Happy St. Patrick’s Day

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

It’s a great day to listen to Irish tunes and day-dream about strolling glen to Irish green glen hoping to hear the pipes “a-piping”.

But who is St. Patrick and why do we celebrate this day?

I checked it out on Got Questions.*

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St. Patrick (Maewyn Succat) was born in Kilpatrick, Scotland to a wealthy family in the late 300s. He was kidnapped at age sixteen by Irish raiders. While he was enslaved in Ireland he learned the culture, rituals and Druid language. He eventually escaped Ireland and later returned to share Christ with the people there.*

Not only did Saint Patrick forgive, he went back to those who enslaved him. He went back; not to demand retribution or justice, but at the risk of re-enslavement he returned to care for the people who had served him injustice.

Saint Patrick was obedient to the call of Christ. Additionally, Patrick exercised profound wisdom and grace. He used wisdom recognizing that his time as a slave provided him with valuable insight. Patrick took the knowledge he gained of the culture and used it to engage the Irish within the culture they knew while pointing to Christ with truth and love.

The Irish people were receptive to Patrick’s teachings in large part because he used their own Celtic symbols to teach them Christ’s ways. The most well-known of Patrick’s illustrations is the shamrock, a certain type of clover sacred to the Druids, which he used as a symbol of the Trinity.*

Who knew?! And what a great reminder to ask ourselves, “Are we so in love with Christ that we are compelled to live intentional; sharing news of our Redeemer with everyone –even those who deal wrongly with us?”

Like St. Patrick, we always have experience to share and something –even a three leaf clover with which to tell of our three in one; the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Whether you wear green today or not, do think about the example of St. Patrick and consider who you can reach to in love and acceptance. Meet them within their unique “culture” and share the truth of Christ and His Kingdom.

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Matthew 28: 19-20 NIV

Photo courtesy of unsplash.com

A Word for 2019

If you could pick one word to focus on in 2019, what would it be?

A few years back our Pastor gave a New Year challenge encouraging us to consider one word to focus on for the entire year. I had felt the Lord spurring me to trust Him more in unchartered areas of my life so the word I chose was GO.

I wrote GO on my mirror as a daily reminder. It became the filter I processed thoughts through. Every time I contemplated a matter I remembered my word and choose to “go” forward with my eyes on Jesus. It was tough, but soon I became fascinated with the word. It was such a simple word and yet it stretched me in every area of life. When I faced heavy issues I found GO as an invitation to once again place trust in Christ as I proceeded forward.

What surprised me was using GO in small matters. I found myself trying little things I would have otherwise overlooked. It made a huge impact and my world expanded.

By the end of the year GO wasn’t just written on my mirror, it had become a part of me. GO was on my mind and in my heart. It also happened to be the year the Lord drew my husband and me out from one very long and sweet season to an exciting new one in another state.

The beauty and simplicity of one word can impact your life in powerful and dynamic ways.

Consider what your life would look like if one word changed it this year. What would that defining word be for you?

Pray about it and choose your one word. Root it in your heart and mind. Write it on your mirror (dry erase marker), write it on your calendar. Weave it into your vocabulary. Take an hour to write 12 simple, separate notes using your word. Seal them and open one each month.

Then, allow every area of your life to be filtered through that word. Look for Christ to magnify His will and His very self through the meaning of that word applied in your life.

Then the LORD said to me, “You have seen well, for I am watching over My word to perform it.” Jeremiah 1:12 (NASB)

Some starters to get you thinking:

Give                            Grow                           Legacy                        Wait

Simplify                      Forgive                        Humility          Fortify

Phonto

More Like David

I want to be more like King David of the old testament.  Known as the man after God’s own heart, David kept God at the center of his vision in everything he did.  He was a man more concerned with his relationship to God then any post he held.  Because David knew God, he confidently welcomed the future.  As I look to the second half of my life, that’s exactly how I aim to approach each day; I want to know God more than anything else I know.

