Month: July 2021

Are You Worn Out?

Sunday Sermon 7.31.21

Our life goes through seasons and who of us has not experienced a season of just being spent, used up, exhausted, maybe even feeling unusable.

Luckily these times are temporary, even through we don’t see it at the time. But as we grow older, this feeling of being worn out is not so temporary.

We become worn down by the daily grind, increased responsibilities, multiplying demands, unforeseeable events, changing expectations, or any number of pressing issues on us.

Often we wind up shutting down and shutting out people. Or perhaps even retreating to complete isolation. Our vision and hope for the future is shaded by this cloud of dark uncertainty.

Energy levels are low, strength wanning, and motivation to do anything is lacking. In our mind we wrestle with, “Is this it, am I done? I don’t think I have anything left.”

Whether young or old, this feeling of being worn out and the thoughts that accompany it are very real.

It was a hot day as he sat under the oaks, outside of his home when he saw 3 men approaching him. He ran out to meet them and pleaded with them to stay with him and share a meal. They agreed to stay and as the meal was prepared, the following discussion ensued:

“Where is your wife, Sarah?” He answered, “Over there, in the tent.” Then one spoke up and said, “I will return about this time next year, when your wife Sarah shall certainly have a son.” Sarah overheard it, for she was at the tent door. Now both Abraham and Sarah were already very old, and Sarah was past the age of childbearing.

Sarah laughed to herself with disbelief, saying, “A woman of my age- … after I’m worn out?”

Genesis 18:9-12

Sarah’s laugh and disbelief revealed the truth of her circumstance. She was indeed worn out, fatigued. Other renderings say she was withered, dried up, decaying, even failing. Sarah thought her fruitful days were behind her, and God had no further plan for her or pleasure in her.

I believe for years Sarah had wrestled within herself about her fruitfulness. Her thoughts, desires, and hopes all colliding with the reality of her barren body. And now, this promise of life springing from her, “at her age”, was more than she could handle.

She laughed! Out loud. In that moment it all burst forth. Her pain, questions, hopes, disappointments, and shame. After years, the promise of fruitfulness was now at her doorstep.

God was NOT done with her.

She may be worn out, but God was not. God’s response to her was,

“Is anything too hard for the Lord?

Genesis 18:14

So, a 90 year old, worn out, used up laughing woman, with the help of her 100 year old husband, gave birth about the same time the next year to a baby boy, who they named, “laughter” aka, Isaac.

Nothing is too hard for God.

My friend, we are living in days of fruitfulness. We are living in days of fulfilled promises. We are living in days of God doing the impossible for those who believe him.

No matter how worn out you may feel. God is not done with you! Let me say it again, God is not done with you.

You have fruitful days ahead. Days of birthing new ideas, and endeavors. The time of producing new life is upon you.

Sarah said, “After I am worn out????”

God said, absolutely! Nothing is too hard for me!

May you arise to walk in new hope and strength today, knowing that your fruitful days are still ahead of you.

Whether or not you are worn out!

Go with God,

Debbie

No Greater Joy

Sunday Sermon 7.25.21

What is it that brings you your greatest joy?

A favorite hobby, a memorable location, a special loved one?

Over fifty years ago I started teaching. At first it was in Sunday School classes of primary children, and through those early years I realized just how much I loved teaching. I mean really LOVED teaching.

At age 16 when I was considering a “life verse” 3 John 4 captured by heart and determination:

“ I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.”

I wasn’t a mother of course, but in my heart was such a compelling drive to do whatever I could to teach the truth to my classes, my “kids/children”.

Through the years, no matter the class, the age, or setting, I knew in my heart of hearts I was to teach the truth, and I also knew that there was no greater joy than to see the light bulb go on over those students’ heads, or see that facial expression change from just listening to “Wow! I actually understand that, now!”

3 John 4 has been a life verse for me since those days.

But today, it takes on a whole “new” enhanced meaning.

Many parents would say that their greatest joy is their children. I would join them.

As our son turns 30 today, and we have joined with family & friends to celebrate him, I am so proud to say he is my greatest joy, AND he walks in the truth! Proud mama here, for sure.

