Monday, April 25, 2016

How Big Is Your Storm?




          On May 30, 2013 this cloud was taking aim for Falls Creek Baptist Assembly. Located near Davis, OK, it is one of the largest youth camps in the nation. There were 4,500 children and sponsors attending one of the weeks set aside for 4th, 5th and 6th grade students from around the state. The local weather teams who make it their life's work to study storms and keep our citizens aware of danger had instructed those at Falls Creek to "get below ground."
          Can you imagine being at the camp, or even a parent or other relative, of one of these children. Oklahoma had just said good-bye to nine of our youngest citizens. And now...this.
          Personnel and volunteers are well-trained and prepared for this type of emergency and got word, through the news outlets, that the children were in structurally sound buildings. 
          But, still we prayed and requests were quickly shared through social media. 
          God heard. And He answered..
          The weather reports began to change. The super cell was "failing to organize" into what could have been another disaster for a state still reeling from May 19 and 20, 2013. 

"Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
  And He brought them out of their distresses.
  He caused the storm to be still...
  Let them give thanks to the Lord for His lovingkindness,
  And for His wonders to the sons of men!
  Let them extol Him also in the congregation of the people,
  And praise Him at the seat of the elders."
   (Psalm 107:28, 29a,31,32 NASB)

          There are more storms coming. Some in the form of tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes. Some in the form of men who seek to destroy and to weaken our faith.
          God is bigger. And He is our only hope, whatever the storm. 
          Should we do everything in our power to avoid the things that seek to destroy us? Be aware? Be prepared? The answer is obvious. 
          Regardless of the particular storm heading toward us, we must also:

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and
supplication with thanksgiving let your requests 
be made known to God.
And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, 
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
(Philippians 4:6,7 NASB)


     

 Photo by Mandy Kniskern, OKC




Photobucket

Friday, April 22, 2016

What It Feels Like When God is Waiting on You

No more than 6 column inches long, the magazine article told the story of an organization* that was working to change the lives of girls across the world by providing reusable sanitary supplies so that girls didn’t have to miss school because of their periods. The effort resonated with me because my own daughters were the age of the girls in the photo. And while my daughters started their lives across the world, it was by the grace of God that they would have all the supplies they ever needed. 

I cut out of the article and put it in my “In Box” to investigate later. But it was quickly buried in the paperwork of life.

A year later the article rose to the top of my pile. I re-read it and then spent some time researching the organization on-line. This is something I could do, this is something I should do. I learned what I could, enlisted the help of friends, got the support of our church, and made plans to take this effort to the next step.

I didn’t take that step. For the next year my path was averted as a family member's health took center stage in my life. My strong start was at a dead stop.

What’s it feel like when you know God’s waiting on you?

I knew that my priorities were right, that every ounce of my time and energy was needed at home. But I felt like I had failed God. Again. While I had no idea how long my situation would remain, God kept the goals of that organization on my mind and in my heart. Countless times I thought about it and wondered, Is this really a banner He wants me to carry for His kingdom? He was taking us along a different journey for the time being, but He was also letting me know that this would be waiting for me.

We’re so used to waiting on God that we forget that He waits for us.

Fast forward a year. Our family member's health crisis has eased, life is returning back to normal. I was asked if I would like to have a table promoting the project at church on Sunday morning. I was unsure. I had started and stopped once before. If I started again, could I commit to the work ahead?

Yes, God said. It’s time.

Then He gave me two pages of names on the sign-up sheets.

One month later, 28 sisters in Christ helped kick-off our compassion start-up. I looked around the room, praising God for all the heads bent over fabric, hands guiding scissors, eyes focused on the sewing machine needles moving up and down, laughter, new friendships, hearts beating in unison to help bring justice to His kingdom and change the lives of girls in Guatemala, then Zambia, then Nepal, then….







All I did was finally take that first step. I can take it from here, He tells me, you just keep up.

Thank you for waiting for me, Lord.

"Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him."
Isaiah 30:18



The organization?  It’s Days for Girls, an incredible network of volunteers across the US, Europe, and Australia, who work to create reusable menstrual kits for girls. Because keeping girls in school breaks the cycle of poverty. But without sanitary supplies, girls miss 5 days of school a month. Every reusable menstrual kit produced by Days for Girls volunteers changes the life of a girl. To learn more and find out how you can join the effort, visit www.daysforgirls.org.

For His Kingdom,

LuAnn Kern

Friday, April 15, 2016

Message In a Megaphone

“TELL HER IT’S NOT HER FAULT.”

The voice was insistent. “You will do this.” And there it was. I was commanded to deliver a message from God to a woman I had never met.


I approached her cautiously, driven by sheer obedience. I tapped her on the shoulder and looked into those sad eyes. “I’m sorry if this sounds weird but I’m supposed to tell you that it’s not your fault. I don’t know what it means but I know it’s something you are supposed to hear.” I walked away unsure of how the message was received. Did she think I was some kind of intrusive nutcase?

“I will praise you, O Lord, with my whole heart; I will tell of all your marvelous works…”

A short time later my curiosity gave out and I approached her again, this time with a question. “Are you ok?” In other words, have I offended you or crossed an invisible barrier and now you think I’m a weirdo? At that moment she wrapped her arms around me and held me. She whispered, “Thank you for being obedient.” It was all I needed to hear.

“And those who you know Your name will put their trust in You; for You, Lord have not forsaken those who seek you.” Psalm 9:1-10

Sometimes God uses a megaphone to get our attention. Sometimes He uses a doctor. Three days later I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease that was ravaging my body. After months of unsuccessful treatment the eventual result was a permanent and life-altering surgery. That was eight years ago. To this day I find it fascinating that God gave me such an important task when He knew exactly how much I would need Him in the months to come. Every time I start to feel like I'm drifting and can't hear the voice of God he reminds me that He's as close as a whisper...or a shout into a megaphone.

