My Constant

 

bigtreeb_500x277 Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere;
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
    than dwell in the tents of the wicked.  For the Lord God is a sun and shield;  the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.” ~ Psalm 84:10-11

I’ve recently moved for about the 20th time since I’ve been an adult. Sometimes, the places I’ve moved have been beautiful homes that I couldn’t help but feel undeserving of them. Other times, on the other hand, I’ve had places where I had to mentally view it as a hard shell tent and learn to be content. This new place is one of those places. It isn’t the uncleanliness I found it in. It isn’t the location. It’s the fact that I feel that it could fall apart if I sneezed. But it doesn’t matter how I feel about it, that’s going to be home for the next year. Bottom line is I’m going to have to find some way to cope.

Adaptation is one of my strong points and I’ve learned to adapt to most situations, although this time had been a little harder. I looked at my son Isaac who has moved with me for the past 5 years. He gets excited about his new room. He doesn’t pay attention to the fact that the walls have cracks in them or that a chunk of his floor has been ripped out. He doesn’t question why he has to move there, instead,  readily gets to work with settling in.

It’s no problem for him because he knows that where he’s going is wherever l will be. The house has changed. The location has changed. The environment and people, at times, have even changed. But we’re together. I’m his constant.  He trusts that I will orchestrate his life down from who watches him to how we go about our daily routine. He trusts that it’s all taken care of.

In much of the same way, this is how I adapt. No matter where I go and how things may operate differently. God is my constant. Not only have I found that in every situation He has orchestrated. I trust that not only will He hold my house together, but He will hold me as well.

I don’t do this as well as an adult as my son does. My worries are for not just myself, but for my family. I just want to know that they are taken care of.  However, it doesn’t matter. As grand as my worries seem to me, they are minuscule  to an all powerful God.

It doesn’t matter where I am, where I’m going, or even how much fear I have, my hope will remain on my God. He is my Constant.

 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do all this through him who gives me strength. ~ Phillipians 4:12-13

~Janean

#Encore: How He Loves

Welcome to the Rhapsody #Encore. On Fridays we will be reposting some of our readers most favorite posts. Todays repost is How He Loves from April 2013

mended_heart-10668I’d like to share with you a story that quite literally rescued my sanity. As some of you know, my daughter, Tabitha, was killed by two men street racing on Broadway in Lenoir City on January 10, 2004. She was 18 years old. The initial shock of having her ripped from my life was soon overshadowed by a deep hurt that settled in and became my constant companion. Nothing short of my other daughter or one of my grandchildren dying could ever compare with that kind of sorrow.

I was raised in church from the time I was born with the exception of leaving the church I attended for 20 years shortly before Tabitha died, ( this concerned my divorce), and until I discovered Canvas Church, I had not been in church since her death, (I waited a long time to find you, my church family  :) Having been taught the bible and being raised in church, I have always had a very healthy respect for God and have loved Him all of my life regardless of the times I disappointed and turned away from Him, so when Tabitha was killed I never ever blamed God. Not once. I knew the men street racing were responsible for her death and God was gracious enough to take her with no suffering. Tabitha was a gentle and sweet soul that truly loved everyone and she always had a special relationship with God. She was an extraordinary compassionate young lady with a very bright future. Her plan was to be a journalist because her writing skills were powerful and moving. (Her life is a different story for another time). I had absolutely no doubt my child was with Jesus and my dad, whom she loved very much and went to be with the Lord when Tabitha was 7 years old. Even with this knowledge, the loss of her was nearly unbearable.

In my desperation I reached out to sources besides God because I wanted so badly to communicate with her. I was robbed of any goodbyes; she was here one minute and gone in the next. I spent a lot of money on psychics and those who were thinly veiled as “Divine Readers” working in the Heavenly realms. In my heart I knew what I was doing was wrong, but I was grasping for any shred of my child I could get. I had family and friends who spat hateful words and accusations at me condemning me for what I was doing. They had no idea the depth of my pain. I lost 25 pounds and my health was deteriorating. I wanted to die and be with her. I fantasized about it. (You have no idea what you’d do in that situation so I’m careful when God sends a person that has lost a child my way, and He does it quite often). I am so thankful for the people in my life that loved me and lifted me up to God in my darkest of times because those prayers protected me while I delved in things that God forbids us to do.

