Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Watch Out For Vultures!

Sitting on my stoop, I reveled in the cool breeze that was blowing, the beautiful weather a result of a storm front that had moved through the night before. This morning the air was cooler, the humidity was low. Not only was there a lovely breeze, but the birds were singing, there were really big turkeys in the field, strutting around like they owned the place, which was entertaining to watch. As I watched them, a mother deer and her baby ran across the end of the field. Another blessing. What a show of nature I get as I sit on the stoop and drink in the glory of God all around me.

Then, I looked up and saw them. Two large, black, vultures circling the trees, floating on the air currents. They would glide close then drift away, just barely over the treetops. From a distance they looked like hawks. I like hawks. They're regal, majestic, and proud. But no, as these two came closer I realized that they were vultures. And they were huge.

One in particular seemed to want me to notice how large he was because he dipped very close to where I was sitting so I could get a good look at him. It was then that I realized that the vulture is a lot like the enemy of our souls. Large, black, and loves to eat away at the open wounds of his prey.

That's what vultures do. They're scavengers. They prey on anything that is hurt, wounded, dying or dead. And the enemy is the same way. The only difference is that a vulture won't hurt it's prey. It waits until it is already hurt (or dead) and then, here it comes. No, the enemy of our soul, when he sees someone basking in God's glory, will come right up and do his best to knock you off your footing. After he's done that, he continues to pounce until there's almost nothing left. And when there's almost nothing left, he pounces one more time with, "Look at you. Now you've done it. God can't possibly use you in that condition."

Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. ~1 Peter 5:8, NLT

The enemy would like nothing more than to knock you so low that you never get back up. I know because for years he used many people to knock me down emotionally and mentally. They knocked me down so much that I began to believe that it was my destiny to live a defeated life, letting others dictate what I should do. But God had other plans for me!

Always in the back of my mind I kept hearing, "There is so much more for you. You DO have a purpose, and it is a wonderful purpose!" Yet I did not know how to get out of the seemingly hopeless situation that I was in. I literally did not know how to heal my mind and get back up emotionally.

You may be feeling like that today. Don't allow the vultures of life peck away at you, keeping your wounds open. Instead, fight back! You can! You do not have to live that way. There is a way out. 

"...In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you," says the Lord. ~Jeremiah 29:12-13, NLT

The vultures may be flying around you, but all is not lost! Determine in your mind that you are going to focus on the Lord and He will meet you where you are! The enemy may be prowling, but he cannot win. When you call out to the Lord, He promises that He will listen. He also promises that when you look for Him you will find Him. 

Seek Him out today. Leave the vultures behind and soar with the eagles!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Allstate or Almighty?

Greetings A to Z Meme! It's back for another round, thanks to my good friend, Patty Wysong. Yay, Patty! Today is the first installment, beginning with the letter "A" of course. So hold onto your hats, because every Friday from now until January (give or take) is going to be loads of fun getting to see what those who are participating will come up with! 

Today, my letter "A" themed meme (hey, that rhymed!) deals with the question, Allstate or Almighty?

I have been seeing so many funny commercials for the Allstate insurance company lately. The funny thing to me is whenever someone says "Allstate," they develop the low, bass voice of the man who is the spokesperson for the company. But their theme is probably what strikes me most.

You're in good hands...with Allstate.

Are you really? I mean, does every Allstate agent treat you with the great care that they do on TV? If you had an accident, would your Allstate agent come out in the middle of the night, or on the weekend to take care of things? Or would they make you wait until business hours the next day...or several days, if it's the weekend?

Having insurance is a great idea. We all need insurance on our "things" to make sure that we are covered in case of tragedy. But what about insurance on our eternity? What about when we leave this world? Do you have your insurance for that? That's where the Almighty comes in.

You see, Allstate can cover a great many things, but it can't cover where you go when you die! Only the Almighty can cover that. My husband and I pull a casket behind our motorcycle that has these words down the sides:

When this is your last ride...Where ya gettin' out?

Most people misinterpret this from the getgo. But think about this for a minute. When you take your "last ride" so to speak, where ARE you going? We try to encourage people to have their plans made BEFORE they are in that position (no pun intended). In other words, you need to have your eternal insurance in place.