There is a legacy to be passed on and parents, we cannot afford to drop the baton. Not for our sake, but for the sake of our children, we must speak the truth, live the truth and teach the truth. We are only stewards of those precious lives and are responsible for what we have imparted to them.

Whether or not we are parents, our responsibility to what we teach remains. Are we teaching the truth to our students and are we living it before them?

In these days, those teaching opportunities are growing exponentially. Let’s be ready and do everything in our power to assure that our children are walking in the truth.

Oh, and, Happy Birthday, Karrington.

Go with God,

Debbie

What’s the Worst that Could Happen?

Sunday Sermon 7.17.21

Everyday, in every decision that we make, we unconsciously weigh the consequences of our decisions. Even sometimes consiously. In the smallest of ways, ie: I’m gonna hit the snooze for another 9 minutes, or on a grander scale, ie: what if I make that move, take that job or or forfeit that option, somewhere in our mind is the question, “What’s the worst that could happen?”

On a parrallel note, what is the worst thing that could happen to you? Lose your child, lose your spouse, lose your health, a limb, your home? Consider it. In the big scheme of life what would be the worst thing that could happen to you?

In our nation, with the tends of the day, policies of our government, allowances for and acceptance of behaviors, ideas, and intentions – what is the worst that could happen to our nation?

In each of these settings, personal and national, what is the worst possible end game, the worst that could happen?

We teach our children that while you can choose your action or behavior, you cannot choose the consequences of that action. Consequences are automatically set in motion as principles of the universe designed to corolate with divine order and purpose. So, in that divine order of the universe, what is the worst thing that could happen?

Let me answer by sharing a story –

In the garden of Eden, when Adam and Eve were in dialogue with God about their disobedience, the worst thing wasn’t the guilt and shame they felt. It wasn’t their dishonesty in trying to hide it from God. It wasn’t even their punishment as pronounced by God on their childbearing and working the land. No! In all of those God’s love and covering for them was ever present, just as a Dad loves his children.

The worst, possible end game and consequnce for them was,

” …He (God) drove them out of the garden.”

Genesis 3:24

In the case of their murderous son Cain, what was the worst thing?

“God banished Cain from the land…and Cain said, “Now I must hide from your presence…””

Genesis 4:11,13

The worst thing that could happen to Adam, Eve and Cain, did happen – they were removed from the garden of His perfect relationship, presence of the Lord. They were sent away from His presence. Cain in his response even cried out, “My punishment is more than I can bear!” Geneses 4:11

Fastforward to the days of the Kings of Israel and Judah. In the book of 2 Kings we have a startling picture of God’s chosen people and their condition and attitude towards God, their God, Jehovah – the Great I AM.

“The Israelites had sinned against the Lord…they worshipped other gods and followed the practices of other nations… They secretly did things against the Lord their God that were not right…they did wicked things…they worshipped idols…they would not listen and were stiffnecked…they rejected his decrees and the covenant he made with them…They imitated the nations around them…They forsook the commands of the Lord, they bowed bown to the starry hosts and worshipped Baal… They sacrificed their sons and daughters in the fire… They practiced divination and sought omens and sold themselves to do evil.”

2 Kings 17:7-17

This picture of a people so calloused against God is astonishing! Could they be any worse? We might even say, they deserve the worst possible outcome, consequence or punishment. What is the worst that could happen?

“So the Lord was very angry with Israel and REMOVED THEM FROM HIS PRESENCE.”

2 Kings 17:18

“…He THRUST THEM FROM HIS PRESENCE.”

2 Kings 17:20

“The Lord REMOVED THEM FROM HIS PRESENCE.”

2 Kings 17:23

In God’s view the worst thing that could happen was removing his children from His presence. Having to separate Himself from His children. Removing His presence, covering, protection, and blessing from His children is the worst thing that can happen.

The blessing of His presence brings peace, joy, protection. His presence brings a respect for Him, a desire to seek Him and please Him. His presence creates a hunger in us for more of Him, more of His presence.