Leviticus 19:31
Do not turn to mediums or seek out spiritists, for you will be defiled by them. I am the Lord your God.

I still prayed to God everyday asking Him to help me and give me the strength to face another endless night followed by another empty day. I withdrew from everyone, even my other daughter to some extent. I’ve never been comfortable with pity, in fact, I can’t tolerate it. I appreciated the kind words and deeds from countless people, but not pity. I hated it when people looked at me with pity, it made me feel even more isolated, like I was diseased.

One night about a year after her death and a particularly difficult couple of days with empty words from those who were either charlatans or possessed with the familiar spirit of a demon, I completely lost it. I went into my bedroom and for the first time I got angry with God, indignant even. I yelled at Him in my brokenness and I left any fear of Him behind. I screamed through tears and said, “You have her for an eternity, why can’t I have her for just one moment!?” I literally screamed a guttural primal cry that was my pain manifesting into a tangible release of emotions that left a heaviness in the room and caused me to collapse onto my bed. I wept for a very long time, tired and alone except for my beloved, now deceased, German shepherd, Maja, who was my canine soul mate that gave me great comfort in our bond. (She’s another story for another time).

Sleep did come that night and when it did something supernatural happened! I found myself sitting at a long table lit by light that seemed to come from nowhere, everything surrounding it was darkened. Suddenly I felt a presence behind me. I stood and turned to find Tabitha standing there with a smile that was so bright! I was, at first, confused so I said, “Tabitha, what are you doing here?” She replied with an even brighter smile, “Well, you asked to see me didn’t you?” I was trembling as I reached out to her and felt the warmth and texture of her skin. I took her in my arms and held her and smelled the scent of her. I felt her heart beating, the same heart that was taken from her body and given to a man so he could have a second chance at life. I rubbed the fuzz that she always had on the back of her neck and stroked her soft hair. I breathed her in and held her a long moment and felt her arms hugging me back. Then after a while she pulled away from me still smiling that brilliant smile and she said, “I have to go now, Mom”. I said, “Please don’t go”. She then told me, “We’ll be together again, Mom”. Tabitha then started sort of flowing backward all the while that smile shining brightly until she vanished.

Instantly I was awake in my bed. I could still feel her warmth, smell her, and sense her. A peace came over me and I sat in my bed and wept, but this time it was for joy! I had never felt such love in my life! The kind of love that comes only from God! He lifted my burden and the heaviness in my room was replaced with a happiness that I’ve never known! That very moment I began to heal.

Psalm 34:18
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.

I look back on that night and realize that I pitched a fit on God like a child! I giggled about it afterward when I thought of it that way. I threw a tantrum and my Father gave in to me. I don’t know why God waited for a year to let me have that encounter with Tabitha, make no mistake, it was not a dream. I’m a vivid dreamer and I had never, nor since, experienced texture, warmth, scent, and a heartbeat in a dream. Maybe He had to let me wander in order to bring me back, dabble in evil so I’d know it’s a lie, come to Him in utter despair and pour my soul out to Him while demanding a miracle. His timing is perfect even when we don’t understand. Whatever the reason, He allowed me that moment and it turned my life around. It wasn’t completely instant and I still struggle some days and I miss Tabitha more than I can describe in mere words and I will until we are together again, but I speak about her in uplifting ways and I tell people that we are only separated for a while…it’s not forever! I choose to be happy and am extremely grateful for my daughter, Cierra, and my 3, (and one on the way), grand kids. God has been so good to me and blessed me.

I’m reminded of one of my favorite songs by David Crowder, “How He Loves Us”. It says that He is jealous for me. God was jealous and hurt when I sought help outside of Him and it breaks my heart that I allowed myself to be deceived, especially when all the while I knew better. The song states that He is a hurricane and we are the tree bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy. Thank you, God, for having mercy for me and being patient with me. Then it says that suddenly I am unaware of this affliction eclipsed by glory and I realize just how beautiful You are and how great Your affections are for me! Oh, how He loves us!

