The Gate

Today’s post is about an inspiring encounter my dear friend Brandilynn had this Easter weekend. 

As I drove towards Tarpley, Texas on Easter weekend; an overwhelming sense of emptiness filled my heart. Like an empty cup turned upside down; I felt nothing left. I was excited for the weekend, yet felt afraid I wouldn’t fit in with the group. They all knew each other well and I was just new to this church group. They were like one big happy family that joked and bantered back and forth with inside stories I had yet to understand. The old familiar thoughts entered in. Was I good enough? Could I measure up? Would I be on the sidelines looking in? Could I make a difference? I asked God to equip me as I rounded the corner to “The Gate” that would forever change my life. I sat in front of this huge black iron gate that towered above me. As I entered the code and the gate opened; I couldn’t shake a sense of something great is about to happen.

 

I quickly unpacked my bags and got settled in. Everyone began arriving at the second of two cabins on the Lake Front Hill Country Getaway. …and so began my journey to receiving the greatest fulfillment in a group setting I can remember. This group is different I told myself. Everyone busily got situated into both cabins and later that night we sat around eating burgers and listening to Pastor Mark share a message on what it means for God to get the glory in your life. He shared that this weekend was about focusing on the Lord and leaving the worldly cares behind. We delved into discussions about God and Jesus in a way that felt different. James had been discussing feelings of LACK in the previous church meetings.He shared to take those feelings and just ask God…  “Hey, what is this Lord”?!  It amazed me that it could be simplified so easily into one action.

Problem: Feeling lack (of any kind)
Solution: Holding that up to God and asking him about it

Pretty easy concept! How I missed it all these years is beyond me.

That night, I had a lot of time to think about what God was doing in my life and in the lives of others around me. I woke up the next morning with only a few hours of sleep. I felt strangely energized as I met up with the others in the group. The day unfolded perfectly as we talked around the picnic table. Later we hiked a mountain that later became known as “Won Shoe Mountain” and at night sat around the fire in God’s presence. We laughed and cried and sang and talked. A sense of wonderment came over me when I realized that in our group of twelve. Like the disciples, Jesus sat among us! I could feel his presence like never before. I could feel LOVE, ACCEPTANCE, JOY, HONOR, HUMILITY, COMPASSION, FAITHFULNESS, COMMITMENT, ANOINTING, GENTLENESS, ENCOURAGEMENT, and DISCERNMENT, to name a few. I was amazed to hear, as we went around the campfire; the thoughts that others had formed about me. Nothing but the love of Jesus could allow them to see into my heart that way. As each person took their turn my mind ceased to function and my soul leaped forward. I realized this is a taste of heaven on earth, as I felt unending love in that moment. A sneak peak into the UNCONDITIONAL LOVE that God has in store for us all as we (in time) enter into the heavenly gates.

NO LACK existed!

The next morning I awoke feeling satisfied that I had opened my heart, mind, soul, body to God in a way that surpassed previous moments. I felt closer to God than ever before in a way that humbled; yet excited me. I drove out and back up to the gate with new purpose and an overflowing cup. I sat in front of the Gate for a moment… NOT wanting to leave.

I understand now entering the code to the gate…. symbolic for saying, God, I am here… ready to be in your presence. I leave everything behind at the gate entrance and enter into your kingdom and majesty and righteousness. I realized I had left ALL worldly things at the front of the gate. We can’t bring those things into his presence.

In closing, leaving you with one final thought. When you are sitting in front of that Gate… staring up and deciding whether to enter…  or sit back in the worldly things… will you decide to enter into God’s presence and feel his majesty and love surround you and change you in a profound way. Letting the world fall away off of you… your body, your mind, your heart, your soul. To renew and bask in the presence of God that seems to change you down to the very cells of your body… to fill your heart so full it is bursting with Love, Adoration, Kindness, and Acceptance for everyone and everything around you. …but even greater still a deepening love of the Lord your Father in heaven that cannot be contained or explained.

…as I drove out the gate… I looked on the side of the road and could see the worldly cares I had left when entering, still sitting piled up; that I had dumped right outside the gate. I paused for a split second in thought as my eyes welled up with tears of joy. I drove away… leaving the pile still sitting there. I won’t be needing those again I thought as sweet tears began flowing down my cheeks. A sense of an atmosphere shift lingered with me in the car. A heart overflowing and a feeling of pure love beyond measure.

To those that don’t know God….  the code you enter to “The Gate” is Jesus. Ask Jesus into your heart and the gate will open for anyone who will ask.

All the love in the world to you.

-Brandilynn Edgerton

Eggciting

Last Easter, a few of the ladies in my Bible study and I celebrated Easter with the women and children at our local women’s shelter. The message we shared was about the three eggs of Easter.