So how do you do that? It's very simple. To get your eternal insurance, all you have to do is trust Jesus and ask Him to be your Lord and Savior. I mean, that's why He died on the cross anyway! HE is our insurance. He is our Almighty! And He is the ONLY way to get you to Heaven someday.

Jesus told him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me." ~John 14:6, NLT

Allstate can insure you for many things. But the Almighty can insure your eternity. Have you got your Insurance?

Friday, July 19, 2013

Now Turn North

[Shelley], you were running superbly! Who cut in on you, deflecting you from the true course of obedience? This detour doesn't come from the One who called you into the race in the first place. And please don't toss this off as insignificant. It only takes a minute amount of yeast, you know, to permeate an entire loaf of bread. Deep down, the Master has given me confidence that you will not defect. But the one who is upsetting you, whoever he is, will bear the divine judgment. ~Galatians 5:7-10, MSG

One evening I was reading a wonderful list of "Faith Confessions" from a friend. In parentheses, it said to put your own name there. As I did, and read the passage, a door of understanding opened up for me! Here's why: I realized that as we go through life, there will be people along the way who see us and see what we do as an opportunity to try to trip us up. People who try to cut in on us, cut us off, detour us, and upset us in such a way that it throws us off course. These are the people that we must try to separate ourselves from.

I'm not saying that we should not try to minister to them. Because quite frankly, there are people in my life whom I have witnessed to, who know where I stand, and yet who still go out of their way to trip me up every time they see me!

There will be times in our lives when a certain person, or maybe more than one person will get at you. But you must keep your footing and run your race. Whatever that race may be, it is yours and no one should have permission to knock you off course. 

It's like running a relay race, and as the gun goes off the guy next to you bumps you off your footing, causing you to stumble, thereby allowing him to get ahead of you. Or maybe it's that someone waiting for you down the hall who, when he sees you walking by, carrying your load of books, sticks his foot out at the last minute, tripping you and causing you to stumble and drop what you're carrying. Does it make sense now?

God sees where you are and where you are going. He also sees those who are upsetting you, and you can believe that He will take care of those people, whoever they are. We shouldn't let the opinions of others, or the words or actions of others, cause us to stumble. If we keep our focus then we will stay on course. Sometimes it is just necessary to turn north and keep moving!

Staying around those who cause you to stumble is like putting yeast in bread. Just a little bit causes the dough to rise. Often, staying around negative people, or those who are offensive, can cause you to make wrong decisions, or not even think clearly. It can get bad in a hurry and before you know it, you are in a mess.

Look at the verse below. As you say this out loud, put your name in the brackets and say it to yourself.

[_____________], you have circled this mountain long enough. Now turn north! ~Deuteronomy 2:3, NASB

When God healed my mind of all those years of mental and emotional abuse, I knew right then that He was telling me, "Shelley, you have circled this mountain long enough. Now turn north!" Let me tell you, going north opened up a whole new adventure for me! It doesn't mean that I don't love the people who pick at and lash out at me. I just don't place myself in that position anymore. I left the redundant circle they would have me stay on in order to keep control and make themselves feel better, and went north.

You have circled your mountain long enough, too. It's time to turn north! Focus your attention on Jesus and let Him lead you through the mountain and into the plan He has for you. Because I guarantee that His plan is a whole lot better.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Don't Back Up!

So many times in our lives, when we are making progress, something or someone will come along and try to knock us back. In the past that happened to me a lot. Whether it was at school or at home, or somewhere in between, there were many times that I just felt like I couldn't catch a break. And I would back up. It's very frustrating.

Even though I endured much intimidation and "put-downs" through those times, I never stopped trying to figure out a way to get to where I knew I needed to be. That includes even the very night I went to the Lord for healing. I have learned that sometimes you just have to press through the jungle to get to the river.

I talk about healing a lot, I know. But it is crucial in what I do now, and even more important that I tell others. Because when it comes right down to it, without the healing, I wouldn't be doing what I'm doing now. I can't back up.

I don't mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. ~Philippians 3:12, NLT

The old saying, "You've come a long way, baby" is true even for me. While I'm not a walking billboard for cigarettes, I am a walking billboard for the Lord. I have come a long way, baby! And you can come a long way, too. Just don't back up.

I have come too far to allow someone or something to stop me in my tracks. My pastor tells us repeatedly that if you are in the will of God, nothing can touch you, not even Satan! Oh, he may think he can and he may try his hardest to mess you up, but in all reality, he has absolutely NO power at all... unless you give it to him.