I know this is a bittersweet story, but it’s meant to encourage you and I felt compelled to share it. Death is part of life and we can’t allow it to swallow us up so that we stop living. I could have made even worse choices like turning to drugs or alcohol to numb me, but I didn’t and I thank God for that too.Tabitha was a precious girl, my first born, and I know she would be disappointed in me if I let her death stop me from receiving God’s blessings. After all she is more alive now than ever!

K.K.

Jail Visit: October Update

Afro_children_playing_namibia

Reflection on a jail visit.

October 2nd, 2014

On Tuesday night, Steven Buffalo and I accompanied Chaplain David Choate back into the jail in Loudon County.  As with our last few visits, God showed up and directed The Holy Spirit in guiding both our words and the hearts of “the least of these”.  Again we were blessed to see Chaplain Choate deliver a spirit filled sermon at the drop of a hat that He felt was right for the cell block which first came in.  The jail sends these men in cell block units ranging in size from as little as two to as many as twenty, sometimes more.  Steven and I each were blessed to deliver our words twice this visit, and although we both had notes to work off of, as we see every Sunday with Pastor Nick, most of what we delivered was not included in them.

We are now addressed by name as several of these men know us. We are seeing some growth in some of the men, especially one particular cell block where God is working within them in beautiful ways.  To see the true excitement, thirst and knowledge of scripture in this dark place is truly uplifting; it is a real blessing for us to share with them.

You all know that I do not possess the education or knowledge base that the Pastoral staff at Canvas is blessed to have and share with all of us.  You also know that I have a problem keeping my mouth shut.  While that problem may be a thorn in my side in the world, it seems to be a tool that God is using inside the jail.  In the short time that I have been speaking to these men, I have actually achieved a first grade education on how to get a message across. I still have a long way to go, but with the blessings of God, I am starting to shed my nervousness and get a bit more comfortable with this new way for me to serve for The Kingdom.

While trying to write down notes for this visit, I probably had ten false starts; they sounded good while writing, but were rubbish the next day.  When I finally got terribly discouraged, I went to the bedroom, turned off the lights and prayed, hard and long.  I asked for words led by The Spirit which would be felt by these men in their particular circumstances.  Then I got quiet and listened.  What I heard was so simple, stop trying so hard, this message is as simple as a child’s game.  That was the whole answer.  So I returned to writing on my chosen subject which was ‘God is pursuing you’.

First word I typed was ‘Tag’.  The simple game of running away from someone wanting to make you ‘it’.  Yep, a child’s game.  Then came ‘Hide and seek’, trying to hide behind something and stay hidden.  ‘Dodge ball’, trying to nimble and not have to feel the sting of the ball.  Then kept coming, ‘Tug of war’, ‘Arm wresting’, ‘Follow the leader’, ‘Simon says’.

The meanings were all so simple and so powerful.  I stepped up to deliver this message and afterward I felt that I had, with help of The Spirit, reached at least some of the men in that small room.

Stop running, let God tag you and make you ‘it’. Then start making other people ‘it’ by spreading The Good News.  Stop trying to hide from God, you ain’t gonna win this game; lust, drugs, alcohol, work, sports, wherever you try to hide, He is there.  Sometimes we have to get a dodge ball in the face for Him to get our attention. Sometimes He will test our strength with arm wresting. Sometimes we will play tug of war and get dragged through the mud just to show us that suffering and humiliation are needed in order to show us His grace and love.  Stop playing Follow the Leader or Simon Says, this world will not deliver the true peace and richness of a life knowing God and the sacrifice of Jesus for our sins.  Learn that a fellowship of believers working together is absolutely imperative, strength in numbers, teamwork, prayer, confession and solidarity in Christ.  Simple games can teach us so much, so simply.

The days leading up to this visit were filled with some hard dark things which I feel were intended to drive me away from this service; they did not work, God prevailed!   Huge thanks for all the prayers from our Canvas family. We carry them as a shield of protection and I am blessed to have you all.

~ Scott

#Encore: You Are Like Spring Flowers

Welcome to the Rhapsody #Encore. On Fridays we will be reposting some of our readers most favorite posts. Todays repost is You Are Like Spring Flowers from May 2011. 

For those of you who aren’t Canvas regulars… you might not know that we’ve recently reached some very significant milestones. In April 2011, Canvas turned 4 years old! Also, we effectively graduated from “Church Plant” status… to full-fledged “Vineyard Church”.

