Ignition and Activation: Prepare for Launch!

On January 28th, 1986, the Challenger Space Shuttle blew up in the sky just minutes after launch. An O-ring failure was the cause of the disaster that could have been avoided if the Morton Thiokol and NASA executives had listened to the small group of engineers who vehemently argued that the launch should be postponed due to freezing temperatures at launch time.

How many things have we blown up in our lives because we didn’t give attention to a tiny little o-ring problem? God wants to ignite us with passion for His purpose for our lives, but if He ignites us and we still have an o-ring problem, things are going to blow up. In this message, I use the life of Moses to show what Ignition and Activation look like – the right way and the wrong way!

The Father has a purpose for our freedom beyond merely releasing us from the weights that beset us. He has a plan to ignite us with passion for His will which will launch us into God-inspired and God-directed activation. This only happens when we lean into His voice and obey what we hear. Join me in this video talk where I answer these 3 questions about Ignition and Activation: What is the difference between Ignition and Activation? How do I know what I am being ignited to do? How do I know when it’s time to Activate?

If this message blessed you, please leave a Comment, Subscribe to the YouTube Channel and kindly Share the video. That will help me with content for future messages and blogs and also help me keep you posted on new content as it comes out.

Laying Aside the Weight: 3 Steps to throwing off habits and thought patterns that are holding you back

Do you ever feel trapped by habits or thought patterns that seem beyond your control? Do your best intentions often go out the window as you fall prey to well-worn paths of defeat? Do you want to pursue the Lord with endurance and finish your race well but feel like you have a heavy backpack weighing you down?

If you can relate to any of the above, then this message will help you and others you interact with. In this message, I describe what weights are that hold us back from running our race for the Lord with endurance. Find out what the difference is between weights and sins that keep us from moving forward in God’s will, and learn the 3 steps to throwing off the habits and thought patterns that are holding you back.

If this message blessed you, please leave a Comment, Subscribe to the YouTube Channel and kindly Share the video. That will help me with content for future messages and blogs and also help me keep you posted on new content as it comes out.

Kidnapped: Tuning our heart to the sound of rescue

In this video post, I share another story from the life of our new friend, Abigail found in the book of 2 Samuel.

Do you feel kidnapped by your circumstances? Were you completely caught off guard by a situation that has you feeling trapped and hopeless? In this video, I tell a the second part of the story of Abigail from the book of 2 Samuel and how it relates to anyone who has been sidelined by an onslaught. It’s not over! Get ready to tune your ears to the approaching sound of rescue!

The best song on Rescue I ever heard!

What about you:

  • Do you feel as though you have been kidnapped by your situation?
  • Were you experiencing freedom in the Lord and now feel as though you have been muzzled and bound?
  • Have you been wondering where Jesus is in all of this?

While Jesus is clear that in this life, we WILL have struggles, He also tells us in Deuteronomy 31:8, Hebrews 13:5, Deuteronomy 31:6 and Joshua 1:9 (to name a few!) that He will never leave us or forsake us. Jesus loves us with a love that goes beyond our performance, our circumstances, our weaknesses and failures. So no matter how you got to the place where you feel trapped or stuck, start to tune your ears to the sound of Rescue. Know that He is coming for you. He is on His way and He won’t let you be devoured by anything!

Below are some more Scriptures to meditate on. I encourage you to write the ones down in your journal or in a Notes app on your phone that speak to your heart so that you can memorize them. Having the Word in your heart is a weapon and a medicine all in one!

  • Song of Solomon 2:8,10-11 – The voice of my Beloved! Behold, he comes, leaping over the mountains, bounding over the hills. My Beloved speaks and says to me: “Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come away, for behold, the winter is past; the rain is over and gone.”
  • Psalm 71: 1-3 – In You, LORD, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame. In Your righteousness, rescue me and deliver me; turn Your ear to me and save me. Be my rock of refuge, to which I can always go; give the command to save me, for You are my rock and fortress.
  • Psalm 69: 14, 33 – Rescue me from the mire, do not let me sink; deliver me from those who hate me, from the deep waters. The LORD hears the needy and does not reject his captive people.

