Who am I?

Yesterday I turned down a job opportunity.  To be exact, my husband and I turned down the opportunity to minister in a new state, hundreds of miles away from where we are living now.  It’s something we have been praying about since February, and yesterday we officially said no.  I knew it was the right decision.  He knew it was the right decision.  And although I suppose I should have expected it, I wasn’t prepared for the attack that came at me after the phone call ended.

Backstory time…

As 2019 rolled around, my husband and I knew that God was preparing us for something new.  We knew that He was preparing us for the next thing.  When we got the invitation for this ministry opportunity, we couldn’t help but wonder if this was the new thing.  There was a nagging feeling; however, that it was not.  If it wasn’t, though, what was?  So, we kept hanging on, undecided.

Meanwhile, I was sick, sick, and sicker.  Currently, I am bed-ridden…well, couch-bound, I’d say, since I am spending my days on the couch instead of the bed.  haha.  I will be having surgery in 7 days (yes, I’m counting down), but until then, I am trapped, unproductive, not participating in life the way I would like, and in pain.

So, here I am, not attending church, not being “productive”, and not contributing to the world in the ways I would like to, and now I’m turning down an amazing opportunity in ministry.  I live to minister.  I love to minister.  I desire to minister.  And now I’m trapped on a couch and saying, “No, thank you,” to this opportunity before me.  What is happening?  Who am I?

Who am I?  That’s the exact question the enemy wanted to attack me with when the phone call ended.  If you aren’t going to go minister to these people; if you aren’t going to take this chance, then who are you?  If you are just going to be lying around on the couch doing nothing, then how can God even use you?  What difference can you even make?

This, my dear friends, is why we need to know what God has said about us.  10 days ago, I got a confirmation that the Lord was calling me to a higher level.  Just because I’ve said no to that specific chance does not mean it’s the end of my story.  It means God has a different plan for me.  There is a different assignment under my name and once I am healed and my training is complete, He will make sure that I am placed there.

I cannot allow the enemy to take captive my thoughts and pull me down now…not after all this time.  The Word tells me that I am to demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of Christ, and to take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.  It’s up to me to take captive my own thoughts and make them obedient to Christ.  Anything that tries to set itself against my knowledge of Christ has got to go!

So, today, if you feel yourself having any thoughts like me:  Who am I?  What difference can I make anyway?  How can God even use me?  Then I hope you will demolish those arguments, as well, and take captive your thoughts, too!  Satan wants to steal our hopes, destroy our ministries, and kill the people we love by having us neglect to do the ministry we were meant to do because we feel too crippled to do it.

Even from this couch, I can minister.  Even from where you are, so can you.  Take those thoughts captive and let’s get busy!  There are too many souls at stake and there are assignments out there with OUR names on them!

Called,

jamie

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The serving legacy

Have you been called to serve?  Do you find yourself serving in your church over and over again?  There could be a good reason for that.  Maybe it runs in the family.

I’ve been reading the first few chapters of Numbers.  This is where the Lord placed the Levites over the service of the care of the most holy things in the tabernacle of meeting.  When the Israelites were ready to move locations, Aaron and his sons would disassemble everything…the curtains, the utensils, the lamps…and then cover them.  They were the only ones allowed to touch the things inside.  After that, the Levites were the ones entrusted with carrying everything to the next location.  They were called for this purpose.

I believe that there are families today that are called in this same way.  Do you notice how some people just love to serve?  Have you seen some families that seem to always have a member that serves or is involved?  The church needs workers.  Things that go on at a church don’t happen by accident or without help.

My great-grandmother, Pearl Tolbert

My great-grandmother started a church that is still going strong to this day.  To its original church building, she would walk from her home, and light a fire in the old wood stove in the winters.  Sometimes, when it was extremely cold, people wouldn’t even show up, but she was ever-faithfully there.

My mother was often a teacher for one of my classes at church; and we sang in the church choir together for most of my life.  My father served on the church board up until my young adulthood; and, on the weekends, could almost always be found mowing grass or making repairs around the church.

On the flip side, I know a pastor who was not raised with Christian parents, but made the decision to live for and serve the Lord.  His son and grandson became pastors, as well.  His great-grandchildren are also growing up with hearts that love the Lord and a passion for serving.  Just because you don’t have the heritage behind you, doesn’t mean you can’t start one for the generations that will follow you!

