Posted by: Kimberly | Tue Nov 15, 2016

The Storm

When you’re trying to be the calm in the storm, when it’s raging around you, keep your focus on the calm, not the storm. When it seems all around you will not keep silence and are focusing on the storm raging, can you keep your focus on the calm, or do you react to their constant noise? Do you engage in peace or do you get distracted by the turmoil surrounding you? I’ve done both, I admit. That is when I become Peter. I want to take that step out on the water. I want to head toward what I know is the only peace that will calm.

wm 804 clouds still low ED

I step out and start walking, but then I hear the clap of thunder or see the bolt of lightning in my peripheral vision – at first I ignore it. I might notice the wave swell next to me and how close it is… then my mind starts to drift and my focus falters. All of a sudden, my eyes are not on the peace, but on the turmoil and I start slipping. The waters start to envelop me and I start sinking; I’m no longer walking on the water, but I’m submerging. No…! I’m going under… my head bobbles above and below the surface, I can’t see… Panic sets in. I can feel and taste the salty water in my mouth and I start to sputter and spit, my arms are flailing, and I realize… I’m drowning!! Where did I go wrong? What was I doing? I was in a storm… a million thoughts flash through my mind as I try to recall my surroundings and how I got here. How do I get out of this? Why am I drowning? Why is this storm killing me?! Why isn’t anyone helping me?!! Then I cry out, ‘Lord! Please help! Rescue me!! Get me out of here! Please! Save me!” Instantly, He reaches out and pulls me up out of the storm’s surge and I’m in the arms of my loving Savior. Relief! As I start to regain my senses and try to piece together what just happened, I ask him… “Lord, how did I get here?” He lovingly answers, “You were distracted by your surroundings and you took your eyes off me.”

That is the answer isn’t it? We get distracted by the things of life that trouble us, and we take our eyes off Jesus, who has the ability to save and rescue us. All the cares of this world will fade away, but He will always be there. What are we distracted by today? Where is our focus? Is it on the turmoil or is it on the answer? The peace.

Psalm 107:27-30 They reeled and staggered like drunkards and were at their wits’ end. “LORD, help!” they cried in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He calmed the storm to a whisper and stilled the waves. What a blessing was that stillness as he brought them safely into harbor!

Posted by: Kimberly | Wed Jul 20, 2016

Dousing the Fires that Destroy

We would be in a better frame of mind to remember when someone sets out to attempt to destroy us or assassinate our character because of envy, jealousy, or “perceived” offense, that it is our opportunity to shine. We are the only ones who can actually destroy ourselves by our re-Action to their tactics. They are exposing themselves and their own vulnerability and character by their attacks. They will eventually cause others to look at them more carefully and see their faults, if we keep a positive outlook, by focusing on who Jesus says we are and not others.

Unfortunately, some live a life of attempting to attack those around them who don’t cater to their every whim. We must allow them to self-destruct, however painful it might be. Jealousy, envy, and name-calling are at the root of a very bitter person. These behaviors are antithetical to a life led by the Holy Spirit. When a life is led by Jesus, it is full of the fruits of the Spirit; which are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Gossip is the opposite of these and one of the most insidious, because it entraps people and entices people to participate.  There are different forms of gossip also, as explained here: Proverbs 6:16-19 The definition of gossip is idle talk or rumors about the personal affairs of others; hearsay, scandal, and usually gossip isn’t a firsthand account, although there are those who gather evidence to use against you, posing as friends. Psalm 41:6 Many will try to disguise gossip and think it’s innocent to tell of another’s ‘troubles’ in a caring manner, but it isn’t and some don’t stop at caring; they do it out of vindictiveness. Gossip is a wildfire that must be put out – Don’t give an ear to its licking flames, don’t listen! Stop those who want to tell you the latest about others. When we shut our ears; by not listening; we are stopping those who want to share a ‘Bless their heart’ story. We are throwing water on the flames. If all of us did this, there wouldn’t even be a cinder left to ignite the flames.