Flip the Switch: Going from Victim to Victor, Defeated to Defended, Intercepted to Intercessor

In this video post, I share a personal story from my life and how God used a little-known woman from the Old Testament to take me from victim to victor, from feeling defeated to feeling defended, and from being intercepted by crisis to a place of powerful intercession. If you are in a season of devastation and loss, and if you are struggling with fear, anxiety and depression because of a situation beyond your control, then this word is for you.

What about you?

  • Are you struggling with a feeling of powerlessness over a situation beyond your control? Do you feel as I did as if your emotions are in the blender?
  • Do you need a peace that passes understanding?
  • In a journal, write down your heartache and anxiety and then bring it to Jesus’ feet. Repent for your part, for holding bitterness and doubt in your heart. If someone else is responsible for this situation, bring their sin to the Lord and ask for mercy. Standing in the gap as an intercessor is a privilege we have as the bride of Christ and it is the only position that honors our trust in Him and His sacrifice for us.

What’s Love Got to Do With It?: Thoughts on racism in light of the George Floyd killing

Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images

What’s love got to do with it?

These days we’re hearing a lot from the news outlets about the horrors of racism played out in the worst ways – before our very eyes.  And while I hate the fact that innocent men (and women) have died at the hands of bigots, I am grateful that I personally am having conversations with my friends of color – black, brown and tan – about issues that we have never EVER talked about.

I was just on Instagram and I saw more than five Christian leaders / pastors that I Follow, post quotes about Love.  It’s an obvious and common theme right now, whether you are Christian or not.  I saw friends of mine who posted quotes from Jesus in the Bible when he said that there are two main commandments we need to pin to the top of our Life Goal Checklist: 1. Love the Lord our God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength and 2. Love our neighbor as ourselves. 

All this talk about love brings me back to my opening question: What does Love have to do with any of this? Does our society even know what love means anymore?  Our media is saturated with television shows that depict love as some fairy tale chance meeting with a soul mate that ends happily.  Or, conversely, a one-night stand that was a little more meaningful than the other ones.  People throw the word ‘love’ around in obvious error when they say that they ‘love’ ice cream and they ‘love’ their boyfriend or girlfriend.  We don’t need a college degree to see that our messaging on Love has undermined the value of the word and the intent.

I do not purport to have the answer to our world’s epic issue with love.  I do not purport to have arrived at the place where I love people as whole heartedly as I should.  In fact, I think it’s my concern over the state of my heart that constantly drives me to this topic in my personal study and in repentant prayer.  I know that I don’t love well.  I’ve often pondered what factors I can blame for my deficiency. Is it Nature or Nurture?

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“Grace, grace to it!”: a YouTube message

A couple of weeks ago, I shared the message below with our congregation.  Many people have since approached me to tell me that they were encouraged and applied the word immediately to their lives.  That, of course, is the best news I could ever hear!

  • Are you in a season that seems impossible?
  • Are you facing an impossible challenge that’s pushing you to the breaking point
  • Are there habits whose hold on you seem impossible to break?

God has promised to pour out a grace for the impossible, but we have to know what that is and how to access it

If you’re facing an impossible situation, I’m praying that you will be encouraged by this message. I hope that you will find something in this message that will not only give you hope but that you can apply to your life starting right now!

Girlfriends: For better or worse

GirlfriendsWhen I was in sixth grade, I was bullied all year by two girls in my class. I know that in this day and age of Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter, bullying has gone to new levels of cruelty that I doubt I could have survived. I barely survived the one year of torment I endured from these girls who found a weak and unprepared victim.

They mocked me in front of the class, they left mean notes on my desk, they turned the entire class against me, and they brought out the weakest and worst in me. I lost respect for myself that year. I began to believe the things they said about me. I reacted with insecurity which is blood in the water to sharks who go after their prey on the recess yard.

No one would be my friend because to be seen with me put you in my “class” of loser. I had one friend by the end of the year and even she was different than she had been the year before when we frolicked in our innocence.

Every night I cried. My mother wanted to go to the principle but I begged her not to. Things would be so much worse for me if she did. She tried to explain that these girls were jealous of me and they wanted to make me miserable because they themselves were miserable. I, of course, didn’t believe her. Why would I? These two girls ruled the class with their iron fists of haughty glances, sneering smiles, flirtatious phrases and cool outfits. They could cut you down to size with one sideways look of disgust. I was out of my league. As an only child, I hadn’t learned how to stand up for myself, have a good argument, shake off someone’s behavior that is annoying or rude or get in someone’s face and tell them where to take their crappy attitude. Brothers and sisters teach each other how to handle conflict and I was totally unskilled.

