Martha, Martha, Martha

I don’t know about you, but I can identify with Martha more easily than I can identify with Mary.  I am a Martha by nature.  Because my spiritual gift is the gift of service, I see things that need to be done and feel compelled to do them.  My daughter is much more like Mary and I admire that quality in her.  Mary really understood what was important, so she sat at the feet of Jesus to soak up everything that He had to say.

In Luke 10, we find that Jesus stopped at the home of Martha as He was traveling.  Martha was concerned about the preparations to feed Jesus and those who were with Him.  She asked Jesus to get Mary to help her, but Jesus’ response was not what she expected as is recorded below.

But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.  Luke 10:41-42

 I don’t think our Lord meant that what Martha was doing didn’t have value; I think He wanted her to realize how important the spiritual part of her life was and that she needed to give it priority.  I get caught up in making sure that my house is clean, the laundry is done and that whatever I need to do to help others takes priority.  It is much harder for me to sit at the feet of Jesus and soak up what He is saying.

One scripture that the Lord keeps bringing me back to is the first part of Psalm 46:10.  I like the ESV translation best:

Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10 ESV

I’m not sure why it is so difficult for me to be still, but it is.

Martha was busy making sure that everyone was taken care of and that food was prepared for her guests.  Her focus was not much different from that of the disciples in the story of the woman at the well in John 4:31, we find the disciples urging Jesus to eat and His response to them was not what they expected.

I have food to eat that you do not know about. John 4:32

The disciples took this literally and thought that someone else had brought Him food while they were in town.  Jesus was not talking about physical food.  He was talking about spiritual food; His Father’s Word.  I think this was the same message He was speaking to Martha in John 10.

It is quite necessary for us to care for physical needs.  However, our Lord wants us to see that the spiritual needs are really more important; our physical bodies will die, but our spirits will live on for eternity.  We need to be sure we are adequately caring for our spiritual needs, and this requires stillness before God and a focus on His Word.  We need to be still so we can hear what He has to say to us.  If we are constantly busy with the cares of this world, we may miss something important that He wants us to hear.

About the Writer:
Anna is a mother to three grown children, Nana to four grandchildren and enjoys coordinating Prison Ministry for her church. Her desire is to finish this life well by pointing others to faith in Jesus Christ and to a deeper reliance on Him.

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Pilate the Peacekeeper

“You won’t talk to me?” Pilate demanded. ”Don’t you realize I have the power to release you or to crucify you?”

Such confusion! Such inner turmoil! How I pity Pilate in his predicament – wanting an easy way to do what was difficult, but knowing no such path existed. He wanted Jesus to be merciful of him in his situation where, in his mind, he was bound at the wrists. Jesus did in fact speak words of grace to Pilate, but He let Pilate alone decide his course of action. From the text in the Book of John and the details of Pilate’s conversation with Jesus, Pilate was obviously looking for any way out besides crucifying Jesus. Something in his mind or heart was nagging at him, assuring him that this man was not deserving of death and that the whole mob uprising was a big mess having nothing to do with Jesus’ wrong doing.

Pilate certainly put forth good effort to sway the crowd, but it was not enough to dissuade them from their mission to crucify the One who claimed to be the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

“You crucify him,” Pilate said. “I find him not guilty.” Or as recorded in Matthew 27:24, “Pilate saw that he wasn’t getting anywhere and that a riot was developing. So he sent for a bowl of water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood. The responsibility is yours!”

The sinful part of me wants to applaud Pilate’s valiant efforts to stand up for Jesus and validate his attempts to clear himself of blame. However, Pilate’s example is very different from that of Peter or Paul or Stephen in the New Testament chronicles. Later in Acts we read how other men of true faith boldly proclaimed who Christ was and is without fear of the consequences. They faced the very same fate and fears as Pilate (death, uprising, violence, damage to self/family/position/property, etc.) and did not count the cross shame.

