Pearls of Wisdom: The Supernatural Power of Kindness

Please and Thank You are still magic words.  I saw this on a FB post and smiled and agreed. Wholeheartedly. Please, by all means, be courteous. Thank you. After spending years trying to fight my way through the world, I learned that saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ opened doors and hearts in a different way. Ever so slowly, the Lord made me aware that every person is having a hard time, most of the time. So a little courtesy goes a long way. And…

Never sacrifice the truth for the “Being Nice” Game. This game breeds dishonesty more than it fosters compassion for others.  Instead, speak the truth in love. But how?

Through the Holy Spirit’s characteristic of Kindness.  It is truly the mark of greatness. And it is not automatically acquired but chosen.

For me, it began with an Amanda Cook song called “Kind.”  This song haunted me actually. It’s a calming melody, but eerily charged. Like a war cry ringing out of the shadows at dawn.

Then God used it to rock my world.

My daughter worked late night hours at a job I was not crazy about. I was in turmoil over what I sensed was happening in the spirit. And she and I were doing our then-typical dance of silent and suspicious.  One night she texted that she was on her way home. It was  2 a.m. and I was furious over the breach of curfew but the Spirit brought this song back to mind:

“Kind” (click to listen)

You are not a tyrant King
You do not delight in suffering

Your power doesn’t compensate for insecurity
‘Cause You are not a tyrant King

You are not an angry man
You do not treat us with contempt

Your voice is sure, Your eyes are soft, Your smile, confident

‘Cause You are not an angry man

You are kind
You are kind

Your love is a fury all its own
Sweeping the dust and turning feet towards home

Carrying the orphans and resetting broken bones
Your love is a fury all its own

Your love is powerful enough
Without the fear of punishment

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I cried as I listened to it over and over. I was struck by the comparison, hearing the Spirit ask after each line:

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Pearls of Wisdom: Expanding Your Capacity

Become larger to carry more. The idea of capacity may seem so obvious, but I find it often trips people. Growth comes through discomfort. Our capacity expands through deliberate stretching.

The Lord has shown me many pictures about this. The nautilus outgrowing its chamber. A balloon swelling, taking shape as breath fills it. A pregnant woman’s incredible transformation as she grows a new life. In all these examples there is effort, change, pressure, even labor to see the fullness revealed.

God’s primary goal is to breathe His life into us like holy balloons. He desires to expand in us, expand His love, His image, His creativity and wisdom. His kingdom.

Think of Joseph saving the nation of Egypt and even his own people. Mary delivering the Messiah. Peter addressing the Sanhedrin. They had to each be pushed out of their idea of enough so that He might reveal His life through them.

We must be willing to be uncomfortable so that He might increase. So when we see circumstances outside of our control, what is God expanding in us?

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Faith instead of fear.
Worship instead of whining.
Healing instead of sickness.
Kindness instead of gossip.

Be mindful of obstacles that would deter this divine renovation.

People lose touch with God, or don’t experience His presence, because they have crowded their lives with “foreign wives.” Solomon was the wisest and richest man on earth, yet he lost his soul because “his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord” and he was led away by his foreign wives.

“As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father had been.” 1 Kings 11:4

Make an effort to let go of lesser habits, affections, ideals to make room for greater revelation.  Then, allow God to heal and test the revelation. He wants to be sure we own it, to have authority in the revelation He has given.

Pastor Bill Johnson tells a story about repairing a flat bicycle tire. He explains the process of repair is to first hold it under water to find the hole. Once the hole is detected, the tire is taken out of the water, dried and patched. Here’s the kicker.  The tire is not put back on the bicycle. Instead, the tire is again held under the water. Why? To see if the patch held.

Bill says some of our circumstances reveal defects. They need to be patched. Some of our circumstances are us being held under the water a second time, as Bill says, “to see if the work of God held.”

It’s a valid question as you go through seasons of stretching to ask God, “are you repairing a hole in me? or are you testing to see if Your repair held?” It will help you so much to know that He is always working for your good. His main goal is that His life and Love will fill you and then flow from you.

