About Me

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

RED BASKET SERVANT

God called me to be a Red basket servant. 
Yes one of those
red plastic baskets some restaurants use to serve fries, chips, and chicken wings?
Let me explain.
As I stormed the gates of heaven begging God to use me, He showed me a picture in my head of a red basket with some pita bread, broken into pieces. 
The image made me hungry-sorry Lord.
The Spirit impressed upon my heart, You are the basket...my servant, always be prepared. Now go to the Bible and study both stories of Jesus feeding the multitudes.

I opened my Bible, after I had a snack.
I read:
Mathew 14:10-21 The story of Jesus feeding the 5000 after the beheading of his cousin, John the Baptist.
Jesus was heartbroken. He tried to go to a desolate place by himself but He was followed by people who wanted to be healed.  He had compassion on them, He healed them and then fed them.
Mathew 15:29-39  Jesus was on a mountain healing many. He was joyful; the people glorified the God of Israel because of all the miracles.  Then Jesus fed them.

As I compared these two stories the Spirit echoed in my heart,
Like Jesus, I will use you to feed many. Whether you are in physical or emotional pain, in a desolate place, or on a mountain top, filled with joy.  No matter the circumstance, you are my servant. I will use you when I want and how I want. Always be prepared.
I thought of the red plastic basket in my vision.  It has no great value, but it held bread, the sustenance of life.
I hold The Word of God in my head and heart, which can nourish many.  

God tests me as His Red Basket Servant.  
He has called me to serve out of fear, pain and joy.

At times I'm so weak and tired, I don't want to minister to anyone.  I want someone to minister to me.
Have you ever felt like that?
God reminds me that I'm a Red Basket Servant and it's His Spirit that empowers me to serve, no matter how much pain I'm in.
I have served reluctantly, but God changes my heart when I see how He is glorified through my obedience.

My favorite Red Basket moments are when God uses me to encourage a group of ladies. I love to teach the Word and serve God in this capacity. I am so excited when I observe the Spirit change someone's countenance from sorrow to joy.

No matter when or where I serve, my Savior reminds me that I serve in His power, for His glory.   

We are all Red Basket Servants, called to be broken and used by our Master, when and where He desires.


At times I feel more like a basket case than a Red Basket Servant.
God reminds me that He loves me no matter what.
We get to serve the King of the Universe.
Please share with me how God has used you as His Red Basket Servant. 
Don't be shy, join the conversation.
It's all for His glory.
Praise His holy name.


Monday, October 16, 2017

What did I say wrong this time?

"Christians are hypocrites!" my friend said.
"We can be," I replied. "We are not perfect, and will mess up."
"I can't believe in a God or a religion that allows so much evil, the babies, animals being tortured, death....I just can't believe a god would just watch and not do anything," she said.
As we sat at my kitchen table, she continued.
"My other religious friend sends me all this stuff. about Jesus. I don't read it and I don't like it."
"There is a difference between a religion and a relationship with Jesus. Religion in man's way to God, Jesus is Gods way, through a relationship. Jesus died on the cross so we can now have access to God" I said.
"I can't believe in your religion!"
My heart broke. I want my friend to know the love and peace of Jesus.
She keeps calling my relationship a religion. I know she does not understand.
After many months and conversations, prompted by her questions about the origin of sin, Jesus' life, and the fall of man, she still replied,
"I can't believe in your religion!"
 I looked her in the eye,
"Can you do one thing and I will never mention this again?"
"Depends on what it is," she replied.
"Jesus is a historical figure. He claimed to be God and proved it by dying on the cross, being buried and rising from the dead. This event is recorded by historians that were not believers. His resurrection was witnessed by over 3000 people. Please ask yourself the following question, 'Who is Jesus and what am I going to do with that information?'"
My friend shrugged her shoulders, looked at me and said, "May I have some more soup."
Recently she has heard other born-again believers say things like,
"Christians are held to a higher standard than non-believers."
"God hates gays."
"God is mad at all those people so he sent the hurricane to punish them."
As my brothers and sisters in Christ, may I ask you a question? Should we say these things?
Will non-believers want to know our loving God when His children talk like this?
I've been guilty of building a wall, instead of building a bridge.(tweet this)
I pray daily, sometimes all day, for God to cultivate my friend's heart to receive the Word. 
I ask God to show me what I may say or do that hinders her from seeing HIM.
I know it is God who calls and saves, but I desire to be a light that reflects the love of God into her life.

