Thursday, March 28, 2013

Scriptures of Encouragement ~ My Determined Purpose

"[For my determined purpose is] that I may know Him [that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly], and that I may in that same way come to know the power outflowing from His resurrection [which it exerts over believers], and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed [in spirit into His likeness even] to His death, [in the hope] 

"that if possible I may attain to the [spiritual and moral] resurrection [that lifts me] out from among the dead [even while in the body]" ~ Phillipians 3:10,11, The Amplified Study Bible

Blessed be the Name of our RISEN Lord, Jesus!

Father God, We praise You and we thank You for Jesus. You have called us to be more like Him in every way so that we might take Your love into a hurting, dying world. Awaken our hearts to answer Your call. Infuse us with the resurrection power to accomplish the tasks at hand. Be glorified through Your children, Lord. You are a mighty God. You are a good God. Thank You for Your love.
If you received Morning Glory via email, please visit the Morning Glory  page to focus your heart on Jesus as Hillsong sings, "None But Jesus". I pray you have a blessed Easter, full of joy and renewal of spirit. Sweet blessings to you!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Scriptures of Easter ~ When Only A Sister Will Do

I fought back tears as I talked with the insurance agent. She was very kind. My tears didn't reflect our conversation. My tears reflected my raw emotional day. Extreme juggling of finances is very stressful. Fear of dropping a ball - a bill - torments me day in and day out. 

This phone call concerned our life insurance. David and I are trying desperately to hold onto this policy for our children's sakes. But it ain't easy. 

I prayed before I made the phone call, asking God to go before me and give me favor. My spirit was and is strong. It's this darn flesh that keeps getting in the way. Imagine someone scraping their fingernails across a blackboard s-l-o-w-l-y. That's how my insides felt.

A sweet voice answered. "This is Cara. May I help you?"

I began searching for words. My brain was rattled. "Let's see what we can do," she said.

As I waited for her to review our policy my eyes began to well up. When I heard her voice again I couldn't hold back my emotions. "You okay?" she asked. 

"Yes. I feel the Spirit of God coming through you. You're a Christian, aren't you?"

"Yes, ma'am, I am. Things are going to get better for you. I promise."

"I know they are. God has never failed us. I just let the stress get to me. I prayed before I called and asked God to go before me. Then I heard your kind voice. You're an answer to my prayers. Thank you for helping me."

As I talked with Cara I shared the lesson God has been teaching me. I relived His lesson as I recalled it for her: "Nan," the Lord whispered. "Do you have enough for today?"

"Yes, Lord."

"Then why are you worrying about tomorrow? Tomorrow will be the new 'today'. I've already got it covered."

My faith began to rise while I shared my story. The tears began to flow, but this time they were thankful tears.

Isn't that just like the Lord? He knew I needed a sister on the other end to comfort me and restore my hope.

I can't help but think about the power of the Cross as I reflect on what God did for me today. Maybe my radar is sharper because my thoughts are on Easter, but still...the Cross made the difference for me today.

It's because of the Cross that I have hope.
It's because of the Cross that I have all I need for today.
It's because of the Cross that I will never walk alone.

And it's because of the Cross that an unknown sister gave me strength for the journey.

"Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God" ~ Hebrews 12:1,2.

If you received Morning Glory via email, please visit the Morning Glory page to worship with Kathryn Scott and she sings, "At the Foot of the Cross". May we never take for granted what Jesus has done for us.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Scriptures of Easter ~ Swirling Dust

Wholly God. Wholly Man.
Holy God. Holy Man.

The dust swirled about their feet and spiraled upward as the unseen tempest began to roar. It was a tempest of the heart - a gut-wrenching revelation that would change the world. Ah, but they mocked and cackled and cast their self-righteous stones upon the One who came to open their eyes to see God.

And the dust continued to swirl.

He made His way along the narrow road, this Man for whom the tempest roared. Blood from the savage beating dripped into the swirling dust. A crown of thorns dug deep into His flesh, salty sweat stinging as it riveted into the piercings along His brow. He stumbled beneath the weight of the cross resting on His shoulder, dragging a dusty forever trail toward Calvary.

