True Love Confessions

It’s tough being single on Valentine’s Day. As soon as Christmas is over, the stores are full of red hearts, roses, love balloons, and cheesy Valentine’s Day merchandise. Hallmark Channel even plays non-stop sappy Love movies! Yes, I sometimes get sucked into watching each one. Yes, I am a hopeful romantic.

Last Valentine’s Day was different. It was a cold night. I built a cozy fire. I was excited. I was ready. Sitting by the warm fire, it was time to write my Love Letter.  Opening my journal, the following is the Love Letter penned on those pages:

Dearest Lover of My Soul,

Happy Valentine’s Day! Thank you for being my First Love, today and always.

Thank you, Lord,   healing and removing the sin of idolatry I have suffered for a future husband without even realizing it. I had elevated the idea of my future husband much higher than I had elevated You as my Lord and Savior. My heart is changed. Please forgive me.

Holy Spirit, I want to be content in my singleness. Help me.  I am Yours. You are mine.  I am at peace.

My Rock and My Redeemer, Gentle Healer, it is a joy and honor to convey a portion of my immense love for You. No journal, no library can record all my love, dear Jesus.  Thank you for loving me. Every breath is for You, precious Lord.

How may I serve You more? On this Valentine’s Day, I recommit my life to You. It is You and You alone who I need, You alone who I want. 

Right now, make me more of a vessel for You and Your Gospel. I want to be your humble ambassador, Your spokesman who only utters worthy, not worthless words. (Jeremiah 15:19). May it be so. 

 “Speak, for Your servant is listening.”  (1 Samuel 3:10)

I Love You With My Whole Heart,                                                                                                                                                              Danya, Your Daughter of  the King

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Friend, I learned that Valentine’s night that God is the only one to fill my “soul holes.” 

I’m embarrassed to admit this to you. You might think it’s TMI. For a few years I even bought sweet Valentine’s cards for a future  boyfriend  I knew the Lord would bring me.  That night I burned those cards in the fire.  It was liberating to know that Jesus is my First Love. My contentment in Christ alone is there whether I have a man in my life or not.

Since the Bible is God’s Love Letter to me, I had finally written my Love Letter to Jesus. That night transformed Valentine’s Day for me. Contentment came.

I’m so thankful for today as Valentine’s Day. Bring it.

Reflect:

–Are you content in your circumstances? Please comment.

–How can you express your love for God more?

Renew:

“Because Your love is better than life, my lips will glorify You. I will praise You as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands.” –Psalm 63: 3-4 NIV

“‘My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.'” –John 15:12-13 NIV

“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation. ” –Philippians 4:12 NIV

“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.” –1 Timothy 4:12 NIV.

Recharge:

–Write your Love Letter to Jesus today.

–The Bible is God’s Love Letter to us. Please enjoy reading it daily.

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Drops of Encouragement

Hall's cough drop

Recently I bought an economy-sized bag of Hall’s cough drops and found a pleasant surprise. As I was about to throw away my Hall’s wrapper, I noticed the words “A Pep Talk in Every Drop” and the following:

  • “Don’t waste a precious minute.”
  • “You’ve survived tougher.”
  • “Don’t give up on yourself.”
  • “The show must go on.”

I smiled. What brilliant marketing! What wonderful encouragement! I’m so proud of Hall’s.  I will buy Hall’s cough drops just for this reason.

It made me reflect on two questions:  Who have I encouraged? Who was the last person who encouraged me? 

If a simple cough drop wrapper can make me smile and encourage me, imagine what encouragement precious we can offer someone, even to a stranger.

Encouragement is such a gift. It is even considered to be a “spiritual gift.”

“We have different gifts, according to the grace given us…if it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others; let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him to it cheerfully. “ –Romans 12: 6-8 NIV

A man in the Bible named Barnabas had a knack for encouraging people. In fact, his name means “Son of Encouragement.” (Acts 4:36).

Have you considered  smiling at the Target cashier and asking how she is?

Have you thanked your mom and dad for raising you and sacrificing so much for you?

How about complimenting the lady in the  Chick-Fil-A with the well-behaved children?

Or what about telling the adorable, little, senior citizen lady in the grocery store how beautiful her scarf is?

It might be the only positive reinforcement or encouragement he/she may get today.

Today is our day to encourage, to be a Barnabas. Be encouraged, friend.

Reflect:

–What is a recent example of someone who encouraged you or who you encouraged? Please comment below.

–How did that encouragement make you feel? Please comment below.

Renew:

–“May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” –Romans 15:5 NIV.

–“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” –1 Thessalonians 5:11NIV

PS. Today is also a great day to print out my “Creating Your Personal Mission Statement Template,” which is free by simply adding your email address and subscribing to my bi-weekly blog.  My personal mission statement is “Shine,” based on Matthew 5:16.

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The New Year’s Revelation Revolution

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I love the start of a new year. A blank slate. A blank calendar. A year of hope ahead. Redemption.

Then there is the pressure of forming New Year’s Resolutions. As January 2017 approached, I desired for this year to be different. Why are resolutions so hard to keep?