To be removed from His presence is a direct consequence of sin and disobedience. All sin brings death – physical, mental and spiritual. It is our iniquities (inner perversions) that separate us from God. Isaiah 59:2 That unconfessed sin leads to the time when His presence will be removed from you, and your covering, joy and peace will be gone.

In Sampson’s life, he didn’t even realize when God’s presence left him. He continued doing what he always had done, expecting God’s blessing, totally unaware God’s presence had left him on his own. Judges 16:20

When God lifts His presence from an individual or nation, then we have hit rock bottom. We have discovered the worst that can happen. That is why Kind David prayed, “Cast me not away from your presence and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me.” Psalm 51:11

To live a life apart from His presence is not living at all. Apart from His presence we are dead, dry, religious, wanderers without peace, purpose or protection. It is the bleakest of lives, constantly shadowded by fears, worries and threats without hope for anything better – ever!

In His presence there is fullness of joy, but so much more. It costs, yes, but it doesn’t even compare, in the slightest, to the worst that could happen.

I am concerned for you, for our nation, for the presence of the Lord upon us. I don’t wanna loose His presence, because that is the worst thing that could ever happen.

Go with God,

Debbie

Bringing the World Together

Few are the circumstances or events that have the potential to unify peoples across national, ethnic and social lines. Although no attempt is perfect because there always seems to be naysayers, I still believe that the Olympics are one of our best efforts in bringing the world together.

What other opportunity is there that brings over 11,200 people together, from 206 different nations or territories to compete in 339 athletic events, 33 sports that represent 50 disciplines?

Seriously! In my opinion, when the Olympic Games are at their best, they are a force to be reckoned with in promoting global unity.

So, after a postponment from the summer of 2020, the 32nd Olympiad will be held this month, from July 23 – Aug. 8 in Tokyo, Japan.

As I have mentioned in previous posts, I am a huge Olympic fan, who had the honor of attending the 1984 Games in LA, as a dream come true! So what can we expect in these games?

There are five new sports this time, they are: skateboarding, karate, surfing, sports climbing, and baseball/softball. New names to watch in these sports are: the 16 year old CA girl, skateboarder, Brighton Zeaner, who won the X games at 13, and the 17 year old, CO rock climber, Colin Duffy.

Other young athletes to watch are the youngest Olympian in competition, the 12 year old, Syrian table tennis competetor, Hend Zaza. Japan is also sending young ones, a 12 and 13 year old who are both in the hunt for a medal in skateboarding.

The US’s oldest competetor is 57 year old, 7 time, equestrain, Philip Dutton. While our youngest representative is 15 year old, Katie Grimes, a top contender in the pool on the swim team.

Our women’s gymnastics team will be headed by our brilliant Simone Biles but also on that team is the oldest woman’s gymnist, Makayla Skinner, who is just a tad bit older than Simone.

Other US athletes leading the way in age, are 44 year old Abdi Abdirahman, a runner, with 4 previous Olympics to his credit and the oldest basketball player, Sue Bird, who at age 40, will play in her 5th Olympics.

Team Canada will be sending the largest contingent of 371 athletes and coaches. But in my opinion, isnt’ it more inspiring to see those countries with a handful of competitors marcing in?

The ancient Olympic Games were first held in 776 BC, when an Olympic Truce was enacted so that athletes could travel from their city-states to Olympia safely. The big draw was a single race, called “the stade”, which was a short sprint. The runners were only men and they ran nude. No girls were allowed to attend for that reason. So many gathered from surrounding city-states to see the “stade”, the venue was named the stadium. Yes, our word stadium is derrived from the stade of the ancient Olympic games. Cool, right?

The ancient “stade” race
The Olympic stadium

I am well aware that there have been controveries and protests through the years, banned nations and suspended athletes, but let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water, shall we?

Let’s celebrate the unity of nations for 2 weeks, shall we? Not for the sake of NBC’s 7.7 billion dollar contract but for the joy of sport.

Let’s celetrate those medal recepients, because they have worked hard and made great sacrifices to achieve their goal. We can also celebrate those medals because Japan had a campaign from 2017-2019 to collect old devices to melt down the metals to make “everyone’s medal”. A total of 6,210,000 phones were donated to make those Olympic medals.