Quietly listening,
Sherry


Sunday, April 10, 2016

Up Close and Personal

See! The winter is past;
the rains are come and gone.
Flowers appear on the earth;
the season of singing has come.
Song of Solomon 2:11-12



Eye-boggling, extreme closeup photography of buds, blooms and bugs  leave me in awe. The clarity and beauty the photographers capture with their lenses cause me to slow down, look closer, and see each detail of God's creation.


And they inspire to pick up a camera and collect some close-up beauty myself.

Mere inches from the blossom, a one-inch masterpiece fills my viewfinder. Branches and limbs and leaves blur into a misty background as the subject becomes the full focus. With the right camera setting, the right lighting, and a still hand (the hardest part!), each detail scomes to life.

Has it occurred to you that that's how God sees each one of us?

You are but one single grain of sand in the expanse of earth's shores, one blurry star blending in with a multitude in the Milky Way. One blade of grass amidst an ocean of sod.



But when you call on God, He draws near to you.

He focuses on you.

Not a shadow shifts in His periphery when your face fills His eyes.

He sees each and every hair on your head - and with even clearer detail than the best camera.


He only has eyes for you.




For what great nation has a god as near to them
as the LORD our God is near to us
whenever we call on him?
Deuteronomy 4:7
Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.
James 4:8

And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers
that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow,
he will certainly care for you.
Matthew 6:30


Open your eyes to the Lord; let God fill your heart's viewfinder.
The closer you get to Him, the clearer He becomes. 
Peace, love, and blessing,
Cat
 









Scripture from the New International Version 
Originally posted April 4, 2012

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Awareness

This Easter season brought back many memories of when my three girls were young. Always on the lookout for new and different ways to have inexpensive fun, one year I came up with a plan. After the eggs had been hidden and looked for…stored without refrigeration so they could not safely be eaten…I decided they would do nicely in a demolition derby. At a nearby park, we knelt in a circle, each with a supply of eggs, and rolled them toward each other. Of course it created a mess, but also lots of laughter.

We all pitched in to help pick up the pieces.

One year at Easter we traveled to another town to visit family who had a small child. Eggs were dyed, hidden and found over the weekend, sometimes even in the apartment, and then came time for the demolition derby. We were on our knees in a circle on the lawn ready to begin when the young mother asked, “Won’t this make a mess?”

“Yes, but we can just pick it up.”

“How do you pick up liquid?”

The eggs had never been boiled.

Sometimes life is like that. We are unaware we are playing with eggs that are not hardboiled. It is up to us to become aware of potential messes that could occur.

For years I monitored my television viewing, my book reading and the movies I watched. I could name the authors I no longer read, movies I’ve walked out of and television shows I’ve turned off. But for the past few months I’ve been viewing my activities with a new set of eyes.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered eggs in my life that had never been boiled. Two events triggered my new awareness. One daughter and I started a study called The 40 Day Soul Fast, which asked pertinent questions. I didn’t care for some of my answers. The other probing event was when a different daughter seemed surprised at a certain television show I was watching. That’s when I began to see it with my new eyes.


I no longer watch it. And with my new filter, I’ve stopped watching several others.

How’s your awareness? Are your eggs boiled? Or do you have some sticky liquid messes that need cleaning?


“But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.” Hebrews 5:14 (ESV)


Thursday, March 31, 2016

Faith on a Wire


 

             I was one of the millions glued to the TV as Nick Wallenda prayed his way across the Grand Canyon a few years ago. For someone who has difficulty navigating a sidewalk (and freezes two feet off the ground if there is nothing to cling to), I cannot begin to imagine how anyone could do what he does; or why one would want to in the first place. He is the 7th generation of the “Flying Wallendas,” and no doubt toddled his way across a wire as a two year old. The microphone he wore, allowed us to listen to his father’s coaching and calm reassurance as he spoke softly into his son’s ear throughout the stunt. Clearly, Nick had been well trained and prepared. 
            From the moment he set foot on the wire, we heard Nick glorify God and his Son with praises, supplications, and adoration. He called on Jesus’ authority to calm the winds that were playing havoc with his lifeline, trusting in the same power that calmed the storm on the Sea of Galilee. We heard him put his life in God’s hands with the kind of faith that moves mountains.  


 No doubt, God expected Nick to do his part, using the brain and talent he gave him.  Practice, practice, and more practice. Yet I wondered, why would the God of the universe care about amazing stunts?  Of all the things a person could do to make a difference in the world, I cannot think of anything less helpful than walking on a high wire from one point to another. He could be running a soup kitchen for the poor, or serving as a missionary to a tribe on the top of a mountain if he liked high places that much. Yet God gave Nick this talent and placed him in the Wallenda clan.

Apparently, God hands out unique assignments to serve his purposes. Perhaps it is not about what we do, but what kind of faith we bring to what we do. Maybe the world needed to see and hear real faith in action – that “lay it all on the line for the Christ who captured my soul for all eternity” kind of faith. That must be the kind of commitment Jesus was talking about when he spoke of the worthy disciple who puts his hand to the tiller and does not look back. What would have happened to Wallenda’s walk across the Grand Canyon if he had glanced back, or down, or waivered?

            I do not think I can develop that kind of faith on my own; I can only pray humbly for it, believing with all my heart that God will answer my prayer. What would my life look like if every step I took on my daily journey were rooted in that trusting, surrendering faith? What amazing things could God accomplish through me if I clung to his Son as Nick Wallenda did as he put it all on the wire?  

When the disciples failed to cast out a demon, they asked Jesus why. He replied, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17:20 NKJV)
 


 

 

 

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