We have to be fit to carry the Kingdom. We were born to become like Him.

I love this song as a great reminder. He is always working for us to be fully revealed in Him.

“C.S. Lewis Song” (click here to listen)

If I find in myself desires nothing in this world can satisfy,
I can only conclude that I was not made for here
If the flesh that I fight is at best only light and momentary,
then of course I’ll feel nude when to where I’m destined I’m compared

Speak to me in the light of the dawm
Mercy comes with the morning
I will sigh and with all creation groan
as I wait for hope to come for me

Am I lost or just less found?
On the straight or on the roundabout of the wrong way?
is this a soul that stirs in me,
is it breaking free, wanting to come alive?

Cos my comfort would prefer for me to be numb
And avoid the impending birth of who I was born to become

For we, we are not long here
Our time is but a breath, so we better breathe it

And I, I was made to live,
I was made to love,
I was made to know you

Hope is coming for me.
Hope, He’s coming

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Pearls of Wisdom: Pressure Is Good Medicine

My first born, Salem, began her college adventure on Saturday. I have to tell you, as some of you mamas already know, this whole season of packing and preparing has stirred my heart on so many levels. I feel like a kaleidoscope of emotions. Turn the wheel ever so slightly and my emotional mosaic shifts into another beautiful picture of memories, regrets, sadness, excitement, pride, and hope.

I find myself remembering the smallest details about her childhood.
I find myself grading myself as a mom over the last 18 years.
I find myself recalling my own teen years, and college years.
I find myself missing her in the oddest of ways.

Walking in her empty room, still takes my breath away.  (Yes, I smell her pillow.) But there is, deeper than all these feelings, an overwhelming sense of joy and gratefulness.

God is so big. So kind. So amazingly faithful. He will continue to be that. To her. And To me.

Believe it or not, I didn’t cry as we drove off. We didn’t understand it necessarily, but we were ready.  All of us. And there was a very real peace that passes understanding.

Before the big day, God laid on my heart to capture some of the pearls He had given me. I kept getting a holy ping of  “have I told Salem _____ yet”?  It would wake me up at night.

These deposits, these  pearls of wisdom, are aptly named since pearls are something very beautiful created out of great anguish and agitation. They had come at a high price. And although most teens get tired of hearing  “one more thing” from their parents, I wrote her letters anyway.  Smile. But then, I felt compelled to share with you the modified versions. His pearls are for us all.

The first Pearl was about our gifts poured out on the feet of Jesus in the same way the woman poured out her best from the alabaster box. 

The second pearl is about Pressure. imgres

When I was in college I was broke. And alone. And eager to please an incredible professor. I am not sure which of these factors clouded my judgment. Maybe it was the combination of all three. But I took on the formidable role of the editor of the yearbook, the editor of the newspaper, taking full time classes and working at least 30 hours to keep my tuition discount. Don’t be impressed. The story doesn’t have a happy ending.

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Letting Your Teen Go…A New Kind of Stretch Marks

My family and friends were at a restaurant playfully bantering, as is our custom. We are a lippy sort of crowd with (mostly) good-natured jokes and jabs flying often. After one such mother-daughter volley, my Very-Ready-To-Go-Senior turned to her friend and said, “Only six more months. I only have to listen to this for Six. More. Months!”   The whole table erupted in a knowing laughter. Including me. Except as suddenly as we laughed, tears started falling from my eyes. I mean, falling. Like rats jumping from a sinking ship. The laughter turned into this weird, awkward “Mom are you okay??”

I looked to Chuck for rescue. I didn’t even know what had happened in this blink of a eye. His eyes softened and he put an understanding hand on my arm. “Mama,” he said in a tender voice, “you gonna be okay?”

Oh, now I see why the rats were jumping!  The ship WAS sinking. Sinking.  “Sure, sure,” I choked out and immediately excused myself from the table to go cry in the bathroom.