Note these words of Paul to his mentee, Timothy:

So do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, or of me, His prisoner.  Instead, join me in suffering for the gospel by the power of God.  2 Timothy 1:8

And consider these words of Jesus to His disciples:

For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory, and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.  Luke 9:26

As we see in the case of Peter, Jesus offers grace to the one who has wilted under pressure and denied any association with Christ; however, with a restored relationship comes a renewed calling. Jesus Himself said feathers would be ruffled because of His claims to be the Son of God with all authority to forgive sins (Matthew 10:34 and Matthew 9:6).  Like in the case of Pilate, it can be convenient to let someone else carry the cross while we ourselves stand silently to the side possibly ensuring peace, but gaining nothing if we forfeit our souls.

About the Writer:
Lyndsay has been many things in her past, but no career, experience, or calling define her more than the desire to follow after Christ in response to His gracious work in her life. At present, she teaches movement classes and works as a wellness consultant in addition to loving her amazing husband and raising her daughter to know and love the Lord.

 

Don’t Stay Under the Juniper Tree

“I went to sleep with gum in my mouth and now there’s gum in my hair and when I got out of bed this morning I tripped on the skateboard and by mistake dropped my sweater in the sink while the water was running and I could tell it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.” (excerpt from Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, by Judith Viorst)

Have you ever felt like Alexander?  I have, and so did Elijah.

Elijah served God faithfully during the days of wicked king Ahab and his sinister wife, Jezebel, who introduced pagan worship into Israel. In a contest on Mt. Carmel, Elijah was God’s instrument to prove His power and sovereignty. Afterwards, Jezebel said she would kill Elijah. Fearful and weary, Elijah sank into the depths of despair, went into the wilderness, sat down under a juniper tree, and asked God to take his life.

 

But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a juniper tree; and he requested for himself that he might die, and said, ‘It is enough; now, O Lord, take my life, for I am not better than my fathers’.” (I Kings 19:4)

Elijah’s fear, fatigue, and frustration distorted his perspective of reality. He fell into an exhausted sleep, psychologically depleted and physically drained. God sent an angel to provide food and water.  Elijah ate, went back to sleep, then ate again.

Do you feel like sitting under a juniper tree? Acting on the following four words can help change your feelings from hopelessness to hopefulness.

Rest

Our minds need rest from thinking and our bodies need rest from motion. Sleep   renews and rejuvenates our bodies.  My pastor says, “Sometimes, one of the most spiritual things you can do is take a nap.” Turn off the television and put away your electronic devices.

Relax

No one can go full-throttle all the time. Listening to soft music, taking a hot bath,   or going on a walk are ways you can relax from the day-to-day grind. Crying can help release pent-up emotions. A friend recently said, “God wastes nothing – not even tears.”

Relate

Choose to be with people with whom you are comfortable, who make you laugh, who know how to listen, who will pray with you, and who speak the truth in love.  Don’t stay away from those who care about you. Seeing a professional therapist with whom you can express your thoughts and emotions can also be beneficial. God listened to Elijah and let him vent his frustrations. God knows what we are thinking and feeling so nothing we say will surprise Him. Pour out your hurts to Him. Pray, asking God to renew your strength, stabilize your emotions, and give you hope during your times of distress and discouragement.

Reflect

Reflect on God’s character and the things He has done for you, His provisions,    comfort, and love.  Remembering the times of God’s presence and power brings       renewed hope and strength.  Spend time in God’s word.  Read one Psalm or one chapter of Proverbs each day.  Underline verses that encourage you.  Memorize scripture.  Keep a journal and write down your thoughts.  Make a list of God’s promises or the names of God.  Choose to trust God even when you can’t see what He’s doing.

God knew Elijah needed to take a break from the emotional and physical challenges he was facing and lovingly helped Elijah transition from hopelessness to hopefulness. Elijah didn’t stay under the juniper tree and neither should we.

About the Writer:
Sherry enjoys spending time with family and friends, reading, Bible study, and traveling.  She and her husband, David, are Directors of the Sonburst Class at First Baptist Dallas.

