That’s You–Tattooed in the Middle of God’s Hand

 

 

What’s the clearest, most solid physical difference between generations? I
believe it’s whether or not you have a tattoo. Tattooing is noticeably today’s most
identifiable cultural phenomenon. Most people in my age group (defined as
traditionalists or baby boomers) don’t quite get the astonishing display of tattoos worn
by other generations—the Millenials (my grandchildren’s age) or Generation Xers (my
children’s age). I admit it; I’m getting better but some of my opinions about tattoos have
been rather stereotypical.

I guess that explains why I was so astonished to discover that God has a tattoo!

Don’t believe me? Check it out. In the King James Version of the Bible, this
passage in Isaiah begins with the word “behold.” God speaks with emphasis, as if to
say: Come here; hear this. This is important. Pay attention. You are about to be
surprised at what I’m going to tell you. Isaiah recorded God Himself speaking and
wrote—I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands.

I met The Reverend Patricia Brock, Chaplain at the Southern Hills Medical
Center, on a day when she delivered the chapel meditation. I arrived early enough to
choose an unobtrusive seat along the wall; I wanted to be an observer. As service
started, nearly every seat filled with clinicians, hospital workers and volunteers.
Afterward, I asked Rev. Brock for her views about the spiritual side of healing. During
our conversation, she told me about God’s tattoo. A friend gave her a bookmark with
those words from Isaiah. “I needed to know that I am that close to God—that He loves
me that much,” she said. “Our hands say a great deal about us.”
So, God has a tattoo! And, just like everyone whose tattoo connects them with
someone they love or with something they favor, God’s tattoo is an image of you.

He placed it smack in the center of both His hands. Your image is engraved in the hollow
of God’s palms, on the flat of His hands. The Hebrew word in this passage, chaqaq,
means to cut in or to carve. Some translations refer to the imprint as being your name; I
prefer the interpretation that it’s an image of you.
In the midst of life’s challenges, our greatest fear is that God has forgotten us.
We fear that He doesn’t see the storms swirling around us. Do our storms even matter
to God? There you are, smack in the middle of a cyclone, and—like the disciples out on
the sea with Jesus—you wonder if the great God of the universe cares what happens to
you. Is He asleep? Is He preoccupied while you face a cataclysm?

The answer is in His tattoo: you are never out of God’s thoughts; you are
constantly on God’s mind. God says: Your image is ever before me because it is carved
on my hand. Your portrait is there, your imprint is permanent.

My son, Randy, has an amusing habit. Whenever he thinks he may forget
something important and doesn’t have a piece of paper, he writes a note to himself on
the palm of his hand. It may be a phone number, a short checklist, or even a sketch.
When Randy washes his hands, his notes are gone. But, you are not a temporary mark
on God’s hand; your image is perpetual, everlasting, enduring.

Know this: God has a wall of protection around you. This is evidence of how

precious you are to Him and the great affection He has for you. Not only does he place
His angels around us to guide us, but God Himself is our protection.

How comforting to know that, in all things, we are never, ever out of God’s sight or thoughts.

THE OPEN DOOR

Open Door

This is your year! God has plans for you to do great things in 2012.  These are the things He wants to accomplish through you.  The God Who is holy and true has set before you an open door.  Your job: take the first step; walk through the open door.  Entering in is both your spiritual privilege and opportunity.

During the Christmas holidays we had a family movie outing.  There were enough of us to fill an entire row at the theatre, plus one.  I think my son made the choice—Mission: Impossible, Ghost Protocol, starring Tom Cruise.  It was replete with explosions of the Kremlin and impossible, hold-your-breath-while-you-watch-this stunts on the skin of a superstructure in Dubai.  And, of course, the famous words:  “Your mission, should you choose to accept it…”

Today, God is speaking those words to you.  He has given you a mission; accomplishing it is your choice.

When you see that door before you, know this: He is the One who opens every door of opportunity.  Entering in means growing in grace, in passion for Christ, in commitment to doing His work in our world and in giving Him all of the glory.  Your door was opened by the God who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that you have ever asked of Him…or even imagined that He would do for you.  Your future is unlimited.

