The Power of a Story

In days of old, before Snapchat and Facebook, before Instagram and Twitter, before removable type and the creation of mass produced literature and books, there was story telling. It’s the way one generation would tell the next of family heritage and how the world works.

Everyone loves to hear a good story. But let’s be honest, we also have the need to tell our story. Don’t believe me? Have a look on social media. What do you think everyone is doing? They are telling their stories.

I ate this incredible dinner at Ye Old College Inn. If you go, you have to try the Po’ Boy.

I got an Instapot for Christmas, and last night I made dinner in nine minutes! No lie!

Baby Charlotte just took her first steps! Our lives have changed forever. #sheisrunning

We are all just telling our stories. And somehow in doing so, something amazing happens. For some, telling them brings healing. For others, listening and learning how others have walked through similar experiences has given strength and inspiration. We cry together. We laugh together. We pray together. And through it all, we draw closer. We find similarities in each other and we find courage to face another day – all through stories.

There is power in telling your story.

Social Media’s newest trends are videos and live feeds. More than pounding out the words on keyboards, we want to talk and share. We want to tell our tale where others can truly listen in real life – or at least as close to real life as we can get through a computer screen.

Jesus was a story teller, too. He used parables to teach people life lessons. He found it was an effective way of sharing the gospel with examples the people could understand. Christ wanted to make the Word of God become more than words read by a priest in the temple. He wanted it to be real in their lives – to have meaning. He wanted it to affect the way they worked and lived.

Tucked in the pages of Exodus is the story of how Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, came to visit him and bring his wife and sons to him. Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt and into the desert. His wife and two sons were back with her family in Midian. Now remember, the Midianites did not worship God. Moses had taken a foreign wife who worshipped other gods. So when Jethro, came to visit Moses in the desert, Moses told his father-in-law how his God miraculously saved them from the Egyptians. He also shared how God had provided food and water for them in the desert.

Here was Jethro’s response:

Jethro was delighted to hear about all the good things the Lord had done for Israel in rescuing them from the hand of the Egyptians. He said, “Praise be to the Lord, who rescued you from the hand of the Egyptians and of Pharaoh, and who rescued the people from the hand of the Egyptians. Now I know that the Lord is greater than all other gods, for he did this to those who had treated Israel arrogantly.” Then Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, brought a burnt offering and other sacrifices to God, and Aaron came with all the elders of Israel to eat a meal with Moses’ father-in-law in the presence of God.
Exodus 18:9-12 NIV

Jethro had an encounter with God. He heard Moses share everything the Lord had done for them, and Jethro became a believer in the One True God. The Bible says he confessed God (“Now I know that the Lord is greater than all other gods.”), and he brought a burnt offering to the Lord.

Jethro’s encounter with God was a direct result of Moses sharing his story about God’s deliverance. God used the recounting of His goodness to draw Jethro to Him.

What amazing things has God done for you? Has God placed someone in your path that might benefit from your story? Never underestimate the power of your story – or the power of your God. Today, share one amazing thing the Lord has done for you and see how He will use it.

Carol

When Someone Gets in Front of Your Miracle

He was desperate.

Yet in that despair came a glimmer of hope. He’d heard stories of the one they called Teacher. He’d never seen any of the miracles, but there was talk of him healing the sick and even raising the dead.

So with a modicum of faith, Jairus went in search of Jesus to help his daughter. When Jairus found him, the pomp and circumstance that usually accompanied synagogue leaders such as himself, crumbled as he fell at Jesus’ feet. In despair he cried, “My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.” (Mark 5:23 NIV)

So Jesus went.

The Bible states it simply. Christ didn’t ask questions. He didn’t give instructions for the disciples to pass out tracts while he ran on his miracle errand. He just went.

Jairus must have been thrilled. I imagine him trying to move briskly in the direction of his home suppressing the urge to break into a sprint. But there were all those people. I would have run, shoving men and women as I went. Shove now, apologize later. There was a life at stake after all.

