Saturday, March 26, 2016

If You See Something - Say Something!

NTAS (The national terrorism advisory system) and transit agencies have joined forces to launch a national campaign known as, "If you see something, say something."
This popular phrase can be heard throughout airports, train and transit centers all over the nation.
The purpose is to report suspicious activity.

In Mark chapter 16, there appears to be some suspicious behavior.

The tomb is empty!
But how?

Jesus was crucified on Friday and buried in a borrowed tomb. (Mark 15:21-41).
How could the tomb now be unoccupied?
It was sealed with a rock and guarded by soldiers.
Was Jesus missing?
Did someone tamper with His body?
Had the grave become a scene of criminal activity and skepticism?
No. This had become a prophetic snapshot fulfilled.
(Isaiah 53:11, Psalm 16, Psalm 22.)
Jesus did exactly what He promised He would do.
Why do we take pictures in life and never develop the film?
Jesus presents Himself as the camera, the image, and the film.
He never takes a 'picture' that He does not develop.
If He had stayed dead many biblical portraits of scripture would have remained undeveloped.
His resurrection is the 'developed film' that the world awaited! It is the foundation for everything that we believe about His power that is limitless.

Jesus has risen! (Matthew 28:6)
Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene early in the morning. She ran proclaiming the good news to the disciples. The disciples could not believe the news.
They remained suspicious. Jesus appeared to them in the country side and they still would not believe it.
He gathered them and rebuked those who refused to believe those that witnessed His resurrection.
His nail printed hands and feet turned suspicion and skepticism on its head.
He is indeed alive!

The chapter ends with Jesus commissioning the disciples, "Go into the world and proclaim the good news..." (Mark 16:14-16).

In other words, in my sanctified imagination, I hear Jesus saying to the disciples, "You've seen something. Now say something."
I believe Jesus kept appearing to the disciples because He wanted them to do like Mary did- to run and tell what was witnessed.
If you've seen me raised from the dead, you ought to say something. Run and tell somebody what you saw. Say something!
We spend so much of life telling people what other's have said and done or what we've heard on 'the gossip line,' but that gossip is unproductive, ungodly and bears no fruit.
Today we are invited to share the gossip of the gospel. Tell the truth on Jesus. Put something on the gossip line that glorifies God, empowers people and impacts the Kingdom.

Share the gospel today:
Jesus lived.
He died.
He rose again.

Jesus conquered death and the grave and has all authority in heaven and on earth.
Because He got up from the grave we can get up from all sinful and suspicious behavior in our lives.

Do you remember what God has saved you from?
Do you remember how dark and hopeless life was before Christ entered into your heart?
Do you recall who you were before Jesus transformed your thought life, habits and attitude?
Have you noticed a change in your life because of the power of Christ?
Have you noticed how differently your friends, colleagues or family members are now that they have surrendered to Jesus as Lord of their life?
How have you been transformed?
Have you ever been healed? Delivered? Saved? Forgiven? Brought out of the margins of society and into the inner circle of Christ?

If you see something - say something!
If you've seen grace- say something.
If you've seen mercy - say something.
If you've seen God's love displayed in your life - say something.
If you know that you are no longer the same - say something.

Have you witnessed favor that is unexplainable? Say something.
Someone needs to hear the gospel.
Someone needs to hear of God's mighty movement in your life.

Mandelstam said, "Silence is the real crime against humanity."

Dr. M.L.King said, "Our lives begin to end when we become silent about things that matter."
God has given each of us a voice.
Use it.

Tell somebody about Jesus.
Tell of His love displayed on the cross. (John 3:16).
See His nail printed hands and feet.

"He's the Rock standing on the rock today."
Take a moment and rejoice with Believers all over the world today, "He lives, He lives, He walks with me and talks with me along life's narrow way..."

If you don't know Him, what better day to choose Him.
He's the only God that died and is no longer dead. The world remembers gods that they deem wise sages of enlightenment, but they still occupy their graves.
Buddha. Dead.
Confucius. Dead.
Jesus. Risen from the dead!
Choose Jesus who is alive forever more.
(Revelation 1:18).

Will you choose Him?
Romans 10:9,10 makes it easy to unite in His family. Confess and believe.
The gift is free to us but it cost Him everything.
Choose Him and join us in the gossip of the gospel.
He's alive. He's alive. He's alive!
Now run and tell that!

