Keep Your Eye On The Ball

Eli just started playing spring baseball. He hasn’t played baseball in a league in two years as he was mostly focusing on basketball. Tommy and Eli discussed playing this season and before I knew it, last night I was sitting at his second practice.

This season sort of intimidated Eli. He was  nervous about coming in after two seasons off and not being at the level he felt he should be to play with these other kids. Tommy and I just kept telling him, “Eli, you are going to do great. You are a natural and God is going to use you on the team.” I could see Eli’s anxiety welling up during the first practice and going into the second. He wasn’t nervous about fielding. I could tell, he was nervous to get into the batter’s box.

As batting practice went on last night Eli kept fielding the ball as each player took their turn stepping up to hit. I kept thinking “ok, maybe he’s next.” Turns out Eli was the last hitter to hit. By the time Eli was in the box I am going to tell you, Jesus and I had been talking for a while.

I just kept saying, “Lord, give him your strength. Give him your grace. Lord, help him to make contact. God, help it to feel good to him.”  Oh… I just kept praying.

When Eli stepped up to hit, one of his coaches kept repeating, the same things, “Eli, see the ball. Eli, don’t take your eye off it for a second. Eli, stop dancing in the box and just watch it.” E did just what he told him and after about three misses, the hits started coming. First they were fouls, then boom straight on. The coach kept saying, “There’s a hit! That’s a base hit. Keep your eyes set.” Just like Tommy thought he would be, Eli was hooked on baseball again. Our boy who walked out on the field full of anxiety, walked off of the field full of courage. There’s something about keeping our eyes on the ball.

Of course, it hit me in my Spirit that this is just the same in our walks with Christ! We have to keep our eyes on the prize, Jesus! We have to fix our eyes on Jesus and not lose our stare for a second. We are going to swing and miss a lot, but if we can just stay in the race, relying heavily on grace, we are going to hit some base hits for The Kingdom of God.

We all want to be home-run hitters, but base hits win games. What are some base hits in our walks? Maybe it’s, complimenting someone or encouraging  someone in their faith, or maybe helping a single mom change a tire. Maybe a base hit in the Kingdom is inviting an unbeliever to church and they actually say yes and join you.

You know, all we really have to do to experience victory in this life lived for Christ is to keep our eyes on Jesus and keep swinging. Keep on loving God. Keep on loving people. Keep on making disciples. It’s not a home-run hitter that gets us wins for the Kingdom. It simply a lot of us stepping up to the plate and keeping our eyes on Him! We have to stop dancing in the box and just keep our eyes on Jesus!

 

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What Do You Smell Like?

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I was out walking Tyco this evening and I smelled a familiar smell that immediately brought back a fond memory. One of my neighbors was obviously starting a charcoal grill with lighter fluid. I could smell the coals being prepared for them to grill on. It took me back to my childhood winters in Florida, staying at Vacation Village.

Our family would stay there every winter, from January until around Easter time when we would return to our NY home. I had no idea what a blessing that was that in some way, my siblings and I were the youngest snowbirds ever. We went to school in NY half a year and Florida half a year. We did this so that my Dad who was a contractor could build homes all year long to support our big family.

I look back now and realize how God used this unique situation to enable me to learn how to make friends easily. It was sink or swim. You either learn how to say, “Hello, my name is Mo,” or sit alone at lunch. I quickly learned this helpful greeting. The smell of the charcoal made me smile as I recalled this childhood memory.

I immediately started thinking of other smells that made me smile. The smell of fresh lumber being burnt in the fireplace at Christmas time and the smell of a pot roast cooking all day long on low at my Grandma Lawrence’s house every Sunday. I could never forget the smell of orange blossoms and homemade taffy and chocolate that signified a memorable trip to The Citrus Tower as a child. Oh how I loved watching them do the glass blowing and a window away you could see the ladies making the candy, like on the infamous “I love Lucy” episode where she and Ethel were sorting chocolates.

There was the smell of our horse barn in NY with the fresh cut hay and horse grain which always smelled comforting to me. Too bad my allergies kept me from fully enjoying one of my favorite pass-times, sitting on the fence watching my Dad ride and train horses on our land. I kept recalling memories of smells that were making me happy as Tyco and I rounded our last turn home.

I thought, to myself, what do I smell like to the world? Do I have an aroma that would make someone stop and say, “wow, I really enjoyed my time with her.” Or do I have a stench of self-righteousness or pride that would cause someone to happily not have to recall that smell again. The bible says that we should have the “aroma of Christ.”

2 Corinthians 2:14-16 New International Version (NIV) reads:

14 But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. 15 For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task?

We are supposed to spread the aroma of Christ everywhere! Do we? Do people walk by us and say, “There is something different about her”?  Or, are we simply blending in with the smells and sights around us? Do we look different than the world? Do we act different than the world? Are we making an impact for Jesus? Or is our aroma forgettable?

