0

The Heart of a Father

Today’s guest post is by Barbara Hollace.

Barb-headshot14-2.76170342_stdYesterday (Sunday) Pastor Alice’s message was about “The Heart of the Father” – our heavenly Father and God’s love for us… so amazing the depth of His love for you and me.

This morning I experienced a visual demonstration of the heart of the Father. My friend Sharon and I were on our Monday morning walk in Mirabeau Park and as usual we were walking, talking, and praying while keeping our eyes open for what God had in store for us.

We had been in the park for less than five minutes when we saw two very small chipmunks (3 inch body plus the tail) running over tree limbs on a tree that had been struck by lightning a couple of weeks ago. They ran and stopped and then chased each other some more until they ran out of sight. We moved on.

Along the way we pointed out rabbits and magpies and other small birds darting here and there, we hadn’t gotten to the part of the trail where the quail and butterflies and baby dragonflies hang out. On the trail we caught a glimpse of the ‘regulars’ (walkers and bikers) and then many others who decided to take the opportunity to enjoy this second day of summer.

As we approached a turn in the road where the river is closer to the path, our silence was broken by Sharon’s voice, “Is that a rabbit in the fence?” I looked to my right and saw a rolled wire fence with 2 inch x 3 inch openings. There was a rabbit stuck in the fence. The front part of him had made it through but the back end and his legs were still on our side of the fence but his feet were not touching the ground.

My stomach dropped. “Sharon, it doesn’t look like he’s moving.” My greatest fear was that the rabbit was dead.

Sharon replied, “No, I just saw it move.” I could see that he was moving a bit. Likely trying to figure out how he could make it out.

I climbed up the small incline off the trail to where the rabbit was stuck, talking to him as I came up the hill. Speaking words of peace and that we wanted to help him. As I got closer to the fence, I could see how stuck he really was and the wire near his right leg was ‘cutting’ into his leg.

“Sharon, he’s really stuck.” At that moment I knew that if we couldn’t help him get free, he would die right there before our eyes. My tears began to flow as I felt helpless. A cell phone and keys and driver’s license and a $5.00 bill weren’t going to save him. I had no tools that would help this rabbit.

I reached out to the rabbit to see if there was any way we could get him free and the rabbit cried out in pain and distress. My heart was breaking. Without the right tools, any attempt by us would only cause more pain.

Sharon from the path below said, “We need to find someone who has some wire cutters to get him free.”

There was a house close by so Sharon volunteered to go get some help while I stayed to tend to the rabbit and watch and pray and speak calming words to this frightened creature. If he tried to fight the fence and get loose, he would only injure himself more.

Sharon walked down the fence line and then jumped over the fence that was about 5 feet high. Wow, was I ever glad I had such an athletic friend! She walked over to the house and I waited and watched the rabbit and prayed. His body shook from shock and fear. Inside, I wasn’t doing much better.

I reassured him that help was on the way and watched his rapid breathing. I saw Sharon keep on going past the house running down a driveway… the first place must have been a dead end. I watched and I prayed. I was afraid we didn’t have much time left since I didn’t know how long he had been caught in the fence. The rabbit shivered less and less. I wasn’t sure that was a good thing. I moved from one side of him to the other to see if his eyes were tracking with me. I needed to see some sign of life… some movement to know that we were not too late.

What seemed like a long time… but likely wasn’t, I saw Sharon coming back down the driveway with a man in his early 30s wearing a blue t-shirt, they were intent on their mission. As I saw them coming, I told the rabbit, “Help is on the way, they’re almost here.” Once more the rabbit tried to get free and then stopped.

Both of them vaulted over the fence and came to join me near the rabbit. Sharon introduced us, “Adam, this is my friend, Barb. Barb, this is Adam.” I greeted him with a smile of thanksgiving. I noticed he had wire cutters in his hand… yay! I’m not sure what his t-shirt really said, but I saw the word “Courageous” maybe it actually said ‘Cougars’, honestly, I don’t know. But God showed me “Courageous”.

