Just sitting here alone in the quiet, looking at my naked evergreen Christmas tree, I began to feel sad. I almost wanted to apologize to it and tell it how sorry I was that I couldn't raise my arms to put decorations on it. But it didn't seem to mind, it still stood a tall 9-feet high, branches a little miss-shaped, but none the less holding its own in the big window.
It’s only been two weeks since my surgery for breast cancer, and today seems to be a sensitive day for me, my body and my mind. I hate to have to be waited on or to ask for help, because it feels SO much nicer to help others. Mothers are supposed to care for their children, not the other way around. Though this is a humbling time for me, it is also a time when I have received more love than I believe I have ever given in my lifetime.
I've decided that every heart-felt prayer, kind word, gentle touch of the hand, each card or flower, and meal dropped off in love is going to be a special ornament of love placed on the tree of my life.
I shared with my close friend earlier today my sadness at not being able to decorate my tree and house for Christmas, because it’s my favorite time of the year. Knowing her as I do, I'm sure she fought the urge to jump on a plane and get here in 10 minutes! But we can't always fix things for those we love and God wants to teach us beautiful lessons in every situation, if we just let Him.
I thought to myself, “Well I can't put ornaments on the tree, but I can plug in the lights!” Wow!!! The lights took my eyes and thoughts off the nakedness of the evergreen, and I now only noticed how the lights brought the tree to life! All at once I seemed to know that even in the times I feel naked, or ashamed that the light of Jesus’ love overshadows all my imperfections and then the attention is placed where it belongs - on His ability to make something beautiful out of any and every circumstance. We just need to focus on, and do, what we can.
So enjoy the moment, even if you don't have a tree. Put a bow on your lamp shade and turn on the light; it's amazing how a little light can brighten up a dark place.
"The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death, a light has dawned. "
Jesus is the Light of the world!
So Merry Christmas children of God, plug into His power-source and let His light shine!
I have always enjoyed sports. I was a cheerleader all through junior high and high school and I used to play basketball, volleyball, baseball, you name it...I loved to play it. There was something great about working with a team of other players and sharing the responsibilities and the rewards of a job well done.
There's no way that you can just show up for the game without practicing with the team and think that you're all going to work together flawlessly. It takes faithfulness, discipline, talent and team work.
But another very important aspect of finishing well has to do with the coach and that locker room experience before the game.
Every weekend at Women of Faith, we gather as a team for prayer and sharing what's on our hearts and the heart of God. We get our direction for the weekend from the Holy Spirit and the strategy to defeat our opponents. These opponents can be in the circumstances that we face in the arenas, or in our own bodies or minds, but with the power of His Spirit working within us, for us and through us, they will be defeated in Jesus’ name!
Paul often related to sports as he exhorted us, the children of God, to never give up, and to purpose in our hearts and souls to finish well in life. We all have our own races to run, yet we are never running alone.
Hebrews 12: 1-3 (Judy's Translation)
"Ok gang, everyone is cheering us on; we can do this! Let's lighten our load, throw off discouragement, self doubt, past failures, fears, that spirit of heaviness, disappointments, worldly distractions - anything that's slowing us down. And then let's run, never looking back, just keep heading for the finish line. Jesus will be there, so just stay focused on Him, keep running toward Him no matter what or how you feel. The cool thing is, He is not only at the finish line, He is also Inside of you, giving you the strength and faith not only to endure, but to finish well. He showed us by example how to win, focus on the joy of The Reward, no matter what happens along the way. He ran His race so we could run ours in His strength, with His heart."
So run children of God, run whole-heartedly. Keep believing and you will finish well!
I love to spend time with old friends and catch up on what’s happening in their lives. A few weeks ago I got together with two of my dearest friends. We first met in the 7th grade and instantly became best friends. Through the years one of them moved around to different states, but we always stayed connected. Now, 52 years later, even though we had not seen each other for 3 years, we still giggled and talked as if we lived next door. Not little girls anymore, but instead women who knew the faithfulness of God.
We lost track of time and before we knew it, night had snuck up on us. As we said our goodbyes I hugged my long-distance friend a little tighter. She is a widow for the second time and has developed a palsy of some type, so her head and hands shake and she looked like the most fragile of us three.
It was hard to see her like this, because I remember her as the tough one of us, riding and training horses as a young girl. Back then she always seemed so strong and somewhat fearless to me. Now, looking into her eyes, I realized she hadn't changed all that much; she was still a strong, fearless woman. Even though she lived alone and was dealing with her physical weakness, she was still strong in spirit, a positive and caring person, rescuing abused and abandoned animals.
