Kill The Chaos!

Chaos is disorder, confusion, and turmoil. Sometimes we cause our own chaos. Sometimes we are thrust—reluctantly and unexpectedly—into chaotic storms created by others.

Chaos blocks everyday spiritual growth! On our spiritual pathway towards peace, we must consciously resist chaos, refusing to allow it to invade our space. And, when we are protective of those we care about, we refuse to allow chaos to engulf their lives.

Today, I lift you up in finding and sharing this solitude of the soul! Come, step into the rhythm and quietness of that peculiar peace which only God offers. As we seek to kill chaos, I invite you to look at the world through what Dr. Gardner Taylor called “God-colored glasses.” Chaos evaporates when it encounters “God’s climate.”

I was privileged to hear Dr. Taylor deliver many sermons in person. Newsweek and Time named him one of the greatest preachers in the world. The New York Times called him the “lion of the pulpit.” He was unparalleled in delivering the Gospel, the Good News, the evangelion.

One day, several years ago, I got the idea of calling Concord Baptist Church in Brooklyn to ask about a particular sermon. I assumed the church had archived audiotapes of his messages. Dialing the number, I expected to reach a receptionist or answering device. Suddenly, on the other end of the phone, I heard that deep, booming, recognizable voice: “Concord, Taylor speaking!”

What?! Dr. Taylor? Answering the telephone? Too stunned to speak, confusion and utter shock set in. I hang up. Yes, I hung up on Gardner Calvin Taylor!

Despite the lingering embarrassment, I still find encouragement in Dr. Taylor’s works. He wrote: “Knowing God means, at least in part, seeing things as God sees them. Our lives must be grounded in an eternal purpose that even the fitful moods of earth otherwise cannot alter.”

That light of God’s love kills the chaos that brings ”a midnight” to our hearts. Dr. Taylor wrote: when “life is dark, murky, and foggy…This is not to say that God does not allow us our hot, fretful moods, when we pound the table before His presence, angry, feeling wronged… Our Calvary may be painful and lonely, our course rough and cruel, but God can and will heal our hurts and soothe our sorrows and turn our grief into glad hosannas.”

I have pounded the table some recently. When chaos comes sailing into your life out of some dark whirlwind, the response that kills chaos is Hope. Hope is a weapon of the soul. If chaos is a fire, Hope is the water hose. Slay it!

Kill The Chaos Post-Note

The above post is a column I wrote for the September, 2017, edition of “Nashville Christian Family.” (See www.christianfamilynashville.com) Because of the word length limit I was working on, I cut it short. For my blog readers, here is little more of how I want to encourage you.

Hope, for believers, is not merely wishful thinking. It means knowing that God is faithful, even in chaos. Hope is expecting God to fulfill all of His great promises. It is having confidence that His love will dispel every negative circumstance that paralyzes us.

Yes, bad things still happen to good people. Hope knows that God promises to right every wrong. Those with evil motives can accuse you falsely. Hope gives us strength to focus, even in chaotic times—not on how the situation looks at this moment, but upon the truth that God fights our every battle. He will have the last say.

When our faith is weak and the reason for our confidence seems gone, Hope is the solution we find in the Word. Hope guides when we don’t know what to do. Hope is the prize when it looks as if Satan, up to this moment, has won every victory.

Although David is not mentioned as the author of Psalm 42, it is distinctively his writing style. This psalm is addressed to the chief musician. I can think of nothing better to sing about than Hope for the hurt, troubled believer. When we find ourselves struggling with a crisis of courage, or with fear and doubt, this is indeed a song of deliverance. Hope in God!

Psalm 42:11 New Revised Standard Version
Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my help and my God.

This scripture is repeated in Psalm 42:5 and 43:5.

Quotes from Dr. Gardner C. Taylor are taken from: “Faith In The Fire: Wisdom for Life,” Taylor, Gardner C., Hay House, Inc. 2011

The Quietness of Saturday

iStock Photo by Vitanovski
iStock Photo by Vitanovski

Sandwiched between Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday is the stillness of soundless Saturday. There was nothing. No remarkable event. No cataclysm from the fingers of heavens, nothing like the Force that slashed the temple veil or turned high noon into midnight. God closed the curtains of heaven.