Adam moved toward the fence with a calm manner like someone who cared about our friend in distress and also knew his way around fencing. He examined the situation and the rabbit was not afraid. He stayed where he was and Adam began making some strategic cuts. With one last clip and a gentle push on the rabbit’s foot, the rabbit was free. The rabbit jumped away from the fence and ran for freedom without a limp, as if the spot where the wire had cut into him did not hurt.

“I’m free! I’m free! Praise God, I’m free.” That’s the message I heard in my spirit. By this time, tears of joy were flowing down my face. God had sent help to save one of his beloved creatures. Adam turned to leave without fanfare. Sharon shook his hand and thanked him and Adam wished us well on the rest of our walk. I had no words, only tears. My heart was full and overflowing in that moment with the heart of the Father.

Sharon and I walked back down the incline to the trail below. We stood there for a moment and cried and held each other in a hug. What had we just witnessed? What had God called us to be a part of? We did not know. But we knew that God was there.

As we resumed our walk, we cried and prayed asking God what had just happened. I knew that we had witnessed the very truth Pastor Alice spoke of yesterday… the love of God the Father for us. The rabbit would have died without our help. Sometimes we are that rabbit. We are ‘stuck’ because we tried to go somewhere we did not belong and did not fit.

But it was more than that, we saw the problem and we wanted to help but we didn’t have the right tools to solve the problem. We too needed to ask for help, a willing soul who would help us to free the rabbit not someone with a cold heart that saw it just as the way nature works, some live and some die.

And God sent “Adam” – the irony of his name was not lost on us. Who else but God would send a willing soul to answer the distress call of a stranger? And he just happened to have wire cutters coupled with a heart of compassion for a wounded rabbit? Only God.

Three strangers came together to save a life… all of us were touched by the experience and I believe that the rabbit lives on. The Heart of the Father… my heart broke as I saw that rabbit stuck in the fence and knew that I might see him die if we didn’t get help. How much more does my heart break for my fellow-man who doesn’t know the Lord? May God break my heart for what breaks His. His heart breaks for people who are ‘stuck’ in life situations that will result in death unless they are set free and so should mine. I cannot do it alone and neither can you.

The empty fence was where the rabbit was set free. The empty cross is where Christ set us free. May the love of the Father live on through us. He who the Son sets free is free indeed. (If you would like to hear the message about “The Heart of the Father” (6/21/15) you can listen to the replay at www.spokanedreamcenter.org)

Barbara Hollace is not only a beautiful writer, she is also an amazing editor. For more information on Barbara go to www.barbarahollace.com

 

0

Check your burdens at the cross

Tonight was her Christmas party – an elegant ballroom party, it was a dream come true. The last two months at this job made her feel like her past was finally behind her. The dress and shoes she had borrowed fit her perfectly. However, as she slipped on her tattered winter coat, feelings of sadness and shame came over her.

Screen Shot 2014-11-30 at 11.31.31 AMUpon arriving at the party, she noticed a coat check. What would they think when they saw her dirty coat? She turned away and rolled her coat over her arm. Inside out, no one would see the stains from her past life. The coat told the story of many wild nights partying and waking up in drug houses and hotel rooms that were rented by the hour. Past memories followed her to the food table.

Walking around the room, she carried the coat and balanced her plate of delicious looking hors d’oeuvres. Every few minutes she would try to shift her coat to the other arm without spilling her food.  It was a burden to carry her coat but it was nothing compared to the burden she carried in her heart. The mistakes of her past were so heavy but she just couldn’t let them go.

The guy from accounting was on his way over to her and she had nowhere to run and hide. He was probably going to ask her to church again. Like any church would want her, she thought. Besides, he was an accountant and he would have a heyday tallying up all her mistakes. He reached out and said, “Let me check that coat for you, it looks like a burden.”

As he took the coat from her, he noticed the stains. Here comes judgment, she thought. But instead he looked at her with the most amazing kindness and said, “This coat looks like it has known its share of heartache. It reminds me of my life before Christ. I dragged my shame around with me wherever I went. It kept me from enjoying life. One day I found myself wanting to end it all, but something pulled at my heart. Before I realized what I was doing, I walked into a church. I guess I wanted to see if God was real. I opened a Bible and I will never forget what I read. ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.’ It was at that moment I realized I could leave my burdens with Christ. Finally, I had found rest and peace.”

