The Flash Drive (#recall12 series)

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The Holy Spirit ignites within the moment we believe in Christ, opening our eyes and ears to interpret God’s living Word. Prayer is like a flash drive containing the situational solutions to all of our problems. It’s useful to save a few key life verses on it, which is recall-12-feb-verseexactly what we’re doing here in the #recall12 series. In our struggle to find a way, God leads us to pray.

“Always pray and never give up.” Luke 18:1 (NLT)

1. Persistance 

“He told them a parable, urging them to keep praying and never grow discouraged.” Luke 18:1 (VOICE)

This month’s memory verse is a prelude to ‘The Parable of the Persistant Widow.’ Through the story of a woman seeking a judge’s verdict, Jesus taught the his followers the value in persistent and perseverant prayer.

Though our gut’s reaction is to freakishly scramble for hurried solutions, God’s presence beckons to employ a prayerful flow of continued conversation.recall12-feb-2

2. Consistence

“He paid no attention to her request for a while, but then he said to himself,“I don’t care about what God thinks of me, much less what any mere human thinks.  But this widow is driving me crazy. She’s never going to quit coming to see me unless I hear her case and provide her legal protection.'” Luke 18:4-5

If this judge “didn’t care,” he wound’t have felt it necessary to broach the topic of this widow’s plight. The prodding of his heart was not his own conscience shifting, but someone else’s prayers being upheld.

God hears us. More importantly, He tells us to keep talking. Keep praying. When frustration emerges, let’s determine to pray into it, wait for God to lead us out of it …and have faith that He will.

3. Silence 

Did you catch what this self-assured judge said? If he can be moved to act justly, won’t God bring justice for His chosen people when they cry to Him day and night? Will He be slow to bring them justice?” Mark 8:6-7

God’s determination to help His people has little to do with our resolve to act rightly. He seeks to help those who seek Him, whether or not we are privy to His reality. God is not dependent upon any human behavior to justify His response. Jesus’ death on the cross gave His believers the opportunity to cry out to the Father in prayer, and trust that He hears and answers.recall12-feb-3

Gossip hurts. Isolation stings. Injury is painful. Sickness is defeating. Loss is agonizing. God’s voice can seem deafeningly quiet to us when our situation is bleak and our hearts are broken. Though we may not see and here God the way we seek to, the promise of His presence is always present. In a conversation so personal we couldn’t describe it if we wanted to, He leads us through every season in the silent wanderings of our prayers.

4. Omnipotence

(Jesus emphasizes that the kingdom of God will not come through valiant efforts but as people pray, “may Your kingdom come,” with persistence and with humility.)” Luke 18:8 (VOICE)

Trust that God controls what we do not: healing, death, conception, time, creation and purpose. Ending our prayers “In Jesus Name,” declares our faith in His will over our prayer requests and our lives. We must be careful to pour our hearts out in prayer to Him and then let go. Grasping for control only causes us to sink further into our plight. But when we let go of the answer we want to hear and listen for the one He is laying out before us, miracles become visible. Coincidence connects answered prayer.

recall12-feb-2The conversations we have with the Father bleed out onto and into life.  He’s privy to our seat in the auditorium. Pop in the flash drive, transfer the data over to Him, and download His answer. It’s what Jesus died for …relationship with God.

Father, Praise You for Your listening ear and compassion for us. You tell us to pray and not give up. (Luke 18:1) You are powerful to trump any form of justice set upon this earth with Your omnipotent hand. God, You ARE love. You ARE grace. 

Praise for Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, allowing us to pour our hearts into Your healing hands. In conversation with You, keep our eyes open and our ears attentive to Your will for our lives over our prayer requests. Surround us with Your purpose for our lives, and compassionate love when life is impossible.

Forgive us for our lack of stamina, and remind us of Jesus death on the cross. Bless Your Spirit to our hearts and minds to remember this verse today, and always. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Happy Downloading,

Megs

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Fear Fighting: When You’ve Gotta Have Control

It’s my honor to host a post from one of my favorite writers, Kelly Balarie. Praise God for her
faithfulness to bring this amazing message on conquering fear out into the world! Sit back and get ready to soak up some courage … 

When I thought about fighting as a child, it was normally with my siblings. I’d sink my nails into them, they’d shriek. I’d see a injustice, like them taking my pile of lego’s and I’d tackle them. I was the oldest, so I could always win. I liked it that way.

Yet, somewhere along the lines, I think I’ve lost my power. I like winning position; I’m strong there. Yet, now, I feel like people, life, and situations are acting on me, more than I’m acting on them. For a girl who harnesses the idea of being in control, this makes me feel – well, out of control. I deeply dislike that.