JAWS

“IF YOU WANT TO LIVE, THROW ME OVERBOARD!” cried Jonah, as each wave grew higher and higher, crashing against the vessel. With each wave, the ship groaned and creaked louder, signaling that it could not hold much longer. “Lord, forgive us of this man’s death!” the sailors shouted as they tossed him into the raging sea. Jonah surfaced; instantly the waves stopped and the water was still. But wait, what was that Jonah saw as he bobbed in the water?

Jonah saw a great fin breach the water for a second. It breached again, closer to him this time. Then again, even closer. Something bumped him from underneath the water. Another bump. Can you hear it? The sounds of “JAWS”: duunnn dunnn… duuuunnnn duun… duuunnnnnnnn dun dun dun dun dun dun dun dun dun dun!

Personally, as one who only gets about ankle-deep in the ocean, I cannot imagine a more terrifying scenario. After reading Jonah 1-2, I saw that the Lord powerfully pointed out that His purpose will be accomplished, with our obedience or without. The last part of Jonah 1:3 says, “After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord.” Take a look at the beginning of that sentence again: “After paying the fare . . . .”  it cost Jonah to disobey, and he paid greatly for his disobedience. Let’s dive into (see what I did there :)) a few of the details chapters 1 and 2 give us regarding how Jonah paid for his disobedience:

  • actual money (Jonah 1:3b)
  • the humiliation of having to confess to his fellow sailors what he had done that put their lives in danger (Jonah 1: 4-11)
  • being swallowed alive (Jonah 1:17)
  • the unimaginable experience of surviving in the fish’s stomach for 3 whole days. We can only guess at what that must have done to his body. I would assume that it included ruptured eardrums as the fish dove down into the depths of the ocean. (Jonah 2:3-6)  The motion sickness coupled with the smell of partially digested marine contents probably induced vomiting. Lastly, can you imagine the intense, oppressive darkness and overwhelming claustrophobia? He probably couldn’t breathe due to the intense fear.
  • Did I mention being swallowed alive? Just making sure.

This had me thinking, what in my life am I making more difficult than it has to be? What am I not being obedient in, causing extra hardships that wouldn’t be there if I would just obey?

Another sobering thought is that God didn’t have to save Jonah from those terrors. He very easily could have let Jonah die, several times, and instructed someone else to preach His word. How much disobedience is too much before God decides not to use us as His disciples anymore?

After Jonah prayed a prayer of repentance, God commanded the fish to vomit him up on dry land. (Jonah 2:10) Then our loving Father allowed Jonah a “do-over.” Jonah 3 starts with the Lord again commanding Jonah to go to Nineveh to tell the people their city will be destroyed unless they repent.

Join with me in confessing sin and disobedience to the Lord.

The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness.  Psalms 103:8

Let’s make it easier on ourselves and stop fighting Him with our disobedience, while we still have a chance.

About the Writer:
Natalie is a stay at home mom to two young boys. Additionally, she occasionally works as an emergency room nurse and is studying to become a Nurse Practitioner. She and her husband have been called into the medical mission field and are excited to see what the Lord has in store for their lives.

Good News/Bad News – An Obscure Woman Speaks Truth to a powerful Man

 . . . but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.  Acts 1:8

As 1978 ended, during one of the worst ice storms in Dallas history, electric power was out all over the city.  Our house was totally without power for a whole week!  That major inconvenience was a great reminder of how important it is to have power!

Many folks are obsessed with a desire for a different kind of power.  They want personal power in their jobs, homes, churches, schools, government, and everywhere else.  Power couples, power suits, power ties, power lunches, power to choose, political power, government power, police power, military power, girl power, kid power, super powers, power drinks, power bars, power positions, power lifting, power walking, the “elusive powers that be” abound everywhere.  There is no limit to the craving for power.