"Crucify Him! Crucify Him!" Obscenities flew through gritted teeth. A few people cast stones as He passed. Others wept. "Isn't this the man who healed Jairus' daughter?" "I know Him...He made the blind man see." "He made me laugh and understand the things of God." "My boy....He healed my boy. This is Jesus of Nazareth!"

And the dust continued to swirl as the unseen tempest began to roar.

Peter and John slipped through the crowd keeping step with Jesus. Andrew called to them. Matthew and James waved frantically, desperate to join  up with the men who had become their brothers. The crowd shoved and pushed like a tidal wave of scorn while Roman soldiers fought back. Against the stone wall at the top of the hill stood Mary. Her body crumpled, her face wet with tears as her son, bloodied for the sake of mankind, staggered beyond her reach.

"Jesus. Jesus," Mary called. Jesus turned his face toward the familiar voice. Their eyes locked in understanding. Tears escaped in love. "Jesus," she whispered as she cast her eyes on the dust swirling about her. "My precious Jesus."

Wholly God. Wholly Man.
Holy God. Holy Man.
This her son, Jesus.

Mary pondered the ways of God in her heart. 

"Who believes what we’ve heard and seen?
    Who would have thought God’s saving power would look like this?

"The servant grew up before God—a scrawny seedling,
    a scrubby plant in a parched field.
There was nothing attractive about him,
    nothing to cause us to take a second look.
He was looked down on and passed over,
    a man who suffered, who knew pain firsthand.
One look at him and people turned away.
    We looked down on him, thought he was scum.
But the fact is, it was our pains he carried—
    our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us.
We thought he brought it on himself,
    that God was punishing him for his own failures.
But it was our sins that did that to him,
    that ripped and tore and crushed him—our sins!
He took the punishment, and that made us whole.
    Through his bruises we get healed.
We’re all like sheep who’ve wandered off and gotten lost.
    We’ve all done our own thing, gone our own way.
And God has piled all our sins, everything we’ve done wrong,
    on him, on him." ~ Isaiah 53:1-6, The Message

And all the while, the dust swirled about their feet and spiraled upward as the unseen tempest began to roar. It was a tempest of the heart - a gut-wrenching revelation that would change the world.

Are you interested in knowing a little more about me? God has honored me with a feature article in our regional newspaper, Ashe Mountain Times. It's all about my ministry and upcoming book, "If God Be For Me: The Perils of a Pastor's Wife." I stand amazed at the goodness of God.
If you received Morning Glory via email, please, please visit the Morning Glory page. I'm featuring Mary's Song, "Perfect Love" from The Passion of Christ. It will stir your heart like none other as we enter the Easter season. Bless you! 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Scriptures of Encouragement ~ Liquid Grace

Baptist Hospital beckoned through the rear view mirror, calling to my heart left behind in room 6 of the CCU. Our friend and deacon lay dying, finally surrendering to the ravages of bone cancer. It was so hard to let him go.

As we drove down the highway, approaching storm clouds rose over the distant mountains. Fingers of dark clouds, made darker by the setting sun, laced their way through the evening sky. I noticed the heavens were alive with alternating layers of darkness and light. Pops of brilliant magenta, every now and again proclaimed God's glory...regardless of the storm. Pillars of rain-bands flowed from the darkest of the clouds, their columns of liquid grace scattered all about.

The radio interrupted my silent tears. MercyMe challenged my sorrow with their song, "The Hurt and the Healer", the lyrics stirring something deep within me:

"Here I am, what's left of me, where glory meets my suffering. I'm alive, even though a part of me has died. You take my heart and breathe it back to life when the hurt and the Healer collide."

 "...where glory meets my suffering...when the hurt and the Healer collide."

I studied the evening sky as I pondered these lyrics. I saw the darkness, then the light overcome it. Again, the darkness slithered in but was overcome by the light. Repeatedly, the collision of light and darkness occurred. Randomly, magenta permeated the storm. I could clearly see the glory of God meeting the darkness of our suffering and infusing it with His Light. I thought of the shafts of rain beating down on the parched earth. They flowed from the darkest places of the storm. Just like God's grace.