Then this woman showed up – hoping for a miracle of her own. The embarrassment over her “unclean” condition was perhaps what motivated her to touch Jesus in secret. She probably thought, I’ll keep my head covered and just touch his clothes. He is so powerful, even the fibers woven to adorn his body will be enough. No doubt, she intended on slipping out of the crowd as soon as she was healed, but Jesus was aware of her presence.

He knew that power had gone out from his body. (v. 30)

“Who touched me?” Christ asked, wanting to look upon the face of the woman with such faith.

Let’s freeze that moment and talk a minute about those around Jesus and what they were thinking. We know the disciples were thinking their Lord was loco (crazy). The Bible doesn’t tell us their tone, but one can only imagine.

After Jesus’ question, their response was, “You see people crowding against you, and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’” (v. 31) I can almost see the sarcasm dripping from the words.

What I want to know is what is Jairus doing? This man is desperate for his daughter to be healed and is afraid she is going to die. If it were me, I might have been silent on the outside, but I’d be screaming on the inside, “Let’s go! Okay, okay. She’s healed already – besides the fact she totally jumped in the ‘I need a miracle’ line. Let’s go!”
Back to the situation at hand.

In terror, the woman came forward and collapsed at Jesus feet. The same feet Jairus gazed upon mere minutes before. Her story came spilling forth, and instead of criticizing her, Jesus said, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”

But before Jesus can even finish speaking these words, some men from Jairus’ house approached Jairus with the nightmare he had been trying to avoid. “Your daughter is dead. Why bother the teacher anymore?”

Can you imagine the agony? He succeeded in getting Jesus to come only to have his daughter die before they could arrive. Once again, the Bible is silent on Jairus’ response, but we can infer from Jesus’ next words that Jairus was upset.

“Ignoring what they said, Jesus told the synagogue ruler, ‘Don’t be afraid; just believe.’” (v. 36)

Can I share with you the words that struck me? “Ignoring what they said…”

How many times have you heard the worst? Perhaps the doctors have given no hope. Maybe your family laughed when you shared your dream. You thought you heard the voice of God, but now you are not so sure.

Take Jesus’ advice – ignore what they said. Then don’t be afraid. Just believe.

Sometimes in order to achieve the impossible, we have to disregard the obstacles. When God is in it, all things are possible.

You see, Jesus went on to Jairus’ house, telling the people there the girl was asleep. And guess what the people did? They didn’t fall down and worship. They didn’t even run in her room and place a mirror under her nose. Instead, “they laughed at him.” (v. 40)

But Jesus went into her room and brought the child back to life. She got up and had a fruit snack. (Just a guess. Dried figs would qualify as a fruit snack, right?)

So today I ask what impossible task are you facing? Perhaps you need to ignore the discouraging words and the laughs.

Then don’t be afraid. Just believe.

 

**Re-post from 2012. I ran across it today, and it ministered to me. I hope it does the same for you. 

Carol

It’s All in Who You Know

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Try to make it in any business and you’ll find this statement to be true. If you know someone on the inside, they can help bring you on board. It’s the basis of LinkedIn, the popular job networking site. You connect with everyone you know and all your friends connect with everyone they know. Then see if you can link with some of your friends’ connections that might be an asset to you. Which connection can help you get a job?

In showbiz, it helps to know someone who can get you an audition for great parts. In the music industry, when you have a personal connection with someone from a label, you’re more likely to get your music heard. Even in the writing industry, every new writer is encouraged to attend conferences, because in those conferences you can make personal contacts with people in publishing.

It’s the word “know” that stuck out in my quiet time reading this morning. I am reading the Bible through and am in Ezekiel. God spoke through the prophet Ezekiel to give messages to the Israelite nation. Frustrated with the people’s worship of idols, God tells Ezekiel again and again to warn the people He’s about to bring wrath on them.

Each time God shares what He’ll do, He adds, “Then you will know that I am the Lord.”

“The inhabited towns will be laid waste and the land will be desolate. Then you will know that I am the Lord.” Ezekiel 12:20 NIV

After reading a few chapters, I noticed that phrase repeated over and over. So I did a little research. In the book of Ezekiel, the phrase “Then you will know I am the Lord,” is repeated 34 times! I investigated further and found variations of the same phrase consistently throughout the entire Old Testament.