It is God who opens the hearts of all whose lives you are meant to touch.  He opens your mouth to utter what He gives you to say.  He unfolds your talents, like the petals of an unfurling flower. He opens your mind to create words or actions that heal and give hope.  With today’s technology, he opens the door to the world. It is breathtaking to look at the data of my Twitter followers and Facebook fan page and see people from Singapore, Pakistan, Canada, France, The Bahamas, Australia.

How marvelous are the opportunities on the other side of an open door.

When Christ opens the door, your adversaries (seen and unseen) may want to slam it in your face.  They have no power to do so. You didn’t have the strength to open it; God opened it for you.  It’s for YOU.  It’s your door.  And “what God has for you, it is for you.”  No one can shut the door.  No one can restrict your admission, they cannot remove or deny your privilege to walk right in.

He is absolutely sovereign.  That means He is God all by Himself…superior, absolute, completely in charge of door shutting and opening. The opportunities God gives are independent of the will of other people and irresistible to their power. The manner in which God opens and closes doors is untouched by anyone who wishes you a different future.  When you walk through your open door, you probably won’t even know that there has been someone who wanted to block your path.  It doesn’t matter; His plan completely overrides the power of any adversary.

Don’t let go of your dreams. As of right now, all doubt is demolished.  All of your fears are gone.  The limits that locked you out are unshackled.

The door is open wide.  The prayer on my lips today is this:  Lord, if you will, please, open whatever door is before us, allowing us to fully utilize our gifts.

I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no

one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept

my word and have not denied my name.                   

                                                                                      —Revelation 3:8    

WATCHMAN, WHAT OF THE NIGHT?

Living an hour and twenty minutes from O’Hare Airport was equivalent to being within shouting distance of a front-row seat to the world.  On the down side, it sometimes required setting the alarm for four a.m.  When we would awake, after a night of sleep—or, more often, a three to four hour nap—it was time to begin our journey.  A new day was dawning.  There was work to be done, places to go, people to see; time to get moving.  And miles to go before we sleep. 

Night.  Often it is a time of perplexity, fear and apprehension.  When is night returning?  The question recorded in Isaiah 21:11 asks of the watchman, or prophet, “what of the night?”  Watchman, what prophecy do you have about this night or the next morning?

Life is like that, a flow from one interlude to the next.  For some, a morning of youth and health is followed by a night of sickness or the infirmities of age.  A morning of the familiar may be followed by a night of change.  After a long sleep in the security of the familiar, life hands you a different agenda.  What is your hope in the new day that dawns?

Over the last two years, I have lived a life of transition.  I moved from a life in which all my questions were answered and the difficult prophecies were interpreted for me—to a new place.

My transition into a new life has actually been sequential.  The first year, I began the process of sorting my husband’s life’s work—his papers and writings.  I packed for a long-distance move and put my consulting business in temporary hiatus.  The “me” who loved jetting to D.C. for meetings at the Pentagon suddenly vanished.  I had a waning enthusiasm for being the feisty, independent entrepreneur I had been for twenty-five years. I needed a quiet place to sit and think.  Going to bed at night knowing people supported their families based on decisions I made had become burdensome.

The passing of my husband’s physical presence radically altered the landscape of my life.  Indeed, the spiritual climate of everything around me changed.  The night, the darkness, the change was a life without the priest of my house, the king of my family.

It had been my privilege to walk alongside a great man of God in the service of His people for forty-one years of ministry and fifty years of friendship.  His array of pulpit gifts were shining.  Even after the space of two years, I still contemplate how enormous, indeed, has been my loss. Knowing that I could call him or simply turn to him and ask him anything was comforting, sustaining and steadying. I knew that he was there.

His life was an epic—a golden tale woven by God Himself.  I am confident today that Floyd Prude’s marvelous gifts of preaching, teaching and leadership were directly connected to how much he was willing to give up for the cause of Christ.  He was willing to give up everything!  Jesus’ parable of the Pearl of Great Price (Matthew 13:45-46) had a profound influence on the ministry we shared.  We heard that passage preached eloquently many years ago by the late Dr. Kelly Miller Smith, Sr.