The best thing you can do for your family is to serve with them, and to leave a legacy of service behind you.  I am grateful that I was born into a family of people who serve the Lord, but I am more grateful that I can show my children the way to serve Him.  Even if you don’t have children of your own, it’s those nieces and nephews, those cousins and young people around you that you can still influence.  Don’t ever think it doesn’t matter.  Just one servant decision at a time…it matters.

Serving with you,

jamie

Don’t start nothing

I was driving behind a van today sporting a bumper sticker that said, “Don’t start nothing, there won’t be nothing.”

This line is from the Men in Black movie, apparently, but struck such a chord with this motorist that they felt the need to add it to their vehicle’s decor.  I realized right away that the driver of this van did not want to be provoked, and if they felt they were, things could get ugly very quickly.

I couldn’t help but think that this is actually the way the world seems to be all around me now days.  People seem ready to strike out at the first hint of provocation.  And then this saying…it seems like a large population lives by this rule.  If others won’t mess with me we’ll be fine, but if they start something, then it’s on.

But can’t we do better?  What happened to turning the other cheek?  What happened to loving our enemies?  What happened to forgiving and looking over trespasses?  Jesus was literally hanging on a cross, being mocked, bleeding from his hands, feet, back, and head, and said, “Father, forgive them.”  But we say, “don’t start nothing, there won’t be nothing.”  Hmmm.  That just doesn’t sound right to me.

I don’t think we have to let people walk all over us or abuse us, but we also don’t have to always be ready to attack.  There are ways to say things that are kinder.  There are ways to say things that are calmer.  Sometimes it’s even ok to say nothing.  How about praying before we speak or react?  That’s still acceptable.  It’s not an old-fashioned concept.  It is Biblical.  God is still there on His throne offering grace and mercy in our times of need.  God is still handing out wisdom.

I really do think we can do better.  As Christians, I believe we should do better.  Not everyone is even trying to start something…we could start by realizing that.  After that, we could take an approach more like, “You start something, I end it.”  I tell my kids all the time that I don’t care who started it; they can be the one that ends it.  It’s all about choices.  I remind them that they, alone, are responsible for the choices they make.  I also remind them that 2 wrongs don’t make a right.

Let us be the ones that stand out from the crowd and don’t react with attacks and harsh answers.  Let us be the ones that end it before it even begins.  We can do better.

I’m ok with you,

jamie

Keep showing up

Acts 1:21-22: “Therefore, of these men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John to that day when He was taken up from us, one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection.”

When Jesus’ disciples were set to choose someone to take the place of Judas, these are the words they spoke.  They wanted someone who had been with them from the beginning and could attest to all that Jesus had done and said.  It needed to be someone who had been faithfully by their side along the journey, paying attention, and someone who could reveal Jesus’ true nature to others.  They then chose 2 men and left it up to God to make the final decision.

I’m compelled to say to someone this morning, keep serving.  Keep showing up.  Keep being faithful.

Matthias was not one of the original 12 disciples, but he was 1 of the leaders who spread the gospel of Jesus after the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost.  His role was pivotal.

Had he not spent his early years showing up, he would not have been qualified by the Lord.  Keep showing up.  The Lord sees you and knows you by name.  He is preparing a place for you.

Stay faithful,

jamie

Love your enemies, part 4

Pr. 15:18:  “A wrathful man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger allays contention.”

If you want to go back and read parts one, two, and three of this 4-part series, just click on those links and it will take you there.

Today’s topic is love.  “Behold, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.  He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”  1 John 4:7-8

God IS love!  And we love one another because love is of Him and we are born of Him and we know Him.  When we aren’t loving one another, then it’s an indicator than something is off in our relationship with God.  When we aren’t loving then something is wrong.

Vs. 10 says that God loved us so much that He sent His Son to be the sacrifice for our sins.  “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love on another.”  (vs. 11)

How do we love one another?  1 John 3:16-18 says, “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us.  And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.  But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?  …let us not love in word or tongue, but in deed and in truth.”

We show love by meeting each other’s needs when we can.  We love by our actions, not just by saying, “I love you.”  Meeting physical, emotional, and spiritual needs.  Love requires sacrifice.

Pr. 17:22:  “A merry heart does good, like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones.”  Some people’s bones have been dried through brokenness.  But we have the remedy for that.  Pr. 16:24 says, “Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.”