My friend has some good questions.
How would you answer my friend?
Will you join me in prayer and ask God for wisdom and discernment when speaking to others?




Monday, September 25, 2017

FEAR OF FAILURE VS. FEAR OF SUCCESS

Fear paralyzed me. I didn’t want to disappoint God or others. As a new writer, I was catapulted into the literary world. My first job was writing a column for an online website. One month later I was asked to be the managing editor of that website. I knew nothing about uploading articles and graphics. The founder of the site, also a literary agent believed in me and taught me the basics. I’m still learning how to navigate the site, but I’m more confident.
One year into my job, I became a submissions reader, responsible for forwarding book proposals to the agent and sending pass letters for those that did not meet the requirements. Now I’m a junior literary agent, all in less than two years. My knees are shaking, and my stomach is in my throat because I don’t want to fail God or my clients.

Fear of failure is not a new feeling for me. Life is filled with failure. School, relationships, jobs. I expect to fail, especially when I try something new.
 Through the Word of God, I learned I could overcome any obstacle because I have the power of Christ in me. So why do I fear?
As a child, my biological father told me I would amount to nothing. He was abusive and called me an animal. If my earthly father did not believe in me why would a holy God? I had a mindset to always expect failure.
 I wrestled daily with the truth of the Word. The lies I believed were deeply rooted. The Word took hold in my heart and destroyed the lies.  The transformation did not happen overnight.
How did the fear dissolve?
 I recited these verses daily.

“even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.” Ephesians 1:4 ESV

“Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.” Psalm 139:16

I said to myself, If God chose me before the foundations of the world to be holy and blameless knowing everything I’ve done and will do, salvation has nothing to do with my works. He must truly love me. The shackles loosened and fear of failure dissipated.
I believe the Word and know I have the power to overcome. God proves Himself faithful over and over.
Gods power in me conquered the fear to speak, teach, write, and go places I never thought I could.
He led me to Honduras, Togo, Africa, the dark streets of the inner city, and speaking platforms. The fear of failure was gone, or so I thought. God had another lesson for me.
People would say I’m successful. I teach at writer’s conferences, ladies retreats, and small business’.  I acknowledge that only God can enable me to accomplish these tasks. I claim this verse daily.
 “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” (2 Peter 1:3 NIV)
When I looked at what God was doing in and through me, I got frightened. I feared success.
Questions whirled through my head,
What if I don’t want the spotlight on me?
What if someone in the audience confronts me with opposing views?
Will success make me prideful?
Will I fail God or someone I love?
I pondered these questions and realized— fear of success is fear of failure wrapped in a pretty package of pride. (click to tweet)
 If I truly believe God’s power works in and through me, how can I fail? If I operate in the Spirit and give God all the glory, fear should be eradicated, right? 

“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7 KJV)
“I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13 NIV

Pride tried to control me again. I ministered in my power, and the fear returned. I looked to my inability and not to God’s perfect ability in me. I put pleasing people ahead of pleasing God. I wanted man's acceptance more than my Heavenly Fathers.
I demanded perfection from myself so that I wouldn’t fail God or people. When I did make a mistake, I would beat myself up.

“Forgive me, Lord for taking over again. Help me draw on your power.”
I realized that my fear, no matter how pretty the package it’s wrapped in, is distrust in God and His promises.
God has called each of us for a purpose,
 “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10 ESV)
He will help us accomplish the work he has ordained for us.
I have the following verse hanging in my office to remind me that God empowers me, I need not fear failure or success.
 “Be strong and courageous and get to work. Don’t be frightened by the size of the task, for the Lord my God is with you; he will not forsake you. He will see to it that everything is finished correctly. 1 Chronicles 28:20 TLB
Do you fear failure or success? God’s perfect love drives out all fear. Will you join me in trusting Gods Word when fear rear’s it’s ugly head? 
Join the conversation.