So many times I hear Christian people complaining about their problems and "how hard it is" to do things. It really breaks my heart to hear them when I know that if they would take their eyes off the past and what is bothering them and put them back on Christ, things would begin to work out. However, I watch as they continue on a downward spiral into the black hole of unforgiveness, bitterness, and anguish, blaming everything and everyone who crosses their path.

No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead... ~Philippians 3:13a, NLT

"Well, you just don't know what I'M going through!" I hear. It isn't directly about what you're going through. It's about where your focus lies. If you aren't focused one-hundred-percent on Jesus, then don't expect positive things to happen! Plain and simple.

...let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith... ~Hebrews 12:1b-2a, NKJV (emphasis added)

If you aren't focused, if you have backed up, then how can you expect God to help you? However, if you are moving forward, trusting Him with everything you've got, then when the attacks come you will know what they are and how to handle them. You will walk through the fire unscathed instead of crumbling and complaining because you are under attack.

When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior... ~Isaiah 42:2-3a, NLT

I've been there, too. I know. At some point you are going to have to ask yourself, "Is it worth it to continue to back up and let the enemy win? Or am I going to trust the One Who can get me out of it and make things better?"

Step forward today into the blessed life that God wants you to have! Start speaking positive things no matter what is going on. Speak to those things which are not as though they are. Put your foot on the neck of your enemy and declare your victory. And whatever you do... Don't Back Up!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Other Side of Broken

I have to admit that I don't like to admit when I feel broken. Who does? However, a very good and precious friend of mine has admitted it, and written about it.
Cheri Taylor at her book signing table at Barnes & Noble

My very good friend, Cheri Taylor has a new book out titled, "The Other Side of Broken." This is a true story of her journey from the brokenness of divorce, and how God healed her and reminded her of His love for her, and of her calling into a wonderful journey of ministry.

I surprised Cheri on the day of her book signing at Barnes & Noble in Evansville, Indiana. It was wonderful to get caught up on eight-plus years of not seeing each other. 

Friends and Sisters in Christ. A beautiful reunion.

Cheri is a beautiful woman of God who has a very anointed music ministry. She has recorded many gospel CD's and tapes through the years, but one day she distinctly heard God tell her, "Write it down." Cheri's response? "But Lord, I'm not a writer!" Again, God replied, "Write it down." He wanted her to let people know how He had healed her and brought her through. What more could she do but obey!

Cheri takes you on a journey into her life, starting from a little girl of ten, when she heard God call her into a relationship with Jesus and she accepted that call. She moves on into hearing Him call her yet again into His service, yet this is where she began to get a little confused about what exactly a "call" was. 

As Cheri grew older, she did find that calling. It was into music ministry. It was at this time that she joined up with a Christian singing group/band. As her story unfolds, Cheri brings you along with her into her world of "doing her own thing" and knowing she was out of God's will, yet moving forward with her decision anyway. How often do we do that today?

 "Because God, from the beginning of the creation of man, gave us a free will, He also knew that I would not always do exactly what I should." ~ Cheri Taylor, The Other Side of Broken

It wasn't long before Cheri found herself a young, divorced, mother, having to move back home with Mom and Dad. And her world was shattered. How could God possibly use her now? How could He even love her? Yet, God DID!

Cheri shows how the enemy used age old tactics and schemes to keep her from the gifts and calling that God placed on her life as a young girl. She writes in her book that "The gifts and callings of God are irrevocable. (Romans 11:29 KJV)" She writes, "These words ring through my head as I begin to share with you my story." She also writes that God, who is all-knowing knew that she would become a Christian at a very young age. God knew that He would call her to a specific task. But, Cheri writes, "Because God, from the beginning of the creation of man, gave us a free will, He also knew that I would not always do exactly what I should." 

How often do we know what we should do, yet go our own way instead? How often, after mistakes we make, do we begin to think that God can't possibly use us now, not after the mess we've made? Cheri shows that God is a loving, caring, and forgiving God. This book is a must-read for anyone who has suffered divorce, abuse, or anything that hinders you from your calling. Follow Cheri as she reveals how the grace and mercy of God descended on her life.