As someone who has loved the preached word since I was a teenager, I was blessed by our shared life; it was a great and marvelous experience.  Floyd was president of preaching.  As the angel of God’s church, the pulpit was his platform and he made it ring with the good news and glad tidings of God’s Word.  Above all, when he mounted the steps of the pulpit, paramount in his mind was that Christ be lifted up and that he would disappear.

He took preaching seriously.  In that sacred place, the holiness of the Lord would so shine through His presence was all one could see.  My prayer is to adopt Floyd’s legacy; if I am nothing, then Christ can be everything.

In this new space, I am honored to know that God still directs our affairs. He has seen fit to give me a new assignment.  For many years, at pastoral anniversary time, Walter Ingram would set the keys of the baby grand piano afire with sounds of the hymn, God of our fathers, whose Almighty hand.  God’s hand guides.

Isaiah recorded the question, “What of the night?” and the watchman’s answer was this:  “the morning comes, and also the night.”  You made it through the night without any harm.  The light of a new day is coming.  Nevertheless, there will be occasion for further inquiries.  We will need to continue to ask God what to do.

I have so many grave and solemn considerations at this time…and so many sublime and splendid recollections.  I’ve been given a universal message of healing, fearlessness and joy.  My job is to get it out to the universe.  Heal the world.  Change lives, reach millions of people.

We can face any night with the great words of Jude’s marvelous benediction:

24 Now unto Him who is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,

25To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.

THE LESSON OF THE DRESS

The Christmas following my sixteenth birthday, I bought the prettiest dress I have ever owned— off-the shoulder, silver lamé, tapered sleeves—it was the bomb.  Thanks to my sister, Lois, here it is.  She saved this photo of me coming down the stairs in our home in Ohio wearing my sparkling find.

Stronger than my memory of how I liked this dress is remembering an important life lesson from my mother.

It took me weeks to finish paying for that dress.  This was back in the day when every store had layaway. One day, I calculated the balance and realized I came up a little short. My strategy was pretty much limited to convincing my aunts and uncles to give me Christmas money instead of gifts.

That was also the year when I met the wonderful young man who became my husband and best friend for life.  Our friendship was the object of my lesson. We had been dating casually for about three months. In fact, in this picture, he was taking me to a Christmas party.

Silver lamé? At a teen house party, you ask?  Was I a little overdressed?  Maybe, but it was an early version of me being me.  Besides, that’s not the object of my story.

Suddenly, my problem was solved.  When I mentioned my intended purchase to my new friend, he offered the perfect solution.  He would give me the money as a Christmas gift.  After all, Floyd was one of a few friends with a job. He was two years older and had just graduated from high school; he had both a job and a cool car.

The mistake I made was sharing this marvelous plan with Mom.  Such a perfect idea.  It never occurred to me that my mother would object.  “No, I don’t think so,” she said.  “That is not appropriate at all.  I want you to know that a Lady never accepts money from someone who is not her husband.”

You had to have known Linnie Cordelia to visualize her stopping whatever she was doing at the time to stare at me—just pretend you can hear the emphasis she put on her words. Her answer was firm; she was serious.  This was non-negotiable.  I was a junior in high school, so, obviously, I was not considering marriage.  My mother’s answer, then, boiled down to one word:  No!

I grew to appreciate my mother for not missing this teaching moment.

The reason I begged my sister to dig out this picture was to remember that simple lesson.  It all came back because of news stories that have appeared since this summer about bright young college women, called “sugar babies,” who get tuition and bills paid by wealthy men, “sugar daddies.” The stories appeared on the television networks and in a riveting article by Amanda M. Fairbanks in The Huffington Post. A few young women spoke on camera with their identities protected.  They told stories that broke my heart, admitting how sad these arrangements have made them.