Tuesday, September 5, 2017

WHEN CHURCH HURTS-MENTAL ILLNESS AND THE BELIEVER

"Christians should NEVER be depressed." a friend said to me.
"Yes, we have the mind of Christ." I foolishly agreed.
Then mental illness hit close to home.
I became depressed. Nothing helped. Prayer, confession, praise, not even memorizing the Word of God lifted the cloud completely. 
I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, which affects serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin can affect mood and social behavior, appetite, and digestion, sleep, memory and function.
My mind of Christ was clouded and confused.
I was prescribed a serotonin reuptake inhibitor and feel much better.
If I don't take care of myself, Depression takes over.
I'm in the Word daily, sing praise songs, pray to my Abba continually, and I eat healthier foods. This keeps me focused and joyful.
I know many believers who have fibromyalgia or another illness that affects their mood and mind.

Last week, I drove a dear friend to the hospital, she had suicidal thoughts and was very depressed. She was told her Depakote or Valporic Acid levels were severely low.
Her medications were adjusted and now she feels fine.
She loves Jesus with all her heart.  She fights her bipolar illness with prayer, meditation, and memorizing the Word. 

Two churches shunned her because they found out about her diagnosis. She left the churches heartbroken, feeling ashamed.
I have seen this dear friend lead others to Christ, sacrifice her last meal for someone, and drive miles out of the way to give rides to those without cars. She is a powerful prayer warrior and miracles happen around her.
Mental illness seems to be a taboo subject in many churches. If a person walks in with cancer, diabetes, or any other illness or disease no one questions. 
Mental illness seems to throw some believers into a tailspin.
They don't know how to react. I did not understand it until It affected my life.
The Bible is not silent about mental illness.
David, a man after God's own heart, was depressed.
Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me?  Psalm 43:5 NIV
The psalmist wrote is the psalms of Asaph
My body and mind may waste away,
    but God remains the foundation of my life
 and my inheritance forever. Psalm 73:26 GW


Any illness is caused by the fall, including mental illness. A disease does not just attack the body and leave the brain alone- it attacks everything.
"When Adam and Eve exercised their free will and chose to sin against God, the world was affected forever.
I no longer believe the lie that Christians are immune to mental illness.
I know God can instantly heal if it is His will. He may also choose to wait until we get to Heaven.
Meanwhile, I pray that I will be loving and kind to those who suffer in silence.
May I be a testimony of God's power and grace as I cling to His Word & prayer.

Do you know someone who suffers from a mental illness?
What do you think about mental illness and the believer?
Join the conversation.


Monday, August 28, 2017

Birthday Celebration with David Brannock

Does God Ever Speak to You in Unusual Ways?
Lord, I Wish to Speak to You
“Lord, I need to speak to you. Now!”
June 2011     Lake Junaluska, North Carolina
A swift stride set the cadence for an afternoon walk around the lake. My mental screen flickered to life. Deep disappointments and hurts played like an old movie I’d watched so often I could quote every line. While the credits rolled, I peppered God with questions like Job.
During my cross-examination, I reminded God of a few things. (As if the Lord forgets). I went to seminary convinced God’s call was to nontraditional ministry. Yet, the system disregarded my heart’s desire and threw me into its pulpit pipeline.
Then left me in congregational leadership for 17 years.
Pastoral ministry was like treading water without a life vest in the middle of a large lake. In response to the pull and tug of endless demands, I churned 55-70 hours a week. Every week.
Sometimes a friendly voice shouted from the shore, “Slow down. Take care of yourself.” But their advice didn’t alleviate the fear that if my arms and legs stopped moving, I’d sink. Which sermon, event, project, meeting, funeral, surgery, or crisis can preachers realistically skip without a whirlpool of complaints yanking them down? No generally accepted standards exist to say when a minister has done enough.
What Do You Say, Lord?
My rant continued until I neared the wooden one-lane bridge over the lake dam.  An invisible Hand turned my head toward a car moving away from me. Its tires began to thump thump thump over the planks of the bridge.
The only thing I noticed about that car was the personalized North Carolina license plate. I stopped and stared until it reached the other side.
TRUST.
Our God is an awesome God. Normally the Lord speaks to us through the Bible. But on this occasion, God orchestrated events so that particular license plate would grab my attention at precisely the right moment.
The Lord invited me to renew my commitment. TRUST.
Lord, Help Us Fulfill Our Mutual Desires
August 2017    
Cherrilynn and I celebrate our birthdays this month. When God knit you and me together in our mothers’ wombs (see Psalm 139:13), I believe our Creator tucked certain desires into our hearts. God placed in me the strong desire to write. Ever since I wrote my first “book” at age seven, I’ve enjoyed creating and sharing stories.
TRUST. A year after that walk around the North Carolina lake, God led me out of pastoral ministry to write and speak full-time. The years I spent crafting church announcements, articles, and sermons prepared me well for this new role.
TRUST. God is faithful. The Lord wants you and me to fulfill the desires He personally placed within our hearts. God’s plans for us don’t include leaving us to drown in a sea of despair.
To encourage you, may Lauren Daigle’s song “Trust in You” boost your faith today.
What unusual signs or ways has God used to speak to you?   