Lord, thank you for the best gift given to us when you gave your life so freely.
Thank you for salvation, adoption, justification and reconciliation.
We are saved by grace and we bless you for being the perfect sacrifice.
Forgive us for being silent.
Make us bolder witnesses.
You spoke up for us in death. Help us to speak up for you in life.
In your name we pray, Amen.

Who can you share the gospel with this week?
What often hinders you from witnessing to others?
What are you most thankful for that Jesus has done in your life?
How can you be more deliberate in sharing your testimony with others?
Who do you say Jesus is?
Share your estimation of Jesus with someone this week in person, in social media or on the phone.
Pray for courage, sensitivity, wisdom, compassion, faith, boldness and productivity.
Faith speaks up. Faith looks up.
Someone is dying to hear about Christ.
Be a microphone, billboard and megaphone for Him.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Less Is More. The Truth About Faith Moves and Transition.

Do you feel like you have run out of wing span room and God is urging you to take a leap of faith?

Is God moving you to a place or position in life that does not make sense or make cents?

Do you feel like 'all hell' is breaking lose in your life and you just want to regain peace?

Are you feeling stretched because God has revealed His next step on your journey and you feel blindsided by His plan?

Do you want to obey God but fear an unknown future or just don't know how to release the grip that you have on people that you love or things that you have become codependent on?

Have you made a god of your own job, family, paycheck, benefits, intelligence, excellence, dreams or place of comfort?

Have you been urged by the Lord to give Him an answer of 'yes', but you cannot figure out exactly what the question is?

Do you feel excited and terrified about the season ahead?

Are you consumed with worry or questions about how life, relationships and finances will be in the days ahead?

Are you willing to obey God but just wished His step by step plan were more clear?
Do you feel insecure or inadequate and not quite prepared for the things that you are called to do and to be?

So many people have been there, are there or will be right where you are.
I know all of those feelings well- very well.
Welcome to real life!

Those are real life concerns and a tension that each of us has or will experience. Some of those things will be overcome in the process and some on the other side of our yes to God, but even if some of those things are our God-given 'thorn,' we must move in faith and watch God's marvelous hand in us, through us, around us and in spite of us.

I know that all of our experiences will be different, but I am certain that God is faithful to each of us. Someone may need to be reminded of His character that never, ever changes. 
Our jobs, titles, homes, feelings, relationships, popularity, comfort and dreams change, but Jesus the same, yesterday, today and forever more. (Hebrews 13:8)

He has been. He is. He will be. That's enough! God. Is. Faithful! That's all we really need to know.
Just follow Him.

Here's what I've learned (still learning) during my seasons of transition.  I hope you will be encouraged:

