Daddy’s Girl

When I was a teenager my daddy was the pastor in a small Mississippi community where we lived. I was raised with strict rules not to drink alcohol. But of course I had some friends that did drink and in my effort to try to be in the cool crowd I wanted to hang out with them. But I had a quandary. See, I didn’t want to hurt my daddy. I loved my daddy more than anything and I respected him. Because I loved him I wanted to honor his reputation in the community and if the Pastor’s daughter of the Assembly of God Church would of been seen underage drinking or worst yet been arrested, that would of just killed him and his reputation. But…… I also wanted to be cool, So I devised a plan of how I could save my daddy’s reputation and still be cool.

See,  I knew my friends would hang out in front of the arcade in the small town I went to school in (9 miles away from where I lived) For those of you that don’t know what an arcade is, it is a building full of video games, foosball machines and pool tables. They were much more popular in the 80’s before Nintendo and X Boxes came to our homes. As a teenager the Arcade was the place to hang out, and meet up with friends. Today we just know the Arcade as a place, maybe in a room at the Movie Theater or the Pizza Parlor.

Since the Arcade was the place to be, after I got my drivers license I would drive the 9 miles over to the next town where the arcade was and would hang out with my friends,  now not all of my friends drank in fact my best friends didn’t.  But, I wanted more, As many schools, towns, and even work places are today there were clicks in my school there was a pecking order and I wanted to move up in the pecking order and it seemed to me at the time to do that I needed to drink, but how could I do that and not break my dads heart. I knew it would kill him if I ever took a drink and I respected my dad to much to want to hurt him. So I devised a plan.

See I knew that the I.B.C Root-beer bottle looked an awful lot like the beer bottles my friends carried around. So I figured I could just pick up a bottle of I.B.C Root-beer on my way to the Arcade, I mean after all we usually got something to drink before going over there anyway, and if I just happen to have that bottle in my hand and hid the label with my hand when I walked up to my friends drinking, maybe just maybe this new crowd would accept me. So I did, and I felt pretty good until one of my other friends who didn’t drink and knowing the horror it would be to my family if I did drink, walked up to me in shock and asked “Alesa, are you drinking?” As I looked innocently at her and said, yea, Root-beer!

I couldn’t help but remember this story this  past week because it was my daddy’s birthday and even though he has spent the last 28 years celebrating his birthday in heaven, what I remembered most about him is that I loved and respected him so much, I never wanted to do anything that would hurt him. This got me thinking how many of us feel like that about our Heavenly Father?

Do we love our Heavenly Father so much that we don’t want to do anything to hurt him. Now the truth is, if my daddy had seen the compromised I made that day.  Even pretending to drink but acting like it was just an accident when it was really a conscious decision to disobey,would of been a terribly disappointed in me.

I don’t think he even knew about this story before he died but I still remember it because I think it was one of the times that I consciously choose to disobey. But how many times have we blow off something that God’s word says not to do just because we wanted to. How many times do we just ignore what we have been taught is right just because it isn’t convenient for us. Because we want more and we are willing to do whatever it takes to get it. How do you think your Heavenly Father feels about that? I guess I can relate to my Heavenly Father because I had an amazing daddy. He was my rock, my provider, my protector, He loved me with an everlasting love and there was absolutely nothing that I wouldn’t do for him. Why, because all that He had done for me. See my daddy didn’t have to love me, he didn’t even have to take care of me. But he choose to, see I am adopted. So He didn’t have to love me.

You know what? You have been adopted too! If you choose to follow after Christ the bible says that you are adopted into His family. In Ephesians 1:5 (NLT) the bible tells us 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.” Now, I don’t know about you but after all Christ as done for me I don’t want to disappoint Him either. So, I don’t live the life I live striving each day to please Him (and yes there are still plenty of times I mess up) because I don’t want to go to Hell. No, I live this life to please Him because of the gratitude I feel toward Him.

The same kind of gratitude I felt for my earthly father. Because of what my daddy had done for me I knew He loved me and trusted me. He disciplined me too. plenty of times.  But I knew when my earthly father did it, it was because He loved me and wanted the best for me. When my earthly father told me to not to walk across the street before looking both ways. It wasn’t because he didn’t want me to cross the street it is because he wanted to protect me. That is the same thing with God’s word, When He tells us not to do something in it He is telling us because He loves us and wants to protect us. 

So this week Let’s seek to please our Heavenly Father, Let’s consciously choose to please Him, Remember if He tells us no about something,  it is because He loves, not because He wants to harm us.

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You call me Friend !