Oh how I want to leave the scent and aroma of Christ everywhere I go. I want to obey the instructions I felt Holy Spirit give me one day in my quiet time, “Everywhere you go, everyone should know, you belong to me.” Oh friend, I want my love for Jesus and my dedication to His commission to be so obvious to everyone that they can even smell it on me.

Do you? Do you desire a scent that will draw lost souls to a Savior? Oh, I do. How about we ask God to anoint us with His aroma everyday as we pursue looking more and more like Him. This way we can leave a trail of beauty behind us as we also look forward to the beautiful aroma of Heaven someday, in which I have no doubt, no scent here on Earth will be able to compare.

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Seeking His Voice

 

I heard a woman with a prophetic mantle on “It’s Supernatural” speaking about how to hear from God. It was so helpful to me and I have been spending a lot of my quiet time with God lately, doing a lot more listening than speaking.

Here are a few things I believe God has been saying.

1) May we always be a people who bow. Bow to The King of Kings and to The Name of Jesus and not to making a name.

2) Sorrow upon sorrow it causes Me when My people are cast into Satan’s net that he is using with the bait of popularity and fame.

3) My Name and renown should be the joy of your heart.

4) Exalt yourself and you’ll be humbled. Humble yourself to exalt Me and The Name will be glorified.

5) Snore Mo! Rest to the point that you snore. You don’t have to keep one eye peeled at all times. Snore a good snore.

6) Jesus is the only acceptable sacrifice. I desire mercy from you, not sacrifice.

7) My people perish for lack of knowledge. Fill The temple with knowledge.

8) Train yourself to be godly. Research and study.

9) Love is the key ingredient in obtaining a life lived for me. If love is absent, it will fail.

10) Raise up a banner. The key to witnessing my heart is by soaking in my presence and my Word. Soak and sit.

The Word is very true. Seek Him! He wants to be found by us. He has so much to say. I’m learning to just be quiet and listen.

Love you

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Be Holy!

When I first started reading the Bible and studying it, I would get hung up on this scripture often. Until, I realized I was reading it out of context. I was reading the word “holiness” and translating it as righteoussness and it wasn’t making sense.

Is holiness righteousness? I actually had to study this out a few times to figure out the difference between holiness and righteoussness.

The truth is, we cannot stand in front of a Holy and Perfect God without righteousness. Righteousness is right standing with God. And, quite honestly, we can’t ever be righteous enough on our own to pull this off. That’s why we need a Savior.

When we make Jesus Lord, we recieve His righteousness. We become right with the Father, only because Jesus is right with the Father and His blood makes us right.

As far as holiness. Holiness is a choice. Holiness is choosing to be set-apart for a purpose. Another definition of holiness is perfection, and quite honestly, perfection isn’t something we will ever attain to, but we should always be pursuing.

In a nutshell, the difference between righteousness and holiness is, we are righteous because God counts Jesus’ goodness instead of our sins when we have faith in Jesus. We are becoming holy as we obey God more and more in our lives.

When Peter is talking about holiness in this situation he is quoting from Leviticus 11:44, which reads, “I am the Lord your God; consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy.” The Israelites we’re being taught not to eat any creatures that slither on the ground, like snakes. God was reminding the Israelites to be set-apart from unclean things, and to not defile themselves. Peter was teaching on obedience and self- control and not food choices, but the point was being driven home. We are to be different than the world. We are to be set-apart for Kingdom uses.

This concept, is still true for us today, as we should strive to be set-apart for God’s use and not allow ourselves to get entangled in the detestable things of this world. Yes we have to live in this world. But, we cannot allow the world to pollute our souls. We minister to the broken, but we cannot allow the broken to break us. We sit with sinners, but we can’t be yoked with sinners. It’s a fine line to walk when consecrating ourselves unto The Lord.

So… I hope I haven’t confused you. I hope this actually helped you. It was a good refresher lesson for me today too. The cliff notes of this blog would probably read, “We need Jesus to be righteous and because we are righteous, we pursue holiness to be like Jesus.”

Be Holy because He is Holy!

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Experiencing God

The sunrise this morning was beyond describing in words. It was layered in reds, yellows, oranges and it seemed to get prettier every time I closed my eyes to pray and re-opened them. Tommy woke up a little earlier than he normally does so he witnessed it with me. He said, “Wow!” I said, “God’s pretty amazing, isn’t He?”

I thought about how hard it is to capture moments like this in nature with a camera or a phone. The photos can be pretty, but the truth is, they never really do it justice. When we travelled to Georgia last year to see the foliage in the fall, I tried to capture pics to share with my friends on Facebook, but as hard as I tried, nothing could compare to experiencing it first hand.