Do you feel out of control? Do you feel all alone, fighting for a life that you can’t seem to wrangle to order?

I know the ache. I feel the helplessness. I relate to the struggle.

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Certainly, I am well aware of the fact I’m not supposed to be running my life. Certainly, I know that Jesus rules. Certainly, I know that he is the one who holds power, even when I mistakenly think I do. The bible is clear on this.

Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. Prov. 19:21

I know I am out of control, but my mind still tells me I’m in control.

Where does a woman go when she is stuck in this place?

Just yesterday, I was frustrated at myself for over-managing my children, yet again. I’d spoken too sternly, punished too heavily and disconnected my heart immensely. The drive home from school-drop off was painful. “I’ve just got to let go of control,” I thought to myself.

My car stopped. A bus had put out its “stop” sign. Into the bus went the children. It wasn’t the children, my eye was drawn to, however, it was the parents. There they stood, arms waving, madly. Kisses blowing, in rapid succession. Bodies running after the bus as it took off. Sadness, filling their face as their little pieces of joy took off.

I realized something: God wants me to know He is with me on my journey.

He doesn’t just tell me to do and abandon me. He doesn’t kick me out the door to hustle, alone in the cold, to his purposes. He runs up, alongside me. He cheers me on as I go – with Him. He delights in the journey of us going together. He wishes me well. Like a good daddy, he has good plans for me.

He meets me and moves with me – he runs alongside me. He even goes before me.

The fight with control is not about battling it to the ground; it is knowing that God covers my future ground with me. It is realizing that as I give up my ways, He presents his. I’m not left for ruin. I’m not left alone. I’m not left behind.

The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Deut. 31:8

About the book, Fear Fighting, Awakening the Courage to Overcome Your Fears:Paperback3DTemplates_5.5x8.5.indd

Author and Speaker, Kelly Balarie didn’t always fight fear – for a large part of her life, she was controlled by it. Yet, in her book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears, with God, Kelly charts a new course. Join Kelly, on the journey to go and grow with Christ’s bravery, the Spirit’s counsel and God’s unending love that squelches fear. This book reads like a love letter from God, while offering practical heart-calming prayers,
anxiety-reducing tips, and courage-building decrees that will transform your day.

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About Kelly Balarie:

Kelly is both a Cheerleader of Faith and a Fighter of Fear. She leans on the power of God, rests on the shoulder of Christ, and discovers how to glow in the dark places of life. Get all Kelly’s blog posts by email or visit her on her blog, Purposeful Faith. You can also find a variety of resources for your fight against fear at http://www.fearfightingbook.com/.

The Smiley Faces

the-smiley-faces-pic-1“MOMMMMMM-A!!!”cried my wallowing six-year old, accompanied by her trademark stomp of dissatisfaction. “It’s doing MINUSES now …that’s too HARD….”

For days, exasperated sighs and incorrect buzzers had drifted from the kitchen counter at breakfast. But every once in a while, I would hear a jubilant yell:

“A smiley-face! I got a smiley face! I beat the teacher! Ha ha ha ha !”

It’s my hope that, somewhere in her small victory celebrations and the obsequious high-fives, the fact that she’s learning math trumps beating the “teacher” on the other side of our tablet.

The capricious people-pleaser innate to humanity seeks “the smiley-faces” from life’s the-smiey-faces-tweet-1audience. And when their approval alludes us, it can leave us feeling unworthy, unqualified, unloved, and all sorts of other “un” words. We can relieve our hearts of the burden to please others, when we start to see Him first.

1. Start

“I do not run like a man running aimlessly…”1 Cor 9:26

Paul is talking about the discipline he enforced upon his own life to serve Christ. (NIV Notes) When my life get’s hard, I tend to snap. When the side of my brain that signals I’ve earned the right to lose a little control trumps the logical side, I am libel to tell my kids to pick up there “s-word.” Or, ask them what in the “hocky-sticks” they are thinking. I might stomp up the stairs, roll my eyes at my husband, or cause my kids to flinch in fear. Anyone relate?

When the endurance of preparedness kicks in, the logical side of our brains replaces the-smiley-faces-pic-2lunacy with a pause. A moment, to just sit in the pocket of reaction and allow the memory to search out truth. If we read the truth of God’s Word day after day, it will remain alive and active to guide us on the fly.

Paul knew the cost and sacrifice of such discipline, but knew also it wasn’t aimless.

2. Stamina

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.” 1 Cor. 9:24

“All the runners run” challenges me to lay down my efforts to succeed in exchange for consistency and discernment.

