How Do I Get There From Here?

addtext_com_MTEwNjQwMTczMzcIt is not unusual for someone to say to me, “How did you get where you are today? I feel the same call on my life, yet nothing is happening, and no doors are opening.” My answer is, “I was faithful in the nursery.”

When God clearly spoke to me and called me to ministry outside of my local church, I thought it would happen soon. Not! It was quite a while before doors began to open for me, and it was not my job to make them open. It didn’t mean I was now too spiritual to do the things I had done, through the years, in my church. This included things like nursery duty, bathroom cleaner, children’s ministry, office assistant, wall painter, shrubbery weeder, Sunday school teacher, worship leader and pulpit speaker. All of it was God’s work, and should be treated as such.

When David was first anointed king, he was not rushed right to a throne, and no crown was placed on his head. What happened next? He was sent right back to the field to take care of the sheep. He didn’t scream and yell, “But … I am a king. How dare you send me to the fields for such menial tasks!” No, David just keep walking with God, tending the sheep, writing worship songs and being “normal.”

David continued to walk with God today, because he believed what God said about his tomorrow.

For us, as with David, there will tests, betrayals, battles and obstacles along the way, but God is not limited in His ability to get us where He has called us.

Wherever you are today, walk faithfully in that place. Do all as unto the Lord. Believe what God has said about your tomorrow.

“He who began a good work in me will be faithful to complete it.” – Philippians 1:6

When You Are Discouraged

addtext_com_MTAzNzAzMzIzOTk5Right now I am not being oppressed by discouragement, but that has not always been the case. I could tell stories of times when discouragement pleaded to be my best friend, and pleaded daily.

There are two schools of thought on discouragement. Some say God’s people should never be discouraged; after all, they are God’s people. Others believe that there are times of discouragement that will come, and as God’s children, we must choose to stand on the Rock.  I embrace the latter.

While I know that God is with me, sometimes fierce battles seem to drag on, with no end in sight,  and it gets discouraging. In scripture, the devil is sometimes referred to as the “dragon.”  If the word “dragon” is divided it would look like this:  “drag-on.”   The dragon  wants to discourage you, and cause you to give up.  When battles drag on and on, it can cause discouragement to pelt against us day after day. Sometimes we find ourselves asking what the Psalmist asked, “How long, O Lord?”

Ephesians chapter six gives us a list of armor that God has provided. At the end of the list, He says when you have done all you can do, then, just stand! That is encouraging to me. God is saying that there will be times when we have done all we can, and at that point, just stand in what God has provided.  What a secure place in times of battle!

God has given us all the resources we need in order to stand in times of discouragement. He can’t make us stand. That is our choice. But, He has given us the needed tools to stand firm, tools such as His promises, His Spirit, His armor, His presence, His people, His love, His strength and many other things.

Are you discouraged today? Use the tools and choose to stand. Speak aloud that God is in control, and He is for you! Talk with someone and ask them to pray with you. Choose to stand!

“Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all to stand.” – Ephesians 6:13

You Know What They Say

addtext_com_MTMxNTA5MjcwMjY

“They” say:

  • You should wear your hair this way.
  • You should weigh this much.
  • You should dress this way.
  • You should never eat at this restaurant.
  • You should discipline a child this way.
  • You should change your color décor to this color.

How often we worry about what “they” say or what “they” think!

People pleasing is older than the Bible! I know it’s not a newsflash, but we must get to a point that we stop living to please people, or worse try to please everyone. Even God cannot please everyone! Jesus said, “I only seek to please Him who sent me.”

I confess that I do try to live my life by what “they” say… that is if “they” are the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. As long as I am walking a life that pleases God, that is all that is needed.

Wait, you mean we can disregard people? Not at all!  Am I talking about living to please myself, and living a self-centered life? No way!

As long as I am walking in a way that pleases God, it will affect how I treat my husband, my children, my grandchildren, my friends, my co-workers, my pastor, my clerk when I checkout at the grocery store and even those with whom I disagree. I’m sure you get the picture. Not being a people pleaser, in no way is a license to be hurtful, hateful or harmful.