How does that play out in the practical?  I believe it’s time and focus spent on God.  We see that demonstrated in the life of David.

David honored God above the threat of man as he faced off with Goliath.  He trusted God when he was chased in the desert by Saul.  David only went where the Lord led him, when He led him.  One can only be led by hearing the one they follow.  David knew he was in God’s care because he spent time waiting on God and listening for direction from Him.

For us that could mean maintaining our beliefs, not compromising to be “politically correct” appeasing others.  Are we courageous enough to stand firm in the face of defiance against God on foundational issues?  Do we spend time alone with Jesus, listening or do we rely on getting the word second hand from others who hear from God?

We see that David pursued God, writing songs of Him in his lonely hours of exile.  He respected the ways of God and the timing of God; resting with God in the desert.

We all have times of trials and hardships.  How do we respond in the midst of these challenges?  Are we turning to God seeking His will, His wisdom, His peace?  Are we thanking Him for LIFE and goodness in the midst of the trials?  Like David, are we looking past our discomfort for ways to honor Him in our desert experiences?

As years passed and battles continued, David didn’t loose sight; he didn’t give up.  David kept his eyes fixed on God, turning to him again and again.  Though our battles drag on, sometimes for years -even decades, do we press on faithfully following God with unconditional adoration? psalm 9.10 2

When the time came to celebrate, it was the Lord who David danced wildly unto, not the jeers of man. His own wife mocked him.  What about us?  Are we so taken with God that we’re more mindful of Him than we are of what others think of us?

Even in his time of shame and failure with Bathsheba, it was God whom David sought.  We all mess up.  When we do, does it drive us to our knees seeking God more; accepting just consequences?

At the end of his reign, David was still more concerned with his relationship to God than any other person or even the kingdom he’d ruled.  His vision remained fixed on God with a perspective that the greater Kingdom was yet to be revealed.

What drives us?  If you summarized your life in a couple sentences what would your life be about?  Would it have an eternal value with Kingdom purpose?

God is the main point.  God seeks us.  He is purposed to have relationships with us.  It began in the garden and was completed at the cross.  Our lives are HIS STORY continuing.

To know God is to keep Him at the center of our vision -our lives.  Like David we can know God and proceed with confidence.  God is the very purpose for your presence!!

Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.  Psalm 9:10

What if…

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This whole writing and blogging thing drives me crazy.  Every day I have something to write, but I’m always blowing it off, rationalizing that nobody cares what I have to say and I’m not much of a writer and I have no TIME.whatif2

I am continually compelled to write, and yet I’ve hardly written “Jack Squat”.

I was talking with God about this and two words kept popping in my mind.  WHAT IF.  Here’s how the conversation followed.

God: “WHAT IF, Shelly.  What if you’re right, and you’re not a good writer, but I want you to write anyway?”

Me:  “But God, I don’t want to make a fool of myself.”

God:  “Hmmm. OK.”  Silence.

Then it hits me.

Me: “Is there anything more foolish than ignoring what God calls you too?”

… and how many times have I declared I would do anything for God?  But write?   Ugh.

I’m an unsophisticated writer.

Me: “Really God?”  Deep within, His Spirit stirs a rumbling in me.

“Okay… so what do I write, there are so many writers and bloggers and greats and who am I?”

God:  “You’re MINE.”

Again!  He’s says that ALL THE TIME.  (And I need to hear it.)

me: “What about time?  I’m so busy.”

God: “Oh, you mean like spending time on Pinterest, doing puzzles and projects or watching tv?”

I know He’s not telling me these are bad.  He’s just pointing out that I could manage my time better.

 me: “Okay.  So here I am.”

God: “Okay.   So there you are.  So write.”

Me:  “but God, You didn’t answer my question.  What do I write?”

God: “Anything child.  Write our conversation.  Write anything.  It’s not about your talent or ability.  It’s about Me.  You and Me and LIFE.”

Me:  “I know this God, but I don’t understand.  It doesn’t make sense.”

