Faithful

People on the cone of Old Faithful Geyser as it erupts; R Robinson; 1948

“But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.” Psalm 86:15

For the past couple of weeks, I have started this blog post and just stared at a blank page. This word “faithful” has been everywhere I have been and it seems like it has been in every verse I have read, but I could not seem to write about it… until today.

The word “faithful” is a strong word, especially when you are talking about the space in between the God of the universe and us. For us as believers to find God faithful, we have to have been through some “stuff.” To know down deep that HE IS FAITHFUL there has to have been some fire or a valley that He brought you through for you to know what faithful looks like or feels like. God’s word is full of promises for faithfulness but until you and I test Him, until we put our heart and life and future in His hands, we have no way of knowing what His faithfulness looks like.

I remember a day, eight plus years ago that His faithfulness became evident in my life. faithful-and-true-christian-poetry-by-deborah-annWe watched a family reunite and watched God redeem, restore and bless, but that meant that we had to let go of four precious kids as they returned home. God brought strength and comfort into our home and hearts. God breathed peace into our home and allowed us to welcome more children over the next several years. As each one prepared to leave, He was FAITHFUL to send that same peace and strength and hope into our home and hearts. We felt His presence and a sense of peace like never before because we looked for Him in those hard moments. We searched for His heart and sought His face when times were hard and HE WAS THERE…faithful.

I have been listening to a new song by Mercy Me called “Even If” over the last couple of  weeks and there is such a powerful line in that song “You’ve been faithful You’ve been good, all of my days. JESUS I will cling to You, come what may”. I can tell you that in my little corner of the world God is faithful, and He is good. I can read you the Scriptures that tell of His faithfulness, and I can also put that same Bible down and tell you time after time that He has been faithful in my life and how time and time again He blessed me in ways that I would have never seen if I had not been actively looking for His faithfulness. Not always easy, not always the way I would have wanted it to be, but His ways are higher. We each have a story to tell and our story reflects His goodness and His faithfulness. Prayers that He answers and blessings that He brings tell a story. There are hurting people right outside our doors that need to hear what He has done in your life and mine. They need to hear that HE IS FAITHFUL and that when we are empty He can fill us with strength and power to stay the course.

We are blessed as believers to have the opportunity to see God move and see miracles happen, the challenge for us is will we share them? Will you be bold and courageous enough to share your story with someone so that His story can be told? Lives are changed when real people share real hurt and heartache and when God is faithful to redeem and restore. Broken people loving broken people because only God can heal. We have the faith to walk out our journey because He is FAITHFUL!!!

I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. Revelation 19:11

9b545d7eb74a7c9b5aad4f5974da72a9

 

 

 

 

 

 

One Size Fits…ALL

When you read the words “one size fits all” you may think first of an article of clothing. One size fits all means that no matter your size, height or stature this garment should work for you. I am personally thankful for such garments around bathing suit season!!!

pexels-photo-66414-e1487601368936.jpeg

“How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered!”

I was preparing a devotion a few days ago and thinking about these “one size fits all” tags, just thinking of those words and how broad they are and how they really can speak to us as Christians about “covering”. The one thing we all are in need of as sinners who fall short of God’s glory is grace. Grace to cover us, protect us and shield us from the enemy who seeks to destroy us and our lives. I thought of how God’s grace is offered to all in the way of salvation and how no matter where you have been or what you have done HE is enough to cover you and shield you and protect you from all who seek to harm you, no matter what you have done or where you have been. We can never sin so far that HIS grace cannot cover us.

As I began to write down a few thoughts, I thought of things I had done and maybe places I had been that were not uplifting to the call He had placed on my life years ago and GRACE just kept coming back around. I remembered words I have spoken that were unkind and choices I had made that caused me to miss opportunities to share about God’s love. The enemy would have loved for my mind to stay right there BUT GOD’S GRACE covers me. You see, as a 15 year old, I gave my heart and life to God and promised to follow and serve Him for the rest of my life. There, at that moment, I received salvation, grace, forgiveness and a promise that I belonged to Him. His grace covers me. His grace “fits” over my  sin. The times I have been so bold in the choices I have made and the sins that committed, even in those times, HE has prepared a way for all of those to be washed away, to be covered. Grace is for all of us, offered freely and with the promise that HE will never leave us.

“One size fits all” may be just a simple tag in a garment, but those words to us as believers mean that we are covered by our Heavenly Father and that His love for us is immeasurable. We can never sin bigger than His grace can cover. Our choices could never take us so far that His grace cannot reach us. Our faith can be and should be strengthened knowing that without a doubt we are covered and loved so much that GOD gave His Son to die on a cross as the covering for our sin. This covering, this salvation is offered to ALL, no exception. In a society where size and beauty and social status seem to be the measure of all (according to the magazines and news stories), what an incredible blessing to know that no matter who you are this grace, this covering from GOD will fit. Grace is “one size fits ALL!!

person-clinic-cross-religion-54333

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He lavished upon us. Eph. 1:7-8

 

A Gift

So a new year is here. Are you a resolution writer? Do you do the customary list of things you wish to accomplish for the coming months? I must confess, I am not! I have in the past and would be so defeated in the first few days when I had missed the mark!!! I am a day by day goal setter (if that is even a thing!!!) Satan has a way of paralyzing us when we do not feel like we have accomplished “enough.” I am writing this today to challenge you to let go in 2017 and trust HIM daily to carry you through, give you direction and hold your heart to His plan.