It’s kind of like that with experiencing God. Do you know that you can experience God, and not just know Him? Yes, knowing God is key. It’s the first step in your relationship with Him, and you have to get to know God by spending time with Him in prayer and by reading and studying His Word. But, there is also an experiential relationship with our Creator that can be obtained and God wants us to get there with Him. Last night at the worship service in church, I had one of those experiences with God. And, once you have one, you never want it to end.

I had been fretting about something that day. When I say fretting, you know what I mean. I just sort of kept coming back around and dwelling on something negative yesterday. I would do what I knew to do and cast my cares on God, and fight the good fight of faith, and go about my day, but I wasn’t truly releasing to Him my negative emotions until almost the last song of the night was being sung. I have to admit, I think my heart was a little calloused when I walked in. I don’t even think I had any intention of experiencing the supernatural last night. I kind of showed up because it was the right thing to do. Too honest?

Then God showed me His heart. I had my hands raised and I was truly belting out the words to my favorite worship song, “So will I”, and finally towards the end of the song, when the song speaks of surrendering to God as Christ surrendered on the cross, my arms began to tremble, my body began to feel warm and God said, “Surrender Mo.” I could feel the tears run down my cheek. I silently said, “Yes Lord, I surrender.” But, I didn’t want the moment to end. I didn’t want the warmth to stop. I didn’t want the trembling to stop. I didn’t want the tears to stop rolling. I had found myself experiencing God last night, not just knowing His Word, not just obeying His commands, not just talking to Him and casting my cares. I could feel the God of the Universe inside of me. The Holy Spirit was supernaturally making Himself seen. Immediately, my insecurities and my negative thoughts were washed away and gone.

The Apostle Peter was one of the disciples who was great at pressing in to experience God. He wasn’t satisfied with second-hand faith. He wanted front row seats in the daily worship experience walking with Jesus. Jesus allowed Peter to walk on water towards Him. Peter couldn’t wait to get out of the boat and walk towards Jesus. When He gets close to Him and takes his eyes off a Jesus for one minute and looks at the waves, we all know Peter begins to sink. But, then the hand of God reaches down in the water, scoops up Peter and pulls him up and says, “Why did you doubt?” Well, when Peter and Jesus climb back into the boat, the disciples who had watched second hand said, “Surely this is the Son of God.” The disciples observed God. The disciples witnessed God. Peter experienced God. Peter wanted a first hand relationship with Him and Peter got it.

This happened over and over for Peter. There’s no doubt I think Jesus loved Peter’s boldness and reckless faith. I think Jesus took joy in showing Peter the supernatural, after all, Peter was one of the only three disciples allowed to witness the transfiguration. I love what Peter says right after. In Matthew 17:4 Peter says to Jesus, “It is good for us to be here…” He then offers to build Moses and Elijah a shelter. Peter doesn’t want the experience to end. That’s how it always is when we experience God.

After we experience the supernatural presence and power of our Lord, nothing else matters. Everything else suffers in comparison. Even our problems. They just seem to fade dim under the powerful glory that is released by The Holy Spirit at that very moment. All things seem to work together for good. All things seem to make sense. Just like Peter says, “It is good for us to be there.”

Have you experienced God lately? If not, may I encourage you to let go of the sides of the boat, like the other disciples did and grab onto Jesus’ hand like Peter did. There’s nothing like a first hand relationship with Him. There’s nothing like an experience. The real thing is so much better than the pictures.

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It Takes Time

We have lived in Florida for twenty years now. I couldn’t be more grateful to God that He allowed Tommy and me to raise our children here. It has been the joy of my life watching my children grow up near their cousins and grandparents in a warm climate that has allowed them to play outside everyday of the year. I am a big outdoor person, so this has been so important to me as a mom.

As I was walking my dog this morning along our normal route I stepped on a few fallen acorns. I actually like the feeling under my feet as they smash and all of the seeds come out. It reminds me of when my Sara was little and we used to take walks in the fall just so she could smash acorns under her little feet.

I kept walking along and lizards kept darting in and out of the path before us. I giggled to myself thinking how scared I used to be when I would go on walks years ago and they would do this. I would think it was a snake slithering out of the bushes or something. Now I just smile at these crazy things and thank God that they eat all of the nasty bugs off of my prayer porch. They really are nice to have around.

Yes, it has taken time to get to know the ins and outs of living in Florida. It’s taken time to learn what plants actually grow here and what ones look pretty at Lowe’s but are destined for destruction the second I put them in the ground during the wrong season. It’s taken time to learn that our 4th of Julypicnic should start at 5 Pminstead of 1 Pmunless I want a house full of people escaping the inevitable afternoon storm that is carrying off pool umbrellas and tents with it’s crazy force.

Yes, learning the Florida lifestyle has taken time. Great time, but time. So does developing a relationship with Jesus.

