The Path of Life

“You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”
Psalm 16:11

A dear friend of mine, Michelle Wright, gave me a bracelet as I was moving from Lake Mary to Houston. The bracelet is called “The Path of Life”. I intentionally wear it every day to remind me what I want more than anything else — I want to walk on God’s path of life. I know His ways are the very best ways, and I long for the fullness of joy that cannot be found anywhere else.

What I have found about this path is it can feel treacherous. God gave me a picture one day of being on a paddle board. There were waters that were calm and beautiful; then there were waters that felt crazy and out of control. In all the different waters I faced on that paddle board, God’s hand was always on me, on the board. When I felt out of control, He was not.

That is the path of life. It is not safe, but with God’s presence and guidance, it is good. Is it hard to get out of our comfort zones and get onto the water? Most definitely! But, look at the benefits of walking with God: “fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore.”

The world offers the same blessings but so rarely provides. God is faithful! The way may be uncertain, the way may be hard; however, the joy of His presence and His plan will far outweigh any of our suffering!

Let’s take the risk and ask God daily to lead us on the path of life!

Courage or Comfort?

I love Brene Brown and appreciate her writings so much. This quote from Brene has continued to stick with me:

“You can choose courage, or you can choose comfort, but you cannot choose both.”

How true that is for me right now! My family chose courage and moved to Houston. I desperately miss the comfort of home in Florida but am daily choosing to trust God with His plans. I think of Moses’ words in Deuteronomy — “choose life”.

We have this choice on a daily basis, don’t we — courage or comfort? I am finding that God’s way, the way to Life, is often the way of courage. Thankfully, He walks the courage path with us!

Bitter or Blessing?

Here in Houston there is a wonderful lunch time teaching on Wednesdays at our church. It is run by Yes Ministries and taught by Laura Seifert. Laura has a beautiful gift of teaching the Scriptures. Today, Laura interviewed a woman who has been struggling with a rare type of cancer in her sinus cavities. This woman said many encouraging and profound words. These are the ones that stuck with me:

“You can be bitter or you can be a blessing.”

In my mind, I always want to choose blessing. However, if I am honest, I am often find that my flesh chooses bitter.

As we have heard in the teachings by Laura this semester, there are many storms in life. God meets us in those storms. We can turn towards Him and become a blessing or we can turn away from Him and become bitter.

Today, I choose blessing. I choose to turn into God. The choice is a daily choice. I pray that through the power of God’s Holy Spirit that you and I can choose to be a blessing through each and every storm. God is faithful!

Faith

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).

As Meg Rice, my brilliant and wonderful Bible teacher, shared with us today — here is the perfect definition of faith.

Hebrews 11 goes on the list the Hall of Faith. Each of these men and women walked the journey of faith without seeing the full picture of God’s plan.

Like them, we are called on our own faith journeys. As we have all experienced, the journey is filled with challenges and unexpected trials and tribulations. There are also many blessings and joys along the way plus the assurance of God’s eternal promises.

I want to be remembered like these people listed in Hebrews 11. I want to leave a legacy of building the Kingdom of God. That means walking in unchartered territory. For the past few weeks, I have read over and over again how it is the Lord who holds us, who carries us and will bring about the fullness of His plans.

Are we walking in faith with hope in the plans of our eternal and faithful God? Will we be commended as those in the Hall of Faith? My prayer is that God will give us His vision, His presence and His power to walk our journey of faith unto His glory and our joy.

More Than A Conqueror!

It is vitally important for me to look back at how God has worked in my life and to share my story. This week, I have marveled at the wonderful people God has put in my life to help me grow in my spiritual journey. There are so many to thank; however, words from one special friend have been in my mind all week.

A few years ago, I have the blessing of time with Linda Strickland. We heard each others stories then she spent some time praying for me. I will never forget when she paused in her prayer over me and spoke these words: “Brooke, you have lived as an overcomer, but God wants you to live as more than a conqueror.”

Needless to say, I began meditating on Romans 8 and even tried to memorize the whole chapter (which didn’t go so well). God seems to be prodding me to move back to the exhortation of Linda’s words to me that day.

There is so much in life to overcome. I was one who had persevered through life despite many challenges and much adversity. However, I do want my life to be characterized as more than an overcomer. For me, to live as “more than a conqueror” has required much healing and a true understanding of God’s love with my heart instead of just my head.

How I give thanks for those who have spoken into me, prayed for me, encouraged me and loved me along the way. God is so good to provide what we need for each and every season.

Be Still and Know

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

These words sound easy, but the practice of them is so very hard. For a few months, the Lord has spoken these words to me in many ways. I struggle so often with wanting to take control, to make my plans, to forge ahead. Thankfully, through Scripture reading and study, I have been reminded of the Israelites. God provided abundantly for them and worked in abundant ways. They saw His glory. Yet, they doubted and did not obey. I want to obey because I want God, and I want His way. Right now, that means being still and trusting in God’s perfect plan. Not easy for this little control freak, but I know His ways are higher then my ways and His thoughts higher than my thoughts.

What does it look like for you to be still and know?

It’s All Good!

“It’s all good!” How many times have you heard that phrase or even spoken it yourself? Because I started to say this to myself this morning, I thought about what this cliche really means then couldn’t help but ask the question: is it really all good?

In just the past few months, we have seen numerous natural disasters; there have been terrorist attacks; cancer still reads havoc on people we love; and just this past Sunday, 20 people were killed in a shooting at church.
All is not good!

