In Step with the Spirit

Raise your hand if you’re a planner. Anyone out there like to be organized and know what’s going to happen next? Even if you’re more laid back and “go with the flow,” many of us don’t like surprises. Even little ones. But if we want to walk in the Spirit, we need to stay flexible. That’s where the excitement is!

Listen to His Voice

Isaiah 30:21 describes the blessing of being led by the Spirit. “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it’.” I love God’s direction and knowing I’m doing what He wants me to do. But sometimes we start the day with a plan–a good plan, nothing wrong with it–and then the Holy Spirit puts a person on our heart and we feel a strong urge to call him. Even if talking on the phone isn’t our favorite thing (“Can I just text him, Lord?”) we need to respond right away.

Sometimes, we lose time second-guessing and procrastinating. When we know the thought wasn’t from our own thoughts or plans, and the direction is in keeping with His Word and character, we can know it’s Him and should move forward right away.

Did I Hear That Right?

Sometimes the Holy Spirit speaks to us and what He’s asking us to do makes us say, “Was that really you, Lord?” What we really mean is, “I really hope that wasn’t You, Lord! Do I have to?” But the blessing is in obedience.

If we’re standing in line at the grocery store and we feel like we should speak to the person next to us and ask how their day is going when we wouldn’t normally do that, it’s probably the Holy Spirit. We tend to panic and worry that God is going to ask us to jump up and down and make monkey sounds. Really? He’s going to ask us to spread His love and His life. And yes, it may be a little nerve-wracking to speak up and ask someone if we can pray with her, but it’s always worth it.

Planting Seeds

I had the opportunity to make a last-minute, surprise trip to CA this week. On my second flight, I was sitting next to a lovely, professional woman. We had chatted a bit and when we were getting close to landing, I wanted to tell her how God healed me of motion sickness. I felt like the Holy Spirit was confirming that I was supposed to do that. So I told her that I used to get sick every time I flew, but that on one trip God completely healed me and it was the best miracle ever! She looked right at me and asked me what I did. Did I just pray? So I was able to tell her more about it. She said that was cool and that was it. So glad I spoke up. I was planting seeds. One plants, another waters… I Cor. 3:8. We just obey. The results are up to the Lord.

Lifestyle of the Spirit

Sometimes we get away from that lifestyle of being ready for the Holy Spirit to speak to us at any time. We forget to keep an ear open for Him to speak to us and to keep ourselves in an attitude of willingness to change our plans and to obey. But that is easy to re-align. We just need to turn our heart toward heaven and ask the Holy Spirit to work through us. We just need to be willing. “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit” (Gal. 5:25.)

It’s a wonderful feeling to know you’ve heard and obeyed the Lord and that He’s working through you to show His love to someone. Ask the Lord to give you a special person assignment today!

When was the last time you did something at the Holy Spirit’s urging?

Spiritual Warfare: The Word, Our Weapon

Sword & Shield SmallIf you and I lived in a different time and we woke up in a tent on the hard ground in the middle of a vast encampment of soldiers and were told to get ready because today was the day of battle, we would jump up and scramble to find our armor and most importantly, our sword. There’s no way we would leave our weapon behind.

Do We Leave Our Weapon Behind?

Our weapon in spiritual warfare is the Bible, the Word of God, but sometimes we head out the front door and into our day and we leave it behind. Not that we have to physically carry a Bible with us at all times (although if it’s on our phone or tablet, it is with us!) but we need to be hiding God’s Word in our heart so we are ready to use it in battle. Which means, we need to be reading it every day.

Even though we may agree with this concept or even deeply believe it, it’s so easy to have days slip by without reading the Word. Our lives are busy and we have a flood of incoming information every day. Sometimes it’s that flood that crowds out what we really need to be taking in: our best defense against the enemy in times of trial or temptation.

Our Spiritual Defense

We have the same spiritual defense that Jesus had. He is our example and He withstood the most vicious assault of temptation ever loosed on a man. (Matt. 4:1-11.) Jesus had been fasting for 40 days. He was at the end of that fast and He was hungry. His body was ready to eat. That’s when the enemy came to tempt Him, at a very weak physical point. Satan tempted him with three powerful temptations (including food!) but Jesus replied every time with one weapon and one weapon only: the Word of God. He quoted Scripture to the devil and the devil had no reply. Three tries and the devil left Him. Jesus had won!