The first egg was empty. It represented the empty tomb.

The second egg had a marshmallow chick in it. It represented the sweetness and fullness of God’s love and new birth.

The third egg was a chocolate egg that was wrapped in gold foil. It represented restoration. After empathizing with the women concerning their current situations, and encouraging them that God could and would restore their lives, my friends and I handed each of the women a golden egg. The Holy Spirit moved hearts and tears began to fall. It was a beautiful experience!

The way I celebrated this Easter was very different from last year’s celebration. Instead of meeting with abused women in a park, I spent the weekend with my pastors and church family at the Yellow Rose Ranch. The weekend was so amazing and life giving it would take many blogs to share about it, so I will just refer back to the three eggs of Easter,

The empty egg: Although there was no Easter sermon, the message of Easter was everywhere as relationship with Jesus and the victories He has given us were present in every conversation.

The full egg: The sweetness and fullness of God’s love was mirrored in action as each person considered others better than himself/herself and truly loved his/her neighbor. Serving one another was easy because it was out of love and not duty. Protecting one another was natural because we truly cared and wanted what was best for each other.

The golden egg of restoration: There were some precious times, usually around the camp fire, when we spoke words of encouragement to one another. My church calls this “kisses from heaven”. As we affirmed each other and made agreement with the restoration God has for us, the Holy Spirit moved hearts and both laughter and tears fell. It was beautiful!

Two different Easter experiences, but the same three eggs: Victory in Jesus, the fullness of His love poured out to others, and the beautiful restoration that He brings to our lives.

Because the tomb was empty, our hearts are full!

Be abundantly blessed!

Jeannie

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters”(1 John 3:16 NIV).

You

While sitting in church one Sunday preparing to take communion, the Lord spoke to my heart. He said, “Lift up your cup.” As I raised my hand to eye-level and studied the small container of red liquid in front of me, I could clearly see the lines and swirls of my fingerprints pressed against the clear plastic. It was then I heard in my Spirit “When I was on the cross I saw your fingerprints. I knew that you would be, and I knew everything about you”

Up until that day I had acknowledged Jesus as my Savior, but I saw myself as just a speck in a crowd of millions of people. I didn’t realize that if I had been the only person who had ever lived Jesus would have died just for me. But that is exactly what He did. Jesus gave His life only for me. He also gave His life only for you.

When Jesus was dying on the cross He saw you; not just as part of a collective body of humanity, but you individually. He knew you before you were even created. As He hung on the cross in agony, He looked through time and saw you and knew that He was taking your place. As He breathed His last breath, He saw the day when you would take your first breath. He knew and loved you then, and He knows and loves you now. Do you know Him?

One of the lies that kept me from enjoying the Lord was that I thought I somehow had to earn my salvation. Realizing that it was only God’s free gift of grace and not my good works that saved me, took me off of the roller coaster of daily wondering whether I was heaven assured or hell-bound.

Have you exchanged your sins for the free gift of grace Jesus gave you when He died on Calvary? If not, then I would encourage you to pray the following prayer with me: Sweet Jesus, I need you! I am I sinner. Forgive me for all I have done. Thank you for washing away my sins and dying in my place so I can live with you for all eternity. Thank you that from this moment forward I am in

Sweet Jesus, I need you! I am I sinner. Forgive me for all I have done. Thank you for washing away my sins and dying in my place so I can live with you for all eternity. Thank you that from this moment forward I am in relationship with you. Be Lord of my life and reveal your heart to me and daily lead and guide me in all ways. In Jesus’ name Amen!

If you have given your life to the Lord but have been riding the I hope I am going to heaven roller coaster it’s time to get off. Thinking that we are responsible for our salvation is a hook of the enemy to make us feel unworthy and keep us in pride. God adores you! Take hold of His grace and walk in the joy of your salvation!

Have an amazing Easter as you reflect on Christ’s loving sacrifice and His glorious resurrection!

Be abundantly blessed!

Jeannie

“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” (John 3:16 NIV).

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9 KJV).

 

Off the Beaten Path

In 2012, I moved to Maryland to help my daughter with my grandsons while her husband participated in varied military operations. That June, my mother ended up on life support for meningitis and pneumonia. I flew home to stay with Mom and to be her advocate, as well as helping dad with his business and with the care of my special needs sister. When Mom was transferred to a rehab facility I flew back to Maryland to resume my life.