Huldah wielded a great deal of power.  This obscure woman was a prophetess in Jerusalem during the reign of King Josiah (2 Kings 22:8-20; 2 Chronicles 34:14-28).  Before Josiah became king at the age of eight, the people of Judah had sunk about as low as possible spiritually.  They worshiped Baal and other pagan gods, even offering their children as sacrifices on those heathen altars, consulted sorcerers and diviners, and practiced sexual deviance.  They had abandoned the worship of the Lord who had created and blessed them.  But Josiah desired to follow the example of King David and to please the Lord, destroying many of the pagan altars and initiating many reforms.  In the eighteenth year of his reign, he ordered God’s Temple to be repaired.  During the restoration, a priest discovered the Book of the Lord!  When the king heard the words of the Book, possibly Deuteronomy 7 and 8, he tore his clothes and sent representatives to “inquire of the Lord” about these words!  They went to the prophetess Huldah to receive God’s message to the king.  Huldah spoke the words from the Lord with grace, courage, and dignity.

The very, very, “bad news” came first.  Because of the debauchery and rebellion of Judah, God would bring about all the curses the were described in the Book!  But the “good news” for Josiah was that these terrible events would not happen in his lifetime since he had humbled himself and repented on behalf of his people.  Josiah led the Jews in the greatest revival and celebrated the greatest Passover that had ever been observed in Judah!

Sadly, however, the repentance of the people did not last past the death of Josiah.  Unfortunately, the kings who followed led Judah into the same depravity as before.  Those who rejected the Lord, in wickedness and perversion, were ultimately exiled, though they had been warned and given a chance to repent.  Huldah had spoken powerful words of truth, leading that great, though temporary, revival.  Where did she get such power?  The power came from the Holy Spirit of God Himself!  The good news for believers is that we have the same Holy Spirit that Huldah had!  All who trust in Jesus as Savior receive the Holy Spirit to dwell within them forever! The power He gives is not the power the culture is seeking – power over other people, to control or intimidate.  The power that comes from the Spirit enables a believer to share the gospel with those who are perishing in sin, speak kindly to one who has been rude, release the desire for retaliation, rejoice in a time of loss, find wisdom in the Word of God, stand for “right” even when no one else does, have peace in the middle of turmoil, continue to trust when prayers seem unanswered, resist the temptation to sin, forgive even when brokenhearted, persevere in doing good when relief seems far away.  The power Jesus demonstrated was the power to choose to be humble and submissive in spirit, not seeking fame or the praise of men, but serving others instead.  This is the power we should “wield.”

“Dear Heavenly Father, empower me to be humble before You and others, to serve them as though I am serving You, never to be prideful or desirous of worldly power, but only the power that comes from You!”

About the Writer
Diana is a former high school teacher, Sunday School teacher, and Women’s Bible Studies teacher. For many years a stay-at-home wife and mother, she is now also a grandmother to three young Oklahomans, who call her “Gigi”.

 

In this Upside Down World, How Can I have Comfort?

Look up comfort in a dictionary and you’ll find a definition like “something that promotes a state of ease or provides freedom from pain and anxiety.”  Is comfort something we try to obtain through materialistic means – anything from new clothes, to drugs, drinking, sex, luxurious homes, cars, etc.?  Today’s culture would lead us to believe this is true.

Note this excerpt from a recent devotional by Dr. Charles Stanley:

“According to God’s Word, when consolation or comforting is needed, the only true solution is the indwelling Holy Spirit. In Greek, He is called paraklētos, which means ‘he who stands at one’s side; he who comes to one’s aid.’  Believers don’t have to rely on outward remedies or distractions to ease their mind, because help is available from the ultimate Comforter.  Even before the Holy Spirit was sent to indwell believers. (John 14:26),(Ephesians 3:16) Scripture identified God as the one who comforts His people. (Isaiah 40:1)(Isaiah 49:13).  The Lord personally provides consolation and reassurance because no one knows our hurts the way He does.”

“I like this anonymous quotation: ‘When we have gone into the furnace of affliction, His hand is on the thermostat and His eye is on the clock.” God allows hardship, and as a result, we become stronger believers, wiser servants, and more humble people. But He stays by our side through the entire experience, sustaining us and limiting the intensity and duration of our distress. The Spirit’s reassuring whisper to our heart gives more comfort than the solace of family or the encouragement of friends.”