One of my favorite songs by Chris Rice says this “Every day is a journal page, every man holds a quill and ink. There’s plenty of room for writing in, all you ask and believe and think. Will you clock-pocket-watch-gold-valuable-39817compose a curse or will today bring you blessing.” When God opens our eyes each morning and we have a chance to lift up or tear down. Life or death. Blessing or cursing. Twenty-four – 24 hours – no more no less. Money or fame cannot buy you more time. This sweet song goes on to say “Teach us to count the days, teach us to make the days count. Lead us in better ways cause somehow our souls’ forgot Life Means So Much.” 

These words are as much for the writer as the reader!! GOD brings us to the very moment where we have a choice to walk boldly in His plan or be held captive by what we can see and what seems to hold us. God gave His only Son that you and I could live and breathe and share this good news with people in need and without hope.

So, the choice is yours and mine my friend! God breathes life into your soul. The day is yours!! Life is precious and what a gift!!

sunrise-sky-blue-sunlight-67832

Resolve

by Tracy Hacker

Two years ago, our pastor asked our congregation to petition God for a word for our families for the year. I did as he requested, and my word came. I was hoping for a word like “boldness” or “wisdom” or “change,” maybe even “joy,” instead, my word was “resolve.” Webster’s Dictionary defines resolve “to make a definite and serious decision to do something.” My favorite definition is one I heard a pastor give several years ago “stick-to-it-ness.” This has proven to be a much better definition!!

Over the past two years, I kept thinking this word might change or maybe God would speak another word, but the word He kept giving was “resolve.” To be honest, I had a hard time understanding what I could do with this word. Would God give me a platform or a circumstance for this word to come alive? Instead of a platform, He has given me a daily stage for this word to show up in my life and has given me plenty of opportunity to learn to live it out! I have found myself at times asking God for guidance and praying for the pexels-photo-131979meaning of this word “resolve” to sometimes just get me through the day. You may be like me in that the everyday tasks seem to be overwhelming some days. The mundane tasks that seem so unimportant. The laundry that never seems to stop. The dishes that seem to “always” be in the sink. (Did I mention that 8 people live in my house?!) Fingerprints  seem to be on everything, smudges on my front door, and toys on the floor. God has used these things each day to show me exactly how my “resolve” would be used. Those tasks that seem to be insignificant in the big scheme of things are sometimes where our “resolve” is tested the most.

“Resolve” is what keeps a heart going in the midst of chaos, in the middle of a storm. When the world would say “give up,” “let someone else do it,” resolve says, “God called you to this, He will keep you.” “Resolve” or “stick to it-ness” says, “I am tired, I am overwhelmed, but God has a plan.” Satan would like nothing more than to see us stop living our purpose because of how we feel, because of our circumstances. The “resolve” that God has placed within each of us gives us the strength to keep moving, to press on, to go forward even though we don’t “feel” like it, even when there is no grand stage. You may be reading this blog post right now from the sofa next to a huge pile of clothes that need folding, or maybe sitting at your kitchen table looking at a sink full of dirty dishes just over the top of your computer and the defeat has already set in for the day. GET UP!! God is too good and His purpose for you is too important for you to let the enemy’s schemes hold you back today.

God has been so faithful to show me over the past two years that part of His purpose for my life in this season is to care for the people in my home and that my “resolve” is to do it DAILY with all I have. There is no grand stage, no huge crowd to share with, just a few little faces that fill my table. Small hands and hearts that fill our house with laughter and love and are evidence to me that He sees each soul as priceless, redeemable and worth dying for. Somewhere in His grand plan is a place for me.  I GET TO serve Him. There is a place for the talents He has given me and a place for my soul to find rest and He delights in me. Resolve counts when is gets hard, when it’s not fun, when we would rather be somewhere else that does not require work, or at a movie or just sitting somewhere quiet. Resolve says, “When I don’t feel like living out my purpose today, I will move forward.” Resolve means that at the end of a long day, I can lay my head down at night and ask God for the strength to do it all again tomorrow, not the option to give up. Resolve means no retreat, no opting out. To quote one of my favorites, Beth Moore, “Let’s do the thing!!”

God, give us vision for our future, and place within us the RESOLVE to move when You call!!

“Jehovah is my strength and song; And he is become my salvation” Isaiah 12:2

 

 

 

The Dash

by Tracy Hacker

You may have read the title and are thinking you are about to read a story about running or a race, quite the opposite. This post is about life and how we choose to live day to day. The things we focus our time and energy on are eternal.