  • To everything there is a season, time and purpose. (Ecclesiastes 3:1).
  • Transition is natural. Allow it. Don't resist it because of your ideal image of how your life should be. God dreams a bigger dream.
  • Faith must have feet. What is faith that is not lived out? We must believe what we don't see. (2 Corinthians 5:7) Transitions allow faith to be tested and character to be tempered. Watch your trust in God bloom. 
  • It doesn't have to be trouble arising to transition. 
  • Transition can be beautiful. 
  • Transition can also be tragic.
  • Transitions can be filled with surrender or with resistance. (Trust me, you don't want to fight with God.) James W. Johnson is right, "Our arms are too short to box with God." Prepare to obey no matter the cost. 
  • God often allows us to experience feelings of professional, academic, ministerial or relational 'suffocation' to serve as our motivation because He is preparing us for more wingspan room that cannot be experienced without discomfort, growth and expansion.  When you feel comfortable, cramped, trapped, discontent or stuck, it could be because transition is on the way. Beware of comfort. It is the enemy of growth.
  • Don't feel strange about feeling stuck. It's normal, just don't make mediocrity your address. If you have stopped dreaming you could be a victim to familiarity and comfort. Rise above. Get unstuck. Dream again. 
  • You will have days that make you feel awesome. You will also have days that make you question yourself or question God but trust God anyway. Just because there will be roadblocks and detours doesn't mean that God is not calling you or sending you. 
  • You will have days of both inspiration and frustration.  Live in that tension. 
  • It is very hard to leave a place of comfort when you want to stay, but God will help you. It's better to move forward than to experience the consequences of staying longer than God intended you to stay at one place. 
  • Know when to hold 'em and when to fold 'em. There is danger in staying too long. 
  • You may be nervous but you must heed God's instruction even if you cry or if your voice and hands shake doing it. Your future self will thank you. 
  • God doesn't call the qualified. He qualifies the called. Rely on His on the job training. You don't have to have it all together.
  • You must make a decision that is Spirit led, proactive and bathed in prayer and not reactive, based upon 'popular opinion' or emotional feelings.
  • You must rely on God's track record and the promises of His word.
  • You must obey the Lord even if your family or friends or circle of influence does not fully understand your choice.
  • You may end up living a life that is not what you planned. It's o.k.  You're in good company.
  • You must accept that God is the majority and He's enough.
  • Accept that you're enough. 
  • You must die to being a people pleaser. You'll be so glad you did.
  • You must accept that there will be lonely days, wounds and painful days.  Every person that God uses greatly has been hurt significantly.  Join the club! Oswald Chambers said, "We can not drink grapes. They must first be crushed." You can't escape it. Embrace it. With God we are never alone in our suffering. Let Him crush you as needed. He is producing sweet wine in your life.    
  • Sometimes God won't let you rest until you surrender to His will to transition. Obedience provides a pillow of peace.
  • Accept  that following God does not always come with a map or GPS system, but know that His voice can be trusted. Sometimes He gives a  broad preview and sometimes He doesn't. We must trust Him when He shouts and when He whispers, when He speaks and when He is silent, when He is clear and when He seems vague. He is always active.
  • Be flexible. Your Plan B was always God's plan A.
  • Save and plan for your transition. 
  • Prepare your family by praying prayers related to your transition and studying scripture together on transition.
  • If your transition into a new season comes as a total surprise, just remember that God is never caught off guard by the things that surprises us. Trust Him.
  • Expect spiritual warfare. Be suited in the Spirit. (Ephesians 6:12,13). Fight spiritual battles with spiritual weapons. Anticipate victory with God.
  • Reject perfectionism and resist being a control freak. Embrace God's wisdom and rely on His sovereignty even if He does not reveal His 'five to ten or twenty year plan.'  Just submit to His will moment by moment and day by day. Give up the 'need to know' His next move. Just discern and obey. 
  • If He directs you to wait, then do just that-wait! There are consequences on moving ahead of God.
  • Move In His time. Risks, Responsibilities and rewards await.  
  • Don't get caught up in the 'paralysis of analysis.' Some of us think too much.  We allow our thoughts to become our greatest obsession and before we know it we are a prisoner to the quick sand of our own thought life. Trust God, not your thoughts and feelings-they are always fleeting.    
  • Develop a strong prayer life and seek God's face on your own. Record His command to you in His Word and His whispers to you in your quiet time.
  • Cast your cares on Him. (I Peter 5:7)  
  • Surround yourself with godly men and women of wisdom.  Seek wise counsel.
  • Consider what doors God is opening and what doors God is closing. Accept that His grace is at work in opened and closed doors.
  • Consider where your passions are increasing and decreasing.
  • Take a spiritual gifts assessment test and locate your areas of giftedness and find ways to sharpen these areas of your own personal growth and in the lives of others.
  • Be a river, not a reservoir. In transitions it is so easy to become as island. Reject that.  Give yourself away to others. 
  • See conflict as a grace gift in growth and not a punishment.  Know that sometimes He allows conflict or chaos to 'stir the nest' to get us to fly.  Don't resist conflict because it could be what God uses as a launching pad for the next season. Sometimes things have to fall apart before they can fall together.
  • Know that Peace is the best pay. Money can't buy the peace and inner settling of obedience. (That has been the greatest fulfillment for me.  Peace! True peace.  It can't be manufactured. It can't be duplicated.  It is tremendous to go to bed each night knowing that you are imperfect but have perfect peace.)  What a tremendous gift from God! I want you to know it too.
  • Know that provision will follow you. God will see to it! (There's no need in worrying about what we can't control.  There have been times that I worried about pay and God blew my mind with pay in the next season. There have been times that I worried about benefits and God upgraded my benefits in the next season.  Now I see, worry accomplishes nothing and God already has orchestrated our circumstances, so it's just best to chill out and trust Him).  He's got it!
  • Faith must trump fears and many times will also have to trump logic. Can faith be cerebral? Sure. Is faith also illogical? Absolutely! 
  • God is not concerned with our understanding. He wants our availability. Take your head and heart.
  • The opinion of God will have to outweigh the opinions of others.
  • Sometimes you have to lose to win. (In human eyes, during transitions, some people may consider your faith move to be insane because you will be giving up what matters the most to many people: pay, ever changing titles, proximity to family or friends, loss of circles of friends or influence, comfort, a certain salary and stability.)  Press on anyway.  Learn what matters in God's economy. Jesus did not come for our titles, paychecks, comfort, prestige or approval ratings. He came so we could have abundant life.(John 10:10) Discern what matters to God. It is usually not what matters to the world. Crave the things of God and seek only His approval.  
  • Honor Him and live fully by following Him.
  • Be strong and courageous ( Joshua 1:9, Deuteronomy 31:6)
  • Some relationships will change, some will stay the same, some will be dissolved and some will be birthed or rebirthed. Be open to relationships that are fluid. You will survive changing relationships and will be blessed to see that some are of longevity and some are seasonal but all are purposed.
  • You may have to live on a new found budget and struggle with making hard decisions on things that may have to be sacrificed. You may have to work jobs that you prefer not to work or do things that you preferred not to do, but remember that all of us have to do what we have to do to get to where we want to go. It will be worth the sacrifice. Pay it forward!  You don't give up on a plant just because it starts as a tiny seed or just because it grows slowly, you keep caring for it.  You have to see the plant blooming in your imagination and have to believe that tilling the soil and watering the seeds will bring about a harvest in time.  Keep cultivating God's seeds in your heart.  The work and sacrifices will be hard at times, but will be fruitful. 
  • Hardships are real and inevitable but keep the faith. I would be lying if I said that with transition comes perfection or lack of struggle. With transition can come being misunderstood, humiliation and financial hardships can also be apart of transition. I have seen some people go bankrupt. I've seen others down size their homes, some have moved in with people or had to become a one car family. Some have moved to cities that they never would have chosen to live in and some have been called to states and countries that take them a long way from home.  Some couples have decided to live on one salary and some singles and couples have chosen to live on part time pay or to give up material things that had sentimental value. Some have chosen to live a faith based life that never allows a consistent paycheck each month.  Some are committed to lives that involve 'daily death' so that Jesus may live in their life testimony, their marriages, their families, ministries and businesses.  To be a Christian, in the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, is 'to sign a death warrant.'  The question is, "How are we dying in transition?" Death doesn't feel good. Transition doesn't feel good always, but the hope is that Jesus brings what was dead back to life.  Give Him your esteem, relationship, financial status, dreams, job and joy that may seem dead and watch Him blow a fresh breath on it.
  • Know that people are being inspired by your witness. When I have made transitions I always did it to please the Lord, but I didn't always recognize that in doing so that others were inspired to be courageous or to be obedient.  That is very humbling. People have often shared their admiration by watching 'the leap of obedience.'  God gets the glory, but I wonder if someone needs to be reminded that your faith could be growing the faith of others. Let the Lord do it in your testimony. People are watching how you follow God.
  • Know that God takes what you have and multiplies it. I have seen God's provision in my life as a single woman and now as a married woman, how God can take a little and make it a lot.  Salaries have changed, but God's presence and provision have been perpetual.  We have learned that if we never had to live on little we would have never known how little we really needed to live. We have lived on 2 salaries and on one.  We have moved because of opened doors in each of our lives.  We have had seasons that were awesome and seasons that were terrible but despite changes, God kept making away and developing us in the process. We see how valuable God is and How valuable we are to Him and that has nothing to do with our pay, our house, our transportation or recognition.  He's doing the same in you. Let Him strengthen you even if He strips you. He's growing you.  Hang in there!
I have seen God give more joy, more of Himself and more opportunities to trust Him more. Doors have flung open that can not be explained and I know that doors open NOT because of who we are, but because of who God is.  I am so thankful that He uses our lives to reflect His glory.  I see now that His will can be achieved if we get out of the way.  He delights in taking care of His children.  That has overwhelmed my heart the most.  I am happier than ever and have less!
It is possible to know joy that is not birthed from our social status, economic status, profiles, platforms, financial status or delusions of grandeur.
I am more content than ever and don't have a fancy title and don't make millions of dollars.  I have learned that less is more.  Take a moment and count up the joy in your life and lessons learned.