Two months later, when I was taking a walk in Maryland, the Lord told me to get off the path and head in a different direction. He then spoke to my heart that He was going to take me off the “beaten path”—so far off, I wouldn’t understand. As I walked on, I came up to a sign saying “bumps in road ahead.”  The Lord told me that I was going to be hitting some bumps. Before I finished my walk I was also led to pray in front of both yield and stop signs. As I lingered at each sign, the Lord deposited promises and warnings into my Spirit, and when I returned to the house I knew I would be in Corpus Christi for the Holidays helping my parents.  I just had no idea what the season would look like—I couldn’t have had an idea!

It ended up being a longer and more challenging season than I ever could have imagined. Two months turned into four years. I quickly transitioned from changing my grandson’s diapers in Maryland to my mother’s depends in Texas—from cleaning up toys to cleaning out closets— from waking up in the night with crying babies—to waking up throughout the night to administer care and meds to aging parents.

It was a season of daily dying, serving others, and major growth. As I faced the reality of nothing being as I had expected, I had to keep in mind that everything was as God knew it would be.  As I held Momma in my arms, I continued to hold onto the promise of going to the nations in my heart. As I helped Momma walk, I learned to walk in a foreign land—the land of caring for aging parents.  As I reorganized the house, God reorganized my priorities. In the process, I had to learn to listen to His guidance as to when to walk, when to yield, and when to stop. I also had to rely on His amazing grace that cushioned me when I hit road bumps.

The day God told me to leave the path He was setting my feet in a new direction. Neither the timing nor the season was as I had expected them to be, but they were everything that He wanted for me. Some of the road bumps seemed gigantic, and I didn’t always want to obey the signs. But God kept me and grew me and brought me back into alignment. He also abundantly blessed me in ways I never would have imagined!

Even though I often didn’t know where the next bend was going to be, I was thankful that God had forewarned me. That has not always been the case. In November, God took me on another off-road adventure. This time I had no warning. I returned to my father’s house to care for my sister for a week while he went to a wedding in California. The day before the wedding, Dad fell and broke his hip. He had to have surgery and go to rehab. He then stayed with my older sister for awhile, but ended up back in the hospital and then rehab again because of other health issues. He is now back at my sister’s house. He might make it back home this month. Only the Lord knows.

Through both experiences, I have learned that life can change quickly. However, what looks like a detour is really a divine set up. As I have daily walked with God through yet another unexpected journey, once again, I am thankful for the changes He has made in me and through me. I am also thankful for the blessings He has given me—blessings I would never have had had He not taken me off the beaten path.

How about you? Have you found yourself taking a divine detour? Is what you are currently experiencing looking far different from what you had expected. If so, remember Proverbs 3:5-8. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct[a] your paths” (NKJV).

Our part is to trust. God’s part is to lead. As you and I acknowledge the Lord in all things and lean on God instead of on our own understanding, He will guide us down the paths He has chosen for us. These paths might be less traveled, but they are strewn with blessings!

May you be abundantly blessed!

Jeannie

 

A Written Proposal

Contributed by James Bennett

I started a letter to God in 2013 with thanksgiving and praise as I had been taught in my discipleship class. As I wrote, the Spirit of the Lord came upon me. His presence was closer and more evident than any time before, and different than any time since. The atmosphere was sweet and romantic, yet very intense. My body responded. I was weeping uncontrollably. Fallen tears soaked the pages and spotted my jeans. Struggling to breath, I resolved to write. What began as a letter of request had dramatically turned into the most honest love letter I had ever written. My heart broke open, and feelings I had never known before gushed out. Because it was a love letter, I will keep details personal between God and me. However, I will share that repeatedly, and in various ways, I expressed how I wanted God’s companionship in all areas of my life. I asked that He free me from the worry of lack of money. I longed for stability.

The original purpose of the letter was to request what I wanted in the following year. I was going to ask that God grant me more income for financial stability, a permanent home, and a wife. Yet, I was so moved by love that I forgot to include the details.

Actually I did not forget anything. I was intensely focused on what was important, and the small details were not. In fact, those types of details that you and I have all planned in life are really solutions on how to live without God. As I wrote, I was so moved by God’s love that I could only request that He meet my needs.

The following year, 2014, did not look like I thought it would, however, all of my needs were met. I took an $80,000 decrease in pay and could not plan 2 meals ahead. Instead of bringing me more income to free me from financial worries, God took income out of the equation altogether. He made it very easy for me to witness His provision, so that I could not miss where true provision comes from. He did this repeatedly over and over that year. I no longer worry about money. That does not mean I have an abundance of money. In fact, there are often times where I lack what is needed. Worry in these times has been replaced with a sense of wellbeing.

The beginning of 2014 started with me owning my own home, and ended with me having to sell it. God showed me how my home is not in what surrounds me, but what is in me. The Kingdom of Heaven is my home and home is where the heart is. No matter where I am living physically, I have access to this home that transforms the atmosphere around me.