She didn't want us to see her as a fragile person. She said with a smile and sense of accomplishment, "I'm now learning to eat with my left hand, because the right hand shakes too much." She wasn't embarrassed or awkward about it, and I found myself challenged by her openness, and ability to focus on what she could do, not on what she can no longer do.
"In the day when I cried out, You answered me,
and made me bold with strength in my soul."
Father, thank you for reminding us once again that though the physical body may weaken, or we may face limitations in life's journey, our strength comes from You. As we spend time with You and read Your Words of life, our mind is renewed and even our attitude changes to gratitude.
Blessings, Pastor Judy
In the quietness of prayer, we can often hear the still small voice of our Lord. As I was reading this morning from an old David Wilkerson newsletter, I found myself challenged by the Holy Spirit.
Can I share with you how I was challenged? It was as if the Lord was sitting next to me and asking me these questions. Perhaps He wants to ask you these same questions.
"Do you still believe I love you unconditionally? That you are being led by My Holy Spirit? That I bottle every tear you shed? That you are right now, here, in this place, in this very hour, in My perfect will?
Do you still believe all things work together for good to them who love Me? That I hear your prayers, even when you have no audible words to express them? Even when all seems dark and you feel overwhelmed? Even when fear lays hold of your mind and soul? Even when it seems I have shut the heavens to you?
Do you still believe I count every hair on your head, that I take note of every fallen bird on the face of the earth? Do you truly believe that?
Do you still believe even when death comes to your loved ones? Do you still believe what you have testified, that I give comfort and strength to face even the grave?
Do you still believe I love you, that I forgive all your past sins, present sins, and even all future sins if you rest and trust Me? Do you believe I understand when Satan sends his messengers against you to implant doubts, lies, fears or despair?
Do you still believe you are in the palm of My hand, that you are more precious than gold to Me? That eternal life is your future, that there is no power that can pluck you out of My hand? That I am still touched by every infirmity and affliction you endure? Do you still believe these things are true?"
The greatest weapon against Satan's attacks is to be fully convinced of God's love, which comes through the revelation of the Holy Spirit.
We know God is love, yet we may wonder at times, "But does He love ME?"
God does love you and me with a love we could never fully understand on our own. I am so thankful we have a Comforter who brings us understanding, wisdom and revelation.
My prayer for you is to know His love for you with a deeper revelation.
Paul has such a good grasp on the grace of God. I so want to get it like he does.
An old song keeps running through my mind.
"Oh love of God how rich and pure, how marvelous and strong, it shall forever more endure, the saints and angels song"
Keep yourself in the powerful, mighty, wondrous, secure love of God.
Read Psalm 103 and ask yourself: Do I still believe it? Do I believe this is true for me?
Blessings, Pastor Judy
My husband Keith and I are leading a Bible study at church called "Courageous Living", based on the movie "Courageous". As men and women gather each week and talk about the areas of their lives that call for courage, I also found myself challenged in my commitment to be more courageous in life and to make tough decisions based on courage, instead of staying in my comfort zone.
Two opponents that usually appear in the call for a courageous act are danger and fear. But courage causes us to rise up and respond in spite of the danger involved or the fear that confronts us.
I love this description of courage, "Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear."
As I watched again the footage of brave men and women during the 9/11 attack on our country, I was moved to tears. This was truly a picture of courage. People not thinking about their own safety, but focused on reaching others and bringing comfort to the injured. Danger and fear were powerless against the courageous hearts that could hear the desperate cries for help.
In Joshua 1:1-9 God speaks to Joshua and assures him that He is with him and will never leave him, and He repeats these words several times: be strong and courageous. Then He adds, "Be very courageous and don't be afraid or discouraged, because the Lord is with you wherever you go."
I have come to realize that faith is the key to receiving anything and everything from God. When we believe He is with us, courage begins to rise up within us, even though we may still be struggling with fear.
So, be encouraged my friends, the Lord is with you and He's not going anywhere! Danger and fear are like kittens compared to the Lion of Judah!
Wow! I don't know how that hits you, but I'm feeling encouraged!
Blessings, Pastor Judy
The worship began and my heart and soul were lifted to a place higher than the arena, and it was only 10 minutes into the event. Then Sheila invited me to the small platform to pray. In my heart I believed that the atmosphere was perfect for miracles to take place.
We asked for the Lord to heal Jill of cancer and the entire audience agreed. I'm sure it was a very special moment for her, to know that God had specifically drawn her out from the crowd to be prayed for. Sometimes we wonder if we are invisible to God, but that is so far from the truth.
As I stepped down, the lights dimmed for Kevin, our Jesus Painter, to begin to reveal the face of Christ slowly and skillfully, stroke by stroke of his painting brush, I felt myself strangely drawn to a particular row of seats in the upper section. I sat down and then I heard the Spirit of God say to my heart, "No, not here, move next to the girl sitting alone, with her head down, put your arm around her and tell her I can "SEE" her."