Signing my book

You can find The Other Side of Broken through Barnes and Noble, or at Amazon, at the links below.

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-other-side-of-broken-cheri-taylor/1114588310?ean=9781621478041
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Other-Side-Broken-Cheri-Taylor/dp/1621478041/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1373942220&sr=8-1&keywords=the+other+side+of+broken+cheri+taylor

Cheri's book is very enlightening. It is a small book, but packs so much of God's love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness inside that it literally sucks you right into the story of Cheri's life. You will definitely know, after reading this book, that no matter what you have been through, God still loves you and has a call on your life.

Sunday, July 14, 2013


The older I get, I think the more outrageous I get. Of course being a Christian, and a healed one at that, is reason enough for people to think I'm outrageous! And whereas I used to worry about what people thought of me, today... well, I don't.

You see, even though society will tell you that you simply must look a certain way, act a certain way, believe a certain way, and dress, weigh, think, live, and choose...GAH! The list is seemingly endless! Personally, I'm just not "in" to society. And those who are my friends (and even not my friends) will tell you that I march to the beat of a different drum. Truthfully, I always have... even if it was only in my mind and heart.

Several days ago though, I did something really outrageous even for me. I colored my hair purple. *GaSp!* Yeah, I did. I was just feeling really outrageous one day, and I reasoned within myself that since I wear brightly colored, mismatched socks, why not put some brightness in my hair? 

No, I really didn't do it in order to bring more attention to myself. But if it does bring people into my life so that I can encourage them and tell them how much Jesus loves them then well, that bright purple that Tony, my hairdresser put there will be well worth it. 

The Apostle Paul did some outrageous things, too. Of course I don't think he had purple hair. But in his day and time, being bold for Jesus was something that just wasn't done. Yet he traveled near and far telling as many people as he could about Jesus. He made sure that he was willing to do things that would help those he was trying to reach notice him, so that he could encourage them. In other words, he became LIKE them in order to be able to talk about Jesus TO them. And he did it without compromising his faith. I want to be like that, too.

"...Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some..." ~1 Corinthians 9:22b, NLT

Several years ago, at a week-long youth missions event with my daughters, I heard one of the campus speakers explain to the kids how to get people to allow us to tell them about Jesus. What she said has stuck with me, one of the adult chaperons nonetheless, for over ten years;

You have to meet people's needs 
in order to earn the right
to share yourself.

Earning the right to share Jesus with people. It may sound crazy, but if you can find common ground with others...whether it's mismatched socks, knowing how it feels to be homeless, or sick, or how it feels to lose someone you love. Or even having purple hair. You have opened the door to the life of someone else who is hurting and in need of some hope. You have that Hope. His name is Jesus. 

Yes, the purple hair is a bit outrageous. But it is pretty! And if my purple hair catches the attention of others causing them to come up and talk to me, that is all the more reason to keep it... along with the mismatched socks. Hey, whatever it takes.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Go... NOW!

"There are times that I think I'm missing something, or that I might miss something, when I'm asked to move. And then the Holy Spirit will whisper in my heart, "THIS is why I sent you here." My only response is, "Thank You." Then to shut up & listen."

I wrote this as a Facebook status after leaving church one evening. The reason I wrote it is because this is exactly how I had felt and what happened to me not too long afterwards. You might say I had a "duh" moment.

I have those quite often, especially when I am not paying attention, have a lot of distractions, or letting my feelings run away with me. This particular night, all of the above and then some were coming at me at once. 

I had had a particularly trying afternoon. My week had been one of many interruptions which were keeping me from doing what I knew I needed to do. Spending time with the Lord was something that kept getting either pushed to the side or interrupted, and I was just feeling out of sorts spiritually.

As we drove to church, I complained to my dear, sweet husband the things that had bugged me that day, to which he listened quietly and didn't say much, as he usually does. This is not a bad thing though, because he just lets me run, knowing that I am going to run in a circle and figure things out on my own...which, incidentally I did.

I absolutely knew that the interruptions of life and the things that were bugging me were attempts of the enemy to throw me off course. They were vain attempts to steal my joy. They were even meant to throw me so off course that I missed a Divine Appointment and blessing! Yes, I almost missed it.

Thank GOD for spiritually in-tune people (husband, pastor, etc.) who re-direct my route and guide me to where I need to be! Thank GOD that I listen and get up and move! Literally! 