Six months. My girl was going to be gone in six short months. I sat in the stall snorting and snotting and tried to remember the last time I felt this out of control of my own body. Oh that’s right. When I was pregnant.  Then, like now, there was a human being inside of me wrestling to get out, and I was trying to maintain my own mental stability while someone else was literally trying pull the life out of me.IMG_6854

I just want to say, very kindly for the record, the parenting books lied. At the very least, they lied by omission. They never forewarned us of the painful parallels. No one ever explained how the birthing process didn’t end at delivery and this grown up launching hurts every bit as much as labor. Liars.

They neglected to tell us that the incredible tension between “within you, a part you” and “outside of you, a part of you” never leaves. Did you hear me? It never leaves. Remember the internal battle?  How the warm fuzzy “I love creating new life” feeling warred against the “get this kid out of me” reality. I experience this same supercharged battle every day with my woman-child who is now kicking at the wall of my heart and home the same way she kicked at the wall of my womb.

I catch myself just looking at her like I did when she was a newborn. Of course she won’t let me hold her like I did then. But I try to soak her in, to capture every detail of how she has grown and changed, fully aware she is not done growing and changing. Only from here on out, I won’t have a front row seat.

Whew. There is that lump again. The out of nowhere lump in my throat that keeps catching me off guard. It beckons just like a contraction, a painful reminder that an inevitable life-change is on the horizon. And we are never going back to the way it was.  The other day, I was making work plans for the fall when the “contraction” hit. I had to stop and swallow down some maternal wail because, for the first time in 18 years, my plans would not involve my daughter.

Gulp. Sniff.

Here are a couple of God kisses for you mamas on the same heartwrecking roller coaster I am, and a little heads up for you mamas following close behind.

“There’s No Magic Formula.”

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The Cure Before the Need

“God is good,” I said in class Tuesday night. “Goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life.” I said. Why? “Because I am with Jesus and Jesus is the Good Shepherd,” I said.  I went on to explain that God is trying to build our confidence that His Goodness impacts every area of our life all the time. And then it snowed.

Enough snow to postpone an event that I have been planning for months.  Ugh. My heart is busting with revelation. My team and I are all prayed up and armored up. We are chomping at the bit — and, the event is postponed. Really?

I wanted to whine. Or be sad or complain. But the Spirit kept repeating a line from a song we did in worship Tuesday night. “You are good, good. Yes you are good. You never fall off of your throne. You are good.”

God is so good that He is sometimes preemptive. I see that He gave me the cure before the need. The answer before the question. Instead of a “whhhhhyyyyyyy??” I am looking for His goodness.  He has raised a better question, “Lord what do you want me to do in the meantime?

Here is a short run list:
• Enjoy my kids in the snow.  My final prep crunch time has turned into a crafting, cooking, laughing with my family time.
• Take a deep breath and let go. Again. He whispered ever so sweetly to me, “there is no pressure here.”  Oh that’s right. He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.  This conference was about Him.  He can move it if He wants. I can trust Him in the details of getting the word out and rescheduling. (By the way, New Date is March 4-5!)
•Take a step back and review.  I can say a little extra time to pray, sort and refine really is a gift. He knew I needed that, I didn’t.

In the long run?  More time to worship, to listen, to get the word out, to move out of snow windows. Who knows what else He has up His sleeve?

But He is good. All the time.  So this weekend, I am going to snuggle up with the Good Shepherd and enjoy His snow. Hope you do the same.

 

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A Great Light Has Come…

If we aren’t careful, we will peer into the darkness and lose our hope. The mind-numbing pain of the death of a child or a parent. The squeeze of finances, even debting for Christmas gifts. Dreams not yet realized. Faith not yet rewarded. Healing not yet completed. World issues that rattle our core so that we break down borders or build up borders. The prophet Isaiah said it well, “Like the blind we grope along the wall, feeling our way like people without eyes. At midday we stumble as if it were twilight; among the strong, we are like the dead.” (59:10)

But God. With us. In the very breath-crushing moment of your day, in the ache, the groan, remind yourself, “A great light has come into the world and the darkness cannot put it out.” This moment, your moment, is why Jesus came.  Your hopeless, helpless, overwhelming moment is why God sent His Son. His compassion made manifest through a baby.

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Undaunted. Are You Ready?