Amy & Chad

Amy & Chad

We have all done it: admired and looked up to a leader or person from afar; created pedestals for them, and somehow now believe they are better than us. We think we would never be able to speak to them or be their friend; that they are beyond the reach of what we could be. They are too pretty, too smart, too gifted, too anointed, too rich, or too skinny. They are far more than we think we could ever hope to be. They are the people who appear to have their stuff together and make those of us, who feel we don’t, even more conscious that we could be doing better. Not in a condemning kind of way, but a way that inspires us to do more, be more, do our best.
Then it happens. You get the e-mail or the phone call, and they call you, “friend!” I remember when this happened to me. There was a particular ministry leader who I could not imagine would ever have anything to do with me, I just wasn’t that good. Then one day I got an e-mail from her that said, “Hey Friend!” Friend? She called me, Friend?? What??? No way!!! I can’t be her friend, I am not that good. I could never be good enough to be her friend! After having a small meltdown and a little panic attack, it hit me why I was freaking out.
It was because I looked up to her relationship with Christ; I admired her spiritual leadership; and, as long as I looked on from afar, I wasn’t on her level. But as soon as I became her friend I was no longer looking up to her, but I was her peer! I would suddenly (at least in my mind) need to be on the same level as her spiritually!  Or, worse yet, is it possible she saw something in me that I had not seen in myself that she felt she wanted to be a part of? Could it be possible I could be a blessing to her?? I don’t know about you, but I am always amazed that God would choose to use me, that He sees something worthy enough in me to allow me to be a blessing to someone else, because I know I am just not that good and it is only in Him that I can do anything.
You know, in the Bible it says that Jesus calls us “friend.” (See John 15:15). In fact we were created because God wanted someone who could choose to be His friend. Not because we had to, but because we chose too.  The Bible says the very rocks will cry out and praise Him, if He commands them!  But God gave us a choice, a choice to choose to choose Him, and I don’t know about you but I am amazed that Jesus chose me to be His friend! (See James 2:23).
The unique thing about my perspective of not being good enough for my “friends,” is the truth is that there is someone out there who feels that way about you and me. They feel privileged and a little better about themselves when we reach out to them with a smile, or a quick lunch, a listening ear, or when we call them “friend!” The truth is, we all have influence on someone; and the question is, are we using it for the Lord?
There is a song that goes something like this: “I am a friend of God, I am a friend of God, I am a friend of God, He calls me friend! Who am I that You are mindful of me, that You hear me when I call . . . ”
I love this song because it reminds me how much God loves me and cares for me. And that makes me want to share this love with someone else. I don’t think I will ever (and I hope I will never ever) get over the amazement that God loves me and will use me, if I will just allow Him to do so. The question is, “Who does God want you to bless today with your time and attention?”  Sometimes all we need is someone to call us friend!

What To Do When God Puts You Where You Don’t Want to Be

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Recently, God pulled up my deep roots from the place where we had been living for thirteen years, and moved us to a new place; one that is totally the opposite of our previous home. Not that there is anything wrong with our new location – it’s just that 10 months can’t compare to 13 years! There doesn’t seem to be anything terribly right about it at this time!  By that I mean, you can sometimes feel like a foreigner in the land where you know God has sent you.
You see, after living in a small town for 13 years, we knew just about everyone and just about everyone knew us. A level of comfort comes with that.  Especially for a preacher’s daughter who had gone to 9 different schools in 12 years! You know where to go to get your groceries; you know where your favorite stores for dress shopping are, and the place to get your favorite Chinese food. You have your close group of friends you know you can depend on. You become comfortable in your surroundings and that brings a level of familiarity this preacher’s daughter had never had before.   I know that God allowing us to stay in one location for such an extended period of time was nothing short of a miracle.
But, the funny thing is, those 13 years were probably the most trying of our lives. Spiritually, physically, relationship-wise in our family, and financially, it was a complete mess for us personally! We were like the children of Israel who were slaves in Egypt. And yet, like Moses, we knew without a doubt God had called us there! So why would God call us to a mess where He knew our feet would touch the fire? Where He knew our relationship would dangle over the edge, almost to the point of no return.  Why?

The children of Israel prayed to be delivered by the hand of God out of Pharaoh’s control. So in Exodus 9:1 it says, “Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and speak to him…”. But the Bible also says in Exodus 9:12, that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart.  Now why in the world would God send Moses if He knew Moses was going to hit a brick wall when he got there? I don’t know about you, but that just seems like God is setting himself up for a lot more work. I mean, God could snap his fingers and Pharaoh would release the children of Israel, they would walk into the Promised Land, and – bottabing, botta boo – it’s over with! End of story!! Done!!

