“When They Began”

I woke up this morning and felt doubt trying to steal my hope, so I began to pray before my feet ever touched the floor.

     Dear Abba… You’ve promised that if your people delight in You, then You will give us what our hearts long for.*  I am at rest knowing that You are good and You cannot lie.  I believe You!  In my weariness, please help my areas of unbelief.

Morning Praise 2

Am I the only one who struggles with doubt?  Oh, my faith is strong for others and my vision for you is great, so why do I wrestle with belief for my own heart’s desires to be fulfilled?  Could it be because I know my faults and the areas of struggle that I’ve yet to surrender?  Is it that I’m bracing myself for another “No” from God, because of the heartache I’ve known in my past?  I don’t see others as having to be perfect to receive their request from God.  If perfection was a requirement we would all be buried under the weight of despair.

I believe a huge part of my struggle is that I often fail to recognize that God is leading my every step.  Society has conditioned us to only acknowledge the giant leaps.  Rarely is anything seen as valuable unless it has a parade of accolades trailing behind it, so in the mindset of this world it doesn’t look like I’m stepping at all, but if I am pressing into God I am in motion.  Paul and Silas, even while in chains, trusted God and sang praises to Him.  With every breath of praise, they were stepping in faith.*  

What seems desolate today may lead to greater victories tomorrow.  It was after Paul and Silas began to sing praises to God that their chains fell off, along with the chains of all the other prisoners.  Our praise is not only for our own gain.  Paul and Silas not only celebrated a personal miracle but they got to rejoice with many others as they too were freed from both physical and spiritual chains.

God?  That’s really crazy!

God told Jehoshaphat to send the worshipers ahead of the troops into battle.  God gave a promise that He would fight the battle for them.  “You will not need to fight in this battle.  Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, who is with you, O Judah and Jerusalem!  Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, for the Lord is with you…  Believe in the Lord your God, and you shall be established; believe His prophets and you shall prosper.” (2 Chor. 20:17 & 20b).

Sing Praise

“When they began to sing and to praise”

Jehoshaphat was obedient to God’s crazy request, so God caused his enemies to fight against each other.  God’s love is true and pure.  His love is unchanging.  His love is the same for all of us, so if you believe that God will restore the lives of those you pray for, then you must believe for yourself also.  If I believe for you but fail to trust when I pray for my own needs, then I have become prideful.  Ultimately, my lack of faith is stating that Jesus is enough for you but He is not enough for me.  Ouch!  To think I can be so arrogant, that’s a really painful thought.

Jesus paid a debt He did not owe and I owe a debt I could never pay.  I can’t, but Jesus did!  When I gave my life to Christ, He covered me with His perfection, and I too can take my request to God and ask believing – even when I’m still struggling with my faith.  Wrestling with faith shows the presence of faith.

“Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” – Mark 9:24

Having emotions is not wrong, it’s what we do with them that matters.  This morning as I felt hope draining from my heart, I called to the One where hope begins.  In faith I called to God as I surrendered my unbelief.

“ALL the promises of God are “YES”!*  So take a deep breath, rest in Him, believe for yourself like you believe for others, and say “AMEN!” – 2 Cor. 1:20

In the words of a wise friend of mine, “It’s an honest request that God delights to honor; and when we see our faith increase, we know to give the glory back to God.”, (Kimberly Wyse).  The more I recall what God has done, the more I find rest in knowing that He will continue to amaze me.  God is good!

What chains have you bound?  Are you physically shackled?  What emotional weights keep you hidden in fear rather than functioning in faith?  Are you burdened by people’s false accusations?  Or, are you struggling with forgiving yourself for wrongs you’ve committed?  Whatever it may be that taunts your mind today, take the thoughts captive and give God praise.  He’s still writing your story.

~Shannan

2013, Growing Forward In Love!

* Scripture references, Psalm 33:18, Psalm 37:4, Acts 16:25-34, 2 Cor. 1:20

I Want To Be Like Mary Magdalene

I want to be like Mary Magdalene, the Mary of Magdala after she met Jesus that is.