There was no judgment in his eyes. Instead, there was a joy that seemed so different from anything she had ever seen. He walked away with her coat and she stood there for a moment thinking about how good it felt to no longer be carrying it. With tear-filled eyes, she wondered if there was any truth in what he said. Could she find rest and peace too? Right there, in the middle the party, she said, “God, if you are real, can you give me rest? I am tired and I hurt so badly carrying all my mistakes. I want to live my life differently. Can you take my burdens and give me rest?” In that moment, she found peace that she had never felt before.

Today Christ wants to give you rest. If you are carrying burdens that are weighing you down, Christ is waiting to take them from you. He wants you to check your burdens at the cross and enjoy a life free of shame. You simply need to ask Him. He is not concerned about how you word it – it doesn’t have to be fancy. He is looking at your heart. You can hand Him whatever it is you are carrying around with you and He will take it no matter how ugly it may be.

I recently talked with a man who had just given his life to Christ and in our conversation I told him, “Whatever you gave to Christ, you have been forgiven for all of it. Do not go back and pick it up. It was checked at the cross and it no longer belongs to you.” The same is true for you when you check your burdens at the cross. They are no longer your burdens to carry. Please don’t wait another minute. A simple prayer is all it takes.

 

Originally posted at Living Better 50 magazineLB50ContributorSQ

0

Like a moth to the moon

Originally written for Living Better 50 magazine.

Have you ever noticed the number of moths and other bugs that gravitate to your porch light? One flick of Screen Shot 2014-10-06 at 8.58.31 PMthe switch and your porch light becomes a beacon in the night – just like Motel 6. Moths are attracted to the light because they think it’s the moon. Instead, they end up being confused and tired while flying around your light.

Moths use the light of the moon to navigate at night, and sadly, they often get pulled off course by a false moon (the front porch light). Moths are not the only creatures that are guided by the light. There is one true light that has been given to us as human beings, Jesus Christ. Sadly, many of us get pulled off course by the false lights of the world. Many may never even know that there is one true light to guide them; instead, they remain alone in the darkness.

My prayer is that God will use me as His instrument to touch the hearts of those around me. Out of the darkness, may I be a beacon of light, a light that people will be drawn to because Christ shines so brightly in me. My heart’s cry is to share His love in a way that turns the hearts of the broken, those trapped in darkness, to freedom in the light.

Today I pray that you, too, will want to be used to help lead others out of the darkness. Look around you. Who in your life is off course? Who is going through life wasting away like a moth that is drawn to a false moon? Moths will move from one false moon to the next until they die. How many people are we going to watch do the same as they bounce from one lie to another?

LB50ContributorSQMoths show us that false light leads to death. Be a beacon of light for those who are in darkness, direct them to the true light of Christ because in Him is salvation.

0

Beautiful: My Story

Unknown-2

Thank you to “Photos by Heather”

By Taler Ray

Photo Credit: “Photos by Heather”

We all long to feel beautiful and somehow those 9 letters are the epitome of worth to most women around the world. Have you ever thought about how important in essence the word beautiful is? This word either empowers or destroys. How do I know this? Because I’ve been there, we probably all have and if we are honest we base our level beauty and worth by what culture says. Today we have social media, magazines, commercials etc. to thank for “idols” that clearly and visually, state clearly how little our hearts and passions matter.  Because to the world we are how we look the definition of who we are depends on it.  But friends….”beautiful” really isn’t an adjective that supports the noun. Being beautiful is a verb.

Beauty by social standard has destroyed and woman’s heart and I am a victim. 

Unknown-5Yes, I finally said it. I have been a victim of society and the media when it comes to feeling beautiful, but not until recently did I realize how deep these influences have affected my heart. For so many years I have tried to pretend I knew what it felt like to love myself, to feel completely confident and pretty-but I was so very wrong. My standards of beauty have been skewed by the world and the devil. He is always seeking to destroy. I have struggled with my weight and outer body image my whole life, but didn’t address it. Instead I allowed the devil to capitalize on my insecurities but worse was the denial that covered them.