In a long-distance track event, I like to watch the runners who get boxed in after the lanes merge. Despite all of the preparation and experience the sport can offer, some of the best runners in the world still end up there. Against all odds, sometimes a runner jolts out of the pressure pocket like lightning …and sails back into the race. I love to root for those runners.

the-smiley-facesHave you found yourself boxed into places you’ve never wanted to be …places you prepared never to be? Let me encourage you from a place of commraderie. Human weakness will never go away, but neither will Jesus. Sometimes the only way to get the prize is to take a leap of faith. To reach out for His hand through the spikes clipping by, and let Him pull us back into the race when we’re ready to jolt.

3. Seek

“Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last forever.” 1 Cor. 9:25

Phil 3:14 explains that the winner of the race, in the time period Paul wrote this letter to the Corinthians, won money and a wreath of leaves. (NIV notes on Phil 3:14) We train awfully hard to earn promotions, win medals, buy houses, and take vacations. The incomparably majestic crowns in Heaven are going to make a free trip to Disney World equatable to a free Oreo cookie. Just one cookie. Without the milk.

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When I get to heaven, I want God to be proud of me… like a whole reward chart overflowing with smiley-faced stickers. He’ll always love me, but I want to have endured obedience in the pursuit of holiness. I want to break free from the pack and run down that straightaway praising His name as the tape breaks across my chest. I want to win. For Him. God doesn’t paint a whole picture of what that looks like for everyone. It’s as individual as each one of us. And His is the only approval we’re intended to rely on.

Happy Seeking,

Megs

 

 

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The Boo-Boos

The screech was ear piercing, and my limbs were too slow to react to what I saw. Little limbs flew over handlebars, and skidded to a stop on the concrete. Tears streamed and knees bled. I scooped my baby up to the tune of my quickly abandoned bike crashing to the ground.  My breath paused waiting for her to catch hers.The Boo Boo 1

Against my incessant warnings and her better judgement, little Lo continued to ride her purple banana-seat bike with her feet up in the air. Though she faithfully wears a helmet, it couldn’t protect her from the overflow of boo-boo’s she survived this summer from peddling standing-up to keep up with the big kids.

“It’s OK, “ I reassure her, “You’re Ok… I love you …Mommy’s got you.”

It’s infuriating to watch preventable accidents reoccur, yet we rush to the rescue every time.

When we’re little, a Mommy hug and a bandaid …or a hot pink cast signed my all of our The Boo Boo 2friends, encourages the hope of healing and the chance to ride again.  In the grown up world, scars scale beyond bloody knees and broken bones. The adult audience does not wait in angst to sign our hurts with a Sharpie. Only God’s truth is powerful enough to bind wounds completely and foster new growth from our scars.

Redemption– the action of saving or being saved from sin, error, or evil. The action of regaining or gaining possession of something in exchange for payment, or clearing a debt. 

Synonyms: retrieval, recovery, return. –google.com

When falling, focus on the redemptive factor of faith in Christ. The above synonyms are great stones to skip…

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1. Retrieval

Retrieval-the process of getting something back from somewhere. -google.com

“For the eyes of the Lord range though the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him.” 2 Chronicles 16:9 

The Creator of time can stretch minutes. In John 19:38, He provided the perfect timing and placement of people to retrieve His Son’s body. Do we know He takes the same care in crafting our purpose?

God pursues us.

Paul encourages, “Can anyone be so bold as to level a charge against God’s chosen? Especially since God’s “not guilty” verdict is already declared.”- Romans 8:33

 His gift of grace through Christ’s death on the cross gives us permission to peel past standardized shortcomings and embrace the promise of hope laced in every scar.

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2. Recovery

Recovery- a return to a normal state of health, mind, or strength. The action or process of regaining possession or control of something stolen or lost. -google.com

“Before he reached his village, his servants met him on the road celebrating his son’s miraculous recovery.” John 4:51

We often associate recovery with miraculous healing, but we see is a fraction of God’s Boo Boo 6omnipotence. Everyday battles are won on our account by our good Father.

Children, regardless of age, innately want to please their parents. Simon, in Luke 5:8-10, says,

“I can’t take this, Lord. I’m a sinful man. You shouldn’t be around the likes of me.”

It’s hard to look at fresh bruises without feeling a little ashamed.

Do we realize that’s normal?

Ephesians 2:3 reminds us that we are all guilty. Yet, in such a cycle of imperfect and repetitious behavior…through Christ …we are still redeemed.

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3. Return

Return-come or go back to a place or person. Give, put, or send something back to a place or person. -google.com

Genesis 3:19 reminds us to keep our perspective in check: “To dust we shall return.” James 5:7 urges us to be patient and wait. The word “return” in regards to Jesus’ whereabouts is mentioned 19 times in the book of Matthew …12 in Mark, 28 in Luke, and 29 in John. Jesus does a lot of returning in the gospels. Despite our cyclical sin, God hasn’t throw the towel in.

