He’s So, So Good!

Michele Laccabue, GFC Carrollwood

One of the benefits of aging is the privilege to look back and reflect on the goodness of God’s hand working through the various seasons of our lives.  When in the thick of hard and confusing times, it can be difficult to see the good in it all.  Whether the season is short-lived or long-lasting, subtle, or dramatic, I have learned to turn to God and lean heavily on faith in Him. God promises to go before us, to walk through with us, and to straighten out the path.

Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight”.

Recently, our loving God revealed the overwhelming goodness of His plan that has been in the making for many years.  You see, 18 years ago, God led our family down the path of homeschooling our youngest son.  In my mind, it was a short-term agreement (ha-ha!).  I was reluctant and a tad bit scared as this type of schooling was foreign to me.  Yet, with God on my side, I leaned in, trusted, and faithfully persevered forward.  It was only Kindergarten.  I can do this!  And, we did have a great year!

It became clear this would be a longer commitment than I originally planned as we discovered our little guy was a struggling reader.  My first “ah-ha” moment of why God had set us on this path. With vision therapy, lots of one-on-one with mom, and years of hard work, we made amazing progress.  BUT, this momma was growing fearful of what his future looked like. Would he be a successful high school student? Would he conquer the SAT and go to college?

In this epic chapter of my life story, God continually straightened out the crooked path of worry I was creating.  He guided me to my first women’s small group filled with moms a few steps ahead of me on the journey.  They encouraged, inspired, and cheered me on.  They taught me to read my Bible and to hear from God on a personal level.  My husband soon came to faith and our little family began thriving one step at a time.

Fast forward and our son is now 22 and our awesome God has blown our minds with His faithfulness!  Can I brag a little?  Our God not only guided our boy to conquer traditional high school graduating with honors, but he also proceeded to college and graduated cum laude! Wow, God!

All our stories are unique and challenging and beautiful. I pray that telling you a piece of mine gives you an extra dose of hope today.  Girlfriend, keep leaning in and trusting our Heavenly Father with the details of whatever you are walking through. He is for you, with you, and straightening out your crooked path of worry. He will accomplish good as His plans work through the various bumps and turns of life.  And He will do MORE than you can ever imagine.  His ways are higher.  Dream BIG! Pray continually.  This is the day the LORD has made, rejoice and be glad in it!

 

 

Gather ‘Round

Katy Bonham, GFC Lutz

All throughout the Bible we read and learn about feasts, celebrations, meals together, and time spent around well prepared food and drinks.  I am so inspired by these stories! These passages in the Bible have made a lasting impression on my husband and myself so much so that my husband designed and built our dining room table! Our table where we drink coffee and dig into the word of God in the morning, where we home school our children. Our table where we invite our neighbors over to play a board game and eat ice cream, where our small group meets and shares about the joys and struggles of life.

A table, a meal shared… it is really an invitation.

An invitation for what though?

There are so many examples of meal time in the Bible. Be on the look out when you are reading and see for yourself!  I get the idea that good things happen around good meals!

We love inviting our neighbors over for a meal. We all come from an array of different backgrounds and getting to learn more about them and who they are around the table has proven to be a true gift and one of our very favorite ways to share the love of Jesus with the people who live and do life the very closest to us.  Picture a group of 15 all seated around a table, every shape and size, every color and age.  Some who do not speak the same language as you… enjoying a meal together and getting to experience that Christian family on the block and hear and see just how human they are and how deeply they need a savior in their life and thinking… that actually sounds pretty cool, maybe I could use one too?

A quote from the book The Gospel Comes With a House Key by Rosaria Champagne Butterfield, “We believe that radically ordinary hospitality depends on the family of God knowing where to gather, knowing how to be organic and spontaneous with scripture and open arms. We do it because the purpose of radically ordinary hospitality is to take the hand of a Stranger and put it in the hands of the Savior, to bridge hostile worlds, and to add to the family of God”.