I neglected the aching in my heart to feel beautiful and shoved my insecurity to the depths of my soul, hoping no one would ever find it

But, Jesus did. He found & revealed them. Jesus dug out my deepest insecurities and put them on display. Ultimately, he showed me that I failed to realize that my struggle with being beautiful was keeping me from being the truest version he created. I had been lying to myself for years, but lie I will no more.

Being pre-diabetic since high school, I have never really been healthy. Loosing weight was hard, no matter how healthy I ate. Returning from my first year of college heavier and more in denial than ever I was headed for type 2 diabetes which is hereditary. I knew that I had to make a change, but I just felt trapped in these chains of self-pity, guilt and frustration. I started baby steps and took the advice of my dear friend Claire and started approaching exercise totally different. As an act of worship. It was during one of my runs in early May that I finally surrendered my burden of self-image to Jesus. I surrendered the lies that Satan and culture. My chains were broken and set free through Jesus.

Being broken is not fun, and I am slowly beginning to be made “WHOLE” in the Lord. For so many years I had failed to understand that my body is a temple and when I neglect it, I neglect my relationship with Jesus. Following him means I must also honor my body; for it I do not I am dishonoring the Holy Spirit whom dwells within me. I’m learning that only when I surrender my flesh can I begin to be shaped into something new.  The new that is revealed through God’s glory and grace.

I love the message version of 1 Corinthians 6:19 & 20 which says

“Don’t you see that you can’t live however you please, squandering what God paid such a high price for? The physical part of you is not some piece of property belonging to the spiritual part of you. God owns the whole works. So let people see God in and through your body.”

As I close I can admit that for so long I let my insecurities and society define me as unworthy of being a beautiful creation. But through the convictions, trials and triumph I can hear the Creator whisper to me, saying:

Beloved, you are my masterpiece.”Unknown-3

Choose to live life as a beautiful verb because we are not called to let others define our worth. We are called to live as he has defined us: beloved. 

In Christ Jesus,

Taler Ray

To read more of Taler’s awesome posts you can go to a New Adventure Each Day.  God has his hand on this young lady and I look forward to having her back again to share her wisdom.

Thank you to “Photos by Heather”  or on Facebook

Photo Bomb

Just the other night I was taking some family photos of all the cousins as we celebrated the 4th of DSC_5170July.  My son saw the perfect opportunity to photo bomb one of the pictures.  He jumped in behind a few of his cousins and his sister with a funny look on his face.  As they sat smiling for the camera he stood behind them with a goofy look on his face  and messed up the photo.

The enemy loves nothing more than to “Photo Bomb” the picture God has for our lives…..

Yes I just said “Photo Bomb”.

Picture it. There is a beautiful backdrop of God’s creation, and in the photo you are looking at Jesus. His love for you radiates and you are filled with joy as you stand in the presence of your Savior. Then comes the Photo Bomb! The enemy jumps in behind Jesus pointing a finger at Him and whispering to you, “Don’t trust Him. It is all a lie. He must not love you. If he did love you that bad thing would not have happened”. It only takes a moment for the enemy to photo bomb and distort the beautiful picture God has for our lives.

When the enemy jumps in and tries to distort the picture we need to remember what the living and breathing word of God says. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”. Jeremiah 29:11(NIV)

We live in a broken world. As the saying goes, bad things happen to good people. God doesn’t sit back waiting for the perfect time to bring harm to us. The enemy however, wants nothing more than to cause us to believe it is God that we can’t trust. “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy, the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” 1 Peter 5:8,9 (NIV)

In the photo bomb, the enemy raises his ugly head from behind Jesus because he cannot get in front of Him. We need to remember that. The enemy has been put in his place; he has no power. He is like the annoying guy that is jumping up and down behind the reporter just so he can get his picture on TV. I don’t know about you but I always laugh at that guy. No matter how hard he tries to get in front of Christ he can’t. Christ will stand between the two of you. You can count on that. Also, you have been given the authority to tell him to back off. On more than 1 occasion I have said, “In the name of Jesus get away from me. You are not welcome here”. When you claim the authority you have been given by God you can photo shop him out of the picture.

Never be afraid to tell the enemy to take a hike when he rears his ugly head and photo bombs God’s picture for your life.