“You were bought at a price…” (1 Cor. 6:20; 7:23 NIV)

It cost a life for us to live. An innocent life… without sin …sacrificed in the most brutal way … to save us.

 A high price has been paid for your freedom, so don’t devalue God’s investment by becoming a slave to people.” 1 Cor. 7:23

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High price, indeed.

“In His image,”(Genesis 1:27) is so evident when we teach our kids to get back up when they fall. We tell them it’s OK. We assure them that we love them.

Throughout the vast disappointments of my life, Christ has carried me, put bandaids on my bloody knees, healed hurts too secret to share, and surrounded me in His love. Until He returns …until I am returned to Him, I will passionately pursue my redeemed place in His plan …strengthened by knowing He never gives up on me.

Happy Redeeming,

Megs

 

The Land

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Witness is woven into everyone’s life, but not all have a natural appreciation for their “place.” Clevelanders have taking a beating for decades. For the state of their city and “the curse” on their teams. I am them.

“Against all odds…

I don’t now why we want to take the hardest road…

I don’t know why the Man above gives me the hardest road…

but the Man above doesn’t put you in situations that you can’t handle…

and I just kept that same positive attitude…

Instead of saying ‘why me…’

saying ‘this is what He wants me to do.”

-LeBron James, after winning the 2016 NBA Championship

This generation of Cavaliers basketball players capped off a legacy that began long before they started playing in the big leagues.  My feet froze watching Elway crush our football team. I watched the old stadium fall. I wondered if a lost $100 bill had fallen from a very tall pocket grabbing a bite at Whitey’s after a game at the Richfield Coliseum. I walked to “The Jake” after work many summer nights in run of the late 90’s.

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My most cherished sports memory isn’t the Brown’s rookie graveyard I put up in my front yard on Halloween. It’s not training camp in Berea every year, where the hope of every Browns fan is at it’s most realistic peek. Not the sense of a piece of home seeing people you knew “back then” in the same tailgate spot. Not post game victory walks or seeing concerts at my favorite fields. Not even a long awaited raise of a shiny gold trophy.

It’s my brother…

And his little-kid face…

…at the local restaurant in the burb we grew up in, taking off his unbent hat to have a couple CAVS write a little history into his heart. He’s the biggest Cleveland fan I know.

The energy. The camaraderie. The land.

When the homesick tendencies of dorm life set in, I clung to the conversations over commonalities. Fellow fans felt like family, and I began to realize that “home” wasn’t just teenage angst waiting to bust out and get out. “Home” was layered into my heart.  No matter where I reside, my heart beats to “Cleveland Rocks.”

The life of a Clevelander is built into the layers of adversity. As the seasons change, jobs get lost, the Browns get worse, and the trophy eludes …we remain. We hold on to hope. We welcome you home. We believe.

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“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13

We’re all tempted to throw in the towel. When the environment that surrounds starts to crumble in around us, the tempting tendency is to run …quit …move. Tenacity is woven into tough spots. Stuttering human stamina indicates opportunity for God to move. Will we follow fight or flight, or sit and stay to see why?

Paul is comforting us in that we’re all tempted. Christ was tempted. To sin. To quit. To run. To move. It’s not in the want to waver that we fail, but in the actual running and moving. In the stillness of our hearts, we choose whether to soldier on …to trust Him at His word …to wait on why.

Witness is woven into every life. LeBron, and his faith that God won’t test him beyond what he can handle, represented an entire city that shares that mentality. Can’t give up. Won’t give up. We will stay and wait.

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I didn’t watch any games this year. Not until there were 10.6 seconds remaining. Bracing for the heartache of a city and another reel tacked on the highlights of our almost accomplishments. Fearing the faltering crack of one team under so much pressure. But, in my Northeast Ohio heart, I believed it could happen. Against all odds. That’s CLE life.

BELIEVELAND.

PERFECTWe believe in each other. Because, under fire, sometimes that’s all we’ve got. Just to glance up, grab the hand beside us, and soldier on. Keep going …hoping …cheering …willing.

It’s just a game in a world filled with so much injustice, hurt, and tragedy. Just a trophy coming to reside in a city on a quest to come back.  But weaved into the win are streets full of people from all walks of life… in the city where someone always knows someone you know… embracing the victory of hope fulfilled …in a city that’s come back.

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Thank you, Cleveland, for bringing out the best piece of humanity …love. For who we are, for our history, and for our “place.”

It’s my “place.” It’s our “place.” #allin

Happy Parade Day, Cleveland! Let the ticker tape fly!

Megs