A Woman’s Rightful Place in the Kingdom. Women are asking questions about Undaunted. No, it’s not like Unhindered. Yes, it’s for women only.  Audio will be available to share with your men No, this isn’t the standard party line about submissive roles. Yes, it honors God’s image of men. No, it’s not for wimps. Yes, it will challenge you, make you uncomfortable and just might rock your world.

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Sounds audacious, I know. But sometimes God blows me up spiritually to such a degree that I know He means business.

Undaunted is a message that God planted in my spirit years ago and He now says is finally ready to be released. It is about freedom. It is about daring to follow God into the most oppressive environments, even the church. It is about taking up God’s divine weapons to live fully gifted, fully loved, fully seen in the world today.

It’s about what happens globally when women rise up to God’s ordained place in the Kingdom. So many social issues of the day are linked to the missing voice of God’s women. This is not feminism. Not a militant posture. This is an invitation, permission, to discover God’s heart for women. And how we all, men and women, will be better when we are in our rightful places.

Come if you are spiritually dying for more. Come if you are curious, doubtful, or leery. Come if you want to spend some time in the presence of God.

Let the Spirit speak to your heart about who you are, why you are, and where you belong.

January 22, Friday Night, 7:00 – 9:30 pm
January 23, Saturday Morning, 9:00 – 12:00 pm

Fuse Church, Kirby Road, Knoxville

Love offering event.
Beverages and light snacks served.

 

Do You Need To Re-think Christmas?

God gave me a huge download this last week.  I had a birthday which can be exhilarating and excruciating at the same time. Smile. I guess that reality aligns with our actual birth days which were full of joy and full of pain. However one precious gift I received was a word from the Lord. An actual word: honor.  I am still translating all that the Spirit poured out but I thought it was no accident to get this word right at Christmas time.

Honor is to elevate above, esteem, hold in high value. The Spirit brought to mind the verse, “he who honors me, him will I honor.” (1 Samuel 2:30)  It’s an odd verse.  But it is packed with promise. This isn’t a duty-bound, fear-driven demand. This is an invitation. From God.  He is saying, if you honor me, it’s not a one-way street. I am going to turn around and honor you back.  Selah.

I don’t know if you know this about God. But here is the word picture.  A mom says to her daughter, “You go fill up your hands with candy and give it to me. And then I will fill up my hands with candy and give it to you…”

Who do you think has bigger hands?

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Caught Unaware

A beautiful bush in my back yard is blooming. Yes, it is December and this plant seems undeterred by the normal spring season. To be honest, I almost missed it. I was not looking for flowers in December.

This beautiful white flower in the middle of a leafless East Tennessee just keeps singing in my spirit.

“Are you seeing the unexpected?”

If I had been alert, if I had known, if I had been looking, I would have been expecting the arrival of this unusual plant called a camellia. A quick Google search revealed an October through April blooming season. Here it has been in my yard, but I didn’t take the time to research it. To understand. To expect it.

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Let’s Stop the Noise and Start Praying

43,200 rapes. Murdered mother and unborn child. Toddler’s body washed ashore.

I try to write my new book which is oddly on the topic of supernatural rest. But while I attempt to type out these life changing revelations from God, my mind swirls with these recent news stories.  A sex trafficked victim who estimates she was raped more than 43,000 times. A pregnant woman shot in the head by a home invader, who later died as did her unborn baby. A drowned toddler who joins the countless other bodies washed ashore in Europe as they fled from their country.

I sit in the silence and look outside my window. It’s sheer beauty. Right here in front of me. Warm. Safe. Peaceful. But it’s not beautiful everywhere. Not warm, safe or peaceful.

What’s to be done?

I cry out to the Lord the only thing I know to say. “I care, Lord. I care. In the name of Jesus, I care about these people and other heart-breaking stories.”

And to be candid, there is more to the mental swirl. The “red cup” coffee fiasco. Various celebrity plastic surgeries and adulteries. The nauseous amount of Santa Clauses crowding my Thanksgiving shopping.

Again, I cry out to the Lord. “I don’t care. I don’t care. In the name of Jesus, I don’t care about this insipid world.”

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