Monday, May 23, 2016

Jesus Gets The Last Word

 
Sandy returns home after a night on the street trying to sell herself to make money for her man.  It was cold and rainy and the usual traffic on Merlot Street was not to be found.  She wondered what would happen if she didn’t make her $1000 quota Thunder had given her, but she was too tired to work anymore.  Candy and Berry had long since gone home.  Thunder was never as hard on them as he was on her.  At 3am she quietly opens the door hoping that he will be asleep, but he’s there waiting on the couch.  The TV remote is in one hand and a beer in the other.  “Where’s my money?” he demands without so much as a hello.

“Baby, it was a slow night tonight, but I’ve got $700,” Sandy tells him.

“700?”  His voice booms loud just like his name. “Are you kidding me?  How we ever gonna get out of this place if you can’t manage to make any money?  You’re worthless!”

“Baby, I don’t know if I can do this anymore.  I’m tired.  I want more out of life than this.  I love you so much.  Maybe we can find another way.”

“Another way?  How do you suppose we’re gonna do that? You’re just a low life.  A prostitute and that’s all you’ll ever be.  You ain’t good for anything, but pleasing men.”

His words cut right to her soul.  Her dad had called her worthless many times, but this was worse.  She was filled with shame for the way she earned money.  She tried so hard, but could never seem to make Thunder happy.

“Why do you talk to me that way?  I have dreams you know.  I want to get married.  Have children,” she says sadly.

“Well you ain’t getting that from me!  And who else is gonna want you?  You’re used up.  Just a Ho.”  He snorts. “Remember the last time you tried to leave me?  You didn’t last 2 days!  You ain’t going anywhere you fool.”

Sandy cries herself to sleep for the 4th night that week.  I want out, but Thunder is right.  How could my life be any different?  This is the only life I knows.  I didn’t graduate high school so how could I possibly get a real job. And who could possibly love me?  He’s right.  I am just a prostitute and that’s all I’ll ever be.
 
This is a fictional story, but a sad reality for many who are trapped in this lifestyle.  Their pimp fills their head with lies. They manipulate them into believing there is no hope for their life to be any different.  These women have a humble, desperate plea and most feel like there is no one there to hear their cries.

The bible tells us in Luke 23:32-43 of another story with a humble, desperate plea. 

Jesus is on the cross being crucified between two thieves.  One of the thieves hurls insults at Jesus, but the other makes a humble, desperate plea for Jesus to remember him.  “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” (verse 42)

Jesus responds with a divine proclamation, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” (verse 43)

To the watching crowd, the thief would soon be dead.  His life would be over.  Wasted.  But Jesus had spoken a proclamation over him.  Jesus had the last word and he spoke eternal life over him.

If Jesus doesn't speak it over you then it's not the last word.  You see, God can interrupt the story.  Jesus gets the last word over your life.  Abuse, Brokenness, Shame (the list goes on) isn't the last word.  God desires to write a different ending to your story.

What lies or proclamation have been spoken over you?

What lies about yourself or your life do you believe?  Are you trapped in a cycle of hopelessness? 

Satan is a rewind artist.  He wants us to rewind and reread all the painful chapters of our life.  He wants us to stay stuck in the same painful rut without hope for anything to be different.

But God is a rewrite artist.  He can rewrite Sandy’s story and he can rewrite your story. 

Monday, May 9, 2016

Happy To Be An Amateur


I was recently asked what came to mind when I heard the word amateur.  Our society tends to think of an amateur as someone who is unknowledgeable or unskilled.  Someone who is not quite at the level of a professional or an expert.  It often has a negative connotation to it.  Most of us would not want to be referred to as an amateur.

I was intrigued to learn that the Latin root for this word actually derives from amare meaning to love. 

According to the Etymological Dictionary of Modern English, the word amateur can be found as early as 1794 where it meant “one who has a taste for something” or “lover of.”

It referred to someone who does something purely because he loves it.


I just love this definition! I think we often discount ourselves or our efforts because we’re not “the expert” and we don't feel qualified.  We allow fear to hold us back from getting involved.  Reaching out to women, sharing the gospel with others, or stepping into broken relationships can be hard and messy.  It can be overwhelming to take that first step.

