Friday, April 25, 2014

Come Play in the Sandbox!

"It's like here's God on the beach, playing in the sand, making sand castles. Then you walk by and He looks up and sees you and says, "Hey! Come over and play!" And I get to come over and play in the sand with God. It's so awesome to get to play in God's sandbox."
~Jared Emerson, on how he feels about his gift of painting. (Taken from William Paul Young, author of "The Shack" and "Crossroads")

Jared beginning his masterpiece as the
Southern Illinois Worship Center band plays
God does some amazing things through people who allow Him to work through them. He promises that He has a plan and a purpose for all of us, so why wouldn't He do amazing things! He gives each of us a portion of talents and I believe He expects great things out of all of us. Whatever talent you have, it is a gift from God and we are to use those gifts to tell others about His wonderful love.

Captivating and Spirit-filled
Recently, at the Good Friday services at my church, I was privileged to witness one of these God-given talents firsthand when I watched a man named Jared Emerson paint a stunning portrait of Jesus. Set on a backdrop of black canvas, Jared moved, swayed, and jumped as he smeared and spattered paint upon what would ultimately be his latest masterpiece.

As our worship band played, I can honestly say that Jared had everyone captivated as he slid his fingers up and down the fabric. We watched as with every spatter, every smear across the canvas, an image began to appear. By the end of the song, it was clear...the face of Jesus. Not only does Jared paint in a unique way, he also signs his paintings just as unique. A hand print.

If the music doesn't move you spiritually, watching the face of Jesus appear on canvas to the music will. I was awe struck to get to witness this twice in one night as our church held two services on Good Friday. I spoke to Jared afterward and discovered a very humble servant of the Lord.

Me: When you paint, do you get inspiration before you begin or while you're painting?

Jared: Both. I don't know why, but I get really nervous before I get up to paint. I wish his [the pastor's] prayer would never end, then I want it to end, but then I think, 'I'm not ready.' But when I get up there the Spirit takes over and it all comes together.

Picture #1 from first service.

We talked a little more about inspiration, but what really affects him is a combination of the music, how "worked up" the worship band gets, and of course how much the audience gets into what's happening on the stage. 

Jared painted two portraits and while they were of the same thing, there were also differences in each painting due to the excitement level during the worship songs.

Yours truly with Jared
It was as I was leaving that Jared gave me the most inspiring of messages, which I shared at the beginning of this post; "I get to play in the sand with God." 

Playing in the sandbox with God, our Creator. I never thought of using my talent in this way, but like Jared pointed out, God beckons us to come over to His proverbial sandbox and play with Him. Whether we choose to come, or decline the invitation, is totally up to us. But should we choose to come over into the sandbox and play, we usually get a whole lot more than we expected.

For Jared, it's the art of painting. Not only can he capture the image of Christ, but he can also capture many other images as well. What about you? What is it that God has invited you to use to play in the sand with Him? Mine is writing and speaking. My husband rides a motorcycle to tell others about Jesus. My friend Lanna writes as well, sings, and is compassionate toward others. Some of us preach. Some quilt, or crochet, some build beautiful homes and buildings, others play sports, sing, play a musical instrument (or several), some draw or paint. Some listen, some cook, but whatever it is that you do, know that it is a gift from God. It's your invitation to come play in the sand with Him.

Picture #2 after second service.
A distinct difference
Playing in the sand with God. What an invitation! Yet, isn't that what a good Parent does with their children...plays with them, or even plays in the sand with them, teaching them about life, love, fun, and how to use their gifts and talents? How exciting! I wonder... will you come and play using your talent for His glory? Will you come play in the sandbox?

You can read Jared's story by going to his website at
Follow Jared on Facebook and Twitter

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Because of Love

As I write this it's Good Friday. I'm seeing all kinds of posts on Facebook about it and the work that Jesus completed on the cross on this day. And while we celebrate it as "good," it was anything but good to the One who experienced it. Jesus suffered for our sins. Not just this one, or that one, but ALL of them! He suffered for all the sins of all the people, past, present, and future. When I think of it in those terms it gets quite overwhelming.