My heart ached for our friend.
But my spirit rejoiced over the evidence of God's Presence in our darkest moments.

My heart lapped up the liquid grace poured out where glory met my suffering. 

"But as for me, I would seek God, and to God I would commit my cause - Who does great things and unsearchable, marvelous things without number. He gives rain on the earth, and sends waters on the fields. He sets on high those who are lowly, and those who mourn are lifted to safety" ~ Job 5:8-11.

Are you interested in knowing a little more about me? God has honored me with a feature article in our regional newspaper, Ashe Mountain Times. It's all about my ministry and upcoming book, "If God Be For Me: The Perils of a Pastor's Wife." I stand amazed at the goodness of God.
If you received Morning Glory via email, please visit the Morning Glory  page to be encouraged as MercyMe sings, "The Hurt and The Healer". It's an amazing song. Sweet blessings to you! 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Scriptures of Encouragement ~ Sapphire Blue

 My precious readers, today I'm posting an earlier Morning Glory that seemed to resonate with many of you. I pray that it will cause your wellspring of hope to overflow as you find the Lord in your midst. Sweet blessings to each of you.

The glorious leaves of fall were tossed in the air as the brutal winds of an early snowstorm bellowed across the mountain ridges. Trees, once graced with shades of crimson, butternut gold and blazing embers now stood stark against the sapphire sky. Branches reached toward the heavens. Some lay broken from the storm. Others rested against nearby branches, too weakened to stretch toward heaven on their own.

As I stared out the window, numb from the stress-filled moments of the day, I heard a song. I leaned into the window pane. A blue blur rose within the charcoal branches of our apple tree. I leaned in closer. And listened. The song became a chatter. It was a bluejay. was THREE bluejays hopping from branch to bare branch. Pops of blue moved throughout the stripped branches that, only days before, were ablaze with the splendor of fall.

My thoughts turned towards the Lord.

Ezekiel 1:26 reads, "And above the firmament over their heads was the likeness of a throne, in appearance like a sapphire stone; on the likeness of the throne was a likeness with the appearance of a Man high above it." Ezekiel was seeing a vision of God. God's throne had the appearance of a sapphire stone. Blue.

Isaiah 54:11 reads, "O you afflicted one, tossed with tempest, and not comforted. Behold I [the Lord] will lay your foundations with sapphires..." The Lord is speaking through Isaiah about the restoration of Jerusalem. God's covenant of peace is central to the restoration of His people. Our foundation will be sure - built with the beauty and strength of sapphires. Blue.

And finally, Exodus 26:1, "Moreover you shall make the tabernacle with ten curtains of fine woven linen, and blue, purple, and scarlet thread; with artistic designs of cherubim you shall weave them." These curtains billowed at the eastern entrance to the outward court of the Tabernacle. These curtains also hung within the Tabernacle to conceal the magnificent entrance to the inner court - the Holy of Holies. Passing through these curtains took the child of God, symbolically, from the physical realm of the world that consumed them into the Presence of a Holy God that loved and cared for them.

El Elyon, the Most High God, utilized the color blue - sapphire, to be exact - to draw the thoughts of His people towards Him. It is the color of the heavens. Our eyes look up to behold a sapphire blue sky and we are reminded of the One True God.

Lost in my thoughts, God interrupted and taught me a beautiful, visual Truth: Even though the apple tree was stripped of its splendor because of the fierce winter storm, evidence of God moved freely among the barren branches. So it is with our lives. The glorious joy of laughter may be gone for a season, but God's Presence is still with me. Always.

"Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you" ~ Deuteronomy 31:6.