I had the opportunity recently to visit the gravesite where my grandparents are buried. Lots of emotions ran through my mind as we stood for a few minutes talking over memories and sharing funny stories about my grandmother and the joy that she brought here on earth. So many fond memories of spending time with her. Like many loved ones, she left this earth way too soon.

Standing in the middle of the small cemetery looking at all the headstones, names are different and the dates vary but one thing was the same on all of them… the dash. I had the opportunity when my grandmother passed away several years ago to be part of planning her memorial service. I remember sitting at a long conference table with my mom and several other family members as we began to put into a mere two or three paragraphs the life of this precious 92-year-old lady. We listed children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, those who went before her, the usual bits of information. I just kept thinking, “How do you put 92 years of a full life into a few paragraphs?” The days following were full of much laughter, remembering her personality, and joy. There was sadness as well, but her life was truly one of joy and definitely one to be celebrated!

James 4;14The reality of this life on earth is that if Jesus tarries, death is a reality. So the question comes … What will you and I do with the dash? That little line between the year you came into this world and the year you passed into eternity. How will we spend the time God has given us here on earth? The Bible refers to life as a vapor, fleeting and brief. The way we spend our days really does matter. The people that we invest in on this earth are  heavenly treasures. The car you drive, the house you live in, the money (or lack of) in your bank account has no heavenly value.  Jesus died that we might have life, not just any old life, but abundant life. The cross was a tremendous price for you and for me, for salvation and eternal life. The tragedy of the cross comes when we waste the opportunity He has given us to be a blessing.  We were created to worship Him with every part of our being, created to praise Him with our whole heart, anything less is wasted.

God wakes us up every morning with new mercies, precious breath and hours ahead to be a blessing. We are given a clean slate, a fresh start, a blank page every morning. He extends grace and mercy for us to walk through each day and to bless those we come in contact with and most importantly to share His love and grace with those around us. You and I can memorize scripture but if we do not walk out the love in those words with those around us, it is just words. His word is powerful and can change lives. You and I get to be a part of that by the way we carry ourselves and His message. My hope as you are reading this post is that you will be challenged to share Him more and testify to the hope that is within you. As a Christian, you and I have a story, we have been changed, redeemed, set free. Grace is real and forgiveness is lasting. So, what will you do with your dash?

live-the-dash

 

 

 

 

Changed for the Better

by Tracy Hacker

“Of one thing I am perfectly certain, God’s story never ends in ashes.”

I read this quote by Elizabeth Elliott years ago and it has been forever etched into my mind and heart. Over the past 9 years I have witnessed God breathe life into an empty soul and redeem lives from the pit of despair. I have seen the God of this universe do exactly what HIS word proclaims and have been in absolute awe at the wonder of it. My story is one of change, hope, restoration and redemption and watching God change a heart… MINE!

pexels-photo-60252We became a foster family a little over nine years ago with the thought and hope that we might be a blessing to a child in need. God used a verse in Matthew “Keep open house, be generous with your lives” (The Message) to confirm that this was indeed the path He had chosen for our family, and so we followed. We learned very quickly that “we” were the recipients of the blessings when we met our first placement. And not much has changed in nine years. God called us out of our comfort zone, our security, into a world of much brokenness and sadness. He called us into work in a system that, on it’s best day, is very broken. This system is full of social workers, judges and team members who work countless hours to search for the best solutions for the child’s  benefit. We have learned firsthand that this is an incredible mission field. We have been given opportunities to speak life and encouragement into the days of workers who visit the kids in our home.

Now, here’s where the title comes from, “Changed for the Better.” I had a much different plan in mind as we started this journey! I envisioned helping a child and then possibly adopting and then we would be finished, but God had other plans! I did not factor in the birth moms and the family members that we meet and the needs they would have as a result of their little one being removed from his or her home. I did not factor in the stories of the moms and the dads and the heart ache that they had felt and were feeling as a result of the circumstances. I did not have a grasp of the pain nor the depth of the despair that the consequences of choices made would have on these people I would meet, but God did. I thought we would love a little one, adopt them and then we would move on to our next adventure, not so!!

The kids that have come through our home have been the easy part! The laughter and the giggles have made the hard times seem not quite so hard and the sad times not quite so sad. I have discovered how to love God’s way through this journey and that despite differences in lifestyles and choices, He loves us all and the cross declares that every life matters. God has impressed on my heart an urgency to love people and love them well and to move when He says move. I have been challenged to “love the sinner and hate the sin” and have come face to face with “the least of these” and have learned that love is deeper than skin color. My house stays a wreck most of the time, but happy healthy little people live here! My family has grown physically by three precious additions through adoption and it takes my breath away that He chose me to be their mom. Life around here is loud and chaotic, but oh how He has blessed us! Life changed… for the BETTER!!!

untitled-design-2

 

God’s story never ends in ashes. ~ Elizabeth Elliott