In the life of David in the Old Testament, we find numerous times that he sought out the Lord for comfort, reassurance, and instruction. A few of those instances were:  when fighting with Goliath (I Samuel 17) and running from Saul (I Samuel 19-22).  He wrote the Psalm below describing how our Lord provided comfort and reassurance.

Ps. 16:8-11  I have set the Lord continually before me;
Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad and my glory rejoices;
My flesh also will dwell securely.
 For You will not abandon my soul to Sheol;
Nor will You allow Your Holy One to undergo decay.
You will make known to me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.

Notice in this Psalm the steps he took:

  1. Kept his focus on the Lord – “set the Lord continually before me”
  2. Demonstrated faith, peace, and security in the Lord – “I will not be shaken”
  3. Recognized his joy was from the Lord – “my heart is glad”
  4. Knew he would never be left alone – “You will not abandon”
  5. Recognized where his joy and pleasures came from – “in Your presence  . . . In Your right hand”

Sometimes on this side of heaven, we may not know the purpose for trials and tribulations, but we can be sure that our God is Sovereign, and will provide true comfort, peace, hope, and reassurance through His Holy Spirit.  Lean on Him, let go, and let God.

About the Writer:
Beverly is former educator, administrator, and Sunday school teacher, who is a wife, mother, and grandmother with a passion for sharing God’s love.

Should I stay or should I Go?

Moses was a good and faithful servant and while reading about him in the Bible, the Lord brought to my attention 3 key steps along his journey in becoming one of God’s good and faithful servants.

1) God allowed circumstances that created a change in Moses’s life. This life change resulted in the removal of obstacles that were hindering him from following the call of the Lord.  Moses killed an Egyptian after watching him beat on one of his fellow Hebrew kinsman which forced him to run away from his home and live as a shepherd (Exodus 2). He went from living as a worldly Egyptian prince, surrounded by idols and the pursuit of self-pleasures, to a shepherd in the wilderness. He had nothing out there with him but God’s unfiltered creation, and I would imagine not many distracting luxuries. Has God allowed circumstances to create a life change in order to remove hindrances in your life? How did you respond?

2) God revealed to Moses who He was. Moses did not have a Bible. All he had was the Hebrew oral tradition, which basically means that he was told stories about God from many generations before him. In Exodus 3: 1-6 we read that God appeared in a burning bush which did not get consumed by the fire despite its flames. After God speaks to Moses, immediately Moses realized that God was so holy (set apart) from anything he had ever known. So much so that Moses could not even look at Him out of fear. God is so holy and perfect that if we as imperfect creatures were allowed to fully see Him in all His glory we would be destroyed. Let that sink in. That’s the God we serve.

3) God told Moses exactly what He was going to do. God graciously gave Moses some of the details of how He was going to accomplish His plan; He does not always do that. The remainder of Exodus 3 details the conversation between Moses and the Lord. It mostly reads as God telling Moses a detail and then Moses arguing with Him about it; then God doing a miraculous sign and Moses continuing to argue with Him about it. Does this sound a little familiar in your own journey? I know it does in mine! In fact, Moses argued so much that God got angry with Him for his lack of trust in the Lord to do all that He said He would, or more specifically to be able to use someone like Moses. Paraphrasing Exodus 4:11-12 God told Moses, “I created you! Of course, I know what you can and cannot do! But never mind what you can do, I am going to do it through you!”

Despite His anger, God still used Moses to do miraculous things for His kingdom. God created us with the freedom to make our own choices, and if we choose not to fully trust in Him we might miss out on exciting opportunities. God allows us to partner with Him to accomplish His will. Reflect back on your own life. What opportunities do you think you missed out on? What opportunities are you in danger of missing out on now? Remember, we only get one life, one shot at being a good and faithful servant. Don’t waste it!