The tension was unmistakable. The atmosphere among Jesus’ followers was one of amazement. The One who cast out demons, raised the dead, and restored sight to blind eyes is now dead. It looked like Jesus’ enemies had won. Herod, the synagogue leaders, Pilate, the soldiers, and even the angry crowd that chose Barabbas…all appeared victorious. The ministry of the disciples seems to have ended on Calvary. No longer fishing for men, His disciples were not just absent. They frantically ran away. The crucifixion changed everything.

Don’t be surprised. We have all been there or will get there. When life hits “pause” and when our personal silent Saturdays come, there are no instructions for your next move. On Monday you have a job; on Wednesday it is gone. On Tuesday, you have a home, a car, a hefty retirement account, a stable income. On silent Saturday, you stand perplexed and ask, “What just happened?” The comfortable, familiar patterns of life suddenly evaporate.

Beyond today is tomorrow. After Saturday comes Sunday. Silent Saturday is only an interlude. In the performance of a significant piece of music, the “interlude” is the instrumental connecting passage. It gives harmony and melody to the composition. And so, in life, during the interlude, we wait for God’s connection.

The women who came to the grave, expecting to find a corpse, but they found an angelic messenger. A messenger awaited with words of hope and instruction.

Today is Saturday. I plan to just wait. Wait right here and see what God has to say about all of my tomorrows.

Faith Opens the Door to the Impossible

Are you ready to open the door of faith and unleash unlimited power in your life for 2015?

iStockPhoto by xImagination
iStockPhoto by xImagination

I will not pretend to know what’s in store for you—or even for me—in this sparkling third day of a brand new year. But one thing I know for certain. God has a great purpose for your life and for your accomplishments in the days ahead.

It’s natural to be apprehensive about the unknown. Will we have to cope with illness? Unemployment? A housing crisis? A financial crisis? Some unseen peril? Will there be life’s normal obstacles and barriers or a new set of them? Of course the answer to that question is: yes, there will be both. But what if we won’t know when to expect them? Will there be unfamiliar situations? Unknown enemies? Continue reading “Faith Opens the Door to the Impossible”

Your Dream Life Awaits

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.–Ephesians 3:20—NIV

The wonderful thing about reminiscing is that I marvel at wonders I’ve seen God perform in the lives of others. Like the remarkable, talented teen invited to the first church my husband served as pastor in Hendersonville, TN. She dramatized James Weldon Johnson’s “God’s Trombones.” Today she is known by just one name—Oprah.

God has a dream for you. Continue reading “Your Dream Life Awaits”

It’s Harvest Time

“May we never tire of doing what is good and right before the Lord

because in His season we shall bring in a great harvest

if we can just persist.”

—Galatians 6:9 The Voice

 

This is your season for doing great things for God. Harvest is a time for reaping the results of fertile growth. If we refuse to get weary or discouraged, we are recipients of the promise of a rich harvest. That yield grows up from seeds of persistence and motivation you’ve sown.

Paul wrote these words of encouragement for us today, not just in a letter to the church at Galatia nearly 2,000 years ago.  First, he had a warning. Watch out! Beware of the twin enemies of fatigue and exhaustion. Don’t get tired of doing good. Refuse to let low energy and lethargy to get in your way.

This morning, I woke up texting a loved one who was flying home from a business trip and a travel day that began at dawn. You know what that’s like. The alarm sounds at 4:00 a.m. and the journey to the airport takes place before the sun comes up. Long travel days require a buoyancy that normal workdays do not. We make those sacrifices in our personal or professional lives because we have a goal in mind—like launching a planned family vacation or attending a business conference.

Doing God’s work takes the same verve. I believe that the French call this kind of exuberance joie de vivre.

The “great harvest” God has for us is only visible according to His timetable. Whether that’s now or later doesn’t matter to me. God takes care of the “when.” It’s doing the work that counts.

This is your hour, your moment. God chose you for a special task. Your work is calling you! Someone is waiting for your touch, your action, your reach, your smile, your word. Your hand on their shoulder. Your cup of cold water on their lips.

All Things

Paul’s letter to the church in Rome has an important message about how life works.