Read the Word

What if Jesus had not studied the Word? He didn’t arrive on the earth with all the Scriptures that had been written to that point downloaded and stored in His mind just because He came from heaven and was the Son of God. He started out as a baby, just like us, and had to learn the Scriptures, just like us. He knew the verses He quoted to the devil because He studied ahead of time. He memorized them. He went to the synagogue. On one trip to Jerusalem, Jesus stayed in the temple so long “sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions,” that his parents left for home and didn’t realize he wasn’t with them! (Luke 2:41-52)

We need to be reading the Word of God and studying it as well. We especially need to be memorizing it. Bible verses are like arrows that we need to have ready to pull out and fire at a moment’s notice. They are like every swing, every thrust and jab, of a sword in battle.

Weapons!

If we are afraid, we remember II Tim. 1:7, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”

If we need forgiveness, we know that, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness,” according to I John 1:9.

If we are anxious, we remember Isaiah 26:3, “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you.”

If we are tempted, we know that “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it,” (I Cor. 10:13.) Then, we take the way out!

If we need encouragement that we will overcome the enemy and have victory:

“For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.” Duet. 20:4

“With God we will gain the victory, and he will trample down our enemies.” Psalm 108:13

“But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (I Cor. 5:7)

Whether we  have been studying the Bible our whole life or if we met Jesus yesterday, each of us need to be in the Word every day. We need to be reading and learning more. We need to meditate and memorize, so we already know the verses we need to use in the heat of battle to reply to any accusation or attack or temptation of the enemy. For with our God and with His weapons, our victory is sure.

Can I get an “Amen?”

It’s Not Too Late: To Begin

Alarm clock on glass tableIt’s Friday. Do you ever get to Friday and think, “Well, it’s the end of the week. I can’t get that much done now. It’s too late.” Actually, (you may not want to hear this!) Friday is just as good as Monday. It just doesn’t feel like it because our mind is already headed toward the weekend. And often, we’re tired from the four days that came before Friday. However, if we change our mindset (and find some caffeine!) we can accomplish plenty, even on Friday. Sometimes, we get that “it’s too late” mentality about other areas of our lives too.

For example, is there something in life that you want to do or accomplish, but you haven’t made it happen yet? You’ve tried. And failed. And tried again. And failed. And given up. And tried again. Or maybe you haven’t failed yet because you haven’t tried yet. Ever feel like you’re going in circles and not making any real progress? We all have things like this — or maybe it’s just me. (I hope it’s not just me!)

The Unfulfilled Desire

Many things can fit into this category. Perhaps you have a project you want to tackle, but just can’t get it done. Perhaps you want to develop more patience or kindness and then find yourself snapping under pressure. Maybe there’s an advancement in your career you want to make that hasn’t happened yet. Perhaps it’s that fitness or weight goal that is so elusive. Maybe you want to write a blog, but after a few posts, life gets in the way or you get sick and are unable to be consistent. Oh wait, that’s me again. 😉

No matter what it is, I’m here to remind you — it’s not too late to begin again. It’s not too late to try again. You can accomplish what you set out to do. You have only to begin. Or begin again. After all, you are reading this blog right now, right? There’s “living proof” for you. Just be willing to try again. And then start. Take the first step. And the next. And the next. Over and over.

The Key to Success

Persistence is the key. Many have talent, but persistence is the difference between potential and success. Persistence is to continue on a course of action in spite of difficulty, opposition or previous failure. The Bible puts it this way, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Gal. 6:9.)

We must not give up. If we have given up, we can begin anew. Get back to planting the seeds that will bring about the harvest we desire. We are planting seeds into our life and future every day. Let’s make sure it’s the right seed. The time to start again is right now.

Today.

What step will you take today to “begin again?”

Spiritual Warfare: Faithful in Trial

Sword & Shield SmallNothing pulls us to prayer faster than crisis. As it should. And these days, it seems there are so many difficult situations to take before the Lord. It is a critical time in the lives of our loved ones and in the life of our nation. As the return of Jesus draws ever closer, we will see an increase in pressure, problems, even persecution. The Bible tells us that clearly. (Matt. 24)

Maybe it’s just where I live and the people I know, but there are many who feel they are under an attack from the enemy. And that does happen. It is not our imagination. The enemy comes to “steal, kill and destroy,” (John 10:10.) He also comes to distract and draw off course. He comes to tempt, for sin will destroy us as sure as a deadly disease. The enemy will try anything to weaken our faith, to cause us to question God’s goodness, anything to get us to turn away from our Lord.

Satan’s Motivation

Remember Job? Satan’s motivation is revealed to us in this story. Satan, speaking of Job, says to the Lord, “But stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face,” (Job 1:11.) When that didn’t work and Job, by God’s own testimony, “maintained his integrity,” (Job 2:3) Satan wanted to try again. “But stretch out your hand and strike his flesh and bones, and he will surely curse you to your face,” (Job 2:5.)

