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).

Leaves

For a few hours the other day I raked leaves at my father’s house.  About 30 minutes into my task, memories began to flood my mind, and I started praising God. Years ago, when I had emphysema I constantly prayed to keep breathing. As I bent to scoop up a pile of leaves I took a deep effortless breath and once again thanked God for miraculously healing me.

When I began to rake up another pile of leaves, I thought to myself, “Wow! My shoulder isn’t hurting!” In 2012, my doctor and physical therapist had given me little hope for a full recovery. I now have full range of motion and no pain.

“God, I don’t thank you enough,” I voiced. “I take so much for granted!”

As I kept raking and bagging leaves, I remembered other situations where God had met me in hard times. I continued to thank Him: “Thank you, Lord, you have done so much for me! Thank you, Lord, for healing my body and my heart. Thank you for your provision and faithfulness. Thank you for restoring my mind. Thank you for restoring relationships. Thank for freedom from fear. You are amazing!”

Raking leaves was no longer a chore. It was a privilege. With each stroke of the rake, choruses of thanks rose from my lips. I continued to give thanks and praise the Lord for the next two hours. Sixteen bags of leaves later, I set down my rake and thought to myself, “Wow! God really has brought good out of everything the enemy intended for evil. In that moment, I was fully aware that it’s only because of His mercy and love that I have truly been able to leave my past behind!

What a mighty God we serve!

May you be abundantly blessed!

Jeannie

“Now glory be to God! By his mighty power at work within us, he is able to accomplish infinitely more than we would ever dare to ask or hope. May he be given glory in the church and in Christ Jesus forever and ever through endless ages. Amen” (Ephesians 3:20-21, NLT).

“Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable” (Psalm 145:3, ESV).

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28 NIV

 

 

Songs

When my oldest grandson was four my daughter called so he could sing me one of the songs he had just made up. But when I asked him to sing for me, there was silence.

“Rhett,” I coaxed, “are you going to sing me one of your songs?”

After a little sigh, he answered in a serious tone, “I cin’t, Mimi. My songs are all gone!”

At the time, I couldn’t keep from laughing, but later in the day, as his childish reply rolled over in my mind, I began to think about times when I felt as if my songs were all gone.

Last week I attended a Bible study where the leader had asked those in attendance to share their favorite songs and the stories behind them.

As the music played and songs were sung, often, karaoke style, my brothers and sisters in Christ shared their stories and their hearts. Many of the behind the song accounts were about how God had met them in dark and desperate times—times when their songs were all gone.

I fought back tears as hearts were exposed revealing how,in a single moment, the goodness of God had collided with the ugliness of life through music and worship. Hope invaded hopeless as tragedy, grief, despair, and desperation were shifted to peace, comfort, acceptance, and adoration.

These beautiful life-changing encounters inspired me, challenged me, and reminded me of how God had met me so powerfully during times when my songs were all gone.

I couldn’t help but think about when Paul and Silas were imprisoned. Being beaten and thrown into a dark, smelly cell with your feet shackled would definitely be a moment to quit singing. In the midst of their pain and prison the songs of their own understanding might have been silenced, but instead of shutting down they shouted up and exchanged their sorrows and suffering for new songs—God’s songs. In Acts 16: 25-26 the Bible reads About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.  Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose” (NIV).

Wow! Talk about a heavenly concert! Praises were lifted, foundations were shifted and ALL the prisoners were unshackled.

The other night, as I heard the testimonies of my sweet friends, praises were lifted, foundations were shifted, and shackles were broken. We were once again reminded of how our loving heavenly father invades our worlds and moves our hearts with His songs, especially when our songs are all gone.

I don’t know your current circumstances. But God does! No matter what you are going through, be assured that He has a new song just for you.

May you be abundantly blessed as your heart is lifted and your eyes are shifted to the one that adores you and sings over you!

Jeannie Boatright

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” (Zephaniah 3:17 NIV).

 

Magnify

Psalms 34:3-4 “Oh, magnify the Lord with me, And let us exalt His name together.  I sought the Lord, and he heard me, And delivered me from all my fears. (NKJV)

 

In the book of Joshua the Israelites were instructed to build a pillar of stones so their children would remember the miracles of God. I have discovered that journaling often accomplishes the same thing, for us as well as for our children.

Today I found this stone of remembrance from 2001. God knew that would need it now as much as I did then.

God always knows what we need and when we need it. Recently, while worshipping at church, the Lord shared a revelation with me that changed my perspective. I was feeling particularly discouraged over some situations going on in my family when suddenly the words of the song we were singing seemed to leap off of the screen. They were about magnifying and lifting up the name of Lord.

In the midst of the song, it was impressed upon my heart that the reason I was so discouraged was because it was as if I was looking at my circumstances through a magnifying glass. The Lord then spoke to my spirit, “Look up! Magnify me instead!”

As I literally lifted my head and shifted my magnifying glass upward, I began to experience the awesomeness of God. I was so overwhelmed by the revelation of His magnificence and power I stumbled and almost fell backwards. In the midst of glimpsing who He was, my present circumstances seemed small and insignificant.

Are you feeling overwhelmed by your present circumstances? If so, lift up your eyes and your heart and magnify the Lord. You will be amazed how your circumstances will pale in the light of His majesty and glory.

I pray God’s blessings over you today. May He comfort you in your distress, calm you in your fears, reveal His glory in the midst of your circumstances, and flood you with joy.

Psalm 121:1-2 I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth” (ESV).

May you be abundantly blessed!

Jeannie Boatright

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).

 

When Feelings Don’t Matter

 

When Feelings Don’t Matter

Have you ever felt unworthy? I used to feel that way daily. One morning, many years ago, I woke up thinking, “I’m such a mess. What can I possibly do for God?” I continued to beat myself up, listing all the reasons why I was unfit to do what God was calling me to do. I fully expected Him to agree with me and push me away. But instead, He drew me close and reminded me that whether I felt worthy or not, made me no less lovable or able to be used by Him. My worthiness was not based upon my beliefs about myself or in my abilities. I was worthy strictly because of what Jesus did for me and who I was to Him.

As I continued to pray, in my mind, I saw a little caterpillar, and I heard the phrase of a familiar old hymn “For such a worm as I”. I thought to myself, “I am that worm. God could just squish me.” But instead of seeing an all-powerful foot ready to stomp, I saw all-powerful hands reach down and gently scoop up the little insect and cup it as if in a chrysalis. The hands then opened back up and a beautiful butterfly took flight.

God is relational and full of compassion. He understands our hearts and our feelings. He laughs with us when we are happy and cries with us when life hurts. He calms our fears and holds our tears in a bottle. He cheers us on in our victories and even in our defeats. He understands when we are angry, and He holds us close when we are lonely.

He cares about what we feel and why we feel it. Through both triumphs and tragedies, many times, I have heard His tender voice say, “It’s OK. I know how you feel.” But the day I felt so unworthy I heard Him speak something quite different. As I saw Him release the butterfly, He tenderly spoke to my heart, “It doesn’t matter how you feel, for you are worthy, my child, just because of my love.”

May you always remember that you are worth more to God than you could ever think or imagine!

Isaiah 49:15-16

“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast
    and have no compassion on the child she has borne?
Though she may forget,
    I will not forget you!
See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;
    your walls are ever before me” (NIV)

May you be abundantly blessed!

Jeannie Boatright!