This cliche is used to protect us from our own pain or the pain we see around us. The truth in all the pain is that God is good. As I wrestled with having my world turned upside down in this move to Texas, God kept taking me back to Psalm 56. Verse 9 says: This I know, that God is for me.”

“All is not good”.  But, God is good, and God is for me. Let’s stop running from the pain and pretending that all is good and start pressing into the good God who will never leave us nor forsake us. In the pain, He can work good.

Are You Thirsty?

“As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God” (Psalm 42:1-2).

Yesterday, I had lunch with a darling new friend here in Houston. Devera and I got to share some faith stories over the best vegan bowl I have ever had (Local Foods). We talked about desiring God, what that looks like in our lives, and how to lead others to a place where they experience this thirst for the living God. For both of us, our hunger and thirst for God increased as we experienced His healing touch in our lives. At that point, my faith moved from being just in my head down to the recesses of my heart.

As I read the Gospel stories of Jesus and his ministry, I long to be one of those people that Jesus touched or spoke to or just saw in the crowd. As I read the Psalms, I am reminded of God’s glory and the joy of being in His presence. However, as I live day to day life, I can forget that I am made for that intimate relationship with the Lord. Of course, I will have my quiet times, my prayer time, and even my weekly or multi-weekly time at church; yet I still wander and start thirsting for things of this world more than I thirst for Jesus.

Thankfully, all the things of this world leave me discontent, and I have to go back to the living water. Isn’t God gracious? He made us for Himself and He continually woos us back to His heart.

The danger is when we ignore His wooing and continue to look for things of the world to meet our needs. Eventually, the longing is so far subdued that we don’t even recognize it even more.

What are you thirsting for today? Does it bring life, true life?

Each morning, I start my day asking the Lord to help me thirst first and foremost for Him. I don’t live it out perfectly, but I can think of no better way to start my day. There are no better streams than the flowing streams of God!

Lord, cleanse our hearts, minds and spirits so they thirst for you and you alone!

He Loves Me — He Loves You

A few days ago, I shared Psalm 56 where we read the words: “This I know that God is for me.” For the past few days, I have been listening to the Chris Tomlin station on Amazon Music. At least 3 or 4 times, “Jesus Loves Me” played on this station. Amazing what music can do for a heart! Once again, I got to hear the words that “God is for me”.

I got a beautiful glimpse into what that means in my life. Once a month, moms from Spring Branch Middle School get together for some study, prayer and encouragement. This morning, we discussed what it looks like to fight for our children. I always say that you can do what you want to me, but if you go after my husband or my children, I will become the beast! I fiercely want to protect my family.

After hearing Chris Tomlin’s song, “Jesus Loves Me”, I got another glimpse into what it means to have God for me, what it means to have God for you. The Lord fights for us. Even greater is his tenacity for us than that of a mother for her child. God’s love is a love in action.

What does it mean to you to have a loving Father who fights for you? Does it change your perspective on your challenges, your hurt, your loneliness? Jeremiah 31:3 says: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore, I have continued my faithfulness to you.”

EVERLASTING LOVE.

That is God’s love for me, for you.

What would it look like for us to move into that everlasting love of the Father today, to allow Him to fight for us, to know and fully trust His heart is good towards us — that He is for us?

I encourage you to go and listen to Chris Tomlin’s song again today. Here is a link on U tube that displays the words as the song plays: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c8gKXu6J2wE.

Rest

Exodus 33:14: “My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest.”

REST. God will give us rest? I have never been good at resting. I am good at moving, playing, working, even fidgeting. I am just not good at resting. One of my best friends can sleep anywhere — on a plane, in a car, during a sermon at church, lying on the beach — wherever she is, she can rest. How I have coveted her gift!

What God has revealed to me once again is that I am one who strives. I perform. I want to earn things and feel like I am constantly improving in some way. I love challenges, especially if it involves exercise.

One day, after finishing an exercise class, I laid perfectly still on the ground for some much needed rest. As I laid there, I saw a picture (in my mind) of a beautiful waterfall with a flowing stream at the bottom of it. It was glorious! Immediately, I had the sense that God’s presence was at the top of that waterfall.

So, I began to climb tenaciously. It was a steep climb with many trees on the path. I saw my striving, my work, then my fatigue. I wanted to get to God so I kept pushing and pushing and pushing. Anybody been there?

In my exhaustion, the Lord met me with the most wonderful news: “Brooke, my presence is at the top of this waterfall, but my presence is also down in the flowing stream.” Without delay, I headed down to the stream to experience the presence of God. There, I floated on paddle boards, played in the water and enjoyed rest. Just as I heard, the presence of God was in the flowing stream.

In our day and age, I think most people are longing for rest. It seems elusive and something to look forward once we are on vacation. Then, we need a vacation from our vacation! We talk about Sabbath in the church but rarely do we experience the true rest God offers on that day. God created us for rest. Look back to the passage in Exodus: “My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest.”

He wants to give us rest today. What I have realized is that I have to choose to accept that rest; in my vision, I had to choose to stop climbing up the mountain in order to take the path down the mountain. There will always be more to do. There will always will be another mountain to climb. There will also be God waiting in the still, quiet moments. It is here that He longs to meet us and give us rest.

Casting Crowns says this much better than I ever could in their song “Just Be Held”:

So when you’re on your knees and answers seem so far away
You’re not alone, stop holding on and just be held
Your world’s not falling apart, it’s falling into place
I’m on the throne, stop holding on and just be held
Just be held, just be held

God sees you in your striving and your exhaustion. He knows your needs, reaches out His hand and asks you to sit with Him and rest.  Friends, let’s choose just to be held!