God’s Word is Puposeful

As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. Isaiah 55:10-11 NIV

Don’t you love this extended metaphor comparing Gods Word to the precipitation that falls on the earth?

It is given to us by Father God through the prophet Isaiah, and communicates so many truths in 2 short verses.

1. Like rain or snow, Gods Word is sent down from Heaven. His Word is as much a part of His provision for us as the daily rain!

2. What does rain do? It waters the earth. God’s Word waters our parched souls. Cleansing rain and refreshing joy come through His Scriptures.

3. Rain and snow not only water the earth, but they give growth. I’ve never seen it, but scientists tell us that a barren, scorched desert can burst into bloom after a quenching rain. Our souls also blossom and prepare to be fruitful when drenched with God’s Holy Word.

4. Plants do not bud and flourish just to be colorful; they bud to bear fruit and be useful. They have a purpose that is begun by the rain. God’s Word is the rain that causes our lives to bear fruit unto righteousness.

5. That flourishing plant yields 2 things: seed for the sower ands bread for the eater. In other words, The rain of God’s Word causes fruit in our lives that provides sustenance for our immediate, daily needs (bread) and provision for our future needs (seed to plant and harvest, time and again).

6. God’s Word will accomplish what He desires.

7. God’s Word in our lives, homes, churches, communities, and nation will achieve the purpose He sent it for.

We trust God for rain that sustains the earth. Trust His Word for truth that sustains your soul.

Making It Home: Coffee

We all have our ideas of what makes a house a home. My home would not be home without coffee. We all have our morning rituals. Mine is basically grab a cup of coffee and head out on the deck with my Bible. No talking please, at least until I’ve finished my first cup. Oh yeah, and there’s a “Poppy, go outside?” mumbled as I head out the door. And he does. I’m at home. I miss this ritual when I’m away from home.

Right now I’m sipping my fully loaded Green Mountain Breakfast Blend with Peppermint Mocha creamer as I type. So how about some observations?

  1. Coffee is a seed/bean from a plant. It is planted carefully and grown in the shade until it can be transplanted into moist soil where the roots can get established.
  2. When a coffee plant grows, matures, and bears fruit, it is ready to be put to use for the purpose it was made.
  3. Coffee is put through the fire to make it useful for our purposes. In a 550 degree oven, the beans are roasted until they reach an inner temp of 400 degrees. This browns them and allows the flavorful caffeol oil locked inside to emerge. (My source)
  4. Coffee is ground to make it useful for our purposes. The beans are put through grinder and ground to bits, and no longer even looks like a bean, a necessary process for the flavors to come out as we make it into the cup of coffee we drink.
  5. Coffee is put through hot water to make it useful for our purposes. It is soaked in boiling water to release its flavor.
  6. Coffee is hard to swallow black (just my opinion!).
  7. Coffee is bitter when percolated, so add a dash of salt.
  8. Coffee is best when filled with yummy creamer.
  9. Coffee energizes and gets the day started off right.

Lessons we can learn from coffee: The Christian life is like coffee.

  1. When we allow Christ to make His home in our heart, His seed is planted in us and that Christ-like character begins to grow us into a new person that will eventually take over and transform the old us. (2 Corinthians 5:17) Like coffee plants we need careful attention as we are developing. We need to be in the word and prayer and with other believers at this point to get our roots established.
  2. We will grow, mature and bear fruit, becoming the person God designed us to be and ready to be useful to the Father, waiting for Him to process us. “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:20)
  3. Our preparation for God’s purposes often involves being put through the fire, ground to bits, and feeling like we are drowning in boiling water. We will no longer even look like who we were before this. This change is not fun, but it is necessary. We are roasted (tested), ground (remade), and brewed in hot waters (humbled) where the sweet flavor of Christ is released and put to use.
  4. We often are hard to swallow at first. We may be bold and brassy and tend to storm the gates of hell with a water pistol in our zeal, but God isn’t through.
  5. He keeps working with His creation. The Holy Spirit seasons us with salt to get rid of the bitterness, then adds cream to make us appealing to the lost world He is seeking. He develops in us the fruit of the Spirit and we become tasty to those around us. They desire to drink in more of the Jesus in us.
  6. We become to each other that energizing, flavor-filled source of encouragement!

I realize my extended metaphor is rather a loose one, but you get the picture. As you welcome people into your home for a cup of coffee or meet another lady at Starbucks, I encourage you to remember that Christ is at work in you, even in your personal hard times, using you to encourage others in their Christian walk. You are helping others to develop a home in their hearts where Christ dwells and works and uses them to spread flavor to the world as well.

Thanks a Lot

“Do you know how lucky you are?
How fortunate?
How blessed?
Do you know how incredibly good you’ve got it?”

Those words rang through my mind as I traversed the roads, curvy and double lined paved strips of asphalt, familiar to me. I’d been to the library where I borrowed a book or two to read, free of charge pending I don’t lose it and return it on time. While there my kiddos placed folded pieces of paper with a name of their choosing in a box labeled “name the Guinea Pig” I am fairly certain Gerard was at the top of the list of names they’d narrowed down for the recently acquired library mascots. After the library I was heading to the pool with my children, all nearly grown, yet they did not shrink away from me or avoid spending time with me. Not as often as I thought they would at this age anyway.