Perhaps we can be the one who gives health back to that person with the dried bones with our pleasant words and our love.  Also, those wrathful people who stir up strife…perhaps their bones have been dried up for a long time.  Perhaps they are hard, unyielding and rank, but it could be our love and our pleasant words that brings the sweetness and health back to their bones.

Pr. 17:14 says, “The beginning of strife is like releasing water; therefore stop contention before it starts.”  We all know that’s true.  Once it has begun it almost impossible to get it stopped.  Maybe we could be the ones that choose to trust God instead, allay contention, and simply choose love.

Again, we can only control what we do, not what other do, or how others react.  If they don’t react with kindness, then we react with forgiveness, yes?  If you’ve forgotten, go back and re-read the last few blogs at the links above.

I know this all goes against our fleshly, human-nature, but when we do what God has asked us to do, we can trust that He will have our back and see us through!  We have to believe it!

Believing we can do it, in Him!

jamie

Love

Love your enemies, part 3

Pr. 15:18:  “A wrathful man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger allays contention.”

Ok, if you haven’t read parts onetwo of this series, please go back and start there.  It will be worth it.  I promise.

So, the person (or people) who came to your mind when you first read this verse…do you still feel the same way about them?  I hope not.  However, let’s continue talking about what the Word says about how we, as Christians, are supposed to behave.

Eph. 4:31-32 tells us, “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.  And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”

Bitterness=resentment, Wrath=extreme anger, Clamor=loud, insistent protesting, Malice=the intention or desire to do evil

Those things need to be put away from us.  Like away.  Not set to the side for us to pull out when we feel hurt again, but put away as in gone.  Imagine a box where we lock the scary things we don’t want to let out.

Instead, we bring out our kindness, our tenderheartedness (compassionate feelings), and our forgiveness.  Now it goes on to say that we should forgive as Christ forgave us.

How did Christ forgive us?  This way:  Dying on cross; flesh ripped and torn.  Naked and bruised, with blood dripping.  Thirsty and alone; forsaken by His own Father.  Spat upon and mocked.  Yet, He cried out in the midst of all that…in that exact moment of His torment, “Father, forgive them.”

And we hold a grudge when someone steals our parking spot.  We can’t get over the fact that someone raised their voice to us 3 months ago.  Well, you don’t know what they’ve done to me!  “Don’t you remember what he said to me?”  You’ve never been through anything like that!

“Father, forgive them.”

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”  Col. 3:12

It’s a choice.  Each day when we get up, we need to put these things on.  If they slide off during the day, we need pull them back up!  We are God’s chosen people…holy and dearly loved.  We need to act like it!         **I’m not talking to the other people around you.  I’m talking to you!  You can only control you!  I can only control me!**

Join me tomorrow for part 4!  Until then…

forgive them,

jamie

Love your enemies, part 2

Pr. 15:18:  “A wrathful man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger allays contention.”

In yesterday’s blog, I asked this question: if someone who has hurt you needs prayer will you pray for them?

When you or someone you love has a serious prayer need in your life don’t you desire compassion and aren’t you seeking for people to pray for you?  Most of us are.

Now, say that the wrathful person you envisioned in this verse has a prayer need.  Are you going to take time to pray for them?  If someone who has previously injured you in some way now needs prayer, will you pray for them?

What was it that Jesus told us in Mt. 5:44-45?  Get ready for it…

But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons [and daughters] of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust.”

Jesus said we should love our enemies.  Not only that, but we should bless those who curse us and do good to those who hate us.  Also, we should pray for those who spitefully use us and persecute us.  Why?  So we may be sons and daughters of our Father in heaven.  He makes us all, loves us all, and according to John 3:16, died for us all.

I have a testimony not meant for a blog, but the Lord once asked me to pray for someone who had seriously injured me.  It seemed like an unreasonable request, considering the pain this person had caused me, and although I initially argued with God (in the pew at church), I eventually gave in.  Once I did, I was lifted of a burden in a way I never could have imagined.

The Lord freed ME of anger…freed ME of unforgiveness…freed ME of pain and bitterness.  I am much more equipped to forgive now than I was before, and I am so thankful for the freedom the Lord gave me when I trusted Him enough to do as He commanded. 

We cannot control what the people around us do.  All we can control is what we choose to do.  We can choose to trust the Lord enough to follow His Word and do as He commanded.

Just like He showed me…there are great rewards in store when we do!

Give it a shot!

jamie

Love your Enemies, part 3

Love your Enemies, part 4