On the long ride home as my sister maneuvered through heavy Memphis traffic, I was happy to be in the back seat and simply think about everything that had transpired during our mission.
Our one day trip to pick up our Ghana sister, Constance, had resulted in a 2-day wait at the airport due to mechanical and weather delays. After HOURS of waiting in the airport on the first day, her flight was grounded in Chicago. We found a nice hotel and spent the night – not a bad thing – we did some shopppppping the next morning. We drove to the airport and AGAIN – the flight was postponed and arrival time was changed every few minutes due to severe weather. We waited, had lunch, waited, watched people and waited. During the long wait, I observed people. You can learn a lot about the human psyche as each postponement or delay in flights came up on the board.
I saw the young man as he approached the waiting area and immediately recognized him as an observant Hasidic Jewish man. I would guess him to be maybe 30 years old at the most. He kept to himself and used his phone often and checked the flight board like the rest of us. He pulled his luggage and walked near us and my sister excitedly said, “Look, a Jew! We’re supposed to bless Jews.” In my effort to calm her down, I said quietly, “I know, I saw him earlier.” My sister is much friendlier than I and more approachable. Long story short, she struck up a chat with him and we learned he was waiting for his flight to New York. My sister can get information out of a clam – not because she is nosey – she isn’t – she just cares about EVERYBODY and most people with problems spill their guts to her! We learned about his beautiful wife and three children and he was anxious to get home to them.
Eventually, all flights were canceled. There we were – day two in the same clothes – snowing like crazy, no hotel reservations, and an airport full of people trying to book rooms at the closest inn. There were no rooms at the inns. My sister turned to the young man and said we would take him to a hotel and not to take a taxi. He was quite taken aback and insisted he would not wish to inconvenience us. My sister insisted, he relented and climbed into the big black truck with two old Gentile Christian sisters. I imagine he was praying the entire trip to the hotel a few miles away in Germantown – my sister gave guided tour information as we passed by three ENORMOUS white, brightly-lit crosses at one of the local churches. I learned some new things as we discussed Netanyahu and current events. Very intelligent young man.
We rode back to the airport next morning said our goodbyes. My sister took a photo of our new friend and I & they exchanged names and addresses. Up to that point, we didn’t know each other’s names! But that’s irrelevant.
Sister Constance survived her ordeal, arrived in Memphis and we got back into the big, black truck and headed home. After it was all over, it was as if God was telling me, “I wanted to show you something! I am sovereign and I will use My obedient servants no matter where they are.” The young man from Brooklyn was on two sisters unknown agenda for that day and we made a new friend. We just didn’t know there was a mission added to our mission. Possibly, we were on his mission. I do not think this story is over & know this was not just a “chance meeting”. In Ghana, when you visit someone, upon arriving at the home, the tradition is for the host to ask, “What is your mission?” The primary mission, or what we thought was our primary mission, was to pick up our sister, plan a nice lunch and drive home.
I like God’s plan better.
If you have a Facebook or Instagram account, you are sure to have seen the meme/photo of a hallway that says: “Until God opens the door, praise Him in the hallway”. Overall, it’s a very good quote… But it got me thinking. My mind and my spirit started doing somersaults together.
Many times, we wait and wait for God to open closed doors. Have you ever stopped to think that you could be waiting or knocking on the wrong door? Most hallways have more than one door and if you have chosen the one that is not meant for you, you will be doing a lot of waiting. What if you chose to put away your will and wants and fully trust God to open the right doors at the right time?
There are some doors that God keeps closed for our good. He always knows what’s best and will never lead us in the wrong direction. So while you’re standing in the hallway, keep your options open, and get your praise on!
“And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.”
– Luke 1:38
“And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord.”
– Luke 1:45
A few days ago I was praying and thanking God for sending His son as the greatest gift we could ever fathom. After all, this is the reason Christmas exists.
As I was praying, Mary’s sacrifice is what really hit me. I am amazed at Mary’s willingness to carry the Son of God. She said yes to an impossible task and went on to carry, deliver, and raise the Son of God…and then she went on to watch Jesus die.
I imagine her thoughts went something like this, “But He’s supposed to be Emanuel—God with us! Why are You taking Him away from me, God? I raised Him! You chose Him for the ultimate sacrifice. YOU chose that for Him. Not me!”
Then again, I realize she knew from Day 1 that there was a very specific plan and purpose for this Messiah…her son that she shared with the Almighty. I believe she had a sort of feeling in her heart of hearts, and yet she still said yes. She was still willing to walk in obedience to God’s plan for her life—no matter what—for the glory of the Lord.
Again, I’m amazed, because I don’t think I’d ever have been that brave. I can only pray and strive for the kind of courage to respond to God’s call on my life, regardless of situations and circumstances, with “Be it unto me according to thy word.”