What a great story of redemption and courage.  Mary is another example of what can take place in a life when Jesus is allowed to step in and take over.  Our past does not have to dictate our future.

When we hear the name, Mary Magdalene, we will most likely think of a demonically possessed prostitute from the ghetto.  The Biblical recount of her story does confirm that she was controlled by seven demons, but I cannot find one verse that says she was a prostitute.  I also find nothing in scripture that tells me Mary was from a poor family.  The scriptures actually lead me to think otherwise, though a deeper historical study may prove me wrong.

“Now it came to pass, afterward, that He went through every city and village, preaching and bringing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with Him, and certain women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities—Mary called Magdalene, out of whom had come seven demons, and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others who provided for Him from their substance.” – Luke 8:1-3

The women that followed Jesus cared for Him and the disciples out of their own “substance” – their own property.  Whether it be actual monetary wealth, or the wealth of things, they had to already have had something in order to provide for them.

~ Physically wealthy yet emotionally poor ~

What we do know about Mary, is that the first half of her life she was controlled by seven demons.  It was when she met and accepted Jesus that she was set free from her tormentors.  She was freed from a life of shame and struggle.  She went from being an outcast to becoming one of Jesus’ disciples.  Mary never forgot what Jesus did for her.  Her life’s testimony from that time forward was filled with love for Him.

It’s ironic to me, not only did God chose a woman, this alone went against the culture in those days, but He chose a woman who had been possessed by demons to be the first one to see Jesus after He rose from the dead.  Can you imagine the thoughts that might have filtered through Mary’s mind as she made her way to the rest of those she now called her friends, and now grieved with?

Her first trip back was to tell them that she went to the grave and that it was empty.  Think about it for a moment.  This woman, who’s companions were once demons, had to go back to those who witnessed her in her moments before Jesus set her free.  They saw the evil that gripped her.  Mary was bound by the same familiar presence that just nailed Jesus to a cross and tortured Him three days earlier.

She must have wrestled with her thoughts.  “They’re going to think I’m crazy!”  “What if they think I’ve given up and allowed my past to come back and take me over again?”  “What if they think I am a phony and tricked them the way Judas tricked us all?”  “Oh but I must tell them, so they can find out what has happened to Him.”  “What else matters at this point?”

~ Now emotionally rich and full of courage ~

With her fist tightly gripping her clothing, pulling it up enough so she would not trip, Mary ran as fast as she could.  With each step gaining speed and her heart beating faster and faster, courage began to rise in Mary.  “What else matters now?  I must tell them!”, her mind resolved.  “I’ll go to Simon Peter and to John!”

Bursting through the doors, her clothes were tousled and dripping with sweat from her sprint, John and Peter looked through their own heartache to see this distraught woman trying to speak.  Mary grabbed just enough air to get the words out.  She finally squealed, “HE’S GONE!”  JESUS IS NOT THERE!”  “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.”  Tears streamed down her cheeks as she collapsed at John’s feet.

~ Courage is worth it ~

They believed her!  Wasting no time, Peter and John bolted from where they were standing and ran as fast as they could to the tomb of their friend, Jesus.  Mary followed.  Once Peter and John arrived and witnessed that Jesus was truly gone, they turned and went back to their homes, but Mary stayed.

Mary stood weeping outside of the empty tomb.  She was trying to make sense of these last three days.  Every tear that poured from her eyes had too many questions to find words for.  She was exhausted in every way, but Mary found strength to look again into the hollowed out rock.  “Jesus, where are you?”  “This cannot be happening.”  “This makes no sense.”  Her mind was racing while she remembered her days spent with Him.  As her heart cried His name, “Jesus”, her eyes were opened to see.  Two angels in white were sitting in the tomb, one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.

~ He spoke ~

“Mary!”

Mary of Magdala Holds Onto Jesus

Mary, stayed in her place of pain long enough to see the truth and hear from heaven.  She saw the logical truth through her human eyes, but her heart knew there was more that her eyes could not see, so she stayed.  She stayed in the place where she last knew Jesus was until her answer came, until she knew her next step.