Father, There's so much comfort in the realization that we belong to You, that we are Your special treasure. Thank You for teaching me to find Your Presence, for opening my eyes to see You with me. I pray that You would open the eyes of my precious readers to see You as well. Please open their ears to hear Your sweet whispers of love. Hold them close, Lord. Pour out Your grace upon them and meet their needs in abundance. Replace their despair with hope, their sorrow with joy. You are an amazing God. I love You so much Lord. Draw me nearer every day.
If you received Morning Glory via email, please visit the Morning Glory  page to be blessed and encouraged as Casting Crowns sings, "Who Am I?"

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Scriptures of Encouragement ~ Either I'm God Or I'm Not

My mind swirled in a hundred different directions. Anxiety over unemployment melted my strength over and over. The battle was fierce and the battle was daily. Still is.

As are the God-moments - the lessons in grace.

Today I ventured to the grocery store. Mind you, a smile was on my face, but tears were right behind my eyeballs. Anxious thoughts percolated through my mind. Dollar marks flashed like lightning strikes with every purchase. 

I have to make sure we have enough left for gas to get to church Sunday, I thought. Let's just say I was not thinking this with thanksgiving in my heart. Nope. I was thinking this with murmuring, whining, and maybe a little gnashing of teeth. Just sayin'...

My heart was not a pretty sight.

And then I heard the Lord's whisper, "Nan, are these thoughts worthy of praise?"

"No," I said. "But neither is our bank account."

"Oh, really. Do you have enough for today?"

"Yes, Lord."

"Do you think I can take care of tomorrow?"

"Yes, Lord. I know You can, but..."

"But what? Either I'm God or I'm not."

"Well of course You're God, but..."

"No buts. Stop and consider your thoughts. Are they thoughts of My faithfulness? Are they thoughts of My provision and grace? My power? My ability to part The Red Sea for my children? No! Your thoughts are on your have-nots instead of your haves. You, Nan, are My child, My heir. I hold You in the palm of My hand. I have NEVER failed you, nor will I ever. I AM Jehovah-Jireh, your provider. I AM Jehovah Rapha, your Healer. I AM Jehovah Shammah, the God Who is there with you, and I AM El Roi, the God Who sees and knows all about your situation. I AM, Nan! And I am with you."

Ahem...God has a way with words, don't you agree? But, He was right. I was allowing my thoughts to run wild - to be pliable in the hands of my enemy, Satan. Satan can't touch my spirit, but he can wreak havoc with my mind if I allow him. And that's exactly what I was doing.

The Apostle Paul gave the Church at Philippi strong instructions concerning their thoughts. "Finally, brethren, whatever things are TRUE, whatever things are NOBLE, whatever things are JUST, whatever things are PURE, whatever things are LOVELY, whatever things are of GOOD REPORT, if there is ANY VIRTUE and if there is ANYTHING PRAISEWORTHY - think on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you" ~ Phillipians 4:8,9.

I began to speak what is true: If God is for me, who can be against me? My God can make a way where there seems to be no way. Nothing is too difficult for My God. God goes before me and gives me favor. He holds me with His righteous right hand. My God has a future and a hope for me. He promises to work everything together for my good.  

These are the things that are true.  
These are the things worthy of praise.

I placed the groceries in my car, this time with a thankful heart. My fear was gone. The suffocating anxiety had lost its power. Peace flowed freely.

Would you like to know why? My spirit was lifted on high with thoughts worthy of praise.

You, Lord, are worthy of our praise. You are the One True God, Maker of heaven and earth. We belong to You. When we allow our focus to stray from You I ask that You gently turn our face to behold Your beauty once again. Bring our thoughts captive to You, Sovereign Lord. Thank You for Your peace and Your amazing grace.
If you received Morning Glory via email, please visit the Morning Glory  page. I'm featuring a music video from Passion 2013 with David Crowder singing, "Here's My Heart". This song will lead you in humble worship before the throne of grace. It is amazing.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Scriptures of Peace ~ Peace Stood

Elisha's servant stretched in the soft morning light. He rubbed his eyes, grabbed his cloak and stepped out into the chilly dawn. In the distance a horse neighed. Then another. He heard the clank of metal and turned abruptly towards the sounds. His eyes bugged out at the sight. There on the mountainside hundreds of horses and chariots - a great army of the Syrian king - surrounded the city.

