About Betrayal. The Judas Kiss.

jon-tyson-232630.jpg

She was the kind of friend we all long to have: fun, loud, encouraging and affectionate. She hugged everyone and once she knew you by name, you could expect a big ole kiss on the cheek every time she saw you; it’s just who she was. One day she came to me with concerns, valid ones. They were raw and honest and she seemed genuinely worried. I agreed with her, prayed with her, we fasted together and shared our hearts on what these concerns were doing to us on the inside. We were hurting.

Then it happened. She took the concerns straight to the people we were praying for and attached my name to them. Only, she added some accusations and painted a picture that demonized me to them. They didn’t ask questions, they didn’t open it for discussion, they simply cut me off; all of them, even her. 

I couldn’t believe it happened. I couldn’t understand why it happened. I couldn’t even address it with her. There was an opportunity where making me look bad made her look big…and she took it. Relationships were destroyed, ministries were dismantled and the pain still lurks. 

Matthew 26:48-49 (NIV) Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him.” Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him.

Jesus knew the bite of betrayal. He knows that ripped open feeling the heart endures as it’s left torn and devastated. He felt it. What makes betrayal so painful is that it never comes from who we’d expect. It comes from the ones we greet with hugs and kisses because we’re that close. They are our people. 

So what do we do when we’re left in the ruins of hurt and loss? Where do we go with our shock and confusion? 

Jesus took the very betrayal that cost him everything and walked it down a long, painful road to the cross. He didn’t walk around aimlessly, he made a choice: to take his pain to a place of purpose- a place of healing- a place of restoration. We can walk around hurt or we can walk our hurt to the one who can heal. God honors our pain when we bring it to Him. 

felix-russell-saw-251617.jpg

 

Luke 23:34 (NIV) Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." 

Then, he did a very hard thing: he forgave. There was a truth that gave him strength: people will fail us but God will not. Judas wasn’t just part of his story. Without Judas, there would be no cross. Out of the worlds greatest betrayal came the worlds greatest blessing: salvation. We serve the kind of God that not only repairs the broken pieces of our hearts but makes them better than they were before. 

“I’m better off healed than I ever was unbroken.”  -Beth Moore

Here’s a promise we can rest in today: there is always something to be salvaged from the ruins of betrayal. In fact, what doesn’t break us, makes us. It’s not just part of our story, but the very thing that gets us where we’re going. And as for people with a Judas heart, they always end up hanging themselves. 

 

Jesus, thank you for being there in my deepest pain. Thank you for providing a place for me to go with my hurt. Will you talk to me about the shattered pieces of my heart and the person who is responsible? Speak the deep places of my soul. Take what’s broken and make it beautiful. Make it sing your praises, Lord.

Girl, You Need to Calm Your Crazy!

crazy.jpg

The other day my husband and I went to a local bakery for dessert and coffee. I was so excited because they have the best chocolate cake with homemade ganache. It’s so dreamy! Picture marble cake with ganache filling, chocolate icing coated in chopped walnuts, served chilled. I love cold cake! I may or may not have hustled to get to the counter before the older man walking in at the same time as us and I may or may not have won. I don’t know. Maybe. What happened next was tragic. I looked and looked for my favorite cake and couldn’t find it. They were out for night and I was out of luck. So, I had two choices: 1) deviate from what my tastebuds were prepared for and go with pie….ummm no….or 2) settle for the next closest thing, a homemade ding dong. 

So, I sat down with my ding dong and began to eat it in disappointment. The tragedy continued because I found a hair in the middle of it. No!!! Seriously??? Ewww!!!

My husband, being the punny guy he is, looked at me and said, “I dare you to walk up to the counter and tell the guy standing behind it that you found a hair in your ding dong…and keep a straight face.” Y’all. My husband. He kept pressuring me until I told him, in my best Heather Land impersonation, “Uh-uh! I ain’t doin it!” 

What on earth? No, crazy! You want me to say what? I opted to just forget about chocolate that night. It clearly wasn’t meant to be. 

In the book of Jonah, God instructs him to walk up to random people he doesn’t know, in a large town called Nineveh, and announce that God was getting ready to pour out judgment on them because they were wicked. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather tell a stranger I found a hair in my ding dong. Jonah apparently felt the same way because he told God no, bought a ticket and got on a boat to sail as far away as possible. Can’t say I wouldn’t do the same. You want me to do what, Lord? How stressful! I need to go on a cruise to think about it…

Jonah 1:4 "But the Lord hurled a powerful wind over the sea, causing a violent storm that threatened to break the ship apart."

jonah.jpg

So, this huge storm comes. And by huge, I mean that this ship is about to be decimated while these poor, unsuspecting people on it are now paying a price for his disobedience. They are experiencing high winds, being shaken to the core, fear, anxiety, lack of peace, feeling overwhelmed and like nothing is in their control. 

Do you ever feel that way? Do you feel that way now? Maybe you’re in one of life’s storms and can’t figure out how to make it stop. If that’s you, read these next verses very carefully: 

Jonah 1:15-16 "Then the sailors picked Jonah up and threw him into the raging sea, and the storm stopped at once! The sailors were awestruck by the Lord’s great power, and they offered him a sacrifice and vowed to serve him."

They found the source of the storm and threw it overboard. How often do we do that? We tend to ride out the storm until the next one starts brewing, but what if we could calm it by identifying what is in our lives that shouldn’t be? Think about that. There might be something we need to throw overboard so we can return to smooth sailing. 