I’m sure everywhere you turn lately you are seeing & hearing the words “resolutions”, “goals”, “plans”, and other similar phrases.
Like me, you may have issues with resolutions but not goals or plans. Maybe you do like resolutions and they actually work for you. Perhaps you are also like me and really don’t find them any different, but just try to make yourself feel better by calling them goals and plans instead of resolutions. 😉 (My opinion is a checklist by any other name is still a checklist, no matter what label you put on it. )
There is nothing wrong with grabbing the opportunity by the tail and starting off fresh to break habits, create new routines, and change things for the better. The key is to stick with it, fight for it, and to just flat-out make it happen. There’s also nothing wrong with just living spontaneously, as long as it is in the Will of God. (Does that make sense? Because it makes sense to me…) For myself, I need to make some changes. I’m out of shape, out of routine, and tired of falling behind. I’ll share more about this next week, but I’m starving for some organization and need a plan. Desperately.
Over the month of January, a few of us here at Raising Sticky Hands To Heaven will be sharing with you some things that God has laid on our hearts for 2014. Some of these posts will be our personal goals, others a vision we have for our communities, the church, and families. We also hope to help you start on the right foot by suggesting some scriptures, tips, products, and services that can help you along the way.
2014 is full of so much promise and hope. Before we know it, we’ll be asking where it went. So let’s do our best to make it count for God. James 4:14 tells us that life ” is even a vapor”, and that we are arrogant should we assume that we are guaranteed tomorrow… So don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do for God today. (Preaching to myself here, people. Not gonna lie. But I’ll get into that more in the coming weeks.) With or without that list for the year in hand, the only way to be is in the Will of the Lord. (Still preaching to myself…)
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We are also going to be changing a few things here on our blog. Not major massive changes, but some things will be going and other things coming. Let us know what you’d like to see more of, less of, and what you just really don’t want to hear about anymore. 😉
Now, what about you? Do you think all of the oohs and aahs that goes with January 1st are worth it, or a waste of time? Have you sat down with a checklist, planner, pen, and coffee, or does the idea of just flying through the year by the seat of your pants excite you? We’d love to hear about it, especially since we’re all split down the middle. 😉
Have you ever just felt the urge to do something, but weren’t quite sure what it was you wanted to do? Maybe you were in a crafty mood with no creation in mind, or felt like driving without a place to go. Hungry, but didn’t know what to eat? See, I knew everyone could relate to that one. Let me tell you a little story…
Picture it: Christmastime 1997. Northwestern Tennessee dry freezing cold. It’s early evening and the house is busy with friends and family about to arrive. (Though why they were coming, I don’t remember why…) Karen and her husband David were still newlyweds, I was a teenager hanging out at their house for the weekend, and Emily was still a little girl. Christmas decorations were already perfectly decked out in Karen’s home, as she often has her halls decked out in October. Dinner was nearly ready and we felt like baking something, probably to show off our domestic skills as we were coming of age. We looked through the few recipes Karen had and came to a wall pretty quickly. The ingredients required were not already in Karen’s pantry. “But who needs a recipe, anyway?” was our thought and we just decided we had baked enough in our time on this planet and we could come up with something.
We tossed together some flour, sugar, butter (softened!), eggs, vanilla, salt, milk, more flour, more sugar, cinnamon, and there might have been oil in there too. We were CERTAIN that this delectable was going to be the new sought after recipe among our friends, family, and church. The one that HAD to be at every potluck and would be on the cover of the next church cookbook. We threw around some names while the “substance” baked (At 350 degrees, which was determined because that’s what all the good stuff bakes at.) and I made an icing with water, milk, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla. It dawned on us that because this was going to be famous, we should use our last names. “WildIrby” pronounced “Wild Derby” was what we settled on. Upon Emily’s request Akers was added on to the end and we could not wait to share it with everyone. (At the time, both unmarried, my last name was Irby and Emily’s was Akers. Moving on…)
Dinner was done, family and friends were in attendance, and we broke out our concoction. One problem: It was SO dense that it was hard to get out of the pan. Similar to pound cake, but even more… I’m not even going to pretend I have the word to use to describe this to you. It was just, odd. Once we got it on the plate, we drizzled it with the icing and it was served.
Emily, being young and innocent, went along with Karen and I when we said how delicious this new dessert was upon tasting it. Everyone else in the room loved us so much that they couldn’t lie to us. It was terrible. There was not one single good thing about “WildIrby Akers”. Nothing. You could pick it up with a fork, turn it upside down, and a thick inch flake would fall off but the rest of it would not change at all. There was not enough liquid to drink to help you overcome the thirst it gave you. Emily even insisted we remove “Akers” from the name and never refer to it as that again. The thing I remember the most is Karen and Emily’s mom laughing, and our admitting that maybe it wasn’t so great, but we’d try again later that evening. We never did, however, because one of Karen and Emily’s cousins began vomiting and WildIrby’s taste took the blame.