  • I have lost a father and yet have found joy again-unspeakable joy!
  • I have lived in many cities but God has made each of them home. 
  • I have known sickness and healing but have great joy.
  • I have had heart break, but still have joy.
  • I have been betrayed in relationships but still have joy.
  • I have seen doors open and close, how life can be miraculous and messy, but joy remains.
  • I have had to make tremendous sacrifices but guess what? They didn't kill me. In fact, they made me better.
  • All of my needs are met.
  • I see that just because transition happens, it doesn't mean that God's call or anointing changes. Transition is about moving with life changes with God.
  • I have been spiritually and physically exhausted, but God refreshes. Still got joy! 
  • I don't have everything that I want, but I have everything that I need.
  • I have become stronger. I have gained needed experiences to be reminded of the fallen condition of the world and to be reminded of my own imperfections and need for God. I see how God gives joy in the valley and I see that the valley is a pit stop and not a permanent residence.
  • I am able to empathize in a greater way with others because of hiccups and hurts in life's transitions.
  • I am able to celebrate transition because God is in the middle of it and I'm able to celebrate the transitions of others because I remember how meaningful it was and has been for people celebrating with me.
  • I know that trouble doesn't last always and that God never abandons His children in transitions.
  • I am aware that mountaintop experiences should be cherished but can not be extended because life is filled with highs and lows and we must live in faith and not in fantasy.
  • I know more than ever that Jesus is the lifter of our head.
  • I know that just because you go to new places you never have to stop loving people that you care for in each season. 
  • I see the value in finishing well and beginning with the end in mind.
  • I see the blessing in training others, learning from others and watching God take people further as He takes you farther.
  • I'm reminded that God knows what He's doing.   
  • I see that contentment is the best thing that has EVER happened to me and our household. Learn it and you'll be able to transition anywhere. 
  • I am more aware now than ever that transition is not a dirty word, but is a test of our faith and a means for us to gain wings and to see God in new and fresh ways.
  • I have experienced awesome opportunities in transition.
  • I have gained clearer spiritual vision in transition.
  • I have seen how God can protect relationships and expand circles in transition.
  • I am reminded often of how God will raise people up out of obscurity to bless your life and to invest in your future. 
  • I have stepped out in new areas of faith and seen God bless new vision in transition.
  • I see that transition is a form of submission and worship.
  • I understand that without transitions we stunt our own growth.
  • I have gained gratitude for less and more.
  • I am thankful for an upgraded perspective.
  • I understand that we are not defined by the opinions of others.
  • I am reminded of God's keeping power.
  • I see God's hand of protection.
  • I am happy and humbled that God allows us to be apart of His activity.
  • I am grateful for faith filled friends and testimonies of transition. 
  • I thank God for lessons and renewed faith in transition that can not be obtained by staying where you are.
  • I am excited to be living God's dream for my life and to remain a student at His feet.  
  • I understand now that just because you obey God, it does not mean that we automatically receive a life of ease. We cannot count on stability, but we can count on God. Glory to His name!
  • I have not attained all that I will be, but I am thankful that God loves us enough that He won't let us become comfortable and stagnant. I'm not the same.
  • I understand now now that God is not obligated to any of us, but He does obligate Himself to His word that can be trusted.
Today, I'm simply grateful for joy in transition. You can be too.