I went down like the Titanic.

Sixth grade was also the year I got braces. Wonderful. And acne. Perfect.

So I made a change in who I hung out with. I decided that boys were a lot easier to be around than catty girls who would be nice to your face one minute and then pass a note about your ugly sweater the next. (I know I’m dating myself terribly talking about passing notes. I must sound like a total dinosaur!)

In my mind, boys were safe and girls were unsafe. Boys were direct and girls were sly. Boys were simpler and girls were far too complex – even though I was one of them, I didn’t feel like I was that complex!

This was the beginning of my challenges with female friendships. If you’re a woman reading this, I ask you: Have you also experienced what I’m talking about? Can you relate to my distrust of female friendships?

Then I became a Christian and started attending church on a regular basis.  I was only 18 at the time so I was still pretty young. It didn’t take me long to notice that the ladies at church, young or old, were nothing like the girls / ladies I had been burned by throughout my grammar school and highschool years. But could they really be trusted??

Over the thirty plus years that I have been going to a Christian church, I have found that almost all of my issues with catty girls, gossip, lying, backbiting and meanness are gone. I have formed the most valuable and nourishing friendships that have lasted decades and still continue to grow in depth and kindness. I have seen my friends drop everything to help me in my hard times, and have been encouraged and buoyed up by their faith in me and their love for me.

The Bible says that those who love are born of God and know God because God is love. And I have certainly seen that displayed in my girlfriends. The more we grow in our faith, the more compassionate and outgoing we have become. The more we get healed by the love of God for us, the more we reach out in confidence and strength to others, not needing to recognized or applauded, just delighting to show kindness and support.

My mother was right: Those girls in sixth grade were mean to me because they were unhappy. And that’s why my friends now are worthy of my trust. They are happy and secure in the love of God for them so they don’t need to tear me down to feel better about themselves. I am blessed. Truly and completely blessed.

May you find good friends to do life with.

And if you have never asked Jesus to be your Savior, I would start there. We can’t give what we don’t have. We can’t give love and acceptance when we’re an open wound of neediness ourselves. Let Jesus heal your heart from all of the pain of your past so you can be the friend you so earnestly desire to have.

Now you:

  • Have you struggled with bullying at some point in your life? Did that period in your life leave scars of self-doubt?
  • Do you crave real friendship but struggle to find friends you can trust?
  • Are you a trustworthy friend? Do you work at your friendships?
  • Do you gossip or pass along tidbits about other people because you find it gratifying to talk about the flaws of others?

If you are a gossip, I’m telling you right now, people don’t trust you. They might not tell you to your face, but if you run your mouth, people don’t see you as a safe person. And if you’re not a safe person, then no one is able to be authentic around you. And if no one is authentic around you, you don’t have any real friends. Stop gossip in your life right now. It’s a friendship killer and the person who will lose in the end is you. No juicy tidbit is worth the damage you are doing to people’s ability to trust you and like you. Be content in your own skin and always be one who lifts others up, praises them and shuts down conversation that brings people down. Let God’s love heal your self-esteem so that you are free to love yourself and others.

Let’s pray:

Dear Lord Jesus, I come to you and ask for healing for the pain of my past. I have felt pain and I have caused pain. I ask for your forgiveness and healing to wash me clean and restore joy and peace to my soul. Show me how to be a faithful friend who loves at all times and speaks a good word in due season. Let my words be encouraging and beneficial to all who hear. May I never slander of gossip and if I do, help me to be quick to repent and ask forgiveness. Please, O God, be my Rock, my Defender and the Lover of my soul, so that I can love others with your love. Amen.



Summer thunderstorm deconstructed: The beauty & power of the storm that came and went

Lightning over housesI love a summer thunderstorm. I love the humidity that fills the air, the roll of thunder in the distance, the flashes of lightening that streak across the sky and the sound of crickets chirping invisibly in the twilight. As I sit at my desk tonight, those sounds float in my window filling me with nostalgia and peace. Who would think that something as ominous sounding as a thunderstorm would make me feel peaceful?