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

—Romans 8:28

I’m not a good juggler. Are you? At the moment, I have so many possibilities in the air that some threaten to crash down, hitting me squarely on the head.  I’m juggling a maddening whirl of exciting opportunities. Work projects, looming writing deadlines, and a few self-imposed (should I say, self-inflicted?) prospects.

All the while, I’m comforted by Paul’s assertion about “all things.” Vision and reasoning point me to the opposite conclusion, but I see God’s Divine plan in my chaos.

Whenever I ask myself if it takes all this to get to success, I hear a sage voice which once said, no circumstances “are so great that they cannot be built into the very steps of the staircase by which souls mount up to heaven.” Sounds good. Lead me to the  staircase.

All things; that means everything is good. This heavenly math equation assures us that no evil has final power. God’s work in our lives results in only one possible outcome—what’s best for you. The only condition is your affection; as long as you love and trust, you come confidently to “all things.”

And so, if you are having one of those David vs. Goliath moments—facing giants and feeling over-matched by the sheer pressure of all you have to do, or if an unexpected circumstance has just caught you off-guard—remember this. He is moving you into your “all things” position and weaving every element together in your life.

Have you heard about autonomous drive? Nissan announced that, by 2020, they will pioneer the self-driven car. Working with global experts at top universities, the Nissan 360 program will introduce a car that steers, brakes and accelerates without any help from you.

God can do that right now. Get in the back seat; let Him drive. If you love Him, you’re in a splendid position.

What Do You Fear?

How many fears should you have? I believe the number should be zero.

According to WebMD, 19 million people in America experience phobias. A phobia is an intense, prevailing, irrational fear that leaves you powerless over your reactions. These extreme, life-altering feelings of anxiety aren’t diminished by telling yourself your fears simply don’t make sense.  If all 19 million have two fears, the total number of fears is close to 40 million. That’s a long way from zero.

“I will not fear though tens of thousands assail me on every side.”—Psalm 3:6, NIV

One fear many experience is aerophobia, fear of flying. It can be triggered by real experiences, like severe turbulence, or imagined ones. Earlier this summer I needed to travel from Nashville to Memphis for a conference and hated the thought of a 3-hour drive. Then, I discovered SeaPort Airlines.

I’ve been on jumbo jets but never anything as small as their fleet. Yet, it was a wonderful hassle-free experience that made my journey fantastic. Small plane, yes. Could I have reached out and tapped the pilot on the shoulder, sure. Boarding at the private airport in Memphis, a German traveler got on with a 2-liter Dr. Pepper. That’s how different it was. If there was ever a smidgeon of fear of flying small aircraft, it’s gone now.

There is a natural purpose for fear when it protects us from danger. The problem today is that people exist in perpetual fear; that’s not how God intended us to live.

When we are fearful, where is our confidence in God? Trusting Him involves refusing to let fear impact how we respond to people or situations. God demands complete trust and dependence.

There are 336 references to the word “fear” in the New International Version of the Bible, including stories of Biblical heroes melting in fear in the face of their enemies. Not so with David as he fled from his son, Absalom.  David commences Psalm 3 counting his enemies, but he concludes, in verse 8, by affirming, “Real help comes from God.” (Message Bible)

Cancel Fear with Faith

I want you to know today—I am praying for your healing and health. I proclaim the power of God’s Word and promises over you, even if I don’t know you by name…God does.

Woman-Meadow-FREE-iStock_000015438998Small
iStockphoto, Tom Fullum

Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.

—Proverbs 30:5 NIV

I don’t claim to understand why some are healed and some are not; what I know for sure is that God wants us to trust Him for healing. If I’m wrong about that, nothing else in the Word makes sense—but since I know I’m right, everything makes sense. As a believer completely healed of Stage 4 Non-Hodgkins lymphoma, I know that God still does the hard stuff.

He wants us healed and understands our interest in our healing not taking forever.

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.—Proverbs 13:12 NIV

The enemy’s words are always the opposite of what God says. And the enemy uses fear to block our healing and our blessings.  Be assured today that things are happening in the spiritual realm that we cannot see or measure. Consider, for example, what happened after Daniel prayed  (Daniel 6). In the lion’s den, lions acted like lambs. An angel of God gave them lockjaw—(look that up; it’s a real pathological ailment.)