These cash-strapped young women obviously didn’t have a mother like mine to share important, pivotal lessons of character and Christian morals.  No one warned them of the potential for ultimate danger (violence, manipulation), the risks (physical, emotional and mental) or the high price (depression, low self-esteem) that they may eventually pay for finding a convenient financial solution in the wallet of an internet stranger.  In many cases, the stranger is probably someone else’s husband—but that’s another blog post about a much deeper moral issue.  They do not understand the danger of compromising standards that make them whole, balanced, strong and self-confident.

The missing lessons are what makes me sad.  It’s difficult for our children to know what the important standards are unless someone teaches them.  The mantra of too many young people today—and, sadly, for more than a few of their mothers—matches the lyrics of a song, “get all you can…and can all you get.”

One of my most astonishing moments as a pastor’s wife occurred when a woman spoke these words to me about her granddaughter:  “She has a boyfriend, and he is fine!”  It was as if that occurrence was the first and only thing that qualified her granddaughter as a legitimate person who was fulfilling her real purpose in life.  I resisted the urge to scream and fall out backwards.

Those of us who influence young people need to take advantage of every opportunity to teach them holiness.  We need to interject those small, gentle, timeless lessons of faith and values.

NIGHTSONG–HEARING GOD’S VOICE IN THE DARK

Nightsong

“Ye shall have a song, as in the night … and gladness of heart…
and the Lord shall cause his glorious voice to be heard…
Isaiah 30:29-30

How is it possible to encounter the will of God?  We so often pray…”Thy will be done.”  Yet, the words have little depth for us.  We repeat them mechanically and thoughtlessly, without any real consideration for their meaning.

Do we really allow God’s will to prevail in our lives?  More important, do we really want to know His will for us?

God speaks.

He tells us the path we are to take.  In order to hear Him, we must understand how He speaks and understand the Heavenly language that He uses.  We must know how to listen and what to listen for.  God speaks in the language of the Spirit. And, when we listen, we hear in our spirits.

One night, I was perplexed about what direction my work should take.  In the middle of that dark night, I fell to my knees, earnestly seeking God’s face. When I got back into bed, I fell asleep instantly; but, suddenly, as if someone had snapped their fingers, I was wide awake. I heard the audible voice of the Lord. It was articulate, rich, all-knowing; it was God. His voice was not outwardly perceptible within the room, but I heard Him in my spirit.  The communion was one of openness of spirit, Spirit to spirit.  I had found the door through which God enters our presence, communes with our thoughts, and personally speaks to us.  God comes and speaks at those moments when we are urgently pleading for an answer, when we are completely willing to hear.

I was not alone in the room that night when God spoke. My husband lay sleeping right beside me. Yet, I am the only one who heard that Voice.  It was almost like the Apostle Paul’s experience on the Damascus Road when he alone heard the Lord’s voice.  The reason is that the Voice addressed Paul’s spirit, and he heard God within.  So did I; He came for my specific situation.

What God said is this:  “Of all those born on the earth, you are the only one chosen to do this work. If you do not do it, it will not be done.”

In God’s eyes, we are each one-of-a-kind.  We each have only one life, only one opportunity to live in service to God and the people we are destined to help on this earth.  There is no one who can do exactly what you can do.

God never explained to me specifically what He wanted me to do, but whatever this special thing is—I am the one to do it.  And it is work.  This is not a gift He was giving me, but something I am giving to Him.

The startling thing about the Lord’s words to each of us is the uniqueness of who you are!  He chooses you for His work; He gives you the skills you need and expects you to bring all of your passion to the table.  Then, He reminds you that He has no one else in mind to do it. If you and I come up short, many people will miss something very special.

For every Christian, our work is to build up God’s Kingdom, to spread the good news of His love.  It is, expressly, to do God’s work in the universe.  To be God’s heart, hands, feet and voice.  Every day that we seek Him, we are asking Him to show us what that work is.

It is the Lord’s song in the night that empowers us for the task of tomorrow. May we never call it a night until our work is done.


CHOSEN FOR THE WORK

In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will,

Ephesians 1:11 NIV

There was a sudden sadness that I felt…as did so many others…when it was announced that Steve Jobs was leaving his post as Apple CEO.  How would Apple…trend-setter of so much that we enjoy today…get along without him?