I sat down and told her who I was, so she wouldn't think I was some kind of a nut sitting by her, and then I told her what the Lord had said to me. She nodded seeming a bit shy, but kept her head down. What was so wrong that she didn't want to "SEE" this amazing display? How could anyone not want to watch the Jesus Painter?!
So I swallowed hard and said, "Dear one, may I be so bold to ask, are your blind?"
She responded quietly, "Yes, I can only see dim images."
So I sat close to her and whispered what was taking place, and with one arm around her shoulder I used my other hand to trace her face, just as Kevin was doing on the canvas, while explaining what each stoke of his brush was revealing. I found myself fighting back tears as she began to smile and her face started to shine in the dark arena.
The finishing touch was the eyes of Jesus. I said, "His eyebrows are intense with concern, and His eyes, soft, so beautiful, filled with the greatest love you could ever imagine."
Kevin had finished with the last touch of His brush, and then I asked, "Can you see His face sweetheart?"
With a huge grin, she answered with sheer joy, "YES! I can SEE Him! I can SEE Him!"
I don't have to tell you, I couldn't hold the tears back any longer. I said, "Jesus SEES you too".
In Genesis 16:13 Hagar calls the name of the Lord who spoke to her, You-Are-the-God-Who-Sees; for she said, "Have I also here seen Him who sees me."
I recently read a book entitled “Digging the wells of revival“ by Lou Engle. He encouraged us to examine our spiritual roots and to re-dig wells of revival that flowed with life giving spiritual water in our past. In Geneses 26, Isaac re-dug one of his father’s wells at Beersheba. He was given the same promise that his father Abraham was given that he would be a great nation someday. It’s important that we understand the heritage we came from.
In today’s church, we are bombarded by all sorts of information and methods to grow our churches. I appreciate those who share their success stories. However, I believe we have put our faith in methods more than we have put our faith in hearing the voice of God. There are wells in our churches history that seethed with life and power. Our roots go back to the Pentecostal Revival in the beginning of the twentieth century. People were hungry for biblical experience and knowledge. Prayer and fasting disciplines were rediscovered as necessary spiritual shovels to re-dig the waters of revival. The prayer and fasting movement affected many individuals and churches. Strange things that were common phenomena in the Book of Acts began to be experienced by many throughout the world: people were baptized in the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in other tongues; Miracles and healings happened in churches from all denominations.
Today, there are over 500 million Pentecostals in the world. I am challenged to re-dig the wells that birthed such a great revival. Just think for a minute how quickly a revival can spread with today’s technology. The machinery is in place; now we just have to re-dig the wells from our past to bring life to this present generation.
I am personally committed to fasting one day a week so I can take quality time to intercede for our area to experience powerful revival. We need God’s power and wisdom to reach this lost generation. Folks, it’s time to make a territorial commitment to the land that God has given us to occupy. This land is our inheritance and there is a well beneath our feet; we have to dig it with prayer and fasting.
Waiting is one of the most difficult activities or lack of activity that I have ever had to do. It requires a great deal of patience and trust and I must admit, I need more work in that area of my life. It seems to be easier for me to actually do the work than to wait for someone else to complete it.
I have come to realize that all of this really boils down to being fearful, anxious, and very impatient. Frankly things will turnout better when we learn to "trust"and "wait" for the answer to arrive in Gods timing.
This was made very clear to me 40 years ago. I was in labor for over 24 hours with my youngest daughter, so I drank cod liver oil, walked up and down the corridor, and did everything in MY power to give birth!
In my frustration, while getting back into bed, I sent the water glass hurling across the room. Ringing for help, all they heard over the intercom was that my water had broke. You might say that joy was short lived, when they entered my room and found it was Not the next stage of the birthing process after all.
All that to say this, when we try to help bring about the answer to our own prayers, we often experience stress, and disappointment. So, learn from my experience, Gods timing is perfect, she came into this world at her appointed time. I didn't need to drink that awful tasting oil, and frustrate myself by trying to make it happen. All I needed to do was Wait and Trust that God would give her to me when the time was right. Its true....Father does know best.
"It is good to Trust in the Lord, for this is your place of security and provision, and here in this place of peace, you can mediate on how faithful He has always been. Find your joy and happiness in the Lord, and your hearts desires will be satisfied. Consciously Commit all your plans to the Lord daily. ( Do not assume His help if it is uninvited.) Put your Trust in Him, and He shall bring it to pass. He will shine His light on your life and cause it to stand out. So, Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him, and don't worry."
Blessings, Pastor Judy