I’m confident that everything God promised, everything He has ever said to me will be given to me.  I believe I will accomplish everything the Lord said about me. I believe I possess all that the Lord said that I have. This is the level of faith I claim for you.   Be confident;  your deliverance is on the way!

Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today…”—Exodus 14:13a, NIV

Reach up your right hand, at this very moment; allow God to take hold of you. This gesture is not about you holding God’s hand…for you might let Him go…but He will never let go of your hand.

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 NIV

So don’t be afraid. You are worth more than many sparrows, and sparrows, as small as they are, fear absolutely nothing. (Matthew 10:31 NIV)

Tell Them Your Story

Then Joshua told the people…your children will ask you why these rocks are here. Tell them “The Lord our God dried up the Jordan River so we could walk across….”  He wants everyone on earth to know how powerful he is. And he wants us to worship only him.

—Joshua 4:21-24, CEV

I knew a woman once who was not exceptionally talented; however, she was undoubtedly the best liar I have ever met. She could tell you something without flinching and absolutely none of it would be true. Consequently, I learned to discount anything I heard her say. And, I want you to know that I consider lying to be deceitful, dangerous and an unacceptable habit to develop. In fact, bogus stories can lead to great risk for everyone whose lives are touched by these fabrications. In the end, I came to realize that, if everything I discerned about this person was a hoax, I never really knew her at all.

Real stories, on the other hand, can be uplifting, healing and extremely helpful. Think of the best real stories that have been published in modern literature, like “The Perfect Storm.” Real stories can be a powerful form of communication that connects us to one another.

One of the reasons I am committed to writing a book about my healing from stage four cancer is that I want to document my journey for others. I am convinced that people don’t actually believe that God does the hard stuff anymore; I want them to know that He does. In fact I read an article recently that declared: stage four cancer cannot be cured, only treated. “Wait just a minute,” I said out loud (to no one). “Medical science has just declared me an impossibility.”

The power of sharing your true story is that it helps people understand that they are not alone. It becomes much easier for others to know for certain that, if the Lord provided an inexplicable miracle for me, He will do the same for you.

Scholar and author, Dr. Brené Brown teaches that the path to understanding involves being vulnerable about our imperfections.  As you tell your story, don’t be reluctant to show your warts. Don’t erase your experience “wrinkles” with emotional Botox; our faults and failures are what make us real.

Why not practice telling your personal story? Starting today, share the good news about how you are living out God’s purpose in the world. Someone needs to hear from you.

Wherever You Pitch Your Tent, Build an Altar

then he set up his tents and built an altar there to honor the God of Israel.

—Genesis 33:20, Contemporary English Version

One of the memorable songs of the Motown era—made famous by the Temptations—was a seventies tune with lyrics written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong, “Papa Was A Rolling Stone.”  It has been said that the extended instrumentation on the song is as famous as the vocals. The Temptations’ version is an enduring depiction of classic soul.  And soul music always tells a riveting story.

Remember the lyrics?

 Papa was a rollin’ stone

Wherever he laid his hat was his home

And when he died

All he left us was alone.”

 I have no idea who the writers had in mind as “Papa,” but on this we can agree:  there are better examples of family leadership. Personally, I have only lived in four different cities in my entire life. Three of those major, lifetime moves were guided by my late husband and life partner and were based upon God-given directions about ministry.

As a Biblical example, Jacob was a papa whose transitions were broad. Jacob was undisputedly one of the most unique individuals who ever lived. The Genesis account (chapters 31 to 33) describes one of the great transitions he engineered for himself and his family. Spiritually, he transitioned from being a trickster, swindler and cheat one day to becoming a Prince with God the next.

The King James Version and other translations say that Jacob named that altar in Shechem “El Elohe Israel” or “God, the Great God of Israel.”

I am creating my personal El Elohe Regina, celebrating God, the Great God of my own life. My personal altar is a place that will forever bring praise to God and allow me to celebrate the great work that He has done in my life and in the life of my family.

Whatever your ballad, whatever your story, be like Jacob and decide this:  wherever you pitch your tent, you just oughta build an altar.