Don’t spend all your energy trying to make people like you. Choose to follow God’s Word and plan for your life. It is one of the most freeing things I have ever done for myself. It would be nice if “they” all liked me, but that is not going to happen.

I choose to walk my life not being imprisoned by others, but freed by God to be all I can be in Him.  Which “they” will control your life?

“Does this sound as if I am trying to win human approval? No indeed! What I want is God’s approval! Am I trying to be popular with people? If I were still trying to do so, I would not be a servant of Christ.” – Galatians 1:10 (Good News Translation)

Do You Have Any True Friends?

addtext_com_MDk1NzE1OTAyMDcAs believers, we all need people in our lives that are trusted friends, friends who will laugh and cry with us, but, who will also tell us when we need correction. Second Samuel, chapter twelve, records a powerful story. King David had committed sinful acts, and tried to cover them up. When the Prophet Nathan came to him, Nathan told David a “hypothetical” story of a sinful man who had done egregious things. Those things were eerily similar to what David was hiding. After hearing the story, David was quick to say, “Kill that man!”  Nathan’s response, “You’re the man!”

It’s interesting how David could not admit to, or even see his own error. The Prophet Nathan was not there to bash David, but to speak the truth of God to him. End of story: David repents, and gets his life back in order.

Nathan cared enough about David to speak the truth in love, risking the relationship he had with David. He was willing to take that risk, so he could help David move to a right place with God and with others. Thank God David was wise enough to accept the correction!

Who do you have in your life, that you will allow to say, “You’re the man/woman. You’re out of God’s revealed will?”  That’s a true friend.

“As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” – Proverbs 27:17

Get Up And Glow

CandleAfter dinner one evening, my husband and I were cleaning the kitchen together. As I was cleaning all the counter space, I noticed a flaw about two inches long. I was mortified. How did that terrible place get on my nice Corian counter top? I knew I didn’t scratch the counter, so who could have done this? Only two of us live in this house.

I asked Gaylon if he remembered messing up the counter. No, he didn’t remember.

I scrubbed the place with vinegar and water, but it stayed the same. Gaylon began to scrub.  At one point he stood at a different angle, and immediately the spot was gone. It wasn’t a spot at all; it was the sun peeking through the blinds at a funny angle.

I had tried and tried to get rid of the light that was shining on the counter.  No matter how hard I tried, I could not extinguish the light.

We are in strange times in the United States. There is much darkness, and I personally feel there is great spiritual warfare against the message of the Gospel. Our beliefs are under attack, and we are often ridiculed and mocked.

What’s the answer? Rants on Facebook and Twitter? Hiding? Staying quiet so we won’t upset anyone? The answer is light. “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

The Church of Jesus Christ has always flourished in the face of adversity. Now is the time to stand tall and shine, shine, shine. Don’t let fear overtake you, causing you to think the Church will be destroyed. That is not going to happen.

You can’t wipe out light or scrub out light. Light just keeps on shining. My Corian taught me that!

It’s time to get up and glow.

“Arise, shine; For your light has come! And the glory of the LORD is risen upon you. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, And deep darkness the people; But the LORD will arise over you, And His glory will be seen upon you.” Isaiah 60:1,2

Thursday Is Thirst-day

stretch-out-my-hands-psalm-143-6-used-with-permission-from-darrell-creswellEarlier in the week, I asked who was willing to join me on Thursday for Thirst-day, and many said they wanted to join.

First, we each need a spiritual renewal from God. We need a hunger to return to our hearts spiritually. We must be aligned with the Word of God. Are you thirsty? If so, ask God to fill you. If not, ask God to make you thirsty again.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.
Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” – Psalm 139:23-24

Wait on God. Sit quietly and ask Him to renew you. Sing to Him in worship.

Second, we need the wind of the Holy Spirit to blow on our churches and leaders. We need more than three songs, a sermonette and go home. We need the wind of the Spirit and the power of God on our ministries and ministers. Our pulpits need an anointing of truth and humility.

