I’m Being Pruned!

In the beginning of 2017, God told me this was going to be a year of growth and preparation. I did not know what kind of “growth and preparation” he was going to put me through. I am in the start up phase of my business so at first I pictured the growth of my business. I had dreams of what this year would look like with many clients, creating courses, and such. However, that is not the kind of growth God had for me.

This growth was more of an internal growth and preparation. Let me give you a picture. Think of plants and how they grow. If you let them grow and grow and grow without ever pruning them, they would get out of control. There is a hibiscus bush outside my front door. I get so excited when I see blooming red flowers! But then when the bush is overgrown the landscaper trims it and the flowers are gone. It’s a sad day when I come home and see the flowers have been pruned. However, when the flowers grow back they are more vibrant than ever before!

I see this as the life God has for us. He is the vine and we are the branches that continually get pruned. It hurts and it’s painful, but it’s for the best. I am in a pruning season. Pains I have avoided in the past are coming to the surface and I have a chose to either deal with them and uproot them, or to avoid them. Avoiding has not done me any good so I am choosing to deal with them. And let me tell you, it is not easy. I have been seeking outside help, which has been hard but so good at the same time.

I encourage you to look at the areas of your life that need pruning. We cannot be all God has called us to be if you do not deal with our pains, and our struggles, and our sins. We are not perfect which is why we go through these seasons of pruning. Let me tell you, even when you feel as though you are in the thick of it, God will never leave you. He has told me over and over that he is never leaving me and let me tell you, I have felt the presence of the Holy Spirit even in my darkest moments. Trust the process and let God do the work he needs to in you. He will NEVER leave you.

The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31:8

 

Ray of Life

I’ve had difficulty writing my post this week. Monday was the great North American eclipse, and the following day, August 22, would have been my friend Amy’s 41st birthday. 7 months after her passing, the physical and emotional anguish I was feeling as her birthday approached was debilitating. I just felt frozen. Add to that all the hatred presently spewing about in our country. I wasn’t feeling “Life Words.”

I decided not to drive south to a place where I could witness the total eclipse. I figured that 98% of the eclipse at my house in Charlotte would still darken the sky enough to see a star or two. I was shocked at how light it actually stayed with just 2% of the sun shining down! I was a bit disappointed, but amazed at the same time. I’m sure the anticipation of Amy’s birthday pushed me toward the disappointed side.

Then, yesterday, I noticed a Facebook friend’s post. Sally had just celebrated a birthday during the eclipse. Her post lifted me in a way that nothing else had for days as I had been locked in a bit of depression.

Please take a look at her Life Words:

“It only takes a little light!!!….it only takes a little love, kindness and gratitude to light up even the darkest situations.”

And here is how God lifted me from my dark place. A person I have never even met face to face posted these words of life.

Immediately I began to thank God for the time I had with Amy. I began to remember her love, kindness and gratitude, which she displayed even in her darkest of times. That little bit of light shined bright enough to illuminate my heart and my mind and pull me back up.

Thank you Sally Goodwin for your words. I hope to shake your hand one day!

Remember, a positive and encouraging word can reach into the darkest of places. You never know when what you say or do will touch someone who needs it. Let this remind us all of the power of our words. Be mindful of what you say AND what you post on social media! Let darkness and death words be eclipsed by light and life words!

“The power of the tongue is life and death— those who love to talk will eat what it produces.” Proverbs 18:21 (ISV)

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Ephesians 4:29 (NIV)

JARS OF CLAY

There are times when a friend will make a mistake, and I say to them, “well, you’re just human after all,” and most every day I need to remind myself of that very fact!

The Word of God tells us that,  “The LORD God formed the man from dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” Genesis 2:7

Also in Psalm 138:13 & 14: “For you created my inmost being, you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”  

Since we have established from God’s Word that we are, each one, created by Him in such an individual and unique way, let us surrender our lives to our Creator  He knows us well and has a perfect plan for us.  I trust Him with my life….do you?