I say this because I know that we all go through re-direction in our lives. We all have distractions. We all have moments of fog, and moments of clarity. And sometimes we do need a little nudge in the right direction. I thank God that I have people in my life who love me and care about me enough to kindly say, "You need to go...now!" And I respect their guidance enough to just get up and go!

You may be feeling like this right now. You might be thinking, you need to help a certain friend, or say something to someone you know, or see in the grocery store, or out on the street. Or maybe you feel you need to pray for someone or a specific need. If you "hear" little whispers like that, or sense it, or just get an "idea" about something, this just could be the Lord telling you that, "You need to go...now!" Let me encourage you; DO IT!

Don't debate within yourself trying to figure out if it is God telling you to do something or not. If you aren't sure, pray about it. If the feeling is still there then act on it. Because you just may have a Divine Appointment you need to keep. And let me tell you, if you miss it you will know immediately.

I almost missed mine. But after I moved, I was listening to what was going on around me and I heard the Holy Spirit within me say, "THIS is why I sent you here." And I did reply within, "Thank You." The peace I felt afterward is indescribable.

Yes, I had an "off" day. But the awesome thing about the end of my "off" day is that God knows my heart. I am instantly back on track with the Lord by a simple act of obedience and a heartfelt, "I'm sorry."

Next time... I'll just go.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Smelling Like A Rose

Sitting in class waiting for the teacher to come in, it was a shock to my system when he opened the door, called my name, then said, “See me out in the hall.” Heads turned my direction. Eyes bulged. I felt the heat creep up my neck and face. As I slowly got to my feet, all eyes were on me and the whispers began;

“What did you do?”

“What does he want?”

“Are you in trouble?”

All I could do was shrug my shoulders and slowly trudge to the classroom door. It was so quiet in there you could hear a pin drop.

I stepped out into the hallway and there he was. Across the hall he stood, all “six-foot-hundred” of this huge teacher of a man. My heart came up into my throat and I went into withdrawal mode, withdrawing into myself when I felt that defense was needed. I was standing before an authority figure, so before he could start the verbal assault that I told myself was coming, I withdrew. But the assault never occurred. Instead, something else happened.

As I approached my teacher, he looked down on me and then he literally reclined his huge frame on one elbow on the radiator heater next to us and looked me in the eye. He lowered himself to my level. Yet, instead of speaking in his deep, loud and booming voice, he lowered it to a soft, but deep, caring voice as he began to speak. 

My grades were too low and that did not suit him. Instead of lecturing me on my low grades though, he did let me know that my grades were too low, but he also, with great care explained to me how to raise my grades. He actually explained to me HOW to study so that when I did take his tests I could pass, thereby bringing me up to "smelling like a rose.” Then he did something no one else had done before. He smiled at me! He patted my shoulder and sent me back into class.

I had just been the recipient of grace and mercy. I didn't know it at the time, of course. But even now, this teacher has always held a special place in my heart.

This is a lot like how God works in our lives. He doesn't bash us. He doesn't assault us. He never makes us feel useless, scared, or like we don’t matter. Instead, he lovingly rebukes us when we mess up, just as my teacher did me. Let’s face it, we do mess up. All kids do. God knows this, yet He still loves us. He wants to see us succeed. So when we need it, He calls us out into the hallway. He lowers Himself down on one elbow so he can look us in the eye. Then He begins to explain to us what we have done and how to fix the problem.

But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. ~1 John 1:9, NLT

Sounds so simple doesn't it? That’s because it is! Yet, we make things harder by trying to dance around the issues. We think we have to perform in order to earn forgiveness, when forgiveness is already there. All we have to do is accept it. Ask God to forgive you, accept that He has, and then move forward!

The first test I took and passed in that particular class, my teacher looked over at me and smiled. It was a secret between the two of us. My classmates didn't get it. But I think my teacher knew, and I know that I knew, he showed me grace, thereby taking the stress out of my experience in his classroom. 

When he passed away many years later, I was heartbroken. Yet, I always remembered the compassion and the grace that he showed a young, scared, fifteen-year-old girl. I brought my grades up in his class. I heard his message. I answered the call and was rewarded.

The same applies to God. Hear His message. Answer His call. Then be rewarded and come out "smelling like a rose."

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