I am reminded of an incident when I was a child about nine years of age. I grew up on my grandparents’ 80 acre pecan farm, with plenty of room to roam, and I loved it. One crisp, clear, cool fall afternoon, I piled up leaves about 30 feet from the back of our house to make a fort, which I was able to stack a couple of feet high. It was high enough that I could hide behind the walls if I scrunched down. I had plenty of material of twigs and dead leaves. The leaves were damp, so they stacked well. I had an active imagination and I was the youngest of three, much younger than my two older brothers, who usually couldn’t be bothered with a little sister. This allowed me to make up stories and play alone. But after I built the fort, sitting there became a bit boring and I wanted more excitement! I started to pretend an enemy had crossed the moat (our ditch) and set my fort on fire! But even then it wasn’t enough; I wanted to make it realistic. I knew we had matches in the house, because we had a gas range, which my mother needed the matches to light. Although I was forbidden to play with matches, I snuck in the back door, through our utility room, which led to the kitchen and waited patiently for my opportunity. I snatched a few from the box while my mother wasn’t looking. I ran back out and lit one on our concrete cellar and tried to catch my ‘fort’ on fire, but it wouldn’t spark right away, so I kept trying. I was on my last match when my father stuck his head out the back door to tell me dinner was ready. Knowing I shouldn’t be playing with matches, I dropped the match and ran for the house, forgetting the match was lit.
lit match
About 15 minutes into dinner, my father said, “I smell smoke! I wonder who’s burning today?” as he looked at my mother, he asked if any of the other farms had gathered their brushfires yet, and she replied that she didn’t know. Our closest neighbor was a quarter mile away. Suddenly it dawned on me how I’d dropped the match, so I jumped up and peeked through the dining room drapes to look. Just as I was about to be scolded for getting up from the table, I yelled, in a panic stricken voice, “My fort’s on fire!!” and pulled open the drapes. Everyone jumped up from the table to see, and my father barked out orders on what to do to put out the fire. We had to keep from burning all the leaves on the 80 acres, and I stood frozen there staring, then burst into tears. The fire was spreading quickly, even though the leaves were wet. I wasn’t thinking about the farm, I was thinking about all the work I’d done in building that fort for hours. Finally, I went outside and watched — the hose from the front yard was now hooked up to the back spigot, and my fort was almost gone, as I stood watching in horror! Then, I realized I had started this pandemonium with one small careless match. I snapped out of my remorse as I heard my father yelling about the pecan orchard, because I helped my grandfather on the farm all the time and realized the bigger picture. It wasn’t about a fort, it was about an orchard! I pitched in and all five of us worked with water and gunny sacks to put out the fire. Obviously, I was in trouble with my parents for playing with matches and starting a fire, but thankfully, it had only spread about an acre. About the time we had it almost out, my grandparents drove up to see why smoke was coming from our house, because from their vantage point it looked like our house was on fire. I don’t remember what my punishment was, because I was in so much remorse with what could have happened that my parents must have decided I had learned my lesson. But they weren’t easy on chastisement, so I must have had to do or go without something. 

I can think of so many parallels between gossip, responsibility, and carelessness from this story. I had to sneak into the house to get the matches. I was doing something that I knew I wasn’t supposed to do, but I went ahead, and when I got caught, I didn’t confess, I dropped the tiny lit fire. In starting the fire, I could have destroyed a whole orchard, think how many lives are destroyed by gossip. Also, when the fire caused the smoke, it caused panic and alarm, even bringing my grandparents hightailing through the farm to come to our aid. But some people don’t think of all the consequences of their actions. If I had thought about that lit match, I don’t I would have dropped it, but maybe I would so I wouldn’t get caught. Do you know people who even in the midst of telling gossip in front of the person they’re talking about, will quickly tell the story quietly? Gossip doesn’t stop with telling stories, relating facts, because sometimes the facts you know shouldn’t be shared and become misconstrued. If you ever played the game “Rumors” as a child, where you whisper a sentence in the ear of the person next to you and then it’s repeated and whispered through the ears of even just ten people, by that time it’s a completely different sentence. With gossip, the story is usually embellished, and every person has to add his or her own perception, that’s when the fire starts. Once the fire starts, it’s hard to put out, even if there are wet leaves (those who won’t listen) because there are a few dry leaves (those who will listen), so eventually you get a spark and then a smolder. Sometimes it takes a while for the smolder to linger, before the fire rages, like my fort fire. Then there’s damage and everyone comes running to put out what just one person started by being disobedient. This is why we must control our mouths and control our perceptions, we should never make presumptions or speculate. We cannot read other people’s minds or feel their feelings, those are theirs alone. It is best to contain a fire, by never allowing it to ignite. We should mind our own business and contain the fires. We should stop the fires that others want to start. 