Steve Jobs is known as a hands-on leader, pivotal in the decisions that made Apple one of the greatest companies of all time.  I appreciate his creative enthusiasm for Great Work, his commitment to his assignment on earth. I’m certain he felt somehow chosen to be the enormous influence on technology that he is.

Kate Harper, a gift designer in Berkeley, California, posted one of her designs on Facebook after the news. Kate presented a “free to steal” graphic of an inspiring Steve Jobs quote that deserves a prominent place near your work site. To me, if you’re not going to do Great Work, you’re shamming your gift.

The interesting thing about Great Work is that it keeps evolving.  If you’re like me, your assignment may change relevant to factors like timing and geography.

Whether you accomplish your life’s assignment using a violin, a stethoscope, a hammer and chisel or a computer keypad, do it with gusto.  Trust your instincts to know what your calling is and when you must accomplish it.  God is a terrific gift-Giver; He implanted within you all the necessary skills and resources. And also, He will provide the needed human connections and opportunities.

What impedes most of us are these two obstacles:  procrastination and fear of failure or embarrassment.  We stall, we delay, we put off starting a task we know we ought to do. We let treasured moments wane like fading rays of sunlight. We fear rejection of our ideas, terror at what others might say or do.

Sometimes our assignments look intimidating; that’s when we begin to catalog our impediments. We don’t have enough, we don’t know enough.  We’re too young, too old, too poor, too weak, too frail, too late, too busy, too unappreciated and life’s too short.  Our irrational fears may be confirmed if we listen to the assignment bullies. Their words are similar to those of Bildad, one of Job’s friends, when he lamented to Job:

for we were born only yesterday and know nothing,

and our days on earth are but a shadow.

Job 8:9 (Message Bible)

 

If I spoke to Steve Jobs, I would say this: at every stage in life, God has a plan and a path of His own choosing. Whatever that new path is, it is not a random one. With or without his famed creativity and visionary magician’s flare—if it involves work, whatever Steve Jobs does next will be above and beyond stellar. And I’d say I’m praying for his healing and strength.

May everything that the great God of the universe implanted in each of us be birthed in the Great Work we do. Touching lives, changing the world, creating genius, imagining the unimaginable and, like Steve Jobs, helping people do things they didn’t even know they wanted to do.

JOY IT’S NOT QUANTUM PHYSICS

Physics

This is not like a lesson in physics or quantum theory. It is, however, a lesson designed to show that the catalyst for our joy is a fundamental constant. How much joy we have depends on how much joy we want!

Most people think in the context that joy is like the weather. Our joy is either hot or cold, present or absent, on or off. We incorrectly assume that fixed external factors determine the scale of joy we experience.  We believe we have no personal, individual control over our joy.

We believe our joy results primarily from things like dollars in our wallets, the square footage of our homes, the cars in the garage, the carats in our diamonds, and other measures of apparent success. Not true.

Joy is something we regulate. Just like we turn the thermostat up to get more air conditioning in summer or more heat in winter, we can also adjust the amount of joy that we have in our lives at any given moment.

The dimension of joy is entirely up to you!

The degree of joy is all in your hands.

The magnitude of your joy is completely under your control.

The Word speaks to us definitively about the source of full joy. Jesus had an abundance of the Father’s joyfulness, and as we grow in Christ-likeness, we grow in His joy. These words, spoken about Jesus Christ by the Apostle Peter, quote the prophetic words of David recorded in Psalm 16:8-11.

Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance.—Acts 2:28

Life!  What a fascinating journey. Yet, unfortunately, too many of us listen to self-defeating words and discouragement. We are on the brink of experiencing the greatest deficit of joy that the world has ever known.  Why? Because we are so accustomed of seeking joy in external things. Continual joy comes only from continually practicing His presence in our everyday lives.

It’s time to get ready for your moment of unsurpassed joy! Can you sustain it? The goal is to make your joy last, not just for a moment—for a lifetime! In Christ, we enjoy God’s presence and favor forever.