Third, we need God to visit this nation again. God, we are so grateful for all you have done for us, but as a nation, we desperately need you

Billy Graham’s Prayer for the Nation
Our Father and Our God, we praise You for Your goodness to our nation, giving us blessings far beyond what we deserve. Yet we know all is not right with America. We deeply need a moral and spiritual renewal to help us meet the many problems we face. Convict us of sin. Help us to turn to You in repentance and faith. Set our feet on the path of Your righteousness and peace. We pray today for our nation’s leaders. Give them the wisdom to know what is right, and the courage to do it. You have said, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.” May this be a new era for America, as we humble ourselves and acknowledge You alone as our Savior and Lord. This we pray in Your holy name, Amen.

I Still Believe It’s In His Hands

HandsCharles Spurgeon told a story of how during a sudden storm a woman on a ship became very terrified. She was so distraught that she found her husband, who happened to be the ship’s captain, and said, “I don’t understand how you can be so calm while I am totally terrified.”

Her husband calmly walked across his quarters and picked up his sword. He took it and aimed it at the center of her chest, but she only laughed. Then he asked, “Why aren’t you afraid of this sword? It could slay you in less than a minute.”

His wife replied, “I am not afraid of a sword that is wielded by the hand of my husband.”

“Then neither am I,” said the captain, “afraid of a storm in the hand of my heavenly Father.”

As Christ followers, we look around in today’s culture, and we could easily start to say, “Where is God? Is He even paying attention to our prayers?” God is right where He has always been and always will be – sitting on His throne in heaven. He is still God! The world, that He created, is still in His hands.

Don’t be deceived. Don’t live discouraged. Don’t give up. Don’t allow your love to grow cold. Let your faith arise – things are still in His hands.

The Bible was very clear in telling us that times such as these would come. Much of what we are seeing is proof that God is on His throne and His Word is being fulfilled. He is not shocked by anything going on – we are, but He’s not. As believers, we are to continue to beam with His love and radiate His light. We can stand strong in what we believe, and still be kind and loving. Wherever you are, wherever you go, bring His love.

I am determined to walk in His love and power all the way to the end. I can do that because I firmly believe it’s all in His hands, and I firmly believe I am in His hands.

“And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” – Matthew 24:11-14

Jumping Into The Deep End

FullSizeRender(12)Gaylon and I just spent time in North Carolina celebrating the birthday of Tucker Bryan Benton. Tucker turned three, and he truly lives his three-year-old life! Energy, laughter and going non-stop all describe this boy.

Gaylon and I took a morning to just have fun with Tucker. One of the things we did was take him to swim in a friend’s pool. Tucker was excited, but a little fearful. The pool had no true kiddie area where he could stand up on his own. He wanted to enjoy the pool, but he wanted the water to be shallow.

Finally after much coaxing, we were able to get Tucker to jump into Papa’s arms. He then realized he could trust his Papa. Tucker floated, he twirled, he laughed and he loved the deep water.  Tucker discovered that the deep water was a great place to be, as long as you are in the arms of the one you can trust.

Too often, people never experience more than shallow Christianity. Shallow water allows one to be in control. If I am in shallow water, I can get out any time I don’t like something or someone.  In shallow water, I can jump up and down and demand my way. In shallow water I can see every place I want to step, and places I refuse to step. In the shallow end, I am in total control.

In the beginning of our walk with God, it’s pretty normal to ask God to do things for us. That’s okay, but at some point we must go deeper. When we go deeper, we move beyond what God can do for us, and move toward what we can do for Him. Going deeper causes me to abandon my life, my actions, my tongue, my posts on social media, my attitudes and my whole being to my “Papa” God.

Experiencing the depths of Jesus Christ requires more than prayer and church attendance; it calls for total abandonment to Him. Abandonment does not happen automatically, but is made through daily decisions and sometimes even hourly decisions – not my will but Yours be done.

God is calling us to go deeper. Like Tucker, we will find that the deep water is so much more refreshing. Will you take the leap?

“When He had finished speaking, He said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” – Luke 5:4

I Have Watched A Man Walk With God

GaylCan you look back over your life and point to an individual or individuals who profoundly impacted your Christian growth?

As I reflect on my forty-seven year walk with God, I can easily name people who greatly influenced my Christian “growth spurts.” I can name great women of the faith who created a thirst in me to know God, and to become a true woman of God. Those women discipled me, disciplined me, mentored me, taught me and encouraged me. More than anything, their lives influenced me.