The servant raced to alert Elisha, "Master! Master! They've found you. The Syrians are here. They are mighty in number. Master! What shall we do?"

Elisha lay on his bed. He had been awake for some time, seeking God, entreating Him for the sake of Israel. Though impending danger stood on the horizon, peace stood like a sentinel upon his heart. So Elisha answered, "Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them."

The servant raised his eyebrows, scrunched his face and bit his tongue. He knew what he had seen. He knew they were surrounded by a great army. And he knew that, no matter what Elisha said, there were a lot more of them than there were of him and Elisha. This he knew. He might be a servant, but he was no dummy.

Elisha rose from his bed. He wrapped his arm around the young man's shoulder. "Come with me," Elisha said." Together, they walked out into the morning. Elisha prayed, "Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see."

Elisha touched the servant's cheek and gently turned his face toward the mountainside. "Behold," Elisha said. Then the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. ~ 2 Kings 6:8-17, Nan's Version

What are the crucial words here?  "Elisha prayed..."

We know he prayed at this moment, but we must assume that he had been in prayer long before the battle arrived. Like David, Elisha was a man after God's heart. He knew God well and he trusted in His sovereignty. 

When the battle came, peace stood like a sentinel over Elisha's heart.

In an exhortation to the Church at Phillipi, Paul said, "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let  your requests be made known to God; and the PEACE of God, which surpasses all understanding, will GUARD your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus" ~ Philippians 4:6,7

Guard. Phrourea (froo-reh-oh) meaning to keep; a military term picturing a sentry standing guard as protection against the enemy. (commentary, Spirit Filled Life Bible)

When everything is brought to God in prayer - in earnest, fully transferring the burden into God's hands kind of prayer AND with thanksgiving -  His peace will guard us. 

Elisha stood strong, full of peace, in the face of his enemies.
We, too, have the right as children of God to stand strong, full of peace, in the face of our enemies.

Lord, open our eyes to see.

If you received Morning Glory via email, please visit the Morning Glory  page to be strengthened and lifted up by Kari Jobe as she sings, "Be Still". Be encouraged sweet friends. God is with us.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Scriptures of Encouragement ~ Windswept Corners

Lessons from the past...

I had nowhere to turn. Depression held me in its firm grip. From every corner of my windswept mind, torments from the enemy of my soul assailed me, "You are such a failure. You will never amount to anything. Hey! Where is this God you talk about? I thought He would never leave you." On and on the tirades continued. On and on my spirit descended into the miry clay of despair.

And then my Jesus called my name, Nan. Nan, I am here. You are not alone.

My spirit stirred from the depths. "But, Lord, where are You? Where have you been in my pain? In my confusion?"

I love you, child. You are mine. This darkness you feel is the shadow of my wing. I have been with you all along, preserving you, shielding you, and desperately wanting you to reach out your hand to Me. Draw near to Me and I will draw near to you.

This exchange began a lesson in understanding the essence of my Heavenly Father. Can I trust Him? Do I have to feel His Presence to know that He is with me? When bad things happen, should I assume that He has left me to my own devices? In my recovery, God led me to Isaiah 40:31 from the Amplified Bible.

"But those who wait for the Lord (who expect, look for, and hope in Him) shall change and renew their strength and power; They shall lift their wings and mount up close to God as eagles mount up to the sun; They shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint or become tired."

Those who wait for the Lord - who expect, look for and hope in Him - those who come to God expectantly, change and renew their strength. Their expectancy lifts them close to God - to their source of strength.

I let these thoughts sink in. No longer were my burdens my own. As I waited on God, His Presence replaced my spirit of heaviness with praise. He cupped my heart in His hand and gave me rest.

Windswept corners. I turned a corner that day. I pray that you'll find the strength to do the same.

If you received Morning Glory via email, please visit the Morning Glory  page to be encouraged by Meredith Andrews singing "You're Not Alone". I pray that the words of my heart will give you strength for the journey.