According to research published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, 36 percent of resolution-makers give up by the end of January. Ouch.

Webster’s Dictionary defines “resolution” as the act or process of resolving: a :  the act of analyzing a complex notion into simpler ones b :  the act of answering :  solving c :  the act of determining.

I propose a bolder approach.

Instead of forming resolutions, let’s consider life revelations. What’s the difference?

Webster’s defines revelation as “a :  an act of revealing or communicating divine truth b :  something that is revealed by God to humans.”

A revelation comes from God. A resolution comes straight from us. No wonder my resolutions often fail because they come from my flesh, not necessarily from listening to God.

Let’s start a revolution for the new year.

The minor prophet Habakkuk was in tuned to listening to God. Let’s look at how we can relate Habakkuk with our New Year’s revelations today.   We can change our resolutions to revelations.

In Habakkuk 1 he cried out to God. I love his authenticity, his raw emotion with the Lord.

“’How long, O Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen?…Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrong?’”

The Lord listens and answers Habakkuk with a wonderful response.

“Look at the nations and watch—and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told.”

Habakkuk continues to complain and ends it with a declaration:

“I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what he will say to me, and what answer I am to give to this complaint. “ Habakkuk 2:1

‘Then the Lord replied: ‘Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it. For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay. Habakkuk 2:2

 That’s one of my favorite leadership verses in the Bible.

The main revelation revolution lessons we can learn from Habakkuk are to:

1)Humble ourselves, pray and cry out to God. Even it seemed like complaining, Habakkuk was totally real when he told God exactly how he felt and asked God questions. God has big shoulders and can handle our big problems, our dreams, our desires. God listens and answers in His way, in His timing.

2) Strategize and write your revelation and plans on paper. Make them succinct enough that you (or anyone else) can understand them. I would encourage you to post them in your home so that you can refer to them often.

3) Be patient, work, and wait as God continues to work in your life on you and making your revelations come to fruition. God’s timing is perfect. He is never too early and never too late.

May Habakkuk’s story inspire us to start a revolution of New Year’s Revelations.

Happy New Year, friend. The best is yet to come.

Reflect:

What revelation is God revealing to you?

Reprinted from the Charleston Mercury  “Carolina Compass” Paperzine, January 2017 edition.

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Living and Reviving a Courageous Faith Like Elijah

I still can’t believe it. Three months ago a replica of the Temple of Ba’al/Palmyra’s Triumphal Arch, was built in front of New York City’s City Hall, very close to Ground Zero.  September 19th was the public unveiling.

The Institute of Digital Archeology, in partnership with Harvard University, orchestrated this movement. ISIS destroyed this temple in Syria in October 2015, and they wanted to rebuild it in the US as a symbol of defiance. Who is it really defying?

It is no wonder that Elijah’s bold faith on Mount Carmel has been on my heart recently. I pray for a modern-day revival as we experience modern-day paganism.

As we look to 1 Kings 18:16-39, Elijah had been a quiet prophet during Ahab’s (and crazy Jezebel) evil reign as King of Israel. Elijah had warned them that, according to the Lord God of Israel, there would be no rain or dew for several years (1 Kings 17:1). After three years God tells Elijah to present himself to Ahab, and God would send rain on the land.

Elijah met with Ahab, who asked to gather all the people from Israel onto Mount Carmel. Ahab brought 450 prophets of Baal .

“Elijah went before the people and said, ‘How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.’ But the people said nothing.” –1 Kings 18:21NIV

Elijah then told them the was the only of the Lord’s prophets left, yet Baal had 450 prophets. He told them to get two bulls, choose one for themselves, cut it up, place it on the fire and not light the fire. He would do the same.

“Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the Lord. The god who answers by fire—he is God. Then all the people said, ‘What you say is good.’” –1 Kings 18:24

So those prophets called on the name of Baal for about six hours until noon. But there was no answer. They even danced around the altar they had made.

At noon Elijah started mocking them. “Shout louder! ‘he said. ‘Surely he is god. Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened. ” –1 Kings 18:27.

Isn’t this like a reality show? I think it’s funny. Haven’t we mocked others? Obviously they did it in the Bible also.

The people of Baal even started slashing themselves with swords and spears, as was their custom until they bled. (Ouch—so not appealing). Then they started frantically prophesying until time for their evening sacrifice.

“…But there was no response, no one answered, no one paid attention. Then Elijah said to all the people, ‘Come here to me.’ They came to him, and he repaired the altar of the Lord, which was in ruins.” –1 Kings 18:29b-30.

Elijah took 12 stones, representing the 12 tribes of Israel, and built an altar in the name of the Lord. Then he did something even more courageous to show his faith.

He built a trench around the altar, arranged the wood, cut the bull into piece, and laid it on the wood. He asked the Baal prophets to fill four large jars with water and pour it on the offering and on the wood. He asked them to do it again, then a third time. The water soaked the altar and even filled the trench he had made.

Now remember it had not rained for three years! Water was a treasure. Elijah boldly wanted to prove that no fire would be coming from him, but ONLY from the Lord. With wood not being able to burn wet, it showed only a miracle would cause the fire.