Satan wanted God to take everything away from Job and to put him in physical agony just so that Job would turn away from God and stop serving and loving Him. Satan wanted Job to curse God to his face. He wanted Job to strike out against God in anger and rebellion and to sever their relationship. Job didn’t do that. Job clung to his knowledge of God in faith. God, in return, used the situation to teach Job, bringing him even deeper in his knowledge of God and then healed him and blessed his life twice as much. (Job 42:10.)

Faithful Under Attack

In the midst of our trials, we need to remember Job. We need to remember that it is Satan who wants us to turn away from God in doubt. We must remember to always turn TO the Lord and never away. We must remember that John 10:10 does not end with the thief coming to steal and kill and destroy. Jesus Himself was speaking and He said, “I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.”

When we are under attack and are suffering loss or suffering in our body, we need to be like Job and remain faithful to God, refusing to turn and curse Him. Instead, we remain faithful in our love for Him. Faithful in trusting Him. Faithful in prayer. I saw someone post on Facebook recently that she didn’t understand God’s plan for her life, but she loved Him still. That is a beautiful statement of faith. We have to remember that while God may have allowed this trial to come, He is with us and He will bring us through it. If we will trust Him, we will come out stronger and twice as blessed.

In Light of Eternity

IMG_0707_2I was listening to one of my favorite songs the other day, “Lose My Soul” by TobyMac, featuring Kirk Franklin and Mandisa. I was singing along with Mandisa and the phrase, “Livin’ in the light of eternity” stuck with me. I’ve always loved that turn of phrase. It holds such a huge concept in a single line: live for eternity.

Life Priority Check

Live in the light of eternity … eternity in their hearts (Ecc. 3:11.) These words remind us to live for more than the here and now. It’s easy to get caught up in our daily needs, burdens and concerns, but there is more ahead, friends. So much more.

You can watch the news and see our world spinning ever closer to the return of Christ, with catastrophe and chaos along the way. This is the perfect time to perform a “systems check” on our lives. What does the way we spend our time and money say about our priorities?

Are we living for the here and now? For our self alone? Or are we focusing on what really matters? To make sure we “love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.” To remember to “love our neighbor as our self” and to show the world we are Christians by our love. Do we consciously give our families the best of us and show the fruit of the Spirit at home? Are we finding ways to make the lives of others better? Notice that these are all actions we take …

Eternal Actions: Outward & Inward

… Because living for eternity doesn’t mean sitting around and waiting for the Lord to come and take us to heaven. It isn’t only about deepening our spiritual life and our prayer life. That’s certainly part of it, but when we draw closer to the Lord in prayer, we will find He then compels us to show His love in very practical ways to those around us. “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world” (James 1:27.) There is no shortage of orphans and widows. There are so many homes with only one parent. So many kids find themselves alone. So many need support and not only financial. So many people need a friend, an afternoon out, a ride to church.

The second half of that verse, “to keep oneself form being polluted by the world” is a tall order these days as our society reaches a saturation point of sin. We have to take a sober look at how much is seeping into our hearts and minds through the music and media we absorb. We have to be careful to not “call evil good and good evil” (Isaiah 5:20) but to align our hearts and minds with the Word of God and what He says to be true.

A Life that Lasts

If we want to live a life that lasts, if we want our works to live on and to not be burned up as worthless at the judgment (I Cor. 3:12,13), then we need to be sure we are living for the right things and that we are doing the right things. Time is short. The Lord is coming soon.

“And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8.)

I know I have some things to work on. What does your “Light of Eternity Systems Check” tell you?

December: Good News Month!

photo_2Only Good News, Please

I think there should be a rule that you can only have good news during December and only good things can happen in December—in honor of Christmas, of course! But that is just not the way life works. Things that aren’t so good happen in December too. People get in car accidents, spouses fight, children rebel, and death steals loved ones.

For me, the doctors broke the good news rule by diagnosing me with another chronic disease: Crohn’s. Not really good news. Not life threatening and it’s something that can be managed—kind of. (Sound like it’s going to need prayer management most!) I’m just at the beginning of figuring this thing out (and I am grateful for really terrific doctors) but it certainly wasn’t the results I was hoping for … from all those icky, invasive tests in November. I thought inflammation was just an inconvenience, didn’t realize it could be so damaging. Who knew?!