 Now then go, and I, even I, will be with your mouth, and teach you what you are to say. Exodus 4:12

About the Writer:
Natalie is a stay at home mom to two young boys. Additionally, she occasionally works as an emergency room nurse and is studying to become a Nurse Practitioner. She and her husband have been called into the medical mission field and are excited to see what the Lord has in store for their lives.

You Mean it’s not all about Me?

A woman is bathing on the rooftop.  The king sees her and decides he must have her.  He sends for her, and so begins one of the biggest blowups in the Bible.  But what about the woman?  Was she looking for the attention of the King or was she an innocent victim?

We don’t know what Bathsheba’s intentions were.  I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what I was missing in my reading, and finally realized her intentions weren’t important to the telling of the story. The story wasn’t really about her. She became a very important figure in the Bible and was mentioned in the lineage of Jesus, but she was identified only as the wife of Uriah the Hittite.

Can you imagine being in her story, what it must have been like to lose her husband, then marry the King, then have a baby, then lose that baby?  And that was just the beginning of the tragedy that ensued.  I know in that situation I would have been crying out to God, “Why me?  Why are you doing this to me?”  But, you see, it wasn’t about her or we would know the details.

The story was about King David and his blowup.  Bathsheba played a part, but the story unfolding was his story.  I can’t count how many times I ask God why.  Very frequently, the answer is – it’s not about me. That place of asking why comes from a focus on myself, and comes from taking my eyes off what He wants for me in the moment. It comes from selfish pride, thinking the world revolves around me and I am here to be happy.

Oh wait, you mean I wasn’t put on this Earth to be happy?  Not exactly.  Sure, God wants us to be happy, but He first commands us to be obedient and serve Him.

Love the Lord your God and serve Him with all your heart and all your soul.  Deuteronomy 11:13 

I think Bathsheba got this. In the few verses where she is mentioned as taking action, that action began with bowing before the King.  She eventually gave birth to the wisest man on earth, and could have been either the inspiration for the author of the Proverbs 31. While we don’t know her intentions, we do see the fruit of her actions, and we see how God redeemed her circumstances.

But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more. Romans 5:20

For me, the story of Bathsheba is one of obedience, of service, and of grace. But today, she is a good reminder it isn’t always about me.

About the Writer:
Wendy is a wife and mother who works full time in Risk Management.  Here at First Dallas she serves in Sunday school, helps coordinate Angel tree, and teaches at Discipleship University.  Her greatest joy comes from discovering how following Jesus can greatly impact her daily life and the lives of those she cares about in innumerable, practical ways.

You are a God Who Sees

Then she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, “You are a God who sees.” Genesis 16:13 

An opportunity presented itself and I was more than eager to take it on. I was soon to begin a writing venture that I had so longed to start. I packed my bags and headed to Alabama to one of the most sought out vacation spots. As I pulled into the lodge, I was both intrigued and overwhelmed by all that awaited me. I pushed ahead of my emotions and plunged into the work that had been appointed for me to do.

As the production proceeded, day after day, more strength was needed as well as extra time to finish. Instead of the joy I thought I would experience, a dread was attaching itself to my heart. I loved writing, but it was becoming more of a chore than a delight and I couldn’t understand why.

My mind became captivated with the mere thought of finishing strong while the energy to continue the task was fading. Time was running out and so was my joy. However, as I continued to work hard on the job at hand, God was working intensely on the heart within.

I finally reached a point of what authors call, “writer’s block.” I knew I needed to remove myself from my room, in which I had been enclosed for days, and just take a ride in the car. Yet what I thought would be a time to clear my mind, God knew it would be an opportunity to clear my heart.

I was completely engrossed by a sermon on the radio as I pulled up beside a boat dock that over- looked a beautiful river. Tears began to stream down my face, as I sat there alone, listening and praying. God knew that submerged deep within me were issues that needed resolving regarding my life. As I poured my heart out to Him, I was deeply touched by the mere fact that His eyes saw me. I was in the middle of nowhere, tears pouring, yet my Lord took notice.

