Do You Want a Spark or a Flame?

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Are you just getting by, barely hanging on? Does it seem like life is tossing you back and forth like a ping-pong ball? Or perhaps it seems the enemy is constantly hanging around, discouraging you and lying in your ear, making you feel like you’re a big fat failure and you can’t do anything right.

My dear friends, keep going! Press on! Stand strong!

Does it seem like I’m yelling at you? I am! (But not in a bad way. Keep reading.)

When I was reading Scripture this morning, I found a note I’d written a long time ago, asking myself the question:

“Do you want a spark or a flame?”

I don’t know about you, but I want a flame. A big roaring flame! I want to set the world ablaze with all that God wants to do through me. I want to be bold. Obey. Stand strong. Press on. Reach and grab onto my heavenly Father with all that I’ve got and never let go.

And that’s what I want for YOU.  (See, that’s why I was “yelling.” 🙂 )

If you feel at odds with so many things in life right now, like you’re being squeezed, don’t let worldly worries suffocate you. Don’t let the enemy make you fearful or discourage you. Press in closer to God.

You see, a spark is nice. It can be the start of something powerful.

But a flame, well, the flame shines bright. The flame is God’s power working through you now. The flame refuses to back down because of the darkness. The flame does not fear the darkness but dispels it, disarming it.

The flame doesn’t whimper in the corner, fearing the darkness will overtake it or afraid of overstepping boundaries. The flame doesn’t pull back but pushes forward. The flame roars and is bold, swelling and growing because of the fresh wind of the Holy Spirit. The flame hushes only to listen to the voice of God and no other.

But you and I, we have to do our part. We have to be obedient. We have to seek God above all else. We have to fan the flame. We have to trust in the power, the direction of Almighty God, and not try to contain the flame He sets ablaze in our hearts out of fear of offending others or losing control.

When we give control of our lives over to God, surrendering it all to Him, that’s when the world will see Him in us. And that’s when He can use us powerfully.

“This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you. For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” (2 Timothy 1:6-7 NLT.)

“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in Heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16 NIV.)

(Photo from Pexels.)

 

 

A New Chapter

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When I was a little girl, I loved Christmas so much I’d sulk when it was over as I headed back to school. There was a vacant spot in our family room where the Christmas tree had been with a few abandoned pine needles stuck to the carpet and mere crumbs staring up at me from the bottom of the cookie jar. My young life seemed bare and gray without all the decorations and sugary goodness.

But now I’m a little more grown-up (a little!) and there is such excitement with a new year stretching out before me because I know the Author who is going to write the next chapter in my life, giving me the tiniest glimpse in the form of a single word to ponder and pray about. (And if I know anything about God, it’s that I will never know all there is to know about Him; that alone leaves me biting my bottom lip in anticipation and wide-eyed with wonder.)

I’ve learned that when I ask God to give me a clue about the upcoming year, I’m like a little girl again only I’m not wearing pigtails and I’m not waiting to shred wrapping paper to get to a new toy. Instead, I’m sitting on the edge of my seat, waiting to pounce on the “new” and follow God on some grand and amazing adventure.

Funny, the word “adventure” leads me right into this year’s word, but it’s important to look back because the words are connected just like the chapters in a book.

Previous words: obey, new, wisdom, hope, and perseverance. And last year’s word: bold.

I smile when I think about some of the things God called me to do last year and how I needed to be bold and rely on Him for His strength – start a women’s group, speak to two groups of ladies on the same day (yikes, I was nervous!), submit my novel to an amazing agent, preach, let go of the past, ask for more of God, loosen my overprotective-momma-bear grip on our daughter knowing God’s gentle touch is always going to be better, and start speaking up about things I don’t like and things I know God doesn’t want me doing. (I’m really not supposed to have a garden or a bakery; the little pig-tailed dreamer in me has her pouty lip out.)

As I began praying and asking God weeks ago in the middle of December for the next word, the chapter title for 2019, God whispered it so profoundly to my heart:

Journey.

Oh my, what a big word! It could mean anything, really. A spiritual journey, a physical journey, a journey of healing… The list could go on and on.

Thankfully, I don’t have to have it all figured out, but I know I’ll need to be bold (see how the words are connected!). And I know God will walk with me, step by step, into this new year as He and I set out on this journey together.

And really, my friends, there is no toy or cookie that could ever be as sweet as the excitement and anticipation of drawing close to God as we begin the new chapter He has for us, revealing the abundant life He’s planned all along.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV.)

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10 NASB.)

 

 

Wake Up and Live Courageously

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Are you living courageously, boldly? Or are you hiding in the corner of your life, hoping those vultures circling overhead will move on, peeling away those cold shadows they’ve covered you in?

What vultures?

Fear, doubt, shame, anger, regret…calling.

Wait a minute. How did “calling” get in there?

Perhaps that’s what terrifies you the most and is keeping you cowering in the corner with your face buried against the wall, your hands over your ears. Perhaps you can live with a little fear or regret but God’s calling on your life is daunting, terrifying, and brings about some serious panic attacks while you’re hunkering down, praying for this calling to pass and land on someone else.

But don’t you know your calling is where God wants you to shine?  Your calling is what you were born for, what He created you to do, and where you will live with unspeakable joy.

God has matched your life with your calling. All of your past experiences and your current struggles are about to collide with the future God has planned for you.  Perhaps it will cause such a shockwave, such a shaking, that it will be felt clear across the world.

Sound a little scary?

Don’t worry, my friend. God is with you.  You know He promised He will never leave you, and He never breaks a promise.  Never.  He is the solid core of your calling.

But maybe you’re looking back and seeing all the things you tried to do and failed: that college class you took and dropped, the job you quit after a month, the new bowling league or softball team. Maybe you’re even looking back at the way you worked so hard to plant a garden a few summers ago only to find little critters chewing the vines of your cantaloupes and testing every strawberry.  Perhaps you wondered, “Why can’t I do this?  Everyone else can.  I tried so hard.”

Why?  Because God doesn’t want you to be like everyone else. He wants you to be like His Son, Jesus:  obedient.  And that means obedient to your calling.

You see, your calling isn’t something you try just because everyone else is doing it or something you believe in because your neighbor’s brother’s nephew’s wife thinks you’d be good at it. And it’s not some vulture waiting to strike and pick you apart, leaving you shredded and desperate to return to the safety of your corner.

That would be the enemy trying to scare you off. Satan would rather see you trembling in the corner than living out God’s calling for your life and shining for Him. Remember, your calling could possibly shake the world.

So what exactly is your calling?

Your calling is God’s hand working in your life through your past and present and reaching out to you as He whispers, “This way.  Come see what I have for you.”

It’s time to take His hand. It’s time to wake up to your calling and live courageously.  And it’s time to wake up the world.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”  (Joshua 1:9 NIV.)

“He created each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.” (Ephesians 2:10 MSG.)

“The wicked man flees though no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion.” (Proverbs 28:1 NIV.)