Unchanging Truth

But the amazing truth is—any bad news we receive, doesn’t change the good news. Nothing can change the good news that Jesus came for us. And He came to make the bad news better. He came to make a way out of all the bad news that sin brought into the world. He suffered and died to bring us eternal life in heaven with Him. And even now, we have the incredible joy of knowing His Presence. The fact that He is with us, He loves us and He walks with us through all things makes this life not only bearable, but gives us Hope.

Healing, Trusting, Rejoicing

God could heal me in an instant. He’s done it before. (He completely healed me of motion sickness—which is the coolest thing ever! I’ll have to tell you about that sometime.) Or He could ask me to walk through this with Him, leaning on Him and obeying His leading. Either way, I trust Him and I give Him praise. “Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits—who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases…” (Psalm 103:2, 3.)

And I rejoice in the good news of His birth! No matter what else happens, He came to save me. There’s nothing better than the One you love coming for you. Through the strangest path and the most unconventional means, that’s what Jesus did when He was born as a baby on earth one night in Bethlehem. Just like the angels said to the shepherds, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy”! (Luke 2: 10)

What are the “not so good” things in your life right now that you can use as reminders of His unchanging good news?

When God Gives a Push!

IMG_0613

Running Ahead…

Some people get in trouble because they run ahead of God. An idea comes and they’re off! Sometimes there is prayer and preparation missing from the project, which will always become an issue at some point. But these inspired quick reactors don’t worry about such things. They are getting started right now!

Lagging Behind…

This is not me. I tend to hesitate. (I could benefit from being more like the quick starters.) I want to wait and see, assess and test, see how it feels. Which is why sometimes when a change needs to be made in my life, the Lord has to slip it in quick. If I think about it too much, I’ll wait.

The Lord really does prepare me, though. I’d been thinking all last fall that we were going to need to move sometime in the next year. With my husband working out of town so much and our youngest son graduating high school this year and probably going away to college … who would mow the grass? Or rake the leaves? Or shovel the snow? Snow happens … well, all the time here. Mostly in the winter (ha, ha!) but you never know. So I was thinking we should move to someplace with less maintenance and someplace smaller too…

Should We Move?

Someplace like one of the awesome condos across town! After some research, I really liked this idea. The condos were beautiful and we could rent a two-bedroom, two-bath for the same price we were already paying. I had a friend living in the complex and in January she showed me her lovely home. I looked at the floor plans online and some had an office too! There was one in particular I liked. I thought an end unit would be nice, not so claustrophobic. But I was told no one moves in the winter.

I called the property management places anyway. The first one said they had no openings, as expected. On the next phone call, a nice lady said they had a unit opening up the next week! It was the floor plan I liked and it was an end unit. The showing was the day after Scott got home. So we set up an appointment to see it.

Now?!

When we came to look at it–the end unit with the exact floor plan I wanted–suddenly I wasn’t sure. I didn’t know about the stairs. There were a lot of stairs. I thought we should wait. I didn’t know. But the leasing agent said the couple that saw it before us was really interested and she had two more showings booked. I quickly realized I couldn’t waffle. We had to go forward! Scott liked it. So, we said we could get our application in right away. And we did. An hour later. And we moved. Four days later!

We packed in 24 hours. Moved the big stuff the day before Scott went back to work. Then Kellyn and I moved for another week. You can’t really pack everything in 24 hours. And when you downsize suddenly … well, we still can’t park in the garage!

God’s Grace

But the house is absolutely beautiful with views of Big Mountain out my kitchen window (one morning in Feb. pictured above) and my office window. The stairs are a perfectly good daily workout … in addition to the workout room at the clubhouse and all the other amenities there. No yard work.

It really is perfect, more perfect than I could have imagined. And left to my own devices, I may have missed it, but God set up the circumstances so I had to decide right then. I had to go forward right then. I think that’s called—opening a door and giving a push! I’m so grateful He did. God is so good. He knows what each of us needs. When we ask Him to order our steps, He will. He’ll help us make the right decisions. If we need His Hand to come in front of us and slow us down a little, He will. Or if we need a little push, He’ll do that too.

He’s that good.

What about you? Does God usually have to slow you down or speed you up?

Greatest Gifts: Forgiveness

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One of the greatest gifts we can give this Christmas is the beautifully wrapped gift of forgiveness. If we’re willing to do the work of giving this gift, both the giver and receiver can be set free.

In this post, I’m not talking primarily about forgiving people for offenses that come up in our everyday relationships: unkind comments or misunderstandings. It’s important to forgive those things, of course, and it’s very important to restore any broken relationships. Maybe this is the season when you can extend forgiveness to someone and mend a friendship. That would be a wonderful gift for both of you.