Through all of the emotions and all of the confusion, she heard His voice call her name, “Mary!”  “Teacher!”, she cried out with overwhelming joy as she clung to Him.  Jesus told her the truth of what was happening and gave her the instructions to go tell the others.

There’s so much to learn from this small glimpse into the life of Mary of Magdala.  Her journey led her from being spiritually ravaged to being made spiritually complete as she embraced the resurrected Jesus.  This brings a whole new level of hope to us all as God uncovers the dark areas of our own hearts.  If we will face our pain, ask the questions that plague our minds, and be willing to wait there for Truth to reveal Himself, we too can be completely free to run forward.  I’m sure she felt totally hopeless and alone, but Mary wasn’t left weeping at the tomb.  She was willing to wait there until the answers were revealed, and because of this she was able to set out on her next run, renewed with words of hope.  Her physical strength was restored by the words of Jesus, “go find my brothers and tell them..”  At this point I probably would have struggled to let Jesus out of my sight, but in faith, Mary leapt to her feet and ran as fast as she could to deliver the joyous news.  “HE’S ALIVE!”

Jesus is just as present and alive today as He was standing in the garden with Mary of Magdala, and He’s alive in our circumstance right now.  The question is, do we have the courage to wait in faith on Him?  If so, it is in this place where our eyes will be opened and our ears will hear Him call our name.  It is in this place where we’ll breathe in hope again and where our strength will be restored.  Our past will no longer dictate our future.  We will be more than able to run in strength and courage when He says, “Go and tell.”

Her life’s testimony from that time forward was filled with love for Him.  This is how I want to be like Mary Magdalene.

~Shannan

“Diamonds can be found in the trials of life.”

I can truly say, the night the most pain-filled storm sliced through my heart is also the night of my greatest treasure – God’s embrace!

“Love Remain’s”

The story of Mary of Magdala, John 20

Is That Ok With You? Better Yet, Is That Ok With Me?

By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet (there was no visible sign), moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.” Heb. 11:7

What makes a righteous man?

“Noah walked in close fellowship with God… (Gen. 6:9) and Noah did everything the Lord commanded him.” (Gen. 7:5)

As I stood before my friend in my kitchen, once again I became internally ill when he asked the dreaded question, “What are you doing these days?”  I froze for a moment as my mind raced to find the words that would be pretty enough to prove I’m really not lazy nor lacking in drive.  Once again that nagging little voice that I wrestle with each day grew louder, “You’re not doing or being enough.  What kind of testimony to God are you if you’re not accomplishing what so many others are?  You are not enough!  My friend’s question was innocent and not meant to cause pain, he was simply asking how I was doing that day, but after so many years of walking through this dark and lonely season, I’ve picked up guilt for not living up to the expectations so many had for me.  To not have a grand and adventurous accomplishment to tell about makes me feel no less than a disappointment.

Since the day after my husband was killed, I have been told what I was going to do and be.  “Shannan, you’re going to be the next Beth Moore…I can see you being the next Joyce Meyer…God would not allow this to happen for nothing…You’re going to be great!”  As much as I do not want to be someone else, as great as they are, the fact that I’m not all of these things flooded my mind as I stood before my friend, and I almost felt I should apologize for not being “great”.

Noah did not waver, even in a world that made trusting God unpopular, and even when God did not seem to make any sense.  Noah responded to God and then waited for Him.  Our world today does not understand waiting, much less will it allow someone to “Be still”*.  I deal with my own guilt each day for the fact that God keeps saying, “Be still.  My grace is sufficient”  Why do I wrestle with God’s gift of time by trying to dress me up each day in the clothes of appeared success?  Why do I let the question, “What do you do?” torment my mind?  I do a lot everyday, to the point I average about 4-5 hours of sleep each night, but what’s really being asked is, “Who are you now Shannan?”  With not having a career to identify me, I then have to deal with the looks of pity.  I’ve always been the odd one, so why does this cut so deep now?