“They will know that I am the Lord their God, who brought them out of Egypt so that I might dwell among them. I am the Lord their God.” Exodus 29:46 NIV

“Be still, and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10

Then you will know that I am in Israel, that I am the Lord your God, and that there is no other.” Joel 2:27

The Hebrew word for “know” is “yada.” The definition says, “to know, recognize, understand; to have sexual relations.” Woah. Wait. Did that just say the S-word? Did we just jump way off course?

Not really. You see, the idea behind the sex part of this definition isn’t the actual physical intercourse so much as it is the physical intimacy. Two people cannot get any close than sexual intercourse. So using the word “yada” means “to know someone in the closest possible way.” That’s what God is trying to get across to us. It’s what He’s been saying since the Old Testament times.

I want you to know me.
I want you to know I am your God.
I want you to know how much you mean to me.
I want you to know I am Creator and Ruler over all things.
I want you to know I’m with you when you are going through hard times.
I want you know I would never leave you.
I want you to know I see you.
I want you to know I hear your prayers.
I want you to know my ways are not like yours.
I want you to know I loved you so much I allowed my Son to die for your sins.
I want you to KNOW!

God brought His wrath on the Israelites for not knowing Him. They were driven from their Promised Land and sent into exile. Then as the New Testament dawned, God came up with another plan. A plan so people could know Him. He put skin on and came in the form of a man – Jesus. But His plea is still the same. Will you know me?

He’s not asking “do” you know me so much as “will” you? You see “do” you know God, simply asks, “Do you believe He exists?” Do you know who He is? And most people will admit they believe. But what the Creator of all things really wants to know is “Are you willing to know Him?” Would you agree to know Him in the closest possible way? Because knowing God on that level and understanding how He became flesh, died and rose again is the key to eternal life.

You see it really is true. The best things in life really are in Who you know. Will you accept the knowledge of Him today?

Carol

Preparing a Plan of Attack

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There are two ways to do just about anything – carefully plan or wing it.

Most of the time, I’m a carefully-plan-it kind of girl. I love making lists. I used to write out menus by the month. When planning a vacation, I’ll spend hours online finding the best places to stay, recommended stops along the way and highest rated restaurants. When my kids have a birthday, you can be sure I will create a Pinterest board and hunt the Internet for the cutest party ideas.

When I’m presented with the opportunity for a date night, I search movies and read reviews. I poll Facebook friends for best places to eat and search my closet for just the right outfit.

But somehow when it comes to my prayer life and dealing with those situations that seem impossible, I find myself winging it. Satan will throw me a curve ball, and I wildly swing my bat hoping to make contact.

Today, as I was reading in 2 Samuel about David trying to defeat the Philistines, I found good advice for creating a battle plan to overcome the obstacles in my own life. First David asked God, not his friends on social media, for direction. (Ouch. Let’s move on.)

“…so David inquired of the Lord, and he answered…” 2 Samuel 5:23 NIV

David asked God first IF he should attack the Philistines and then HOW he should attack. God responded, “Do not go straight up, but circle around behind them and attack them in front of the balsam trees.” (2 Samuel 5:23) The Hebrew word used in this verse for “circle around” is sabab. It means, “To go around, surround, encircle, engulf.” It can also mean, “to change direction, to be surrounded, to change.”

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God gave David a plan of attack, but he gives us that same plan. When trials come our way, often we come straight at them and are knocked backwards from the blow because we aren’t prepared. Instead, we need to establish a plan of attack for any obstacle – for your failing health, for your marriage that grows stale, for your mounting bills and empty bank account, for the addiction you’ve been hiding, for the loss of your closest friend.

Friends, it’s time we fight back God’s way. We need to sabab our issues with prayer. Circle them. Engulf them. You see, because its only through prayer, praise and thanksgiving that we can “change direction.” You are not defined by the series of events that have happened in your life.

You are not defined by your diagnosis, your divorce, your size, your upbringing, your financial status or your education.