Transformation is apart of transition.
Be transformed! (Romans 12:2)

*The first step is accepting the need for life's transitions.
Why transition? Because it's biblical.
Follow Abraham's journey. It was filled with transitions.
Follow Mary and Joseph's story. Lots of transitions.
Follow Job and Paul. Many stretching transitions.
Jesus is the best example.
Jesus came as a baby but grew into manhood.  He went to the cross, died, got up from the grave and 40 days later He ascended to heaven.  Sounds like transition to me!

If Jesus can transition, shouldn't we?

Grow on through it!

Know this...

Our joy does not come from what we have. It comes from Who has us!

"This joy I have, the world didn't give it and the world can't take it away...."

Transition well. Joy, peace and provision will meet you there.

Dear Lord, we pray for brothers and sisters in the midst of transition. Grant your wisdom, provision, clarity and peace. Teach us to obey you even when it hurts. Thank you for being a God that can be trusted. Grant your joy, unspeakable joy and contentment, In your name we pray, amen.

1. What or who is God transitioning in your life?
2. What about transition excites you? What frightens you?
3. What has God asked you to do?
To move in faith?
To wait?
To seek new opportunities?
To be prayerful and open?
4. What scripture encourages you in this season?
5. What do you see about God's character in this season?
6. How have you grown?
7. What transitions in life do you believe are necessary for you to soar in your purpose?
8. What sacrifices will be necessary and how will your faith be increased in the process?
9. What are your life's enemies of faith?
10. How has God proven Himself in your life in the past? Write out your testimony and be reminded of God's faithfulness on your journey.