Before I sat down to write, I stood at my keyboard and played a worship song that we sing in our church called Your Great Name. The chords from the chorus make a great worship chord progression and as I stopped singing the lines written on the page and started singing my own worship chorus, the thunder started. And so did a worship chorus from my heart that rejoiced in the fact that I serve a God who is far above all created things and Who has carried me through many storms.

There have been many songs written about God being enthroned above the clouds and His voice sounding like rolling thunder. I can’t say that I’ve ever heard the voice of God audibly, but when he speaks to my heart, sometimes the power and authority of His voice over my circumstances feels like rolling thunder. The thunder is never fearful but comforting in that I know the God Who possesses this power and greatness loves me and is for me.

Tonight, even though the thunder is building in the distance, the sky is cotton candy pink and blue as the sun has just set.  A flash of lightning illuminates my street like a split-second rock concert. A crack of thunder, closer now, fills the air above my open window. There is no rain yet, but I know it’s coming. The air is starting to move into action from its languid state as fronts above my house start crashing into each other. The thunder is not a distant rolling sound now but the crack of a whip followed by a crashing like large rocks falling down cliffs.

The rain comes. It is gentle for a moment and then it unleashes. So does the thunder – it’s no longer a rolling of boulders down a mountainside, but a bomb exploding overhead. The crack and crash of that explosive sound demand all attention as the storm passes over.

A cool, sweet breeze comes in my window. This smell is one from my childhood. From summers that were long and carefree. Maybe that’s why I like a summer thunderstorm. Nothing captures a young child’s attention and sears itself into a memory like the sight, the sound and the smell of this magnificent work of nature. The power, the beauty, and majesty of a thunderstorm create a sense of awe and wonder that captivates a young mind free from worry and fear.

A few raindrops are blowing in through my screen now. The intensity of the rain and wind have picked up, the lightning is frequent and the thunder is deafening. My neighbor’s lamppost across the street looks like a birthday candle in comparison to the brightness of the bolts of electricity racing down from the sky. The power of this summer storm has become impressive in its scope and volume.

And yet…all of this has been designed and created by a God Who is above it all. Far above it all.

Now the storm has passed. As quickly as it moved over my house, it has moved on. And that is like our lives, isn’t it? No matter how deafening the peals of thunder are that want to make us terrified, every storm will pass. There is no storm that has stayed forever. No matter what we’re facing in this moment, it can’t stay forever. No matter how brightly the night is lit up right now by either the brilliance of your success or the fear of the future, it can’t stay either. Take every day as it comes – take it with gratitude and the attitude that whatever comes, with God on your side, you are more than able to weather it and overcome.

I heard a story recently told by an international speaker about a man who was one of the most generous and successful men this speaker had ever met. He gave away more money, contributed to more schools and water wells in impoverished nations, and provided more housing for the homeless all while maintaining a very successful business than this speaker had ever witnessed. He asked this man the secret to his success to which the man replied, “I wake up every day, lift my hands to the sky and say, ‘This is going to be the BEST day of my life!’”

To think that this man never hit an obstacle or had a challenge would be foolish to believe. But obviously those storms in his life were invalidated by the greatness and the power of his thundering positive attitude. He knew that God had given him breath and ability for a reason and he was going to live every day using his life to glorify God with every ounce of his mental and physical ability.

But unfortunately many of us are derailed by the sound and fury of the storms that are passing over. And rather than take comfort in the fact that this storm has come to pass and that the God Who is over the storm is on our side, we let the deafening sound of invisible boulders make us cower in fear.

Today, let’s take the attitude that this IS going to be the best day of our lives and that whatever storm we’re facing is on its way out. Let’s look at the beauty of each storm, seeing God’s hand in how it is changing us and shaping us. Let’s delight in the sweet fragrance of refreshing that always comes on the heels of a powerful storm. Be of good cheer. Your God will not forsake you and a day of refreshing is coming.

The crickets are chirping again and the summer night has reverted to its quiet peace.

What about you:

  • Does the sound of thunder bring you fear? Do you remember being afraid of thunder and lightning as a child?
  • Maybe physical storms don’t make you tremble anymore, but the storms in your life certainly do.
  • Do you believe that God wants to help you through your storm? Maybe you blame God for the fact that you’re in a storm right now so you don’t have faith to believe He’ll pull you out.