With that level of joy, suddenly—anything is possible.

THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT

Butterfly-Effect

You are powerful! You exist to make a difference. You are an integral part of God’s plan for His universe.

In his New York Times best seller, The Butterfly Effect, author Andy Andrews explains how everything that we do sets something else in motion somewhere on the planet. As Andy describes in his tiny, illustrative book, everything you do matters. And not just for you, but for everyone—both now and for all of eternity.

Everything has a pivotal impact. Each decision you make. Every word you speak, action you take, and move you make has an impact on someone’s life. Andy is not just talking about how you shape the life of the person seated on the sofa next to you right now or the one working in the cubicle across the hall.  That someone—the recipient of your influence—might be half a world away or, perhaps, yet unborn.

What you do makes a difference.

I think you already knew that.  However, the realities presented in The Butterfly Effect will cause you to rethink how significantly you impact the universe. Andy unveils a wider, deeper, more global purpose for your existence. It is this depth of purpose you may not have completely understood. In this little 100-page book, with glossy pages and calming pictures, Andy goes on to say that you influence families, neighborhoods, ecosystems, businesses, technology, art, society…all of life.

Yes, I’m talking about YOU!

The theory of the butterfly effect is that the flapping of one butterfly in some part of the world can have a far-reaching, phenomenal impact somewhere else. Tiny changes in the atmosphere can alter the path of a tornado or cause a typhoon halfway around the globe.

As I contemplate that thought today, I’m intrigued by the possibilities of this ripple effect—how one seemingly insignificant that I do or say can affect a generation I may never meet. A word I speak may inspire a great artist. Or save a life. Or heal a broken heart. So, I guess that’s why I’m here.

In 2001 when the oncologist diagnosed my incredible fatigue, not as the result of overwork, but as stage 4 non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, I had a frank talk with the Lord.  It was an up close and personal, get down, “Jesus, I’ve-really-got-to-speak-with-You” conversation. I told God that I did not want my husband to have to do ministry without me. I was Floyd Prude’s helpmeet, his right arm. I was his sounding board, road dog, one-person support team;  you name it. “I love Heaven, Lord,” I said, “but I just can’t go now!” Yes, I heard the doctor. Of course, I knew how serious the diagnosis was. However, my response was to say to my body “By His stripes I am healed” and to my oncologist, “What kind of medicine do you have for this? Just give me some of it because I’ve got stuff to do!”

I know that God honored my determination to live and not die. He rewarded the claim I made on each healing scripture. Each day I literally rewrote Psalm 91:16  by changing the pronouns and putting myself in the passage, saying,  “With long life He will satisfy ME and show ME His salvation.” (I think I got that from Dodie Osteen so I want to give her credit.)

What occurs to me now is that I suppose it never occurred to me to include in my prayers the fact that, conversely, I didn’t want to minister without Floyd. I assumed a mutual continuity of our life together; that, of course, would be a given. Certainly, being a widow is not the future I had planned.

So today, I ponder where my butterfly wings will take me. He Who guides knows the answer. I must be here to shift something. You too.  Of all those born on the earth, you are the only one chosen to do some work. Let’s get it started. Go on; flap your wings.

Take a moment to watch this video on YouTube about Andy’s book here: http://bit.ly/kDm3PY

THE BIG QUESTION WE ALL WANT TO ASK GOD: WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO NOW?

You know, there are days when you just want to send God an email. Or a text message. Or ask Him to send you one! God, could you please leave me a yellow sticky note…You can put it anywhere. In the middle of my forehead would probably work.

The one clear certainty we all have is this: You are here to matter, to make a difference. You may not know for sure what your assignment is, but the one thing you’re confident of is that you have one. And, in that surety, you’re determined to shake your world, transform everything within your reach, and enlarge life abundantly within as wide a circle as you can touch.

So, what do you do when everything in life changes and you’re no longer certain how your assignment has shifted. Transitions occur in life—sometimes planned and sometimes not.

I’m more aware than ever how dynamically life’s changes can impact your view of your assignment. Our children grow up. Our parents grow older. Our jobs end. Our dream opportunities fade and fizzle. Our vision shifts. You no longer aspire to do what you thought you wanted to do.