Sometimes in life we just jump into something because it feels right or the thing to do in that moment. We don’t look for a guideline or a plan. We don’t even ask someone else who might know better, or even God, what they think about the matter. We just dive in head first and expect a great outcome. Once in a while that works out, but most of the time it really doesn’t and the outcome is disappointment and failure.
As Christians, we need to be aware of our decisions and the direction we are heading. We need to ask the Lord what His plan is, where He wants us to be or go, and if what we are about to do is actually His Will. We need to go back to our Bibles and do some deep searching. I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that there has been a time or two (or 163) in my life that I said or did something just because it felt right or someone else I looked up to was doing that same thing as well. It’s not to say what I was doing was wrong, but it isn’t what God Will was for my life. He had something else for me, that fit better and was a lot more comfortable… But I just did what I felt should be done because, hey, I was in the mood. There were times that because of this, people were hurt. There were other times that no one knew any different, but in the long run I will never know what God had for me had I not just been going willy nilly about my life thinking “Oh, I’m doing the work of the Lord. This is so good. I’m so happy to be doing something for Him.” when it wasn’t what He wanted me to do. That’s pretty tough stuff to deal with, honestly.
When Karen and I were writing down our recipe as we made it up so we could share it with the world, we thought we were doing a good thing. We didn’t know that it was (LITERALLY) going to make everyone who ate WildIrby sick. It didn’t mean that we weren’t great in the kitchen or couldn’t bake, because believe me, we can tear up a kitchen and make you not even care that you had to clean the mess up. It just wasn’t following the course that is intended for food to be edible. Had we followed a correct plan, we would have all had a great dessert and no one would probably even remember anything about that Saturday at her house.
If you’re dealing with disappointment from a failure, or are considering an endeavor, and realize that you may have just baked up a batch of WildIrby, I want to give you hope. Jesus does have a plan for your life. His way is so much better than anything we can come up with. While you may feel like a loser or ashamed because what you thought was right really wasn’t the way to go at all, He has His hand out to pick you back up, dust you off, and send you down the way you are meant to go. I know, I really do, how hard it can be to feel like this must be it. Time to just give up and be one of those “every day Christians.” Do nothing but go to church when I can and that’s it. Guess what? There’s no such thing. Every single child of God has a calling and a purpose.
Don’t just make a concoction of some sort and then top the mistake with an even worse icing of giving up. Scrap that cake-like substance into the trash can, get out your Bible, give God a call, and follow the recipe He has for you. He’s going to give you the directions that are just right and as long as everything is followed to a T, your life will turn out blessed and just as He intended it to be.
I’m curious, when you aren’t sure if an idea is God’s or your’s, what do you personally do and how do you personally know for sure? Your answer might help someone, so I would really appreciate it if you would share. Thank you.
We all know and love this hit made famous by Fleetwood Mac. (Well, I do…lol). If you really think about it though, you can’t really “go your own way” and live the life of a
“sold out” Christian.
The Bible is the LIVING WORD of God and gives us guidelines on how to live our lives and which way we should go by doing so. If God says for you NOT to do a certain thing, there is a reason for it. We don’t know why, but
He does. The Bible tells us in the following scriptures:
8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.
God already knows what our future holds. He knew us before we were ever in our mother’s
womb. His desire is for us to follow the plans that He has laid out for us. He tells us in
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace,
and not of evil, to give you an expected end.
If we are at point “C” when He hasn’t told us to leave point “A” yet, we could be leaving out important details to our life, ministry, friendships, etc… It is soooo, so, so tempting to jump ahead and try to go forward in areas where we were never meant to be.
He knows how it’s supposed to end for us, but first we have to decide NOT to
“Go Our Own Way”.
As I walk in this world, I want to be recognized as a light in the midst of darkness. I don’t want to blend in. Period. However, I’m human, so I have to check myself daily…aka….crucify that flesh!
I shouldn’t have to wear a Christian t-shirt to be identified as a child of God. I shouldn’t have to carry around a salt shaker or flashlight for people to know that I’m the salt of the earth and the light of the world. If I’m talking the talk, I shouldn’t have to defend my walk.
I’ve made up my mind. I refuse to compromise to fit in. I refuse to compromise to have friends. I refuse to compromise. Period.
I may get down and I may get lonely, but I’ll never be alone. Like Angie, I plan to put my focus on being a Jesus Pleaser instead of a People Pleaser. And as much as being a Martha is needed and required, I’m refuse to feel guilty for being a Mary. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not letting go of the Martha in me, but I do tend to feel guilty when I’m in the Mary zone. Not any more. Why? Because it’s all about Him. And He is holy, therefore I must be holy.