David Brannock is a clear writer and speaker who loves using analogies and teaching new perspectives. He previously worked as a CPA, instructor, and pastor. David’s current projects involve writing drama for stage and screen. Visit him at DavidBrannock.com.


Monday, August 21, 2017

BIRTHDAY MONTH CELEBRATION-Heather Bock

Welcome, Heather. Thank you for helping me celebrate my birthday month. Please share one of your favorite stories.

My youngest, JP, will be four on Friday. He’s no baby anymore, but he is limited in certain areas in comparison to his oldest sibling, Mr. C, who is eight and a half. Mr. C doesn’t torment him too much (not as much as he has his sister), but Mr. C has been known to wield his size as power against his little brother to tickle him or take a toy he’s afraid JP will break or lose.
The other day, JP found a fun way to turn the tables on his big brother. We have a long, skinny plastic stick, from the end of which hangs a long, skinny piece of colorful fleece, which can be whipped around to make our cat pounce or jump flips in the air if he’s feeling particularly frisky (not often anymore, now that he’s thirteen). Well, JP found this stick and decided it would be fun to run around the house after his brother with it. I’m not sure if he was hitting his brother with it or just taunting him, but Mr. C was running away, yelling–a very satisfying experience for an almost four year old boy.
As soon as I saw what was happening, I took the weapon away from my young son and put it where he couldn’t reach it (or find it again). He instantly began screaming, to Mr. C’s (and my) amusement: “I want my power back!! I want my power back!!!” He was pretending the stick was some kind of magic wand, which it kind of was, as it wondrously made his brother run.
It made me start to think. What is my power–my magical stick that I use to make my family do what I want them to do? Because when they are out of my control, anger can quickly rise, making me scream in my heart, “I want my power back!” I’ve used positive strategies as small power over my kids, like sticker charts and other reward motivators. I’ve praised them for good behavior, a less expensive prize. I’ve set up fairly consistent consequences for wrong behavior, like taking away toys or screen time or requiring them to do something undesirable. For the most part, these have been pretty healthy ways of wielding power over my children.
However, when I hear Little E, my six year old girl, spout sarcasm when she disapproves of something her brothers (or I) have done, I realize I’ve also used guilt trips, a very unhealthy but temporarily effective magic stick, as power. The ugliness of it coming from my daughter makes me see it for what it is: just a stick used as a weapon.
Others may use alternate unhealthy methods of gaining power: silent treatment, cutting words, unforgiveness, physical force, withdrawal, bribes (close to but different from incentives), threats, screaming, etc. I’m sure more exist than these. We might even be using some of these against spouses, parents, or friends. Of course, we notice them the most when they’re used against us.
I want my own Father to gently take my power stick out of my hands and place it out of reach. I think He would rather I put it in His hands myself–I know I wish JP would have done that of his own accord (as if that would ever happen). We should definitely have some healthy power over our children in well-thought-out ways, but I hope realizing we aren’t in complete control and God is, will help us surrender our unhealthy ways of gaining power.
How about you? What kinds of magic power sticks have you seen used?

Monday, August 14, 2017

CELEBRATING MY JUBILEE-GUEST POST- LAUREN CREW

Lauren, Happy Birthday! Thank you for your wisdom and insight. Let's welcome Lauren.