Then Elijah stepped forward and humbly prayed to the Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel…

“’Answer me, O Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.’

“Then the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones, and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench. When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, ‘The Lord—He is God! The Lord—He is God!’” –1 Kings 18:38-39.

What leadership and faith lessons can we learn from Elijah?

What will it take for the US to cry out that the Lord is God?

  • The majority voice isn’t always the Truth. Elijah was one prophet. His lone voice spoke the words of Truth, that the Lord our God is the only true God and the only One God who responds and is worthy of our worship. May we have courage to speak Truth alone when other voices are loud.
  • Identify the problem as first step. Elijah asked how long they would waver between two opinions—Baal or God as Lord.
  • Boldly demonstrate your faith. Elijah did in two huge ways:
    1. He rebuilt the altar that was in ruins and dedicated it back to God. May we do the same for our nation, for our state, for our communities. It’s not too late.
    2. By Elijah asking the Baal people to pour precious water on the altar three times, he showed his belief in God’s miracles. Nothing is impossible with God. All we need is the faith of a mustard seed.
  • Cry out to God—Elijah humbly prayed aloud. When is the last time you prayed aloud? Let’s cry out to God today, every day.

God is the same yesterday in the days of Elijah, as He is today. Now, more than ever, with our country building temples of Ba’al in NY and symbolically in our homes, may we humbly follow Elijah’s example. I pray for the fire of God’s revival in our homes and on our nation as we fall prostrate and proclaim that Jesus is Lord.

In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Reflect:

What may be a “Ba’al” in your life?

Renew:

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, THEN I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin AND will heal their land.” –2 Chronicles 7:14

Resources:

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/sep/20/palmyra-arch-syria-new-york

http://www.breakingisraelnews.com/75760/despite-earlier-denials-arch-temple-baal-stand-nyc/#ZHv994SDsfxmZjdQ.97

http://digitalarchaeology.org.uk

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The IN-Keeper–Preparing Room

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The Inn-keeper in the Bible Story of Jesus’ birth intrigues me. Not much is written about him. He leaves much to our imagination. With the census going on for the entire Roman World, you know his inn must have stayed jam-packed at 100 percent occupancy. He was truthful to Mary and Joseph.

He certainly wasn’t a mean man. In fact, I can sympathize with him. Guests checked out, then more guests with reservations checked in.  He was trying his best to be hospitable by offering a stable/cave and manger out back.

Little did he know he was too busy and lacked room in his life for the Savior of the World’s birth. Ouch. Doesn’t that hit close to home?

“While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” –Luke 2:7 NIV

Anything of value in our lives requires us to make room.

We make room in our time schedules, our budgets, our hearts for a new relationship we value. Even for Christmas we make room, don’t we?

To bring in our new wonderful-smelling Christmas tree, we move over our comfy chairs, reading lamp, plants–whatever it takes. Box after box of Christmas decorations require us to move our year-round décor and replace with our valued Christmas festive decor.

In the Bible Story of Jesus’ birth, the Inn-Keeper had no room for Jesus. Mary and Joseph resorted to a hay-filled stable, along with the smelly animals. Our Savior of the World Jesus was born in a tiny manger. The tiny manger was plenty of room for the King of Kings and was truly the first King-Size Bed. 

Even the favorite Christmas carol “Joy to the World” exclaims, “Let every heart prepare Him room.”

The big question is: Do I make enough room in my heart, my schedule for Jesus? He wants our whole heart, my whole heart. So many times I don’t make enough room with my hurried schedule, my shortened quiet time, quick prayers.

Jesus is our only Way “In” to eternal life. He is the Door, the Gate. “Therefore Jesus said again. ‘I tell you the truth, I am the Gate for the sheep.” –John 10:7 NIV

We who believe are all “IN-Keepers.” Jesus loves us so much and wants to reside in our hearts for eternity.

How much room am I making in my schedule, my budget, my heart for Jesus, the Savior of the World, my Savior?

Please forgive me, Lord, for being too busy. For not making room for You. Take my whole heart, Lord. Lord Jesus, move everything else out to make all the room You want and need in my heart. You are the only way IN to eternal life. I desire to be a true “IN-Keeper.” In Jesus’ name, by the Power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

“I’m prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love. Here’s my heart, Lord, take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above.” –Come Thy Fount of Every Blessing

 Reflect:

–“Make room for us in your hearts.” –2 Corinthians 7:2a NIV

–“ ‘Say to the owner of the house he enters, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples? He will show you a large upper room, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there.’” –Mark 14:14-15 NIV

Renew:

–How can I make more room in my heart, my schedule, my life for Jesus? Please comment.

Resource:

-“But this I do know. My own true love. All your life long, you wait for your own true love to come–we all do–our destiny, our joy, our heart’s desire. So how am I to say it, gentlemen? When He came, I missed Him. Pray for me, brothers and sisters. Pray for the Inn-Keeper. Pray for me, and for us all, my own true love.” –from the Inn-Keeper’s perspective, taken from Frederick Buechner’s  “The Birth.” Magnificent Defeat.

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