The Hurricane is coming

Hurricane Irma, downgraded to a Tropical Storm by the time she reached us in Georgia, was my first experience with this type of disastrous weather. Growing up in Southern California, I have experienced earthquakes. My first duty station when I served in the US Army was at Fort Riley, Kansas, so of course I experienced a couple tornadoes. There are similarities and differences with all three of these and I learned something from each, as well.

During my first earthquake, I remember my dad was taking a shower and thought my sister and I were running up and down the stairs. As the light hanging from the high ceiling of the staircase swung, my sister and I just looked at each other with mouths agape. Nothing broke in our house, but it left my nerves on edge. Strong earthquakes leave you feeling shaken the entire day.

When I was first married and our daughter was six months old, my husband was working the night shift and I experienced my first tornado. Unlike Dorothy, we didn’t end up in the land of Oz, instead I ended up with a new destiny as I cried out to God in the midst of the din and gave my life to the Lord. Tornadoes, like hurricanes and tropical storms, are loud and also test your nerves.

When Irma arrived in Georgia, she had already dissipated and her gusts topped out under 70 miles an hour. Regardless, I learned what mattered when it came to the destruction and mess she left was what surrounded your house.

The house of the left is ours – surrounded by tall trees on every side. The one of the right is the neighbor’s across the street you see in the first picture. He has two lone trees, both have been cut back recently, and neither are very close to his home.

During the storm, he said it was quiet other than the wind. He and his wife went about their day and just kept safely inside. On the other hand, my house sounded like a concert that should have been canceled with tree limbs and nuts falling on the roof in a terrible beat. We hadn’t really done anything other than mow our lawn and sweep the walk since we moved in a couple of months ago. As you can see from our curbside-pick-up pile versus our neighbor’s – the clean up requires more labor when you’re surrounded by trees, as well.

24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” (Matthew 7:24-27)

As I walked around our neighborhood this morning, grateful that we only experienced the little mess we did in the house we are renting, I noted how many other houses, like ours – surrounded with trees for shade in the summer – had a larger clean up than those whose trees were recently pruned or fewer in number. And the Lord spoke to me and said, “That’s the difference with some of My children. They surround themselves with the shade of this world, to avoid the heat of my refining fire, only to put themselves in the position of destruction when the storm comes.

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The storm is coming, too. Whether it comes as an earthquake – where an event shakes you to your core and all that’s left standing is your faith, however small or large that may be; or as a tornado – sweeping in and blowing the facade off your blessed and highly favored life that you purport, covering up the sin and shame of a weak relationship with your Creator;  or as a hurricane or tropical storm – beating vehemently at the life you’ve built, surrounded by shade trees of this world or landscaped by the Designer of the Garden. The storm is coming.

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I would recommend you allow the Great Gardner to come in and prune back those trees – of idols you’ve placed before Him (anything that you give more attention to than God is an idol); of watered-down Scripture (it is the whole truth that sets you free, not the pieced-together-because-it-supports-my-sins version you choose to meditate on); of reluctant obedience to what God is telling you to do (delayed obedience is disobedience and without following God, you’re wasting your energy and time in this world.)

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Your clean up from the storms in your life is dependent on the landscaping of your heart. Allow God to come in and cut back the branches (you might have to lose some friends), pull the weeds (the devil is scattering seeds daily, that’s why you need to always put on the armor of God), and water your yard (as you draw the water of wisdom from His Word and time with Him – it is in those moments you grow, new life begins, and your foundation is strengthened. Otherwise, you’ll line the curb of your life with the debris of your storms for all who drive by to see – and that’s not a good witness to His Presence in your life.

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~Blessings and shalom,

Yvy

 

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A Door that Swings Both Ways

Let’s talk about purpose.

revdoor

A revolving door is meant to be entered and exited.

I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.  (John 10:9)

Jesus is the door to the Father and He is revealing to us His purpose now that He is seated at the Father’s right hand – our way to enter in to the Presence of God. It is by our faith in Him and what He did on the cross that gives us access to the Father.

It’s not about sitting on Santa’s lap.

Santa, Santa Claus, Child, Boy, Lap, December, Xmas

Our access to our Heavenly Father is about fellowship, worship, and growth. Jesus says we are to go in and out. So, let’s start with go in.

I’m not going to give you ‘3 Keys to Entering the Presence of God’ (partly because I believe you should enter in according to your heart and if I attempt to paint what that looks like, chances are you’ll follow the directions instead of your heart.) Instead, I just want to point out that the purpose of entering in is to learn from God those things you will need when you go out.

Going out is the second purpose of our lives (the first being fellowship with God – going in.) We are all called to go [out] into all the world and share the Gospel – the Good News about what Jesus has done to redeem us. (Mark 16:15)

So don’t just go in and fellowship, worship, and grow in the Lord. Be a doer of the Word, as well, and go out and preach the Gospel to your world – your area of influence.

It is only when you go out and give that you will have room to continue to receive more from God when you go in. Don’t be a waterlogged Christian – give what you learn and earn and you’ll see God blessing through you!

Blessings and shalom,

Yvy

Emoji’s, “Cool”, and Hallelujah

Have you ever scrolled back through your messages with a ‘friend’ and discovered that the majority of your conversation was quite lopsided – you did a lot more talking while they gave you an occasional “Cool”, “Yep”, or applicable emoji?

convo

My son was recently sharing with me his discovery that his ‘great friend’ that he has considered his best friend since high school had been quite delayed in his responses lately. Where my son looked forward to his conversations with this friend, we’ll call him Jack, Jack was barely responding within a week.

Now, if they were seeing each other every day or even once a week, sure this would be a ridiculous observation because text messages, e-mails, and Messenger aren’t a good substitute for face-to-face interaction and, truth be told, not everyone is on social media as much as everyone else. However, these boys are separated by thousands of miles and have been since my son moved away right after high school. So their entire relationship is now dependent on these mediums. For the first year, their conversations were that of best friends – sharing important events with one another shortly after they happened with a close-to-immediate response from the other; messaging each other daily just to keep the convo going; and the obligatory “Happy” this or “Merry” that on special days.

Those interactions grew fewer over the years, though, and mainly on Jack’s side. My son said he began to scroll up on his message feed with Jack and noticed something. For the past couple of months, there was only the occasional “Cool” or “Ok” responses to his 3-4 sentences of sharing. Once every couple of days, it was just an emoji response.

I asked him, “How does that make you feel?”

He responded, “Unimportant in [Jack’s] life.”

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Yeah, I think I’d probably feel the same way. You see, we give attention to what is important in our lives. I’ve heard it said that you can tell where your heart is by looking at your calendar and your bank statement. I can’t say for certain, but I am pretty sure Jack has deemed something or someone else more important that his relationship with my son.

So, here’s my question for you – Does God only get an occasional “Yes, Lord”, “Ok”, “Please help [enter family or friend’s name and their need here]” from you these days? During church do you only quietly offer an “Hallelujah” or “Amen” when everyone else does?

Where is your relationship with God? Does He only get emoji responses or prayer requests or do you share your day with Him (and let Him share His with you)? Prayer is a two-way conversation, but many Christians are like Jack – giving God 5 minutes of their day to keep the conversation going, but their hearts are clearly focused on something else.

Make a new habit (one that is life changing) this week and decide to put down the phone or laptop, turn off the TV or game console, or even stop for at least an hour every day from accomplishing your reading list for the year, and invest in the greatest relationship you have- the one where the Creator of the universe and Savior of your soul is emphatically in love with you. Or will you continue to just shoot off your smiley faces at Him and give more attention to something else until a crisis arises and you need Him?

praying