A true, love relationship with Jesus, one that knows when Holy Spirit is beckoning, calling, leading and guiding you, takes time. This time involves time in the Word and time in prayer.

Moses knew this sort of relationship with Father God! Moses spoke with God one on one. God spoke, Moses listened.

Moses spoke, God listened.

That’s a relationship right there.

Moses’ relationship with God was so precious to God that He spared the Israelites’ disobedient lives over and over because of Moses’ obedience. In Exodus 32 and 33, we see this grace poured out on the Israelites to honor Moses.

Exodus 32:7-10 reads, “Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go down, because your people, whom you brought up out of Egypt, have become corrupt. They have been quick to turn away from what I commanded them and have made themselves an idol cast in the shape of a calf. They have bowed down to it and sacrificed to it and have said, ‘These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.’ “I have seen these people,” the Lord said to Moses, “and they are a stiff-necked people. Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation.””

‭‭God is ready to wipe them out. Their idolatry has just about made God lose His cool. But Moses talked to God. He sought the favor of God, asked God to spare them. And…God did.

I love chapter 33 because God spared them. He told them to go on ahead and go into the land He promised their forefathers they would get, but He said, “I won’t be going.” He actually says in vs 5, “if I go with you for even a moment I might destroy you.” Lol… I love God’s honesty. He’s like “listen Moses, I’m sparing them for you, but they still bug me.” That’s the “Mo Version” translation here.

Yes, my friend, Moses’ relationship with God meant so much to God, it actually saved the Israelite nation. Do you see how much God desires communion and a relationship with us? It’s His heart’s desire.

This relationship didn’t happen overnight for God and Moses, it took time to develop. So does our relationship with God. Becoming one with The God of the Universe takes time. Yes, we are saved immediately when we accept Christ, but just like learning to live the Florida lifestyle took time for me to learn,  learning to live according to God’s Word and Will, takes time as well; time in prayer, time in worship, time in communion, time studying The Word and  time loving on God and learning to receive His Perfect Love which casts out fear.

Let’s spend some time building that relationship today. It’s the most valuable friendship you will ever experience. And, you don’t even need a to have a burning bush experience to have it.

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There’s Always Someone Watching

This morning my daughter Sara came out to join me on my prayer swing. I was doing my bible study and spending quiet time with The Lord, and my girl came out to do the same thing. As she sat down next to me with her journal and bible, my heart smiled. I silently thanked The Holy Spirit for her decision to start her day in The Word.

The funny thing is, it reminded me of something. It made me think of her at 3 years old. I was a stay at home mom and Sara was with me non-stop. She was like my little shadow. I couldn’t go to the bathroom without little fingers opening up the door or talking to me through the door if the door was locked.

Once a week my best friend Mary would come over to hang out with me in the evening to do bible study together on our back porch. Tommy would hang out with the boys and Sara in the house, but Sara always managed to make her way onto the porch with Mar and me. I can still hear her little baby voice say, “I do baa -bull study.” I would say, “Sar, go back in with Daddy, me and Miss Mar are having Mommy time.” But, she would keep persisting until my friend Mar couldn’t take the cuteness anymore, and she would pick her up and put her on her lap. Needless to say, Sara always found a way to make her way into “Mommy time.” I look back today and thank God that she did.

How precious it is to me as a mother of a grown woman to watch Sara choose to study God’s Word daily, follow His commands and choose to walk in obedience to Him. My heart almost bursts thinking about it. This morning as she sat next to me, I prayed silently to The Lord,  “God, someone is always watching aren’t they?”

Yes, our children are watching us. They learn what they live. Children copy their parents until they find their own way of doing things in this world. Our children are the most important audience we will ever have and we must protect and respect that gift with all that we are.

Others are watching too. People are watching to see if our lives line up with our sermons. People want to see if we practice what we preach. People are curious to see behind the closed doors of our homes and hearts. Are we truly who we portray ourselves to be on our social media accounts and out in public?

I pray that I am. I mean, I think what a travesty it would be to spend your lifetime on mission to save souls, but in the meantime, find out that your family barely knows who you are, or even worse, recognizes a hypocrite and decides that this “life lived for Christ” isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. To be real and raw and trustworthy is something I strive to be each day in front of my family and loved ones. Do I mess up? Oh heck yes. Thank God for His grace and mercy.

As I asked God today, “”God, someone is always watching, aren’t they?” I felt Him comfort me and encourage me to just keep pursuing Him, trusting Him and honoring Him, and those onlookers will have no stones to throw.

1 Peter 2:12 actually says, “Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day He visits us. ” As Christians, that’s truly the goal, to live in such a way that glorifies God and causes others to want to glorify Him. You see, none of us are perfect, but if we can just keep on keeping on, loving God, loving people, and making disciples, and living God-fearing lives wherever we are,  those watching us will hopefully want to join us.

Yes, there’s always someone watching.

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