Here’s the short and only answer to the questions I keep asking myself.  Why do I feel guilty?  It’s pride.  I know without an ounce of doubt in me that my heart seeks God for each day.  I ask Him to expose any wrong thinking I may have.  I ask that He protect me, shelter me, and guide my every footstep along the path that He established for my life long before I took my first breath here on His earth.  I ask Him almost daily to place within me a vision and the passion to do what He wants me to do.  So why do I wrestle with Him when He says, “Be still?”  The only honest answer I can give is that it’s my own pride.

I was use to having my life planned out for 3 years in advance, knowing exactly where I was to be and when.  Then in a flash, I went from “success” to a whirlwind of death and corruption.  I spent 3 years in legal battles all the while attending one funeral after another.  To date, I’ve buried 7 immediate family members, and another 15 friends, family, and industry peers since Warren’s death.  I have sweet memories of visiting my friend each day as she courageously journeyed her way through pancreatic cancer.  What a gift for her to trust me to walk her last miles with her.  I did have to refrain from attending all 22 funerals, but my heart was at each one.  I don’t tell you this for pity, for I see my storm as a means for God to reveal His strength.  This small amount of information just brings things into perspective for me a little.

If I know I am exactly where God wants me to be today, and I believe Him when He says, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and then all these things shall be given unto you.”*  Then why is my heart anxious?  Why do I feel I have to prove that I am ok?  Who am I trying to please in these moments when my heart is screaming for something…ANYTHING other than this?  The answer is you.  I’m trying to please all the “yous” that I stand before.  I fear I will not have an answer that will be adequate, or even one that will pacify for the moment, because my life does not make any logical sense right now.

“God would not allow this to happen for nothing.”

That’s true, but what if the something still looks like nothing?  What if the something that is coming from this season of the valley of the shadow of death is an internal growth within myself and not for a stage full of lights?  What if my heart’s desire is to be a wife and mother who bakes cookies and not a famous somebody to the world?  Is that ok with you?  Better yet, is that ok with me?  I’m slowly coming to the place to be able to answer yes to this question.  I still wrestle with saying yes absolutely, because the reality of this heart’s desire looks less than hopeful.  You can’t go to school for 4 years, get a degree, and POOF there’s love – a real and lasting love.  There is a part of me that is 100% ok with my present circumstance, and that is the fact that I know I am not sitting idly by doing nothing to prepare.  I am seeking God and trying to learn all I can so that I can be a better me.  I am, in faith, preparing for the desires of my heart.

After what seemed to be too long of a pause, I answered my friends question honestly.  “There’s not a whole lot of new going on, I’m just trying to seek God for my next step.”  Then my friend spoke such freeing words over me.  With a gentle peace and a bold confidence, “Awww, you’re abiding”, he said.  For the first time in 6 1/2 years I felt I had nothing to prove.

I can safely bet that Noah questioned God’s delay in opening the ark door.  It rained for 40 days and 40 nights, but Noah and his family were on that big boat for a year!  During their stay, the world as they knew it was wiped away.  When the time of the flood season was complete, they stepped off of that ship into a whole new world.  No doubt it was scary, but the change was absolutely necessary for mankind to continue.

Noah could have refused to build the ark for fear of what others would think.  After all, it had never rained on the earth before, so what sense did it make to build a boat in preparation for a flood?  There certainly had to be accusations that this man, Noah, had lost his mind.  But “By Faith”, with “no visible sign”, he began to build, and then allowed God to shut him in the day the rains began to fall.  With all of man’s logic and their accusing words, he could have allowed pride to sway him from his trust in God.  After the many months aboard that ship, he could have let his anxious moments cause him to jump overboard before it was time, but “By Faith”, he chose to “be still” and wait on God – “to the saving of his house”.

Like Noah, my life does, and will, look different from when the storm first hit, but I serve the all-powerful and all-knowing God who is full of grace and mercy.  His ways are best, and so is His timing.  I too can “Be still”, and trust Him in what appears to be His delay.  He’s never late, and thankfully never too early.

For now, my “great” success is to be here sharing with all of you, and this is ok.  That is, until I’m baking cookies…. 😉

~Shannan

Uncompromisingly Walking With Him in 2012!

Be sure to talk to me in the comment section of this blog.  I really do love to hear from you too!

“Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.” – Gen. 6:8

*Psalm 46:10, http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm%2046&version=AMP

*Matthew 6:33, http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=matt%206&version=AMP

What Is The Prayer Of Faith?

What Is The Prayer Of Faith?

I asked this question as I began decorating my house this past Christmas season.  Hanging in my kitchen is a plaque with the statement, “Faith is not knowing that God can, but knowing that God will.”   With the next festive item to be hung still in my hands, I began to ask God to help my unbelief.  I do believe God for many things, but as I read those words again I had to search my heart for the areas I still doubt.

I chose to decorate in faith this year.  I chose to push past the pains in my heart and hang a wreath of hope on the door of my house.  I chose to celebrate the very reason I can have a hope beyond my present circumstance.

“For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given…” – Isaiah 9:6a

I stood on a chair to add a few more decorations to the artificially snow-covered tree that I had strategically placed in the corner of my livingroom.  I had Bott Radio turned up loud enough that I could hear the story of a couple who chose to adopt several children.  I stood there in mid-air as a pain seared through my chest.

When you lose someone in your life you not only grieve their absence, but there comes along with that loss many secondary losses.  With tears in my eyes, I stood at my Christmas tree and grieved again the family that was stolen from me.  This is where the answer to my question came.

What Is The Prayer Of Faith?

Pushing past the loneliness of that moment, I stood suspended in hollow space and began to pray through my tears.  I thanked God for allowing me to be the one who walked beside Warren for the 9 1/2 years we were married.  I thanked God for all He had taught me through Warren, and I asked Him to hide those lessons in my heart so I will never forget them.  I then began to pray for my future children and their father.  I prayed as if they were already here.

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.”- Jeremiah 1:5

I prayed that my children would love God and desire to keep His commandments, so that they will be blessed and their children also.  I prayed for their physical health, and for their strength of mind and heart.  I asked God to bless their father for the strong godly man He is and is becoming.  I asked God to give him courage to lead His family according to scripture, and cause him to love God with his whole heart.  That’s just a little selfish on my part, because if he loves God then he will have the ability to love me.  I continued to pray for my future family as if they were already in the room.  I also asked God to transform me into the person He wanted me to be, so that I can be the best wife and mother possible – representing Him well.

Does this sound crazy to you?  Do you fear that I’m completely losing my mind?  My thoughts and prayers may sound crazy in a world that offers little hope, but my hope is not placed in this world.  My hope rest in the One who created this world and the very atmosphere it hangs in.  As for me losing my mind, I do believe I’m finally finding it.

Again, I ask.  What is the prayer of faith?

Faith does not just believe in a god who can, but it’s trusting that The God Who spoke and breathed life into existence sees and knows the dreams of our heart, and He will make a way in His perfect time.

Do not give up on your heart’s desire.  I read the Bible from cover to cover, and not once did God ever leave His own without fulfilling the promises He made.

Do you have a dream that you’re afraid to hope for any longer?  Take courage, keep trusting, and pray expecting.

~Shannan

Uncompromisingly Walking With Him In 2012!

Still Keeping It Real!

The “Prayer Of Faith” is not a blind leap, but it’s an educated eyes-wide-open trust that leads to beautiful fulfillment.

BROKENHEARTED

I went for a long run yesterday morning.  As I ran, I was wondering how many of us fail to ask for our heart to be healed?  We often ask for the healing of the physical body, but rarely do we ask for God to heal the wounds of our heart.  We spend so much time running from the pain that we can’t see that there is a cure for our sadness and fears.

God wants to heal those places that have been broken by the pains others have inflicted, as well as the broken bones, the headaches and the sore throats.  He cares just as much about our emotional wounds as He does the viruses and cancers.

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds [curing their pains and their sorrows].  He determines and counts the number of the stars; He calls them all by their names.  Great is our Lord and of great power; His understanding is inexhaustible and boundless.”  – Psalm 147:3-5 (amp)

What is it that burdens your heart?  What sorrows cripple your trust?  Will you be willing to face and acknowledge them just long enough to hand them to the Healer?  I promise He is gentle with the creation He calls “Very Good”.*

~Shannan

Uncompromisingly Walking With Him In 2012!