A quote from the book, “Discipleship on the Edge” by Darrell Johnson, “We can recite the apostles creed, sing the hymns, study the Bible, but what we really believe is worked out in how we use our time, how we spend our money, and what we give our attention to”.

And I’ll end with this last quote from Jesus in John 16:33,

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

He has overcome! Let’s break bread and share the good news!

He’s Delighted!

Renee Scott, GFC Lutz

Recently I had an opportunity to attend a Master Class with Lisa Harper. During the meeting, she asked us to close our eyes and imagine God’s thoughts toward us.

Not Jesus. God.

I don’t know that I’d ever taken time to wonder how our sovereign, majestic and holy God thought about little ole me. I pondered if He was mad at me for all the mistakes I’d made over the years? Was God weary of hearing all my self-centered prayers? Did my lack of faith in His promises make Him want to give up on me all together? At one point, I wasn’t sure I even wanted to close my eyes for the exercise.

As I gently rested my eyes in the downward position, I settled on the simple truth, God loves me beyond ALL my mess! Not only does He love me, but He’s also well pleased with me. His word even says that He delights in me. I’m fully confident that he doesn’t just tolerate me.

Guess what?

He feels the exact same about you. No matter the mistakes, no matter what you may feel, hold fast to the truth of God’s word. God is well vested in you and your salvation. He even gave His son for you and me.

These scriptures are bold reminders of God’s thoughts toward us:

Zephaniah 3:17

“The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you but will rejoice over you with singing.”

John 3:16

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Ephesians 2:4-5

“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.”

Psalms 36:5,7

“Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies.”

“How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.”

If you’ve ever wondered if God was looking down on you in disgust, disappointment, or frustration, just know that His words say completely different. The scriptures declare that God is:

  • Loving
  • Unfailing
  • Faithful
  • Giving

Stand firmly on the truth of God’s word.

Prepare the Way

Kyndel Kelly, GFC Carrollwood

You’ve probably heard this phrase before, “Prepare the way of the Lord”. I, too, had heard it many times and imagined Palm Sunday with Jesus riding on a donkey while people cleared the way for him to come through. I now laugh at myself after going through Isaiah with my small group because while this was literal, I realize now that it has a much deeper meaning.

While I’m sure the Lord will continue to uncover this for me, I wanted to share a new revelation on this verse.

Isaiah 40:3-4 (NIV) reads:

“A voice of one calling: ‘In the wilderness prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain.’”

As I referred to a commentary it called these verses a “word picture”. It talked about preparing the way for the Lord but in reference to our hearts. I asked myself what it looked like to prepare a way for Him inside. What valleys need to be lifted up? What mountain needs to be torn down? What rough places need to be smoothed? How can I embody the phrase, more of you, less of me? How can I make more room in my heart for Him?

My valley is when I go to a dark place, feeling as though I’m not enough. My mountain is the lies I’m believing about myself or even about God. My rough places are times when I burst out in anger rather than in love, kindness, and gentleness. He wants to lift me up. He wants to tear down the lies. He wants to mold me to be more like Him… If I let Him. If I surrender my heart to Him. If I lay down control.

Is he asking you to do the same?

I love Isaiah 66:1 (NIV)

It reads: “… Heaven is my throne, and the earth my footstool. Where is the house you will build for me? Where will my resting place be?”

Let’s break this down a bit. Heaven = God’s throne. This is where He sits because He has all authority. Earth = his footstool. We are under his feet. He is not stomping on us, BUT He does have dominion. We are under His command.

Where will we have Him rest on the inside of us? On the throne of our heart or will we try to be in control treating Him as the footstool? If we decide to let him reign on the throne, that’s when the real work begins. That’s when He builds up, tears down, and smooths like Isaiah 40 talks about.

My prayer is this: Be on the throne in our hearts, Lord! May we never forget that YOU alone reign supreme over all. We prepare the way for you by surrendering to you. We want to step into our calling and leave behind the things that no longer or maybe never did serve us. We serve you. You are worthy of everything. Reign in our hearts, Jesus.