God: “Does it have too?  What if it does make sense to Me, and you simply are unable to understand?  What if it’s just about you being MINE and doing what I’ve called you too, just because you are Mine?”

Silence.

God: “Shelly, what if I call you to write every day for the rest of your life and no one but Me sees it or likes it or cares?  Would it all be a waste?”

Me:  “Oh God.  I know the right answer.  But…”

God:  “but what?”  (as if He doesn’t already know my thoughts!)

God:  “My child, you are called by Me for MY PURPOSES.  It’s not for you to understand, but simply to listen to Me and follow Me.  No one except ME is asking you to fulfill a purpose.”

You are called to be a wife, a mom, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a servant.  Those are an important part of My plan, but more than that, your purpose is OUR RELATIONSHIP.

I want your heart.

And I want you to write that and share it, and not to be concerned with what anyone else thinks about how you do that.

Are you seeking the approval of man or Me?”

Me: “It’s been man.”

God:  “I know.  But it’s time love.  My giftings and calling are irrevocable.  It’s okay if you’re not good at using it.  But child, it’s up to you to use it.”

What if.  What’s your “what if”?

Do you know that which you are called too, and are you walking in it?

We all have something God places deep within us; a key ingredient He placed in you when He designed you.

Do you recognize it?  Do you use it? Have you forgotten it or has the business of life snuffed it out?

What if? God says that His giftings and callings are irrevocable.  They’re not conditional on our ability, just our availability.

What if there’s something hidden deep in you, which you’ve forgotten for a long time.  What if it’s not too late?  What if now is your time to draw near to God and embrace that special something he wove into your very being?

Just remember, it’s not about the gifting or calling. It’s about Him and you.  The gifts are a means and a unique expression of Him in you.

“for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. Romans 11:20 (NAS)

World War Z

My daughters recently took me to see World War Z. We had a great time sitting on the edge of our seats the entire movie.  Similar to I am Legend, it presented a plausible (though exaggerated) scenario in which a life altering virus spread worldwide.

Later, we discussed the parallel between the movie and the story of Jesus. The nemesis in World War Z was a virus that infected people taking over their personal identity, destroying all trace of individuality and humanity. Jerry Lane, played by Brad Pitt was the hero racing against time to find a solution. It didn’t matter how good or bad a person was, the sickness affected anyone it inhabited. The infected beings’ purpose was only to consume and survive. All mankind was on the brink of destruction.

The virus is a picture of sin, which robs it’s host of identity and purpose. Like sin, hunger and sounds of LIFE appeared to be the only stimuli that motivated the walking dead. When alerted by sound, the zombies appetite to consume “uninfected ones” kicked in, driving them to a frenzied race to devour.

The virus of sin surrounds us. It’s everywhere, including IN us. With so many distractions calling for our attention, we are challenged to see the things going on IN us. Think of about it. How often do you get totally alone in absolute quiet? I’m not talking about alone with a good book or at your computer. I mean ALONE. It’s uncomfortable. Almost as soon as we come to a place of total silence, doing nothing, we become restless, maybe even agitated.

Could it be that the very nature of sin residing in us (though far more controlled then that of flesh eating zombies), deters us from being still enough to recognize we are living to consume, consuming to survive? Isn’t there more to life than that?

There IS so much more! In order to fully see it, we’ve got to be completely free from the power of sin.

Pitt’s character re-presented what Christ did for us when he took a virus upon himself. He put his own life on the line for the sake of humanity. He proceeded to walk fearlessly, unhindered among the “zombies”. They had no power over him!

In the same manner, Jesus took upon himself the very thing that would destroy us to provide the antedote to the inherent virus of sin in each of us. Unlike Brad Pitt, Jesus did what no one else could do.; he BECAME the solution for our condition, he is the very thing we consume to find our unique identity and purpose.

When we are “inoculated” with Christ, we’re not free from the presence of sin. Instead, we gain power OVER it. As Pitt’s character recognized, we also find our purpose is fulfilled in caring more for those around us than for ourselves.