If that describes you, I understand. I’ve been there. It’s a hard place to be when the One you need is the One you blame. Scripture teaches us that anything that is going on our lives that is not good is not of God. Because we live in a fallen world, bad things will happen to good people. Until we live in Heaven, we will sometimes be the victims of the sinful natures of others and ourselves. But that doesn’t stop God from protecting us in the storm, creating a depth of faith and character in us through the storm and carrying us to victory over the storm. We may walk through a hard time, but when we connect with God in the midst of it, we come out like gold refined in the fire – better not bitter.

Your storm has come to pass but the faithful love of your God changes not!

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. – James 1:17

I don’t just wish you rain, Beloved – I wish you the beauty of storms. – John Geddes

Storms don’t come to teach us painful lessons, rather they were meant to wash us clean. – Shannon L. Alder

Open wounds: When the Hurt meets the Healer (Part 2)

Two hands touchingContinued from “Open Wounds: When the Hurt meets the Healer (Part 1)”

Let’s review and expand on my Takeaways from my husband’s hand injury:

  1. Men – listen to your wives! I try not to be the “I told you so” wife, but for some reason, when it comes to the care of my family, my gut has never steered us wrong.
  2. Every part is needful. One injured digit can hinder your entire life.
  3. Fake news isn’t good news; so don’t be afraid of the truth.
  4. Serious wounds should not be left covered.

I will resist the temptation to expound on Takeaway #1. (wink-wink!)

Takeaway #2: Every part is needful – one injured digit can hinder your entire life.

My husband has told me often since this accident how much of a hassle it is that he can’t fully use his dominant hand and how challenging it is to execute the most mundane tasks, like writing and shaving. My poor husband. He has seriously struggled to keep a level of normalcy in his life all the while being in pain, enduring swelling and pressure within the bandage, and having trouble sleeping and executing his everyday tasks. I have become a lot more conscious of what he cannot do in order to help him. I’m oftentimes in my own little world, so I’ve really had to concentrate on being aware of what he’s doing so I can step in to assist when he needs me.  Every part of his life has been affected by this temporary handicap which has really driven home the message that every part of the body is needful and that we take it all for granted until we can’t.

The same is true in the body of Christ, and I would even expand to say, any community that requires people to interact in an interdependent way. Let me ask us all this: Are we noticing the wounded? Are we on the lookout for those in our community who are missing, silent or seem to have slunk back into the shadows? And if we’re the one who’s wounded, are we seeking healing in a purposeful way? It’s so easy to remain wounded and, as a result, remove ourselves from being an integral part of our community. But the Lord is the Great Physician and He came to bring healing for our woundedness. He sets the lonely into families because the community needs us and we need them.

Psalm 68:5-6a (NLT) – Father to the fatherless, defender of widows–this is God, whose dwelling is holy. God places the lonely in families; he sets the prisoners free and gives them joy.

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Open wounds: When the Hurt meets the Healer (Part 1)

“Cecily, we have to go to the hospital right NOW!”

My husband, John, was standing in the doorway between the mudroom and the garage clutching his hand in a towel. He was still wearing his snow blowing gear and furry hat.

It took me a few seconds to process what was happening. I had been upstairs, still in my pajamas with crazy morning hair, when I heard him shouting my name from downstairs. The tone of his voice was unlike anything I had ever heard so I came running. That’s when I saw him in the doorway.

“I cut my finger off. We have to go NOW.”

Oh my gosh, oh my gosh. This isn’t happening. I ran upstairs to change into clothing and then oddly stood there paralyzed. What should I wear? Really? Can I really not find clothing – ANYTHING – to put on? I grabbed jeans out of the closet, a sweat shirt and a baseball hat to cover my bedhead.

Earlier that morning, John had gone out to snow blow our driveway and also the bottom of our neighbors’ driveways when the accident happened. I had taken the day off as a vacation day because we were scheduled to leave for a trip to New York City with my parents once the roads were clear enough to drive on. This is why I was still sitting in my pajamas in no hurry to get ready. But now I was in a hurry that made my thoughts blur.

When I finally got downstairs, John was already sitting in the car. I could hear moans that made my knees buckle.  Oh my God, oh my God. I can’t believe this is happening.

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