Our support and celebration is so very important. It is so sad to me that Tokyo has declared a state of emergency, due to Covid again, and therefore NO SPECTATORS are being allowed at the venues. Even the outside venues, like marathon, spectators are being asked NOT to cheer!

What in the world is going on here??? Imagine YOU are the competitor, acheiving the goal of a lifetime, with no one to audibly cheer you on. Yes, TV cameras will catch it, but cameras are silent.

Not me. I will be cheering. I will be excited about those who are striving toward bringing the world together.

Won’t you join us?

Cheers to you,

Debbie

Don’t Forget

Sunday Sermon 7.10.21

It is always so exciting when a wonderful event happens in the family. Be it a new birth, graduation, new job, or wedding, we are thrilled for the joy and challenge that it brings.

Can you recall a promotion you received? Remember it’s excitement, awe, and the uncertainty too that accompanied it?

Do you remember when you made your commitment to Jesus? What feelings, emotions and thoughts did you deal with?

Events are set in time but emotions and feelings change, don’t they?

We have this story of Elisha receiving a huge job promotion.

Here he was a farmer, and a wealthy one at that, out plowing the field with a yoke of oxen, accompanied by 11 other yoke also plowing. Out of the blue, a man walks up to him, who happened to be the reigning number 1 prophet in the land, and this man approches Elisha, takes off his outer coat (of goat hair, representing his prophetic status), and places it on Elisha’s shoulders. He then turns and walks off. No words were spoken. Just a coat drop and off he went.

Elisha immediately realizing what had just happened, (he was being chosen to become Elijah’s replacement), left the oxen and took off running after Elijah. When he reached him, he said, “Please, let me first go and kiss my mother and father good-bye, then I’ll follow you.”

Elisha’s odd reply to him was,

” Go ahead, but, mind you, don’t forget what I have just done to you.”

1 Kings 19:20

It seems that permission was granted for good-byes, but with a sharp challenge, DON’T FORGET this moment. In the midst of the hugs, kisses, tears, stories, celebration, sadness of loss, and excitement of new ventures, DON’T FORGET this moment and what I have done to you. DON’T FORGET to focus on the future, DON’T FORGET to focus on your call, DON’T FORGET to come back to this release and empowerment. DON’T FORGET the meaning of that hairy coat on your shoulders.

All too often, when we choose to go back, we do loose focus. We forget. We get entangled in the mire of what was and is rather than the hope and purpose of what will be. That is probably why Jesus told us,

” No man, having put his hand to the plow and looking back is fit for the kingdom.”

Luke 9:62

” Anyone who loves Father and Mother more than me is not worthy of me.”

Matthew 10:37

And yet, Elijah told Elisha, “Go ahead”. “But don’t forget…”

Amazing contrasts here.

How did this new, heir apparent respond? Now THIS is remarkable!

“Elisha returned to his oxen and slaughtered them. He used the wood from the plow to build a fire to roast their flesh. He passed around the meat to the townspeople, and they all ate. Then he went with Elijah as his assistant.”

1 Kings 19:21

Talk about a serious, all in commitment!!

Elisha totally destroyed everything from his past way of life to which he could return. He left no plan B, if this “prophet in training” thing didn’t work out. He was fully committemt to the future and what God was calling him to. He would not look back, or love his family more. His farmer life was over, his past vocation now in the rear-view as he walked, NOT FORGETTING the hairy coat on his shoulders and what it represented. He allowed his past to become a blazing inferno.

He now was the right hand man to the number 1 prophet in the land and was being trained to step in to even greater works and miracles than Elijah had done.

He was not about to forget that experience in the field, that calling to a new vocation. He was not about to forget its weight, severity, hope, and inspiration. He would not forget, get sidetracked or loose focus.

He was called to something bigger and better.

My friend, so are you. You are called to something bigger and better. What is it? Don’t forget your calling. Don’t get distracted.

You have been given a promotion from God, don’t forget it. Let go of any plan B’s you may still be clinging to. Burn ’em up, slaughter ’em.

There are greater miracles for you, more power for you, many more adventures for you as you walk as His servant and right-hand person.

Don’t forget.

Go with God.

Debbie