I longed for companionship, yet I did not get married that year. I felt more alone that year than any year before. Like with income, God removed companionship with people from the equation so that I could clearly see Him. That year my relationship with Him grew deeper and deeper, as I imagine it would for newlyweds that relocate to a new city with no money.

The experience I shared with the Lord when writing that letter in 2013 changed me. I had never known Him to be so real. He later revealed to me that the letter was a proposal from my heart to His. I proposed to be married to Him and His ways forever. I also proposed to build a life together. This may not have been my intentions when starting the letter, but when we are in His presence our desires are purified. The solutions I originally sought after were displaced by the only true solution, the love of God.

 

 

I Didn’t Choose This!

Yesterday I talked to a woman whose life has been turned upside down because of her husband’s recent choices. It’s easy to get discouraged or even feel hopeless when another person’s choices change the course of what you and I thought our futures (or our loved one’s futures) would look like. For many years, I thought the harmful or hurtful decisions of others determined my destiny. This messed up thinking gave unhealthy people way too much control in my life. It also kept me from trusting God with my future.

A few years ago I was upset and discouraged over some choices a loved one had made that affected me. As I was praying for comfort and wisdom the following came to mind:

What do we do when other’s choices change our lives?

Be Real-Sometimes we think being godly means we can’t have negative emotions. I have learned the hard way that not acknowledging anger keeps us from working through issues and healing. Tell God all about your anger, hurts, and disappointments. Be real with Him. He can take it! He knows what is in your heart.  He wants to talk with you, walk with you through the storm, and heal your wounds.

Believe-You and I need to always be aware that God loves us and has our best interests in mind. Believing in God’s unconditional love will open us up to hear His heart and to receive all He has for us.

Recognize-You and I need to know that although someone else’s choices might have caused a shift, and things might not look the way we thought they would, the plans and purposes (destinies) God has for us as individuals have not changed.

Shift our eyes-Instead of staring at the messes, you and I need to set our sights on the Lord, the maker of Heaven and earth. Keeping our eyes on Him will keep the enemy from tormenting our minds.

Remember-When we are hurting, it’s easy to feel as if we are victims. Although circumstances resulting from another’s choices might bring suffering, those choices are also an opportunity for growth. In the midst of suffering, you and I must always remember that through Christ we are “more than conquerors.” (Romans 8:37).

Forgive-Holding onto unforgiveness will only hinder us. The enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). You and I must not allow him to steal from us more than he already has. We all sin, but some choices have greater consequences and cause more pain than others. Most wrong choices are often a result of deeper heart issues. When we are hurting, it’s hard for us to see someone else’s pain. As we give the ones who have hurt us to God and pray for the healing of their hearts, our hearts will receive healing as well.

Take responsibility-Sometimes we might have been part of the problem that resulted in choices others have made that have hurt us. While it is important to own up to our behaviours so we can continue to grow, it is equally important not to take responsibility for another’s choices.

Align-When you and I have been hurt by someone’s choices it’s easy to make agreement with lies—lies about God, ourselves, and others. Praying, studying the Word, and receiving wise counsel from other believers, displaces the lies and aligns us with truth.

Grieve-When choices bring loss, we have to grieve the loss so we can go on. Some losses take longer to work through. God understands. You and I mustn’t be hard on ourselves for grieving. Denial can keep the door open for the enemy to continue to rob from us. The Lord draws close to the broken-hearted. Let Him comfort you.

Release-Although it might not feel like it, God is in control. Release your burdens to Him and stand on the promises in His Word. He will bring good out of what the enemy has intended for evil.

Give-When our worlds feel as though they are falling apart it’s easy to make everything about us. Giving of ourselves helps us to be thankful, see more clearly, and reminds us that we have purpose.

Walk in peace-When you and I feel controlled or helpless it is easy to say or do things that we will later regret. Continuous fellowship with God quiets our spirits and gives us peace that passes understanding.

Life can be hard, but God is good. If you are walking through the valley of betrayal, abandonment, or loss because of another’s choices, remember that the Lord is with you. If you put your faith and trust in Him, He will restore what has been stolen from you. Others may hurt you, but they do not have power over you. Always keep in mind that the only person who can keep you from fulfilling the call of God on your life is you!

Be abundantly blessed!

Jeannie Boatright

Romans 8:28 “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them (NLT).

Jeremiah 29:11 “‘For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord.’ ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you’, says the Lord. ‘I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes'” (NLT).

Revelation 3:8 “I know all things you do, and I have opened a door for you that no one can close….” (NLT).

“No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us” (Romans 8:37).