But if we shift our thinking to remind ourselves of WHY we are doing something it can change our whole perspective.  We don’t have to have all the answers.  We just have to be open and available and allow God to use us.  If we wait to get involved until we feel ready or equipped we may never get there. God wants to us to take a step forward in obedience and allow us to be vessels of his love.

Rather than feeling like I am not equipped to tackle a problem as large as human trafficking, I can begin to think of myself as a lover of:

Lover of freedom:  I am passionate about an end to human trafficking.

Lover of others: My heart breaks for those who are hurting and broken.

Lover of Jesus: I serve because I love Him and want others to know him. 
 
Yes, I am an amateur.  I am a lover of.


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Inspire Me Monday


Wednesday, April 13, 2016

You Are Perfect!


 

One of the places my husband loves to eat is Cracker Barrel.  Since there isn’t one in the town we live, we try to eat at one whenever we are on a road trip.  I love to browse the store while waiting for our table.  Recently, I found a little devotional journal called “A Little God Time” and decided to purchase it.  Here is an excerpt that was just too good not to share.

 
You Are Perfect!

Stop, go back, and read that again.  You are perfect.  Looking in the mirror, or thinking back over your day, it is easy to forget or disbelieve those words.  Don’t let that happen.  A wrinkle here, a bulge there, an unkind word, or a jealous thought cannot change the way the Father sees you.  And it’s how he wants you to see yourself.

 
The dictionary uses 258 words to explain what it means to be perfect, but we only need to know this:  We are complete.  When he chose to die on the cross for our sins, Jesus took away every flaw from those of us who love him.  He finished what we never could; he made us perfect.
 

"By a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified."  Heb 10:14


Stand before a mirror and ask God to show you what he sees when he looks at you.  See past the flaws, past any hurt or anger in your eyes, past any perceived imperfection. See yourself complete, just as you were meant to be.  See yourself perfect.  How does this change the way you feel about yourself?

Sunday, March 27, 2016

What Color Does God Like?

As we celebrate the Joy of Easter today and see all of the beautiful spring colors of decorations, I am reminded of a question I was asked by an innocent little boy.

Last year I had the opportunity to work at a preschool with a friend of mine.  I worked in the four year old classroom and came home with many funny stories that I would share with my own kids who are older and we would all have a good laugh.  One day while helping them do an art project, one of the 4 year olds paused before selecting his color and asked me "What color does God like?"

I thought for a moment before responding that I think God likes all colors because he created them all. 

The beautiful colors of a rainbow, the bright new colors of Spring, the vibrant colors of Fall.
God created a beautiful masterpiece when he created the world.  And he desires to do the same in our lives.

But sometimes we limit what God wants to do.

We create the landscape of our life with a box of 8 crayon colors, but God desires to use the box of 120 crayon colors in our lives.  In my finite box of colors, I am limited to only what I can create with those 8 colors.  But if I let God take over, he can create a beautiful masterpiece.  Sometimes what God envisions or plans for us is so much greater than anything we can imagine.

Isaiah 55:8-9 tells us:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord
As the heavens are higher than the earth
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

In my box of colors I limit myself to a comfortable, predictable life.  But if I let God take over he grows me and stretches me and expands my capacity to love others.

In my box of colors, there would be no blog, no Facebook page, no outreach efforts, but I am continually amazed at the beautiful story God is creating because I let him use HIS box of colors.

I believe this is true for many women who exit The Life.  They tend to see their world in the bleak colors that they've come to know.  It is difficult for them to imagine their life being any different.  For many it is hard to have hope.  But I believe that when they allow God to enter in that He can create a beautiful masterpiece of restoration and redemption.

Is there an area of your life that seems dark and dreary or maybe not as colorful as you'd like?

Will you allow God to enter in and change the landscape?

Friday, January 29, 2016

God Chooses You

A few weeks ago, our pastor was teaching from the book of Ephesians.  He mentioned that at the time Paul wrote this letter (around 60 A.D) that the city of Ephesus was considered the Slave Capital of the world.
 
He went on to explain that Ephesus was a city built on attaining physical perfection and status.  In Ephesus, they would actually discard babies who they viewed as “less than” outside the city gate.  Babies were discarded and tossed away because they did not measure up to someone’s idea of perfection. 
 
Consequently, if someone in the city of Ephesus desired to own a slave, they would simply go outside the city gate to buy one. 
 