Still Keeping it real!

Faith is getting a word from God and believing it.
* Genesis 1:31
* Romans 10:17

There’s Only One Word For This!

I had no words, so I asked the Holy Spirit how I should pray.

I have so many people on my heart for various reasons, and I’ve come to a loss for words when I pray for them.  As I asked for this wisdom I was reminded of the most powerful prayer we can pray.  I was reminded where it is that we find everything we need and where all that we long for is discovered.  One word came to my mind to offer on behalf of my friends – “Jesus”!  This is all the Spirit spoke to my heart, and He is more than enough.  This is where restoration not only begins but where it is complete.

A Broken Heart – JESUS!

A Broken Home – JESUS!

Financial Issues – JESUS!

In Sickness – JESUS!

In Loneliness – JESUS!

In Need Of Forgiveness – JESUS!

In The Valley Of The Shadow Of  Death – JESUS!

In The Valley Of Depression – JESUS!

I offered no other words, but as I spoke His name over each person that came to mind all the trials of this world suddenly became powerless.

Throughout my childhood and into the beginning years of my marriage, I struggled with the words “thank you” and “I love you”.  I was full of gratitude and loved deeply, but when words are rarely heard, they can feel like a foreign language rolling off your own tongue.  I remedied this problem by putting into practice a very simple solution, I started saying them.  As silly as it sounds now, it wasn’t easy for me to speak these words at first, but the more I did the easier they became.  Now I value every moment I have to sincerely express these emotions.

About six months ago I realized how rare it was for me to say the name of Jesus.  I talked about God and had no problem with referring to Jesus as Lord, but to say His name was more rare than common.  I sang gospel songs for years that used His name, but to actually speak the name of the One that I call friend did not come easily.  With my new awareness I had to ask myself , Why don’t I say His name?  Why is it so uncomfortable for me to do?

I don’t know that I have one good reason to give you in answer to my self-imposed questions, with the exception of my previous childhood example.  So, I drew from the lesson I learned with those most precious words of “thank you” and “I love you”, and I applied the same prescription to solve this newly discovered language barrier – I started saying His name.

Having my tongue tied up in knots and unable to breathe His name out loud, as I would with any of my other friends, kept me from so many blessings and freedoms.  When I say “blessings”, I’m not at all implying Jesus to be likened to a genie in a bottle, that when called on He gives us all the earthly toys we want.  No, He’s a much better father than that.  The sweetest blessings to me are seeing a prayer answered for a hurting friend, or witnessing a lost soul meet Jesus and come to know that they are worth far more than their social status or job title.  This freedom can only come one way, at the name of Jesus.

“For this reason, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed upon Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” – Philippians 2:9-11

When we are a part of God’s family, it isn’t bondage that makes us bow our knees, but the joy of our freedom in Christ.  I get more and more excited as I think on this topic and discuss it with friends.  Will you allow me to elaborate on my thoughts for just a moment?

The scripture states that, “every knee will bow…and every tongue will confess…”  I don’t know about you, but I always read this scripture with the mindset that this is a futuristic happening.  My mind heard it as, “When Jesus returns at the end of time, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that He is Lord.”  But that’s not what it says!  It says that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow – PERIOD.  This excites me because I realize that now, at this very moment, there are knees bowing as I speak His name.

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age,against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”  -Eph. 6:12

If we are wrestling here and now then we need now power.  What is our now power?  Jesus!

““Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.  And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  If you ask anything in My name, I will do it (Again, it’s in the now, not just somewhere in the future).”  -John 14:12-14

If we are going to do greater works than Jesus did, then we must recognize how that’s even possible.  How can I have faith to be victorious if I don’t know where faith begins?  Just think, when we speak His name, all that we are wrestling in the spiritual world must bow and submit to the authority of Christ.

Many have given me the humbling compliment of “You’re Strong.”  My strength is knowing that my strength is only because of Christ in me.  I am not “strong” by my own merit.  I’m lost without Him.  I’m too tired without Him.  I’m too broken by this world without Him.  But JESUS!!!  He is my energy to press on.  He is my wholeness.  In Him alone I am found!