Cherrilynn and I share the same birthday month, so I am celebrating right along with her.  I’m approaching a pretty big birthday. I’m turning 50! If I have the typical lifespan, I’ll be dead in 31 years. 50 seemed so old.  Of course, my perspective has changed the faster this date hurdles towards me.
One thing that hasn’t changed in my almost fifty years is my insecurity. When Cherrilynn invited me to write for her blog, my mind immediately began churning the reminders that I’m new at this writing business. I’m also a teacher, and my writing is, well, teachery. It doesn’t have the music and rhythm of others. It is so easy to turn my back on fifty and embrace the insecurities of fifteen! 
At 50, I find myself teetering on the brink of a grand canyon named “God’s calling,” and these insecurities are my last foothold.
I knew my spiritual gift was teaching, and I love teaching, but I never imagined how God would use it. Then one day I felt God nudging me to Joshua 1:7-9.
Be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the law…do not turn from it to the right or the left, so that you may have success wherever you go.  This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth… be careful to do according to all that is written in it… then you will have success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. (NASB)
As I read those words, I felt his spirit wash over me, and deep within I heard God whisper, “Teach my Word.” 
I’d love to tell you I immediately started a ministry that rivals Beth Moore. Instead, we moved, I completed seminary, returned to the workforce, my marriage was seriously tested, and my teenager rebelled. Through it all, I continued to teach and learn, and fulfill God’s call the best I could. Now, however, he is pushing me into areas I’ve never dreamed of, and I catch myself asking, “That God, you want me to do that? Are you sure?
How do we know we are truly hearing from God? Crazy people say, “God is speaking to me.” Before I jump, I want to confirm I’m correctly hearing from him. After all, he encourages us to sift through everything carefully. So, how can we be sure we are stepping out in faith and not pitching ourselves headfirst into an abyss of distraction or defeat? 

Feelings can be misleading, but when our feelings align with the word of God they are valid. 

 Proverbs 16:1-3 reminds us, the plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.

 It is important to weigh the prodding of our heart against God’s word.

Watch to see if God is encouraging a decision through scripture. Have you ever dwelled on a verse or scriptural teaching and it begins to appear everywhere? Cherrilynn and I were discussing the importance of shedding our inadequacies, so we can better serve God, and not minutes later this verse jumped out at me during my quiet time.  2 Corinthians 3:5-6 Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God…  And guess what topic is filling the blogosphere this week? The crippling effect of feeling inadequate!

Do you feel unqualified? Good! We share company with Joseph, Moses, Rahab, David, Jeremiah, Paul, and so many more. God does not pick the qualified he picks the unqualified, so we will completely depend on him. His power is perfected in our weakness (2 Corin. 12:9).


Is God answering prayers in ways you could never dream? In February, I attended a writer’s conference, and my only prayer was to have one appointment with someone who would be willing to help me understand this unknown world of writing. The whole weekend was a divine appointment with twelve requests for my manuscript, winning twice in a writing contest, meeting a network of incredibly helpful people, and I’ve made a few dear friends!
Have you experienced any God “coincidences?” The topic I’m writing about profoundly relates to the biblical symbolism of 50 and one particular Hebrew letter, its meaning and its related verse in the passage about which I’ve written.  I’m not one who seeks supernatural signs for God’s confirmation, but it’s hard to ignore coincidences from a God who promises to reveal himself to us.  

How has God inscribed a calling or decision across your heart? I would love to hear how he has confirmed something in your life. Please add your comment, so others will know how he speaks and confirms his words over each of us.
 He is the author and perfecter of our faith, and he is faithful to complete his work in us, but we have to hear and obey.  He’s pushing me to be shed my insecurities and step out on faith to follow his ever developing plan. 
Will you hold my hand and plunge into the canyon of our calling? Let’s be Strong and Courageous. 


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Lauren Crews is a Bible teacher, award winning Non-Fiction writer and speaker. She has been teaching women’s Bible studies and speaking at women’s events since 2000. Her passion for learning God’s word, and a love of language inspired her to write The Strength of a Woman – Insight from the Hebrew letters of Proverbs 31. You will never look at Proverbs 31 the same again!
Her hope is to inspire others to be women of strength and not allow pre-defined roles to defeat them. Lauren holds a Masters of Divinity from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. A true teacher at heart, she currently teaches 8th grade Language Arts in the public school system and serves at her church as Women’s Ministry Coordinator. Married to her very best friend for more than 25 years and mom of three fantastic young adults.