From c.100 B.C. to c. A.D. 100 Ephesus was the world capital of the slave trade.
 
Paul is writing to a city that communicated to its people that if you didn’t measure up to “the standard” then you were unworthy.  You were unacceptable and unlovable.  
 
But Paul writes to remind them that since they now belong to Christ, they must start living their lives accordingly. They need to hold fast to the ways of God rather than the ways of the world. 
 
Ephesians 1:11 tells us that In Him we are chosen! 
 
When the world tells us that we don’t matter, we can take comfort in knowing that God chooses us!  In Him, we are adopted, accepted, redeemed, and forgiven.  He calls us His own and places us in His family.
 
God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. (Eph 1:5 NLT)
 
One of the saddest interactions I’ve ever had with someone who was in The Life was a 25 year-old young woman.  After letting her know that there were people who wanted to support her and point her to resources she said,
 
“I’m too old to be helped.  Why don’t you help the younger girls?”
 
At just 25 years old, this young woman had convinced herself that this was all her life was ever going to be.  She had deemed her life unworthy of anything more. 
 
To her, and to all the other women just like her, I want to say that the message you are being told is a lie.  You do matter.  And you are loved.  GOD chooses you.  He pursues you.  In love, he adopted you.  In His eyes you are perfect, holy and blameless. 
 
Around Christmas, my daughter got a shirt that says, “I woke up flawless.”  And that’s the beauty of the cross.  Because of Jesus’ death on the cross we are deemed flawless.  We are given a new identity.  The old is gone and the new has begun.  We are given a new beginning.  That new beginning is available to anyone who chooses it.  It doesn’t matter your age, your background, or your occupation.  God chooses you.



xx

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Casting Our Net


 
Many of you know that I have recently been blessed with the opportunity to work for an organization called Refuge For Women and that we have been in the process of locating a home for our ministry for quite some time now. 
 
Since last Fall we have been in talks with another non-profit regarding the ownership of a home that they were no longer using.  Our hopes were that this organization would transfer ownership of this home to Refuge.  Since last Fall we have been in a holding pattern to see if this lead would come to fruition. 

We were informed this morning that their governance board, under direction from their funding board, has voted to try to sell the house that they had at first intended to give us.  Their financial resources are dwindling and this could be a way to address that.  While wondering about this turn of events, we trust God and are reminded of Acts 16:6-7 where the Spirit blocked Paul from going to Asia so that he would go to Macedonia.  .

While this is an obvious setback, we remain faithful that He indeed has a house for us, just not that one.

During this time of waiting, we have been like the women with their oil lamps burning.  We are ready to move ahead as soon as God makes His move in telling us where the home will be located. We have been preparing our volunteers, selecting our program director, building connections and partnerships, and fundraising to be able to establish this house well.

As we wait for God to establish the house that He will use for ministry, we are also reminded of Peter’s calling to cast down his net in Luke chapter 5.  Simon (later called Peter) was a fisherman by trade.  He had been fishing all day, but had not been successful. But after being obedient to Jesus’ command, he casts his net and is supplied with more fish than he could ever ask or imagine.

Our efforts in locating a home have not been successful thus far.  But we feel as if God is telling us to cast our net again.  Cast it wider and with more certainty than before.  Cast our net with full confidence that He will fill it to overflowing and provide more than we could ever ask or imagine.  Perhaps God does not have just one house in mind for us.  Perhaps he has 3 homes to fill our net.  And so, dear friends, we are now casting our net in faith.  Let those who have ears to hear, hear this need and pay attention to any promptings they may have to partner with Refuge.  We are asking you to help us stretch our net far and wide.  Do you have a house or know someone that has a house that could be used for ministry? Please let others know that Refuge needs a house. 

Once Peter answered the Lords call, his focus changed from fishing for actual fish and earning a days wage to fishing for people. His focus shifted from the here and now to the eternal.  Fishing for souls and bringing them to Christ. Once God establishes the home, we too will shift our focus.  We will become fishers of women and souls for eternity.  We will then begin the good work that he has started in KY and begin the healing work the Lord has for women who have been exploited in our city and community.

Luke 5
One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, the people were crowding around him and listening to the word of God. He saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat.
When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”
Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”
When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.
When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken,  and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners.
Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.