My Peace – Jesus!

My Hope – Jesus!

My Joy – Jesus!

My Healing – Jesus!

My Ability To Forgive – Jesus!

My Ability To Trust – Jesus!

My Ability To Love – Jesus!

On The Mountaintop of success – JESUS!

Anything Good In Me – JESUS!

My Source Of Strength…

“Darkness knows its Lord and the prince of darkness is not its lord.” – Pastor Austin Cagle

JESUS!!!

They Bow Down.

~Shannan

2011, Keeping It Real!

Release Your Loaves & Fish

https://i0.wp.com/www.flyfishusa.com/newsletter/040206/chris-170-tarpon.jpg

A little faith mixed with a little action, goes a long way.

John 6:1-14 Jesus feeds the 5000

The more I read the more I see God usually calls for an act of faith before He moves, provides, heals, or delivers – whatever the need.  As I read John 6 this morning, once again this stands out to me.

First of all, Jesus already knew what He was going to do, but He asked His disciples to do something peculiar anyway.  Jesus asked the disciples to start passing out the bread and fish He had just divided among themselves.  So you’re sitting there with your portion of food, staring into a sea of 5000 hungry men, and Jesus says to you, “Go feed them.”  What?  Where do I begin?  Who do I give the food to first because the one I don’t give it to might just kill me.  This would probably be my thinking at this particular moment, but in an act of faith, or possibly a “what other option do we have?” mentality, the disciples chose to obey and the multitude were fed and filled.  Not only did the crowd physically eat, but they saw what Jesus had done and they believed and were saved.

I’m amazed at Andrew’s faith in verse 9:  “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish!”  I bet he said this with great excitement.  Then, he realized how that sounded and fell back into human logic, “but what are they among so many?”  How often do we do this?  We get excited with hope and then rationalize it away.  Still, that seed of faith must have been present to even have these words spoken.  I wonder if Jesus smiled at Andrew as He said these next words, “Make the people sit down.”  The disciples might have laughed internally at Andrew for such an absurd statement, but I think after Andrew saw the miracle of those five loaves and two fish feeding all those people, his faith also increased.  I think the next time he needed God to do the impossible he remembered this moment and faith rose up in him.

It took just a seed of faith and an act of obedience to see all the bellies filled, the faith of the disciples increased, and a mass assembly eternally saved.  What a great tragedy that would have occurred had the disciples said no to Jesus’ seemingly silly request.

What has God asked of you lately?  Does it seem irrational?  Did hope arise but quickly get squashed by earthly logic?  What do you have to lose by handing out your portion of bread and fish?

So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.” ~Matthew 17:20

~Shannan Parker
copyright 10/21/2009

A BAD DREAM?

Nov. 6 ‘2009

Last night I found myself awake piddling around doing all sorts of household chores.  I was unable to find it within to lie down.  I finally closed my eyes just two hours and 49 minutes ago.  The sleep that did come was not sound nor pleasant.  I was trapped once again in a dream full of death.

In my dream, I was frantically shopping from store to store, in search of the perfect outfit to wear to my aunt’s funeral.  She was extremely ill.  Both my aunt and I knew time was short and this outfit was important to her.  It had to be perfect.  When I finally found a suitable dress and took it to the register to pay, the sales lady announced it and all the accessories would cost $10,000.

Extremely frustrated and full of tears, I explained to the lady the purpose of the outfit and that I did not have that kind of money.  I then asked how much all the accessories were.  She told me that the dress alone would cost over $2000.  I stood at the register and cried not knowing what I was to do.  All I could think of was the shortness of time and how much I would disappoint my aunt.

After the scene in the store, I found myself alone in a room full of sadness.  I’d been there for a while when my aunt walked in wearing the same dress I was hoping to purchase.  It was a beautiful ivory that lay soft against the body and flowed to the floor.  There was a gentleness about the dress.  She told me it did not matter that I was unable to buy the outfit, she’s was still dying either way.  I wanted so much to take her pain.  At the same time I did not want to walk the road of death with a loved one again.  My aunt and I talked for quite awhile; the weight of sadness never left, but peace did fill the room.  The scene then shifted to many people coming in the room, they were trying to figure out where everyone was going to sleep while in town.