My wife and I are not part of the original plant team… but we’ve been a part of Canvas since Sunday Service #2… and there’s been more than 200 Sunday Services since then. We’ve been very blessed, and very proud to be a part of this particular body of Christ.

Watching Canvas grow is what inspired my latest video called “You Are like Spring Flowers”. This is dedicated not only to New Churches everywhere… but to New Believers and Missionaries as well. I pray they are all blessed in the same way God has… and is… blessing Canvas.

Ted

Unshakable Peace

Early this month my wife and I went on vacation to Myrtle Beach. We had a really good time. WE LOVE THE BEACH!!! Well, in relation to the message this week, in talking about the “shoes of peace”, I went back to the trip at the beach. I think about how hot the sand was when we would walk out to our spot to lay in the sun and that we needed our flip flops because the sand was so hot. I didn’t want to walk on that hot sand barefooted. So, I would put on my flip flops until we got to our little area. Aren’t shoes cool? In general, shoes are such a simple yet neat thing. I can walk out on that hot sand and still enjoy the beauty without feeling the worst of the heat from the sand. That’s what peace does for us as well. We can be walking on the worst terrain and still be enjoying the beauty that is the Kingdom of God. Peace keeps us focused and trusting in the Lord. We can be going through the war of life and still sing songs of love to God. We can be knocked down, beaten up, bloodied and bashed and still have joy in the midst of it all. PEACE…

John 16:33 – “I have told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakeable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world.”

We live in a world that is becoming more and more godless. Not saying God isn’t present…but the world is pushing God away more and more. As Christ-followers we are going to be met with opposition more and more and we MUST be ready. We MUST know the peace that can only be found in Christ. I love this scripture because Christ is saying that we WILL see tough times. In most versions it says we will have tribulations. In the Amplified Version it goes on to not just say tribulation but also trials, distress and frustration. Having peace does not mean we are without heartache. I am not saying all of this to discourage you so I hope that hasn’t happened. Rather….in the midst of all of that Christ says we can have peace. He says…”you will be unshakeable and assured”…UNSHAKEABLE. Do you feel unshakeable? Or are you being tossed around like a piece of grass in the wind?

Trust in HIM. That is how we find peace. Stop worrying about all the surrounding problems and focus on His Kingdom. Now, I’m all for being prepared. Our country has some tough day ahead and we need to be prepared. But, in the midst of it all we need to have peace. We need to share that peace with others and allow it to be contagious.

If Christ lives in us and us in Him and He overcame the world then why in the world do we FEAR? If He deafeated death then what do we have to fear? If no weapon formed against us can prevail then why do we tremble? Fact is, we can be standing in from the army of darkness, no not the Sam Raimi horror movie, and charge in knowing that we are unshakeable. Peace allows us to be surrounded completely by darkness, completely engulfed by the enemy and still overcome by the empowerment of the Spirit in our lives.

No matter what you’re going through right now….TAKE HEART! Look up and trust in HIM – I promise you WILL overcome.

Allow yourself to be drenched by the peace of God in Your life. Remember, that doesn’t mean a life without issues. Just a life filled with peace.

We ARE….UNSHAKEABLE!

~Jerod

Originally posted on the blog Jerod’s Mind Unraveled.

God is Speaking. Are Your Eyes Opened to Hear?

sunbeams-luc viatour

If you’re like me, you’re a straightforward person. Nothing has to be complicated about this world. We have eyes to see with. We have a nose to smell with. We have ears to hear with. We think with our brain. The grass is green that is unless you don’t water it. Babies cry. Dogs bark. See? I could just keep going.

Sometimes, though, you would think that in all my simplicity, that I would have no problem hearing God speak. But that’s not the case with me at all. I pray constantly asking to hear God, wondering why I can’t hear Him. Wondering what’s wrong with me? I thought I was listening.

However in all my straining to hear, I sometimes overlook all of the ways His word is pouring out.

The other day, driving to work, I was looking at the trees (and sometimes the road) and it occurred to me that those trees were a product of God’s word. From the beginning of time, God spoke every aspect of creation in to being and it has never stopped. Trees continue to sprout up because His word continues on to this day.The sun still rises and sets.  His creation continues all because of His word. So in other words, I can see His word.