Do you know how blessed you are despite living in a tumultuous time, adversity at multiple turns, pestilence and affliction, despite circumstances that would declare otherwise?
Do you know that you have breath in your lungs and Spirit in your body?
Do you know how blessed you are?

The thoughts were somewhat foreign to me as I struggle sometimes to have a good attitude.

I am a glass half empty-pessimist most days kind of gal. Truth is negativity comes easier to me than positivity. I find it most ironic that my blood type is actually B-positive. It is as if the Good Lord Himself needed to infuse me with the reminder to be positive from 120 days post birth when total red blood cell type conversion took place. Up until then I carried within my veins my Mama’s O positive blood type and I reckon the Lord also knew I needed to be rapidly transfused with that B-positive blood type because I was a jaundiced little gold nugget for quite some time, or so I am told and photos indicate, as I have no recollective memory of it. I digress.

I once went to a conference and a speaker spent an hour telling everyone how to be happy. She ended her talk with a statement backed by her research regarding happiness.

She said, “Research shows that the happiest people are not necessarily the wealthiest people, the people who have the most material things, the people who have climbed the corporate ladder. Those are the very people I would think are the happiest. Research has shown the happiest people are the grateful people. The ones who spend their lives being thankful.”

I smiled as I immediately remembered the favorite Madame Blueberry episode of VeggieTales that I had nearly memorized by heart as it played on repeat as my children were growing up. Madame Blueberry had discovered that all the things from Stuff-Mart couldn’t make her happy but that a happy-heart is a thankful-heart.

I try and remember that on the days I do not feel overwhelmed with joy is it because I am not overwhelmed with gratitude. The King’s word says in 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Don’t get me wrong I have yet to get it right and my grateful days could stand to be increased in quota but the King’s word is true, and I can trust the key to happiness is stamped with the word “Grateful.”

Cry Out…

“Be still…” These were the words I heard as everything became too much.

I woke that morning and all I could do was cry. The kind of tears that just come and can’t be stopped. I was basically helpless.

Had the new job become too much?

Or was it the vaccine side effects?

Or emotional side effects of wondering if I should or shouldn’t have taken it?

Was it seeing stories of the tragedies going on around the world?

Or hearing just that one more person has Covid? It’s close, you know. Will I get “it” again or will I not? Is this stuffy head “it” or is it the same summer cold I get every year?

Is this an attack from the enemy? I’m drawing near to my Lord and He’s changing me and moving in my life. The prayer time is great and the word is speaking so clearly. And now this…

Why can’t I get myself together and get ready for work? The tears won’t stop so I can put on my “face” for the day.

As I come to the end of this journal page I see this verse – only my Lord‘s timing! “Dena, for God did not give us a spirit of fear but of power and love and self-control – strong mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7

And so I sat still and I listened. And He lovingly calmed my spirit. And I asked Him to take every thought captive. And He did. And I got myself together (or I suppose He got me together).

I sent off a prayer text to several that I knew would carry me to the Father that day. And they did. I just know it. I confessed my struggle to them. (James 5:16) 

It’s a supernatural thing, just confessing to others so you can be healed. Their prayers for me have a great power to prevail. And they did prevail and I am healed.

Don’t let the cares of this world overwhelm you, and if the burden is too much, practice James 5:16. 

The enemy wants to isolate and make you feel alone. And tell you that you aren’t strong. Don’t stay in that place of vulnerability that our emotions can take us to. Cry out to the Father and to those who are with you on the journey.“

Not as Young as I Feel

“In her mind, how old do you think she is?” I asked.

Sometimes my thoughts come out of my mouth rather than staying inside my head. I hardly even know it happens sometimes. 

Scott Martin said “Forty.” 

I surveyed her petite frame, read her lips as she took a long swig of coffee and said “Oh that’s good.”

I wondered how old she felt, how old she views herself to be. The age I feel and my chronological age are not always congruent. I wondered if she felt the same. 

She had to have been at least 80. 

Despite having three children, having conscious memories of a time when everyone didn’t have a cellphone, knowing that I’ve been married over 20 years this year and been a nurse for a tad longer, in my mind I am seventeen.

I recognize the mathematical probability as null if in fact I were actually seventeen. I have a seventeen year old, two actually.  I remember vividly my life then. The summer before my senior year at the PVHS, my days were filled with pool time and late night phone calls, trips to the Galleria and snack runs to the Winn-Dixie. Novels of superficial subjects and magazines filled with how to’s of boyfriends, makeup and “true” stories. 

My skin was darker and tighter, my ears filled with songs about long lost country loves, Love shacks, Ragdolls, and elevator loving. I didn’t worry too much about finances or politics. I wasn’t all that wrapped up in Who I was becoming, mostly I just lived in the moment. My future planning wasn’t too far beyond my upcoming senior portraits scheduled to be taken in the school library by Olan Mills. I didn’t wonder too much about where I’d be in twenty years, yet here I am, more than twenty years later, clearly not 17, a mother and wife and as quickly as the last twenty passed I find myself wondering how quickly the next will pass.

As I surveyed the woman diagonal from me, wearing a red cotton button up  shirt, Capri pants, and sensible shoes, I felt sure that if I had asked her she might have to give pause before she answered me, the same way that I do when asked about age. Somebody says “You’re as young as you feel.” Some days I would agree, other days I might not.

I desire to be intentional about the next twenty, maybe by then I’ll feel forty. 

Maybe Scott Martin’s assessment wasn’t so far off after all.

Psalm 90:12 So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.