There were a couple things that puzzled me as I awoke from this dream.  For one thing, my aunt is not dying, my uncle is.  Just three weeks ago, after being rushed to the emergency room, my uncle was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer.  Since the diagnosis he has rapidly gone downhill in his fight.  The word most recently received from the doctors is that the cancer is aggressing fast.  The battle I’ve been dealing with in my head is when to make the nine hour drive north.  Should I go now, after he passes, or both?  I’m not feeling a tug either way at this moment.  I know that sounds like little faith in God’s healing power, and I do admit I struggle in this area.  Maybe you will understand why as you read on.  With this being said, I also know it only takes faith the size of a mustard seed to move a mountain.  I believe it takes mustard seed faith to cry out to God at all, and this I have done for all my family.  I trust God in His sovereignty and thank Him for seeing my heart’s faith and not the battle in my head.

One memory that hit me when I woke up this morning was a feeling I had several times before my husband Warren was killed.  On several occasions, while walking through a clothing store, I would get the feeling that I would soon need a black dress for a funeral.  I would glance at dresses but quickly turn away because this was around the same time another horrible thought had crossed my mind.  I was running around town completing a few errands, and as I drove past a local funeral home the question came to mind, “If anything were to happen to either Warren or myself, where would we bury each other?”  I was quick to dismiss it, thinking it was somewhat normal to consider since he and I both lived so far from either one of our families.  We had just moved to Tennessee not long before thoughts like this started.  Other thoughts that hit me during this same time period were things like, every time I heard the song by Mercy Me, “Homesick”, I would feel this deep sorrow in my heart over losing someone close to me.  Yet again, I dismissed the feelings.  To acknowledge the warning was more than I could bear.  I was able to set these thoughts and feelings aside by pulling from one of those old generational quotes like, “90% of the things we worry about never happen.”  We played that song around Warren’s grave site just about three months after I started hearing it on the radio.  In God’s amazing grace, I never heard it played again until just three months ago.  After hearing of my uncle’s illness, there’s a part of me that’s learning to dislike that song, it’s bittersweet.  Now all these warnings have become a strange comfort to me.

Getting back to my dream, there was a great significance on the wearing of a particular outfit.  It had to be one specific dress and the color of ivory, but the cost of the dress was far too high for anyone to pay.  So how was it my aunt was wearing it?  Where did the peace come from as we talked?  I believe the dress represents Christ’s atonement, covering the stench of death.  When a soul belongs to God, the body will perish, but the spirit will live forever in peace because God sees His son, not our sin.  I’m not sure what the significance is, if any, for the color of ivory, but the value of the dress could only be purchased by One, Jesus, God’s only son.

Maybe this was not a bad dream at all?  Maybe it was a sweet gift from God to tell me He holds my family?

I guess one lesson I’m learning through this is to listen and pay attention to the way God speaks warning to me.  I am fully aware, from experience, that every fearful thought is not a warning.  As a matter of fact, never once did I feel fear at these subtle tugs at my heart; sadness yes, but never fear.  The times I am overwhelmed with fear, it is a different voice speaking to me.  It is the voice of the enemy.  I thank God that I’m becoming more aware of His voice over the voice of the deceiver.  This I have prayed for.  Not too long ago, I was praying over and questioning how to handle a certain situation.  God said to me, “You know My voice.”  With these words, many events from my childhood up to the present now flood my mind, making me aware that He’s walked with me through all the joys and sorrows and He walks with me today.

“No matter the storms that come my way,
No matter the trials I may face,
You’ve promised that You would see me through,
So I will trust in You.”

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” ~2 Tim. 1:7

Shannan Parker
Nov. 6 ‘2009

*Song reference, “I Will Sing Praise”, WRITTEN BY:
Michael Popham and Regi Stone
ARRANGED BY:
Russell Mauldin

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