People who shrug off deliberate deceptions,  saying, “I didn’t mean it, I was only joking,” Are worse than careless campers who walk away from smoldering campfires. When you run out of wood, the fire goes out;  when the gossip ends, the quarrel dies down. – Proverbs 26:18-20

A bit in the mouth of a horse controls the whole horse. A small rudder on a huge ship in the hands of a skilled captain sets a course in the face of the strongest winds. A word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything—or destroy it! It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire. A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that. By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell. – James 3:5-6


Posted by: Kimberly | Tue Jul 19, 2016

Facing the Unexpected 

Jesus had just healed many people and the disciples had witnessed these events. Afterwards, they got in a boat and SUDDENLY a storm came up and they woke Jesus up because they were frightened. But Jesus was right there with them!! After all the miracles they witnessed, they were worried about the storm! Jesus rebuked the storm. Again, SUDDENLY, while Jesus was in their presence or they were in His, everything calmed. 

 After Peter denied Jesus three times, before his crucifixion, SUDDENLY, he remembered the prophecy spoken over him and he was convicted. But Jesus had already forgiven him.

When the news of Jesus birth was being announced to the shepherds, an angel SUDDENLY appeared, but the angel reassured them that everything was okay.

After Jesus’ resurrection, he appeared to two of the disciples on the road to Emmaeus. Even not knowing who he was, they begged him to stay with them and he accepted. When he broke the bread, SUDDENLY, they recognized him. Later, Jesus SUDDENLY appeared to the disciples and frightened them, he offered them the comfort of the Holy Spirit. 

In another story on the lake, the disciples SUDDENLY saw Jesus walking on the water, and they were frightened. He told them to have peace and remain calm.

When Saul (later Paul) was on the road to Damascus, he SUDDENLY saw a light so bright it knocked him to the ground and a voice spoke to him. That voice was Jesus, who asked him to quit persecuting him. Saul was blinded by the light, but was at peace and still walked the rest of the way with guidance. Jesus was with him in spirit! His sight was returned when he believed.

After Paul survived the shipwreck, he came to an island and built a fire. A poisonous snake bit him and the islanders expected him to SUDDENLY die. When he didn’t, they thought he was a god, but he actually had Jesus with him, protecting him. 
In each of these stories, people were frightened. Sometimes it was those who already believed and some were non-believers, but Jesus was ALWAYS PRESENT during the SUDDENLY times, which interpreted from the Greek, means the UNEXPECTED TIMES. What unexpected things have happened in your life lately that have thrown a wrench in your plans or may have frightened you? Has it been financial, your health, a legal dispute, or a family situation? Or perhaps it’s been all of them and more. Just because they’ve happened, doesn’t mean that Jesus is not right there beside us. When we forget to recognize Jesus and rely on him, we let our fears and emotions overtake us. 

Personally, we’ve had many trials in our lives this year in each of the areas I mentioned and multiple times in many scenarios. Thankfully, we’ve had the wisdom to hold onto ktnowing that none of this means God doesn’t love and care for us. It doesn’t mean he has forgotten us and because of all these calamities, we’ve grown. 

Hopefully we can say after having endured, what Paul told the Corinthians, May Jesus give us Paul’s outlook and viewpoint as we press forward. Holy Spirit, work this heart in us, during the unexpected and sudden trials. 

2 Corinthians 6:3-10 (excerpt) We live in such a way that no one will stumble because of us, and no one will find fault with our ministry… we show that we are true ministers of God. We patiently endure troubles and hardships and calamities of every kind… endured sleepless nights … We prove ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, by the Holy Spirit within us, and by our sincere love. We faithfully preach the truth. God’s power is working in us. We use the weapons of righteousness in the right hand for attack and the left hand for defense. We serve God whether people honor us or despise us, whether they slander us or praise us. We are honest, but they call us impostors. We are ignored, even though we are well known. We live close to death, but we are still alive. We have been beaten [with words]… Our hearts ache, but we always have joy… we give spiritual riches to others. We own nothing, and yet we have everything.

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