This past weekend, I had found myself questioning again, how I can hear His word. I had heard it, but doubted that I heard it. Again, wondering, how do I get closer to God so I can hear Him? I was deep in this soul inquiry when an older lady, who I had only met once before, randomly told me to keep on following God and He would draw me near. My first instinct was to question this elderly lady and to doubt her words, but I caught myself. I almost missed that one. This time, I literally got to hear His words only they came by way of one of His children.

As we continue on our everyday lives, we see the fulfillment of His prophecy in current events. Being plugged in a thriving church, we get to witness God work in other’s lives and in our own. We witness miracles and healings. Our hearts change. We mature. We grow. In all of this, I get to experience His word.

And even just this afternoon, as I’m on my knees asking God to speak and to help me hear His word. But I hear only the fan going in my room. I look at my Bible, grab it, and open it up. As I did, I heard Him speak. “You have my word right there.” It’s there whenever I want it. I don’t have to strive for it. I just have to reach for it. So, finally, I get to read His word.

We have ears to hear the things of this world, but our listening cannot be limited to the two funny looking organs on the side of our heads. It takes all our senses to be aware of what God is speaking to us. His words are constantly flowing through our experiences, through others, through His creation, and we have His written word at our disposal at any time of the day. He’s speaking right now…are you listening?

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God

~Janean

#Encore: The Fine Line

Welcome to the Rhapsody #Encore. On Fridays we will be reposting some of our readers most favorite posts. Todays repost is The Fine Line from September 2013

divided-heartI don’t believe in astrology but if I did, by definition, my astrological sign for Gemini would be spot on. I would be classified as the “twins”, which would mean I have two brains and would be somewhat alarmed due to the fact that scripture clearly tells us not to be double minded (James 1:8). My connection with this comparison is that I have a strong tendency to empathize with different and opposing points of views….so much so that I can become weary and overwhelmed easily when it comes to decision making and where I stand. Please don’t misconceive what I’m attempting to communicate with this illustration. I now and will always be testing information, wisdom, etc.  based on if it aligns with scripture or not. And I will most likely disregard any extra droppings that fail to do so…so sorry.

The issue isn’t whether or not I believe in the one true God or that He sent His only Son to die for me. The issue usually boils down to the “fine line” interpretations of scripture. We can dig back into history and study translations, original texts and so on and so forth…and that’s wonderful! As an active Christian hungry for the word of God and truth we should absolutely pursue these things! But…..there are the fine lines that seem to present themselves over and over on certain topics. A lot of scripture comes to us very matter of fact and direct and then the rest we seem to end up quibbling about throughout the denominations. But, I digress….

One thing I tend to hear a lot from non-christians is that there are many contradictions in scripture, which while merely skimming the surface may SEEM to be true in some ways. I believe one must also take into account the lens from which one is looking through. Aside from the black and white I believe God is not limited to one track thinking, teaching, loving, etc. I choose to believe He is a multifaceted God. He has many ways to accomplish purpose through and for His children. One form of discipline or praise may be appropriate for one child who learns in a certain way while another form of discipline and praise may be more suitable for the other child who functions opposite of the first. It’s all very interesting to think about!

Have you ever encountered two different individuals whom you respect and admire greatly only to find they have conflicting opinions concerning the same spiritual matter? It happens. And if it hasn’t happened then give it time. It will.

At Canvas Church I lead the prayer team and am frequently called upon to pray for others. One thing that you can almost always guarantee to hear me include in most prayers is discernment. I love praying for discernment for others because I truly believe it’s vital to the Christian walk. Discernment can dynamite the fine line you encounter in many ways. You see, as human beings we can only go so far and then comes the Holy Spirit. We can educate, educate, and educate but we can’t replicate what the Holy Spirit provides. And we can’t rely solely on our own understanding (Proverbs 3:5-6). We NEED that guidance. It’s a must.

The next time you encounter your “fine line”, test it, take it to God in prayer, listen to what the Holy Spirit is teaching ..align it with scripture.  And if you still feel He is being silent, don’t stress. Seek first His kingdom and righteousness (Matthew 6:33)…it’ll all fall into place, in His perfect timing;)

Leesa

A Response to Grace in Words

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