In our house there will be a lot of celebrating over the next few days.  It’s Father’s Day, my husband’s birthday and our anniversary. As I approach Father’s Day weekend, I want to thank THE man who influenced my Christian growth. Gaylon Benton, my husband of forty-four years, is one of the greatest Christians on earth. He has actually influenced my life more than all of my female mentors.

Gaylon Benton is a kindhearted, loving man who walks with the utmost integrity. I love to watch him as he rejoices with those who rejoice, and weeps with those who weep. I listen to his voice crack as he talks about his children and grandchildren. I watch tears flow down his face as he talks of missing our son Bryan. I have watched as he is overcome with emotion when praying for those whose hearts and lives are broken. Gaylon loves and loves deeply.

Though Gaylon has never been a famous preacher gracing the covers of magazines, or one who has millions following his every word, he is a man like Enoch. The Bible said that Enoch was a man who walked with God.  I have been blessed to watch a man walk with God.

My life is forever changed because one man dared to walk a life submitted to God. As I have watched him love, care, worship, weep, preach and pray, it has called me to a life of integrity before God.

Thank you, Gaylon Benton!  As the lyrics of a great song say, “Thank you for giving to the Lord.  I was a life that was changed.”

Do you have a male or female of great influence in your life? Now’s a good time to thank God for them, and even to thank them. Are you a person who is an influence for God?  As you faithfully walk with God, you can have an enormous effect for His kingdom.

I want to be an influencer for God. May it be said of me, “Like Enoch, she walked with God.”

“Enoch walked faithfully with God.” – Genesis 5:24

The Choice Is Yours

power-of-choiceWeighing well over eleven pounds at birth, I was a candidate for a control top pamper and a training bra before going home. I am a modest dresser, so I won’t take time to show you my six-pack abs. I really do have them! There’s a pack of donuts, a pack of Reese’s peanut butter cups, a pack of Cheezits, a pack of … well, like I said I definitely have a six-pack, even if it shows up as one big pack!

For my entire life, I have battled the bulge. I was born with a propensity to pack on pounds, and do it very easily. I have dreams of being a size two … who am I kidding, I’d take a size eight! I have dreams of eating anything and everything I want, and staying the same size. The old saying really is true, “A guy thinks every woman’s desire is the perfect man, but our greatest desire is to eat all we want and never gain weight!” Here’s the reality: I can claim a size six, but if I sow to a size sixteen, it’s a size sixteen that I shall be.

This blog has nothing to do with weight, but everything to do with reaping and sowing. My physical body will never be healthy until I sow into it what it takes to maintain a healthy body and a healthy weight. This is so very true for the spiritual man also.

As I talk with and watch so many of God’s people, we are great confessors. “I am the head and not the tail.” “I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord … plans for a hope and a future.” There are so many more verses that are “refrigerator verses.” These verses are true and should be part of our confession.

BUT … part of our confession must also be, “…for whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap.” What am I sowing, so that I might reap God’s best for my life? What choices do I make with my time, my mouth, my money, my relationships?

Actions have consequences. Don’t ever be fooled into thinking that your actions don’t have consequences. We all reap what we sow..  That sounds negative, but it’s not! If I sow the Word of God into how I make decisions, then I shall reap the plan of God for my life, and He has a good plan! If I sow giving to the Kingdom and using my money wisely, then I shall reap a good financial reward. If I sow using my tongue in a correct manner, then I shall have less tangled messes and ruined relationships. If I sow spending time daily in God’s presence, then I shall reap power for the day. This is not about rebuke, but about inviting God’s best for my life.

I believe God has a great plan and destiny for me. I was born to be a difference-maker. I want to be all that God said I can be, and do all that He has called me to do.  I want to be the head and not the tail!  Confessions don’t determine destiny. Decisions determine destiny.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Sow a thought and you reap an action; sow an act and you reap a habit; sow a habit and you reap a character; sow a character and you reap a destiny.”

The choice is yours. Decide well.

“Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. – Galatians 6:7; “As I have seen, those who plow inquity and sow trouble reap the same.” – Job 4:8; “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.” 2 Corinthians 9:6