  • Maybe there’s someone on your ship that isn’t supposed to be there, someone that inserted themselves into your journey. 
  • Maybe you have something on your schedule that needs to be tossed. Overly busy means overwhelmed. 
  • Maybe there’s somewhere else to store that really heavy cargo you’ve been carting around, like the bottom of the sea. This storm is signaling it’s time to get rid of it.

Whatever the case may be, if your peace is on the line, it’s time to reel it back in. 

What happened when Jonah was thrown overboard? He was swallowed by a whale. Another way to say that is, God rescued him and got him on the right path. If the men on that ship hadn’t calmed their crazy by throwing him overboard, they would have all paid the price. And that’s what happens when we don’t lighten our load- everyone pays the price. Girl, you need to calm your crazy if you’re feeling the storm! This is your permission slip to throw some stuff overboard today so you can have your peace back.

Dream it and Do it. Seriously.

Dare to dream.jpg

Once upon a time, there was a girl who dreamed big dreams. REALLY big dreams. She prayed, sought the Lord and visualized the hand of God moving in her life and so many others. She dreamt of hope, freedom, pure love and could see heaven coming down to earth. It fueled her to do something every day that got her closer to this dream. The details had not been given to her so she filled in the blanks. 

Then, one day, it kind of came crashing down. You know how that goes right? Things happen, people get wounded, decisions have to be made. And sometimes the people you thought would walk this dream out with you are gone. What do you do with that?

She shelved her dreams and just kept going. She picked up her broken heart and walked through the next door God opened. And the next. And the next. Then one day she realized the dream was still in that broken heart of hers. It was still alive. It didn’t look the same, but the vision was still intact. The only thing that had changed was the details…the ones where she had filled in the blanks. She saw the beauty in erasing her plans and asking for the hand of God to write them on her heart. And He did. 

Proverbs 19:21- “Many are the plans in a person's heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails.”

You see, plans are man-made, but purpose is God-given. When we allow Him to fill in the blanks, dreams become reality and purpose happens. It really does happen. She will tell you it’s true. I know because I am her. And so are you. 

So, what’s your word for 2018?

danielle-macinnes-222441.jpg

Don’t be afraid to dream, but don’t do it apart from Him. What does dreaming look like?

1. ASK FOR IT! Ask the Lord how you can serve Him and others best in 2018.                                                                                    James 4:2- “You do not have, because you do not ask.”

2. PLAN IT! Find ways to use what He has put inside of you to make a difference.                                                                       Matthew 19:26- “…with God all things are possible.”

3. DO IT! Go after the heart of God. Desire what He desires.                                                                                                                 Psalm 37:4- “Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

I’m trusting Him to put desires in my heart this year. To align my heart with His. I want to see people the way He does and understand humanity a little better. I pray to extend grace more, pursue Him with a fearless obedience and recognize holy moments as they come. I want to dwell deeper in His presence and help others do the same. 

I put together a Dream it and Do it planning guide for 2018 to keep me focused in the direction He is taking me and I wanted to share it with you. It’s free and it’s yours! You can find it here, on my freebies page. Just scroll to the bottom, enter your email address and it'll be sent to your inbox. I’m praying you get away to a place where it’s just you, Jesus and a cup of coffee and let Him fill in the blanks. Love Y'all! 

zJdLtcPFTxKD6C7+2OqjCw.jpg

Here's to God-sized dreams in 2018!

Prayers That Aren't Boring

anthony-ginsbrook-294309.jpg

Have you ever wanted to pray powerful prayers, but you don't know how? You've heard people tell you to pray scriptures, but you don't know which ones? Or maybe you've tried to establish a regular prayer time and you think, "Bored. I'm bored. This is boring." It's ok, you can be honest. And hey, if that's you, you're not alone! Praying can be a little overwhelming. We get hung up on: Where do I start? What do I say? Should I use big words? So, I wanted to give you some tips to make prayer, well...fun! 

First of all, prayer isn't designed to change circumstances as much as it's designed to change people. Us. Them. All the people. So a good way to approach prayer is to understand that we're asking for things that are pretty big. Way bigger than us. We're asking for our hearts to be changed, the presence of God to come near and a deeper understanding of Him. Prayer brings us closer to our creator. The point is nearness. We can pray: Lord, help my child do well in school today. Or, we can pray: Lord, give my child a desire to learn. Help me see what peeks their interests and excites them. Help me find ways to show them that 'those who work hard will prosper. ' (Proverbs 13:4) We can pray for circumstances or we can pray for the character He wants to develop in the circumstances. 

Praying scripture always connects us with the person/situation we are praying for. So here are some scriptures that have helped me pray for people:

edwin-andrade-162696.jpg

Wisdom

James 1:5  If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

Proverbs 3:5  Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding

Luke 12:12  For the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.

Peace

Isaiah 26:3  You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.

1 Peter 5:7  Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

Colossians 3:15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.

Proverbs 16:7 When a man's ways please the Lord, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.

Comfort

Hebrews 13:5  The Lord has promised that he will not leave us or desert us.

Deuteronomy 31:6  Be strong and brave. Don’t be afraid of them. Don’t be frightened. The Lord your God will go with you. He will not leave you or forget you.

Psalm 27:13-14 I have sure faith that I will experience the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living! Hope in the Lord! Be strong! Let your heart take courage! Hope in the Lord!

Hope

Romans 8:28  We know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Psalm 119:114 You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in your word.

Faith

Luke 1:37 For nothing will be impossible with God.”

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

2 Corinthians 5:7 For we walk by faith, not by sight.

Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God

Grace

Hebrews 4:16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

John 1:16 And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.

2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

Lord, make us people of your word. May we read it, understand it and pray to become more like it.