Being passionate about how we respond to life’s changes begins with setting real, concrete goals.

1. Set a quiet moment for contemplative Bible study. God’s Word provides spiritual insight into how He directs our life’s work and our goals. Study both the Old Testament stories of spiritual direction and New Testament encouragements.

2. Ask God. Pray and seek His direction to lead you to the work He wants you to do. Your experiences, contacts, connections, open doors and current opportunities are all arrows pointing you in the right direction. You don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow or who you’re going to meet who will be instrumental in your life, but He does.

3. Dream your biggest dream for being God’s agent in our world. You have the power to energize your dreams; that’s a power that has already been given to you. Write down your dream goals and your target dates for achieving them.

4. Take into account and write down any obstacles you foresee. Ask God to remove or help you navigate around anything you feel will block your progress.

5. Start right now! Develop a plan for doing everything within your power. How many hours will you spend developing needed skills? How will you make yourself available for learning whatever is important? So, you want to write a book? Then, tie yourself to the computer chair with your bathrobe belt and write. Want to start a prison ministry? Who are the people you need to meet who can assist you or who can introduce you to the right connections in prisons?

God’s answer to my “what’s next” question is this. It’s the formula for “exceedingly abundant” living found in Paul’s letter to the church at Ephesus: God is able; you can’t even imagine how far He can take your dreams; get excited; go ahead and kick start the power that is already within you.

20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,

Ephesians 3:20 (King James Version)

KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON

Keep-Calm-Poster

KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON  – A 70 YEAR-OLD MESSAGE, REPOSITIONED

Today, we are facing so much.  You’ve been knocked down; you can’t pray. We have those hand-wringing moments when we cry: “Lord, this is bad. What am I going to do?” I call them spiritual panic attacks. What’s the solution? Let me offer six assurances that you can claim from the King of Kings, and a repositioned, timeless message from an earthly king and our friends across the Atlantic.

First, a quick story. One of my best travel memories is a trip to England with my friend, Fran.  Actually, to say that I traveled “with” her is a misnomer.  Passionate, dedicated, compulsive United flier that I am, the thought of racking up 8,000 miles that didn’t count towards elite flyer status struck panic in my heart.  I flew on United Airlines; we met in London.  After a stay at the Lowndes Hyatt, Belgravia (charming, very British, we could walk to Harrods!), we rented a car and drove off—no particular destination in mind.  We stumbled upon Castle Combe, called the prettiest village in England, and the posh Manor House.  In the middle of manicured grass was a helicopter pad. (So, now you know my travel motto is basically: if you can’t sleep in your own bed, don’t go downhill.)

As we drove across southern England, our last stop was a bed and breakfast in Selworthy, a village of thatched-roof cottages. We were fed hearty breakfasts of thick sausage, ate scones, and drank tea so strong it gave me palpitations. I grew to love the English people and the countryside.

Reminiscing about that trip is, perhaps, why this historic English poster so inspires me. Produced in 1939 by the British Ministry of Information, it was rediscovered in 2000 in a box of antiquities at a used book store.  The motivational theme—Keep Calm and Carry On—was intended as a morale-booster at the start of World War II, a succinct message from King George VI to his people. Facing impending wartime disaster, the insignia of George’s crown and the message were meant to instill courage, cheerfulness and resoluteness as a remedy for uncertainty.

What does the King of Kings have to say about our uncertain times? Here are the six assurances, based on the promises of God:

  1. You can trust the faithfulness of God.  Lamentations 3:22-23—Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”
  2. You can do great things if your vision is right. Peter walked on water—Matthew 14:22-31.
  3. Take your eyes off the chaos.  Keep Calm
  4. Get doubt out of the way; be courageous.  Carry On
  5. Keep focused on Jesus.
  6. Your ultimate victory is certain!  Jesus’ blood conquers every trial.  1 Corinthians 15:57—“But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Pray the promises of God’s Word! Plead them! Believe them!  What are your favorite promises?