You may have heard of this trend, as many bloggers have taken part. Picking one word to be who/what they’d like to become/represent for the year 2013. Not a resolution, but a goal, whether it be for change or growth. I’ve read many “words” this year and last, and found many to be inspiring.
So, yes, I jumped on the bandwagon. This seems like my cup o’ tea… or thermos of coffee… and I need a word desperately.
(Stop laughing! I mean it! Everyone knows I talk a lot… and every chance I get. But really, this time, I’m only picking ONE word!)
I put a lot of prayer and thought into my word, and I believe God has been trying to get this word into my thick skull for awhile. The difference now is that I was sitting quietly, listening to Him, and :gasp: not distracted. (Shocking, I know.)
So without further ado, here is my one word:
You see, I have this
little itty bitty HUGE problem of people pleasing. I want everyone to be happy, and sometimes put that over making GOD happy. Naturally, others are let down in the process and in the end: no one is happy. Not me, not the people, not my family, and especially not Christ.
This year, I only want to please and hold my accountability to the Lord. No one and nothing else. Just Him. I want to live accountable to His Word, His Will, and His Lead. When I do that, I know that everything else will fall into place. And I do mean EVERYTHING!
Already, just a few days into the year, I am facing many changes and challenges. I plan to apply Romans 14:12 to each and every circumstance: So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.
Someday, I’m going to stand before my Lord and Savior. I want to hear Him say “Well done!” with the biggest and most beautiful smile I’ve ever seen. Soon, I’ll drop that title of “People Pleaser” and replace it with “Jesus Pleaser”. (Though I’ll still be human, so grant me some grace, please. 😉 )
Have you chosen One Word for your year? If so, please leave a comment or link to your blog post! Please and thank you.
This post is part of the WORD 2013 Blog Carnival hosted by Ben and Me.
Click the button above to see more posts!
Recently, I was reading the book of Job. When I got to the last chapter, which I had read several times before, something new struck me. I just love when that happens! As I was reading the end of Job’s journey, I was reminded of Jonah. I know, I know…..You’re wondering how in the world I could think about Jonah while studying about Job, but I couldn’t help but compare the end of their stories.
In reading the book of Jonah (a story familiar to most of us), you’ll find that God had called Jonah to travel to Nineveh- a nation full of wickedness- and preach repentance. After a bout of disobedience and unusual consequences to his disobedience (he was swallowed by a large fish!), Jonah reluctantly did as God required. He headed to Nineveh and preached the word that God had sent him to deliver. The results were amazing! The people repented and turned to God! However, that isn’t the end of the story. Instead of rejoicing over an entire nation turning to God, Jonah was displeased at the mercy God showed the to the people of Nineveh, a people he had no personal connection to. He sat down, sulking and pouting, and had to learn one more lesson from the Lord. (Jonah 4:1-11)
In the fleshly sense, if anyone had the right to be angry about God’s mercy toward others, it was certainly not Jonah. It was Job. Chapter after chapter he endured accusations of wickedness and rebuke from his three closest “friends.” In a time when they should’ve been comforting their friend, they questioned his word and integrity. Job definitely could’ve taken things personally. In the end, God talked to these so-called friends of Job and called them out on their wrong judgments. He then gave them direction on how to get redemption. God also instructed Job to pray for them in order for their redemption to come.
How many times have we stopped to pray for those who have hurt us, accused us, wronged us, etc? Job could’ve turned his back on those friends in a heartbeat, but instead, he did exactly what God instructed him to do…he prayed for his friends. When this occurred, all of Job’s losses were restored and he got double for his trouble! (Job 42:7-10)
Jonah’s negative attitude caused him to sit angry and miserable, begging for death. Job, on the other hand, found blessings in praying for those who caused him hurt. We as Christians are called to respond just as Job…Luke 6:28 says, “bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you.” Ephesians 4:31-32 says, “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”
Sometimes life is hard. Sometimes people can be mean and hateful. But guess what… There is power in our response, and there is power in our prayer. We can either walk in tremendous blessing as Job did, or we can be miserable like Jonah. A happy and joyous life depends on our response!
Ministry can be a trying thing. There are many calllings that can be placed on ones life. All are called but few are chosen. God has a certain purpose for each person’s life and it’s up to us whether we allow Him to use us. Just because you want to do something, doesn’t mean that you are called to do it. Ever heard the expression, “Momma called and Daddy sent”?
When you try to minister in an area that God never meant for you, things are not going to flow or fall in place. It’s kinda like a fat guy in a little coat. It doesn’t “fit” him because it wasn’t made for him. This can also cause confusion, which is not a Godly thing.
When you definitely know what God has called you to do, do it with all of your heart. Let God do the leading and ask Him to hide you behind the cross, so that people only see Him in you.
Don’t be a fat guy in a little coat. Your ministry will be a perfect fit!