However God made you…and if you are a believer in His son Jesus…then you are a vessel, or jar of clay to be used by Him to spread the Gospel. That doesn’t mean you have to be a preacher or singer or even a writer or poet. What that means is that you let the Light of Christ shine from inside of you to a dark world by the way you live your life in front of others.

A Christian rock group that has been popular for many years even chose their name as…Jars of Clay!!!

Photo by Kristin Coke

Photo by Kristin Coke

In II Corinthians the 4th chapter the Apostle Paul is explaining to the Corinthians that he and his fellow ministers are just yielded vessels being used by God to spread the Gospel. In verse 7 he says, “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.”

And what is “this treasure”?  Verse 6 gives the answer…“For God who said (at creation)    ‘Let light shine out of darkness’  made this light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.”

Wow! So we have His light in us to shine out to others…..but we are just frail humans made from dust…..actually jars of clay.  Don’t think of yourself greater than you should, but be a willing vessel for God to use.

Have you ever seen a potter at the wheel forming his work of art? That’s what God is to us. He made us…..as the potter makes jars of clay.  Let Him have His way in forming you to be what He wants you to be.  I guarantee…. you will be beautiful.

A beautiful, prayerful song is……

“Have Thine own way, LORD,  Have Thine own way.  Thou art the potter, I am the clay.  Mold me and make me after Thy will….while I am waiting yielded and still.

Have Thine own way, LORD,  Have Thine own way.  Hold o’er my being absolute sway.  Fill with Thy Spirit ’till all shall see Christ only, always living in me.”

VALLEY THOUGHTS

Where I am now living there aren’t any geographical mountains….so there aren’t any valleys. It’s flat in Florida! Most of my life has been spent in places where I could at least see the mountains in the distance. I love the geographical mountains and valleys.

Some valleys are beautiful and lush with greenery due to the water run off from the surrounding mountains……but when the sun is low it casts long shadows and darkness comes sooner than on the mountain top.

One of my favorite old songs to sing is  “Peace In The Valley.” Everyone seems to identify with the Hope we have for the future when Jesus comes back to earth to set up His Kingdom. “What A Day That Will Be”…….so many songs we hear and sing give us encouragement that everything will be perfect “In The Sweet By and By”!!!

But what about peace right now…in our hearts, minds, thoughts, homes, neighborhoods……in our world?

In the 23rd Psalm, David says…”yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow….”  But, is there peace in the valley of our lives…..where those dark shadows hide our clear sight? We want to live on the mountain top all the time…but that’s not reality.

When we find ourselves in the valley there are many thoughts that trouble us. We want security, right? I know I have questions about tomorrow…..how about you?

We want to control our own lives, but we know we are subject to many circumstances we cannot control. We look back through the years and think about the rewards we worked for but somehow never realized. There were times we wanted revenge for being mistreated or left out. Some of you have felt abandoned, isolated, forgotten, or criticized, maybe by your own family.

Have you found yourself wandering in a dark valley of rejection or hurt today? Or in a valley of pain and poor health, or financial devastation? That “valley of the shadow of death” could be physical, mental, or spiritual.

Be encouraged today that it is possible for you to live on the mountain…..but you must be determined to climb out of the valley by reading God’s Word, memorizing some verses, praising and praying to God, asking for help, filling your mind with praise songs and hymns. Yes, it takes some work and determination…..just like a mountain climber in the physical world!!!

This poem written by Annie Johnson Flint speaks to reality..

God has not promised skies always blue, flower-strewn  pathways all our lives through. God has not promised sun without rain, joy without sorrow, peace without pain.

But God has promised strength for the day, rest for the labor, light for the way. Grace for the trials, help from above, unfailing sympathy, undying love.

LIGHT of LIFE

Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.” John 8:12

We had a windy, very cloudy day last week. Above all those fast-moving clouds was the sun shining brightly. As I sat day-dreaming and looking out my window at a bright green cedar tree, I noticed the change in my perception of the color as the light dimmed and brightened. I know this is a simple concept, but I have just been pondering it and wanted to share it. Sometimes it’s the simple things that penetrate our hearts – so bear with me.