The Unforgivable

But I’m talking about the deep hurts some of us have stored in a box in our heart’s attic, sealed up and marked, “Unforgivable.”

There are things that happen to us that can be considered “unforgivable.” Verbal, physical, and sexual abuse, all fall into this category. Words from important people in our lives that have warped our view of ourselves. Anything that has hurt so deep, we can’t seem to find the strength to forgive because they were just “so wrong.” And you’re right. They were wrong. And sinful. Perhaps even evil.

The Freedom

But we are still called to forgive. Forgiveness is the only way to freedom. If we don’t forgive, we will harbor a hardness of heart. Bitterness will grow up and choke us with its poison. Even if you agree with this concept, I know what you’re thinking … “But how?”

The Steps

There are 4 ‘A’s that can help us.

1. Acknowledge Forgiveness is a Continual Process. Some people have done so much damage that you have to forgive them over and over. Every time the hurt or offense comes to mind and it still stings, we have to forgive again. And we are in good company. The disciples asked Jesus how many times they should forgive someone and suggested a generous seven times. Jesus said, no, seventy-seven times. In other words, over and over.  (Matt. 18:21,22.)

2. Agree to Participate in the Forgiveness Process. The Bible tells us many times we need to forgive and show mercy. Jesus said, “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you,” (Matthew 6:14.) Notice He didn’t say “if” they sin against you, He said “when” they sin against you. We need to agree that God’s ways are best and yes, we will set our hearts to forgive.

3. Ask God for Grace. He will give us grace. God always wants to give us grace. When we are taking a step of obedience, He is right there to hold our hand and give us the power to do it. “For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you,” (Isaiah 41:13.)

4. Articulate Forgiveness. We will make progress faster along the path of forgiveness if we will speak our forgiveness out loud. Even if it’s a whisper, when that person and that heartbreak pops up to haunt you again, say, “I choose to forgive today. I forgive you because Jesus forgave me. I forgive by the power of the blood of Jesus.”

Trust me. These steps will help. Forgiveness will help heal your heart and it will help set you free. Forgiveness is the one of the greatest Christmas gifts you can give to another and to yourself.

Have a lighter heart this Christmas. Forgive.

Is there someone you need to forgive?

For a song to encourage you in this process, check out Matthew West’s “Forgiveness” on iTunes.

The Tiny Evangelist

The other day, I carefully parked my Yukon next to the cart return at the grocery store. As I stepped out, a little girl who was hanging out a car window in the next space over sang out to me, “Jesus loves you!”

I laughed. “Yes, He does!” I replied. “And He loves you too.” She beamed at me while the young woman next to her in the car just smiled. “Good word,” I said to her as my son and I headed into the store. Her words stayed with me, but not just what she said, but the way she joyfully and directly proclaimed them.

What’s Our Message?

There is so much emphasis today on knowing and communicating your message, your name, your brand. While it is important to be clear on what we are presenting to the world and what we are specifically asking people to buy into, this encounter with a sunny little girl got me thinking. When it comes down to it, what is our message except to say, “Jesus loves you!”

  • What is the one thing people need to hear? Jesus loves you!
  • What is the one message that can change a life? Jesus loves you!

A Message From the Heart

The way she said those three words was so cute. It was like, “Jesus loves you, you know.” And it was said with the conviction of someone who knows Him.

I know Him. You know Him. We can speak from personal experience about how great God is. We forget how many people have never felt His love and have no idea how amazing it is to be in His Presence.

We are the voice, the eyes, the hands and feet of Jesus on the earth. Let’s find someone today who needs to know what God most wants them to know. Let’s tell them with all the passion of our heart: Jesus loves you! It’s the most important thing we can communicate to anyone today, this timeless message: Jesus loves you!

Maybe we need to hang out our car window and sing out for someone.

Is there someone you can intentionally tell about the love of Jesus today?

The Friday Foodie

Today’s post is in the Recipe page–Chocolate Mint Cookies. These are always a hit. I’m making some today for my son to take with him for his Rugby team for his away game tomorrow. Or at least for the guys he rides with for a couple hours. The cookies might not make it all the way to the match and the rest of the team! Check out & print the recipe for a Chocolate Mint weekend!


  • Hi, I'm Erica ~ a wife, a mom, a Christian speaker, singer, author, and worship leader. I love coffee & chocolate, reading & writing, music & more music, Facebook & Twitter, time with family & friends! Thanks for dropping by ~ I hope you are encouraged here.

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