But, no! See, God wanted the children of Israel to trust Him. He wanted to give them an example they could look back on and know that God was with them. He wanted the children of Israel to be able to see every trial as a testimony of His faithfulness and love for them so that, when they came to the battle of Jericho, they would have the faith to withstand and follow what he had called them to do – which was . . . nothing. See, while they were slaves, they had had to work (fight) for everything they had ever been given, and to struggle (fight) with all their might just to survive. Many of them may not have even known what it was like not to have been a slave. But God knew what laid before them at the battle of Jericho and to get them where He wanted them to be they were going to have to completely trust in Him – and not fight! So he laid out a plan that would take them through various trials and temptations, just so he could prove himself to them, time and time again – beginning with the 10 plagues.

But they had barely gotten out of Egypt when they began to moan and cry, “Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!” (Exodus 14:12)  They couldn’t see the something greater God had for them, because although they had been beaten and abused in Egypt, it had become a comfortable, familiar place to them.

I wonder how many times God looks at us and sees the same thing. He is trying to move us out of our comfort zone to take us to a higher level that will draw us closer to Him and yet we are content to be the slaves in Egypt.
God knew what was ahead of them at Jericho and was trying to prepare them for the Promised Land; for something they had never had before; for a way that a war had never been won before. They were simply to march, to stand, and to praise! Just walk around the walls of Jericho for seven days!

I don’t think it is by accident that all of the men of Israel were circumcised not long before they were to walk across the Jordan River to take Jericho. It wasn’t an accident that for forty years God covered them with a cloud by day and gave them a cloud of fire by night; and it wasn’t because he didn’t love them that He supplied manna to them every day!  God didn’t just sneeze and the Red Sea rolled back when they got to the edge of it, either. God wanted them to learn to trust Him and let Him do His work.

I don’t know about you, but I think the society we live in today is no different than the slaves in Egypt.  So many of us feel we have to fight to survive; to pay the utility bill, to put food on the table. We might even feel like we are fighting to survive to do God’s work. But I want to propose to you today that perhaps, like the children of Israel, God is saying to us, “Give up! Surrender your ideas, your ways, your thought’s, your plans, and just stand firm and march around the walls you are trying to tear down. Just march around these walls in silence, carrying me!” That is what the children of Israel did. They walked around the wall of Jericho carrying the Ark of the Covenant.

Maybe the new level God wants to take us to is just for us to walk around carrying Him, to let the love of Jesus inside us be all the weapons we need.  Sometimes we just have to let go – give up everything that is familiar to us, that makes us feel comfortable – and walk in a way that can feel totally different and uncomfortable, in order to get to the place where He wants us to be. I don’t know about you, but I want to always go to the new level God has for me, even if I find that it is taking me out of the comfort zone in which I have been living.

I am not gonna lie: I have looked back since our move and said ”What are we doing here?” Then I begin to list off all the highlights and accolades that happened where we came from as I try to convince myself, ”Would it not have been better to die in Egypt than in the desert?” But then there is that quiet voice in me that reminds me of the things that were not so sweet, those secret things which I never let the world see – of my heart breaking, the fear of feeling my world was falling apart, and my marriage almost crumbling. If I wanted to deceive myself, like the children of Israel did, I could convince myself that going back to the bright lights of the big city would make me happy. But the truth is, the only thing that will make any of us truly happy is walking in Gods perfect will for our lives. And for me, and I am sure for you, failure to do that is not an option.

So if I have to give up all the conveniences of being near a big city to walk in a new level of relationship with Christ, so be it. If I have to give up Macy’s and familiar surroundings to see God use me in a mightier way than He ever has before – bring it on!! Because I have found that, in this life, there is nothing, and I mean nothing, that can replace the peace of walking in God’s will and doing His work.

I firmly believe that the trials of my past were only allowed to come into my life for the same reason God hardened Pharaoh’s heart: to teach me to trust in Him.  I am thankful for the hard times in my life, because without them I would never know that I could make it through whatever comes my way. I have learned to trust in the creator of the universe and know that He is working all things for my good!

So I hope today, if you are feeling like a foreigner in the land God has sent you to, you will know that He is not punishing you but is simply taking you to a new level of intimacy with Him. He wants to bring you closer to Him in a way that will probably look very different than it has before. God never wants to leave us where we are! God never wanted the children of Israel to die in the wilderness; He only wanted them to trust Him.  Will you trust Him today?