Now the angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, by the spring on the way to Shur.  He said, “Hagar, Sarai’s maid, where have you come from and where are you going?” And she said, “I am fleeing from the presence of my mistress Sarai.”  Genesis 16:7-8 

Sarai, unable to conceive a child, wanted desperately to have a family. While taking matters into her own hands, she resolved to give her Egyptian maid, Hagar, to her husband Abram in hopes of obtaining children. Yet immediately after Hagar conceived, a great friction took place between the two women and Hagar ran away.

While coursing through the desert, Hagar found herself sitting down by a well, broken, rejected and afraid. No sooner had she arrived that an angel of the Lord met her there. As He began to encourage her heart, she was engulfed with joy by the mere fact that God took notice of where she was and of what she was going through. She later sighed, “You are a God who sees.”

Just like Hagar, I too was overtaken by the goodness and mercy of God. And even though my journey was producing discouragement, earnestly imploring me to quit, God met me where I was and intervened in a battle raging strong within my heart. My God took notice and He took action!

Remember, discouragement and hopelessness will always beg for entrance to your life. Yet when you allow God to flip on His light switch to your heart, you will be amazed at what transpires, as He takes center stage of your spirit. Hopelessness will quickly bow out.

There is nothing which you and I will ever face that God will not take notice of. God met Hagar sitting by a well. He met me sitting by a river. And He will meet you wherever you are today.

About the Writer:
Shea is the mother of two and nana of five and enjoys both roles tremendously. She loves the opportunity to serve through various ministries at First Baptist Dallas as well as Entrusted Hope Ministry.  She also speaks to women’s groups, assists with biblical counseling when opportunities arise and is constantly working to develop women’s Bible studies. Shea received her bachelor’s degree in Christian Ministry from Blue Mountain College in Blue Mountain, Mississippi; her master’s degree in Biblical Counseling from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas; and began her doctoral work at Southwestern this past fall.

Cray Cray!

Have you heard the newer expression “cray cray” or “cray”? It’s used to describe someone or something that is crazy on another level, the ultimate crazy. It surfaced a few years ago and is now part of my personal vocabulary, especially at work where I am an emergency room nurse. The days in the emergency room can get cray!

Noah’s Ark riding on a swell after the Great Flood

To every living person on the Earth, Noah was cray cray. This guy was building a massive boat for an impending flood that only he knew about, in a land where there was no rain in sight.  And why was he building the boat? Because God told him to. That reasoning did not fly with his culture, much like it does not hold much merit in ours today. But Noah did not care. Day after day he built that boat despite enduring what I can only imagine as some intense persecution. Undergoing name-calling, jeering, and bullying on top of extremely hard physical labor must have been grueling. In Hebrews 11:7 NIV, the Bible says that out of “holy fear” Noah built the ark.

The Bible gives us some insight into what the people were like in Noah’s world. From Genesis 6, the Bible says that they were evil, that they thought evil all the time (with the exception of Noah.) The Bible goes on to say:

And just as it happened in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man:  they were eating, they were drinking, they were marrying, they were being given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. Luke 17:26-27

This means that our culture is going to continue to get worse until Jesus Christ comes to reign. My question is this:  As our culture becomes increasingly depraved, will we have the faith and perseverance to stand up for righteousness or will we succumb to the ways of the world because it’s easier to do so? For example, God said in 1 Corinthians 6 do not have sex outside the bonds of marriage. Yet, sexual relations outside of the marriage bed are common even among those who are Christians.

Doing the right thing is rarely easy and honoring God with a “holy fear” of His instructions is not popular. But, if we can’t do it now when our culture is not “evil all the time” how can we expect to do it later when it is? When the persecution increases, what will be our response? I pray that I have a holy fear like Noah and follow God’s commandments, even if it means I look cray cray.

About the Writer:
Natalie is a stay at home mom to two young boys. Additionally, she occasionally works as an emergency room nurse and is studying to become a Nurse Practitioner. She and her husband have been called into the medical mission field and are excited to see what the Lord has in store for their lives.