are alone and shut in.

Come and see the orphans who have no stable place of belonging.

Come and see the sick, physically and mentally.

Come and see the hurting. The crying ones and the happy ones. Oh, the pain that a smile can mask!

Come and see the lonely and the poor.

Come and see the homeless, the hungry, the outcast.

Come and see the addict.

Come and see the widow, the divorced and the single mom or dad.

Come and see the grieving who have lost a parent, a grandparent, a sibling or a child.

Many who are hurting will not ask for help. Support manifests in many forms, but to come and see a soul; to genuinely recognize and gently touch the depths of their story is a gift that no amount of money can buy. It will transform two lives, theirs and yours.

Friends we were given eyes to see. Let us use them to see beyond all the distractions of what is alive and visible and into what is dying but viable.

This Christmas season may we all come and see, and in doing so be reminded that the center of Christmas is a Savior who came to see you and me, dying so that we could freely and without shame, condemnation or guilt come and see Him.

Come and See.

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Already Found

Earlier today I was scrolling through Instagram, and this phrase caught my attention: “Spending most of my days searching for someone I’ve already found.” It is the bio line on Beth Moore’s Instagram account, and it stopped me dead in my tracks before I even saw who wrote it because I knew it described me!

Shortly after reading that I heard Billy Graham say in one of his sermons from the 1980s that a famous woman wrote in her suicide note, “I only wanted to find a little happiness.” I assume she never found it.

Like the woman, he referenced, my problem is I am searching to fill a void, too, but in all the wrong places. I pursue happiness in food, possessions, people, accomplishments, approval… I think you get my point.

We live in an “instant” world. We can have instant everything from food to hair. My generation is probably on the fringes of being the last ones with any remote memory of life before every desire was quickly at our fingertips.

Our salvation is instant at the point of putting our faith in Jesus, but other than that, He can appear to be painfully slow and silent.

Contrary to the tempo of our culture, we do not depend on a microwaveable Savior.

Because my flesh wants instant everything, including happiness, and I possess the illusion of “self-salvation,” relying on Jesus sometimes does not even enter my radar until I have tried a million other things and am still holding a tall glass of water and dying of thirst.

I cannot tell you how often I have frantically searched for glasses that were on my head, keys that were in my hand and a purse that was on my shoulder. I was desperately looking for what I already had but did not remember.

On a more serious note, it grieves me that I waste so much energy and precious time searching the world for a Savior who is already in my heart, but I sometimes forget to acknowledge.

I am a lost lamb who daily needs to be found, put on the shoulders of my Shepherd and carried back home. I am a lost lamb, and that is ok because a Shepherd never forgets His sheep, not even one!

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Finding Feet to Wash

We recently studied the Gospel of John in my New Testament class.  A particular point really stuck with me from that lesson. In John 13, Jesus washes His disciples feet. Our teacher reminded us Jesus came with a towel, not a sword.  He came to save, not judge.

So often I start my day armed with my sword and prone to judge rather than seeking to “save.”  If I am being honest, defending myself or my people is my natural response, but it is more about gratifying my flesh than glorifying my Father.  I long to do the latter.

I have to ask daily, Father, help me lay down my sword and pick up my towel so I may scan my surroundings for “feet to wash” instead of feuds to win. 

Today, I am praying for you, too.  Where do you need to lay down your sword and pick up a towel?  A towel, although seemingly much inferior to a sword, accomplishes so much more.  You are loved!

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Be a Self-Hugger Not Hater

Good morning,friend! How you think today will dictate how you feel! Don’t feed on the lies of shame, feats on the love of your Savior. Reject the deceit of guilt and rest in the donation of grace. Train your thoughts to be huggers not haters. You are loved!

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Who or What Are You Trusting

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Right now it seems all the world has to offer is unrest, uncertainty, division, fear and anger, but God gives us His word.  It is the balm and the pacifier for all things.  Last night I was reading in the Psalms before I went to bed.  Psalm 112:7-8 says, they do not fear bad news; they confidently trust the Lord to care for them.  They are confident and fearless and can face their foes triumphantly.  As I meditated on that, I immediately felt lighter.  I cannot just read God’s word.  That does me no good.  I must believe His word.  Perception without practice is unbelief that only leads us down dirt roads disillusioned by fear.  The degree to which we trust the Lord at His word is directly proportional to our level of peace. We are all trusting in something.  When I find myself anxious, afraid or mingling with any of their cohorts, I know I am trusting in something or someone other than my Savior.  May you find freedom and rest in the Word, not the world today, friends.

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It is Our Poverty That Makes Us Rich

Yesterday we took a boat to the British Virgin Islands.  I did not know much about the BVIs and was fully expecting nothing but beauty.  Once we reached the first island, we boarded an open-air taxi and headed for The Baths National Park.  We had to go through a small village to get there.  I was immediately shocked and impacted by the sights of poverty we were driving through.  There were signs and smells of depravity everywhere I turned. Residents sat outside to catch fleeting bursts of refreshing air because there was no air conditioning.  I felt like I was intruding into their small world as a privileged, undeserving sightseer as we drove by each “house.”

In those moments I felt an incongruence in my soul of extravagant gratitude for what I “have” and extreme grief for what they seemingly do not.  I wanted to hide from the sadness that was invading my heart, but I could not numb myself to it.  I wondered who these people were, and if they knew they were poor, or if this was just the way of life to them?   Were they happy or were they sad people who felt trapped in a world of destitution?  Mostly, I wondered, if they know Jesus?