You are who God says you are. And He says you are chosen. (John 15:16) You are an heir. (Galatians 4:7) You are part of a royal priesthood. (1 Peter 2:9)

Satan will try to distract you and get you off your game. Don’t let him. He’ll tell you you’re not good enough. Don’t believe his lie. Be ready, friends. Arm yourselves for the battle by preparing your plan of attack. You see, in the woods that day when God told David to sabab, or circle around, He also told him to listen for the sounds of marching in the tops of the trees, “because that will mean the Lord has gone out in front of you to strike the Philistine army.” (2 Samuel 5:24 NIV)

Don’t be shaken. Don’t be afraid. The Lord your God, the Sovereign Creator of all things will fight for you. Put on your armor and sabab. The battle has already begun.

Carol

One Thing that Completely Changed my Walk with God

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Eight years ago, my life changed completely.

I hint about it in my story on my “About Me” page. But let me tell you more. I lived a good life – attended church, prayed when needed and was a Christian. But I had a suspicion that I was missing something. I loved God, knew Jesus died for my sins and had accepted that He was my salvation. But still. I wondered if there was more.

My Christian life was mundane to say the least. I made a decision to accept Christ at age 10. I sang all the songs, heard all the Bible stories and attended Vacation Bible School every summer. When I joined Facebook quite a few years ago, I reconnected with some high school friends. One of them had become a Christian after high school and was very vocal about it on Facebook. After I posted a Bible verse, she private messaged me and asked, “Did you become a Christian after high school, too?” She was super excited for me.

Only one problem. I was a Christian all through high school. Why is that a problem, you ask? Because she should have known it by the way I lived. I didn’t attend parties or drink alcohol with my friends, but my Christianity was so subtle that people didn’t know for sure.

I think I lived most of my life that way. I was a checkbox Christian.

Do you attend church? Check.
Are you a Christian? Check.
Do you know Christ as your Savior? Check.

But there wasn’t the passion to back it up. Honestly, I believe this is an issue with lots of people who grow up in church. You lose the spark. You somehow lose connection to the fact that someone allowed their only child to suffer and die for you. Your relationship with God has as much passion as an old couple watching TV on the couch – her snoring, him with his hand tucked in his waistband. Blah.

Wondering if there was more to my relationship with God, I became fascinated with the idea of seeking Him. The Bible tells us if we seek Him, we will find Him.

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13 NIV

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So I made it my quest to find God. I decided to start with reading the Bible. I grew up in church, so I could tell you the books of the Old and New Testament in order. I could quote passages. I had completed many a Bible study. But I had never read all of it – straight through. So that’s just what I did. I had tried it before but never made it past Leviticus.

But this time I was determined. I would read a few chapters each day and then ask myself what God was trying to teach me. Then I’d pray. I tied my boots tight, pulled up my socks and began the hike through those gilded-edged pages. Determined, I even marched through Leviticus.

And somewhere in the middle of the Old Testament, I started having “A-ha” moments. Pieces of the puzzle fit together in my brain. I had a new understanding of how things happened. All those stories I had heard and studied before made sense in a brand new way.

And I found God.

He was there all along. In the pages. In my prayers. In my praises.

And friends, He changed me. My close friends will tell you how different I am. I can’t help but bring God into my conversations. I look at the world through different eyes. My sister-in-law once told me I was like Moses after the burning bush experience. When you have been in the presence of God, YOU WILL BE CHANGED.

Reading the Bible through changed my life. It took me a while to complete it. I don’t remember exactly how long, but it was more than a year. When I finished, I flipped back to Genesis and started again. When I finished that time, I bought a chronological Bible and started the third time.

This week, I finished my chronological Bible. It took me two years and a month to do it. I tell you this not to brag but to encourage you to read the Bible from beginning to end. “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” (2 Cor. 10:17) I challenge you to start with Genesis and work your way through.

If you feel stuck in life, if you are struggling with your marriage or finances or family issues or health problems, if you see God working in the lives of others and want Him to do the same with you, seek Him. Look for God in the pages of His Word.

I promise He will accomplish more than you can imagine. You will be changed. You can NOT encounter God and walk away the same. It’s just not possible.

Are you ready to see God up close and personal? Then get started.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth… Gen. 1:1 NIV

Carol