The brighter the light, the brighter our eyes perceive color to be. As the sun begins to set, all the colors soften and begin to melt together until they completely disappear into darkness. At night, with a tiny bit of light, we can see some objects defined, but they are in grayscale. We no longer see the color. Darkness dims everything under it – we no longer have a clear long-view, and we become limited and “boxed in” to the small space in which we stand.

This is also true spiritually. Without Light, our view dims and life can look gray and grim.

We are to be light on this earth to shine into the darkness. We are to be light to everyone we meet, for we do not know what darkness abides in their life. It is Jesus in us that shines and shows the color of life that surrounds us all. It is this Light of Life that helps others to see beauty in high-definition and brilliance and attracts them to Christ.

So…..

“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16

Photo: Kristin Coke

Photo: Kristin Coke

Another Year Gone By

Another year has gone by. How did that happen?? Seriously! This past year has gone by so fast! It seems like I just got back from my 11 month trip but that was over a year ago now. So much has happened since then and God continues to amaze me.

 

When I came back from the World Race, I wanted to continue living a life of taking risks and living in boldness for Jesus. It hasn’t been easy, but as a look back in this past year I see God’s faithfulness and persistence. And when I look at the times I was obedient and took a risk, I was blessed beyond words and God was with me and gave me the strength I needed. He continues to blow my mind and blow my expectations out of the water!

 

Here are some of the things God has taught me this past year:

 

God hears us and answers our prayers, even if they seem small (I was shopping for a bridesmaid dress for hours and then I prayed and God told me to go to a specific store and I found the dress I needed in the exact color I needed it in! WOW!).

 

God wants us to pray specific prayers.

 

God does miracles and uses people like you and me as his hands (God used me to pray healing over a friend’s knees who were in pain and he healed her! WOW!).

 

God gives us strength when we are weak (I did a 3 day fast only drinking water and I had so much energy and joy it only could have come from God!).

 

God ALWAYS provides.

 

When we take a leap of faith, God will catch us and walk with us.

 

God loves to make us laugh (I laugh when I experience the Holy Spirit!).

 

God is always there to comfort us. When we cry, he cries.

 

God cares about what is important to us.

 

God stands in front of us with open arms waiting for us to run to him.

 

God is continuing to teach me how to see people through his eyes and when I do I see them as his children.

 

God gives us His light in order to be tangible lights to been seen by people in the physical realm.

 

God LOVES me and He LOVES you UNCONDITIONALLY.

 

 

As you move forward into this next year, take time to sit and think of the ways God has shown up in your life in the past year and thank him. Make a goal for yourself in this next year to step out in faith and live more of risk-taking life for Jesus. You will not be disappointed. : )

 

Happy New Year!

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(On our way home from the World Race around this time last year,

November 2014)

Be YOU

When you look at yourself in the mirror, what do you see?

Do you see all your flaws? The mistakes you have made? Wish you were someone else? Wish you looked a certain way? Had a certain car, house, you name it!

 

The world we live in is full of lies and pressuring us to be someone we are not. To the world it’s all about how you look, how you act, what kind of job you have, how much money you are making. But that is not what is important at all.

 

Do you know what God sees when he looks at you?

He sees you as beautiful, as his child, worthy. He created you to look a certain way, to be unique, to be the only YOU, one of a kind. He created you to be different. He doesn’t care how much money you make, or what you look like. All he cares about is YOU.

 

I pray that you stand in confidence as the person you are.

I pray you walk in boldness and stand out because of the one who loves you and who lives inside of you.

I pray you are a light to this dark world.

I pray you find what you are passionate about and run after it even if you are ridiculed in the process.

I pray you stand strong in your faith.

I pray you are who God created you to be and no one else.

 

Don’t let the world define you. Your identity is found in Jesus.

 

Be the YOU God created YOU to be. And smile when you look at yourself in the mirror knowing the God above loves you and made you just the way you are for a reason.