I found myself wanting to close my eyes and not look because not seeing would have been easier, but I could not turn away because what is not seen cannot be known, and what is not known cannot be seen.

I went on our tour with a heavy torque gripping my heart.  We navigated through beautiful rock formations, caves and swam in beaches so pure and beautiful that it took my breath away.  Despite it all, I could not shake my heartache.

On the taxi ride back to the boat, we again passed through the small, indigent village that is now branded into my existence.  I was questioning The Lord, how can this be that there is so much poverty woven in the midst of all this untainted beauty?  How can these two things co-mingle?  Immediately a sobering reminder graced my struggling spirit.

 D’Anna, this is a picture of you.  You can dress up in your best smile, clothing, and accessories, surround yourself with desirable things, but underneath it all, and right in the midst is an impoverished heart that cannot be dressed up.  It is destitute, broken and in desperate need of a Savior every day.

Broken people, broken places, broken worlds; they may all present differently, but a common brokenness is indigenous to us all.  My awareness of the destitution of my own heart is my greatest asset.  It is when I realize just how poor I am, that I become rich. When I or my world becomes sufficient in my estimation, I am in trouble.

In this life wealth is most often judged by superficial appearances or numbers indicating monetary things that can disappear in the blink of an eye.  Regarding eternity, however, being rich is knowing that we are helpless to the presence of our splintered souls yet that is the avenue by which we find abundance from the sacrifices of a Savior, who longs to be in a relationship with our bankrupt souls.

On the ride back to the boat I paid closer attention to details throughout the small village.  I was very comforted by the presence of spiritual graffiti everywhere I turned.  There were bible verses right in plain sight that I did not see the first time because I was so blinded by the presentation of the land that I missed the presence of The Lord.

The hope I left with is this; life is often incongruent to my desire for everyone to be happy and comfortable.  Happy and comfortable are circumstantial frailties, not gospel actualities.  The people of The British Virgin Islands clearly understand that it is not what they have, but Who they have that makes their lives sufficient.  This side of Heaven, where there is beauty there will always be brokenness.  I tend to forget that so quickly.  Lord Jesus, may my wealth always be found in you alone.

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A New Year an Old You?

 

Indeed, it is the second day of 2016, and it seems as if everyone is talking about a new year, new you, new goals and even new happiness.  But you, you are lugging old crosses right across the old and into the “new” calendar.   There is illness still present that is old, not so new.   There are prodigal children and missing loved ones still pricking the old pain and seeming to prevent the new picture.   If only our hearts had zippers, so they didn’t have to be ripped out maybe the pain would be less, just maybe.

You cannot seem to shed the trials and a new year just feels like the continuation of past troubles.  Nothing new, nothing better, nothing changed, just the same struggles sabotaging your progress.

You look at others who seem to have it all, not a care in the world, and you feel discouraged.   Comparison is a free invitation for the thief to come in and send you further into distress.   Pain is not prejudiced but we forget that, feeling like only a few of the unlucky get chosen.

Friend, if you try and make one change in 2016, let it be your thinking.  Our thoughts are responsible for the stability of our souls.

We are only as healthy as how we think about our most challenging circumstance.

You may be lugging chronic challenges into a new year, but with significant obstacles come eternal opportunities to nurture a refined you.   It is not a date on a calendar that steers us in a fresh direction.  It is the desire of our hearts for a Savior that is the only one who can make all things new.  (Revelation 21:5)   Do not look at dates and set deadlines for out with the old and in with the new.   Our plans are perishable, but the will of the Lord stands forever.

There is nothing wrong with setting goals, but if it is our responsibility alone to obtain these objectives, we are creating a set up for disappointment.  

We must hold our ideas with free hands, not firm hearts.

We are only as strong as our understanding of our dependence on a Savior outside of ourselves, our doctors, our pastors, counselors, self-help books and the list goes on.   If we are placing our hope in where instead of Who we will remain in a vortex of despair.

You will prosper from your pain.   If not now, someday soon.   If we do not believe that, (Romans 8:28), life becomes void of hope.   Hope is a beautiful burden.  Why not focus on the beautiful?   Isaiah 40:31 ~ but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

You are loved friend.

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Prayer For the End of a Weary Week

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Father, sometimes the end of a week meets me worn.  Your gentle Spirit woke me at 3:30 this morning as you sometimes do. Wide awake and atypically alert, I asked because I knew you had a message for me.  That message was; my battles belong to the Lord.  How easily in my flawed self-reliance I forget to release those battles from my modest hands into your masterful ones.  Remind me God that it is not my capabilities, but yours, that determine outcomes.  As the battles are yours, so are the victories and the seeming defeats.  Sometimes in my myopic vision I feel conquered.  Gift me with remembrance that I am never overcome when I allow you to battle on my behalf.  In all the strife I face, that my friends face, give us the grace to resist self-security and rest in Savior sufficiency.  Too often in my urgency to resolve I engage from a stance of me against Goliath.  I am more than ill-equipped God.  Give me an unshakeable confidence in you that enables me to lay down my weary weapons and surrender my battles to you.  Amen

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Exhortation for the Exhausted Today

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Exhortation for the exhausted today:
Pain, fear, worry and sadness are not the absence of a faithful heart. They are the evidence of an alive soul. Faith is not built by the abolishment of feelings but authored amidst the presence of much pain where the determination to choose to trust in the plans of our Savior, not our situation, persevere.