But there's so much more to the story than the death of Jesus on the cross. So much more! Because even though He did die on that cross 2,014 years ago, even though He was buried in a tomb and a stone rolled in front of the opening... HE GOT BACK UP THREE DAYS LATER AND STILL LIVES TODAY!!

When I think of what Jesus did in these terms, the story is so much more potent than thinking of Him dying a horribly painful death. Because He didn't just do that...He did so much more! And the best thing of all is that you and I are invited, ushered, welcomed, and even included into this wonderful promise.

How then, does a person reject such a wonderful gift as the one Jesus gave to us? I wonder. Yet, I see it every day. But I can't worry about that. Because while I see the negative things people post, I also see and feel the love that covers them.

And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins. ~1 Peter 4:8

It is here that I interject that while watching and reading posts about Good Friday I was overwhelmed with a love that I cannot explain. Every person who posted, every person who responded, every situation that was being lifted up in prayer, I felt. Each and every instance was covered by this Love that was inexplainable. Yet, I knew exactly what it was and from where it came.

Love. It was because of Love that God created the world. It was because of Love that Jesus was born, died, and rose again. It is because of Love that He lives even now. And it's because of Love that He will be returning soon.

It's also because of Love that He has a purpose and plan for you. Yes, YOU! No matter what you're going through right now, God has a purpose for you. It's a wonderful plan and purpose and it was designed just with you in mind. So when you feel like there is no hope for you, switch your thinking. Because there is hope! No one and nothing can take that away from you because God chose you before you were ever born! You are you because of Love. You were chosen because of Love.

I tell people that no matter what you look like, no matter what your past, no matter what your present, God has a purpose for you. He has a beautiful plan for you. All you have to do is ask Him and then step into that beautiful life. Will everything be perfect then? No. Will you be rid of all your troubles? No. But you will have a better life and be able to handle those troubles better.

Is it worth it? Yes. Why? Because of Love.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Discovering My More

I heard these words recently, "You are more than you know, and God is much more than you know!" Profound words... and they're true. You are more than you know and, God is so much more than we could ever know. Right after I heard those words, the next words were, "And people are more than we allow them to be."

How then, can we discover the "more" in us? Where is it? Where does it come from? How do we access it? The answer may elude us, it may seem as if there is no answer, or it may even seem beyond our reach. But it isn't. The answer is just a breath away. It's just a prayer away. It comes from God, and we access our "more" simply by asking God for it.

There are so many women today who don't believe that they are more than they know. They don't believe that they have what it takes...for anything. They don't believe God could ever use them for anything spectacular. They think their past is too much for God to allow them to be part of anything, good or otherwise. Sadly, they are very, very wrong. Even sadder still, many of them never discover their "more" and go through life wishing that things would have been different. They live in the "If only" section of their lives always dreaming, never bringing those dreams to reality.

But God has so much more for us!

Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me? ~Jeremiah 32:27

I lived for so many years in the "if only" section of my life. I had been beaten down and ridiculed for so long by others that I just didn't think there was really anything spectacular to my life. Just be a quiet stay-at-home mom, raise your kids, take care of your grandkids, and live your life. That's fine. I don't mind that at all. But I absolutely knew that there was more, yet it was just out of my reach. I didn't know how to get to it because everyone else around me other than my husband kept me pinned down mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

Listen, if God is calling you to do something and you know it, step out in faith in Him and go for it! Because if God is calling you out, you can know right now that He will equip you to succeed! It isn't hard for Him, and it's definitely not hard for you! No one, and I mean no one can tell you that you can't do it. They can't keep you from doing it. Because it is a Divine Calling. That is between you and the Most High God. No one can dispute it. No one can negate it.

My calling is to write and speak my story to give hope and healing to others. No one else can tell me I can't do it. No one else can prevent me from doing it. Oh they can try, but let me tell you something else, whatever God calls you to do, no one can stand in your way either.

No weapon formed against you shall prosper and every tongue that rises against you shall fall. ~Isaiah 54:17a

You are more than you know! But the only way you're going to discover your more is by stepping out in faith and asking God to show you. Then walk in that anointing that He pours out on you. I promise, you will never look back once you discover your more.

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