 

“Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.” Psalm 100:3

 

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” Psalm 139:14

 

“He has made everything beautiful in its time.” Ecclesiastes 3:11

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Carry THE LIGHT

God was in the process of creating our earth, and seeing that darkness was prevalent over the earth said, “LET THERE BE LIGHT, AND THERE WAS LIGHT. GOD SAW THAT THE LIGHT WAS GOOD.” Genesis 1:3

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All living things need light. A blind man still needs light from the sun on his body to give him vitamin D and warmth.

The dictionary gives the number one definition of light as a noun: The form of radiant energy that stimulates the organs of sight, traveling about 186,300
miles a second.

I can see God in that definition, can you?

The light I’m writing about today is Jesus Christ, because He was there with God as the sun light was being created. (John 1:1-5)”…and through Him all things were made….in Him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.”

The darkness still does not understand the light of Jesus, and continually stumbles in the darkness. In fact, II Corinthians 11:14 says that Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. So, people are sometimes confused as to what is the True Light and what is the pretend light! (In fact there is a cult by the name True Light Church….so learn to test the spirits.)

When you accept Jesus Christ as the True Light, the Holy Spirit will help you discern what is true and what is false. Get to know the True Light by reading His Word and ask Him to help you know the difference. Satan is deceitful and manipulative. You must stay aware of his tricks and keep your eyes on the brightest light of all. Then allow His Light to shine through you as you go about your daily living.

The teen choir at the church I attend sang a song by Twila Paris last Sunday night that affected my thoughts in writing today……
“Carry the light, carry the light. Go and tell the people they are precious in His sight. Carry the light, carry the light. Go and preach the Gospel ’till there is no more night. In the name of Jesus Christ…carry the light!”

Matthew 5:14-16 (Jesus’ words) “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”

Dear Lord, because Your Light is in me, help me to be a reflection of Your Light wherever I go, whatever I do. Amen

Further reading: Luke 11:33-36 and Ephesians 5:8-21

A Light Unto My Path

The following was written by Gladys in March, 2003.  It’s a comforting blessing to have these timeless truths she left with us ~

“Your Word is a Lamp to my feet and a Light to my pathway” Psalm 119:105

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A lamp is needed in darkness so that we do not stumble or fall.  We live in dark days, and often question what is happening.  Has God left us without a light?  Not at all.

He has left us His Word, which Hebrews 4:10 tells us is “living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

Sometimes when you are jarred out of life’s routines by dire circumstances and you cry to the Lord for help and understanding, let the Word of God be your Light so that you do not stumble or fall.  His Word will NEVER FAIL YOU.

~ Gladys Johnson ~ March, 2003

JARS OF CLAY

God is our Creator and has made us in His likeness, according to the book of Genesis.

In biblical times pottery formed from clay was a necessary utensil that every home, rich or poor, had. It could have been ornately created by an artisan or simply formed by the hands of the local potter in each village.

The prophet Isaiah writes in chapter 64 verse 8, “Yet, O LORD, You are our Father. We are the clay, You are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.” Since God has formed us with His hands, and everyone in biblical days could identify with the necessity of owning clay pots, Paul again states what the prophet Isaiah had written on the scrolls so many years before…………”But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? Shall what is formed say to Him who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’ Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?”

See…..we are identified as jars of clay. The outside of our vessel is not what is important….it’s what’s inside. We are breakable, but oh so useful in God’s Kingdom!!!

“We have this TREASURE in JARS OF CLAY to show that this all-surpassing POWER IS FROM GOD AND NOT FROM US.” And according to the previous verse,” THIS TREASURE IS THE LIGHT OF THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE GLORY OF GOD IN THE FACE OF CHRIST.” II Corinthians 4:6-7

clay pots

So………..CARRY THE LIGHT in your jar of clay and recognize your insufficiency in God’s sufficiency!!!

Here are the words of verses one and two of a great old hymn written in 1902………

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!  Thou art the potter, I am the clay.  Mold me and make me after Thy will, while I am waiting yielded and still.

Have Thine own way, Lord!  Have Thine own way!  Hold o’er my being absolute sway!  Fill with Thy Spirit ’till all shall see Christ only always, living in me.