Courage

Last night, I had an encounter at church that got me started thinking about this topic. As I’m sure you know, our churches, the groups of people we live in community with, can be messy at times.  I have written before about the commitment it takes to love people you might not be in agreement with all the time. It also takes courage, at least for me it does, as I have the tendency to avoid conflict and not talk to people honestly about my feelings. I’ll get to the encounter in a minute.

But, first, what does God say about courage? Is it something He really talks about? Let’s go to Scripture and find out.

It turns out God says a lot about courage–in the Old Testament and the New Testament as a matter of fact. Some of the verses I found through my concordance are some of my favorite verses. I will quote just a few of them. Here is Deuteronomy 31:6.

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you or forsake you.”

Another one is Joshua 1:6.

“Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.”

What about the New Testament? Can we find examples of courage in there? Of course, there are. One reference is John 16:33. Jesus is speaking.

“I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world.”

The last verse I want to quote is from the book of Acts. In Chapter 23, Verse 11, God is speaking to Paul.

“The following night. the Lord stood by him and said, “Have courage! For as you have testified about Me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.”

So, as you can see, there are plenty of examples of courage. Now, let me go back to the encounter and tell you what God showed me. After church last night, as is my usual thing, I spoke with several people, people who are precious to me, people who are brothers and sisters in Christ. I hugged people, was hugged in return and was generally encouraged.

When my husband and I were getting ready to leave, I heard a voice clear as day in my head which said, “You need to share what’s going on with you with such and such and ask them to pray.” The voice wasn’t from anyone around me, so, I could only surmise, as this has happened before, that the voice was from God. Of course, I started my arguments. “No, I can’t do that, God. That person intimidates me. They have it all together, and I don’t. I know I don’t.”  It had nothing to do with the particular person. I just have a hard time letting my guard down with them because they…intimidate me. God wasn’t having any of that though. “Yes, you can, Alisa. I will give you courage.”  There was no way I could argue with that one. I walked over to the person, and the words spilled out. I had not discussed the situation with the person previously, and I think they were surprised. They said they would pray though. I walked out of church, almost with my mouth open. I had actually spoken with someone who was usually not my first person to let my guard down with. God is teaching me continuously about trust, and last night He added lessons about courage too.

When we got home, I told my husband something else that had been itching at the back of my head. I said I thought God might be calling me to teach in some capacity at church, but I didn’t think I was good enough. I heard the voice at the back of my head again. “You’re not good enough. But, you have Me in you. That makes you good enough. I will give you courage.” Don’t know where this exact call is yet, but I know God is gonna get me there!”

God’s blessings on you today!

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Living in the Waiting

We wait for so much in our lives. We wait to finish high school. We wait to finish college. We wait to get our first job. We wait to get married. We wait to have children.  Etc. Etc. Etc. You get the idea. I’m in one of those waiting periods right now, and it is hard. It is hard to wait and not have control over situations like I think I should. It’s even harder when things don’t happen as quickly as I think they should.  Even when I’m waiting in line at the store or waiting in a line of traffic, I’m impatient for things to happen quickly so I can go about my merry way.

What happened to being patient though? What happened to just living in the moment? I think some of the answers to those questions are societal.  Society, especially Western society, says we should always be rushing to the next thing. The next thing will give us complete satisfaction in our lives like nothing else ever has, and it will be the proverbial brass ring that will slow us down. It never does though. It never slows us down.

What can slow us down? I think we need to look at Scripture to answer that question. There are many verses about waiting, only a few of which I’m going to quote here.

Psalm 25:4-5

“Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me; for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.”

Psalm 46:1-3, 10

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”

Psalm 37:7

“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him.”

There are many more Scriptures about this, but I think these demonstrate the point well. We need to be willing to wait and to have patience while doing so. For those of who have given our hearts to Christ, this is paramount. If we truly have released control to God, we need to release control of EVERYTHING to Him. That doesn’t mean we don’t pray. It just means that once we’ve prayed, we give control of it to Him, and we don’t take it back. We live in the moments He gives us, and we don’t worry about the future. We see the beauty and the peace of living in the waiting. His beauty and His peace. I understand this in a way I’ve never understood it before because of everything I’ve written so far and because of what I learned in our Vacation Bible School last week. I will end with a quote from that study. “God has the power to provide! Hold on!”

God’s blessings on you today!!!

 

Time

I’m sure you’ve noticed it’s been some time since you’ve heard from me. Four weeks to be exact. Not apologizing for it. Just stating the facts. A lot has happened in the last few weeks though. Things that I’ve needed to process. Things that have just kept me busy. But, before I go into that, let me state the verses from Ecclesiastes that have prompted this post.  They are verses about, as you probably have already surmised, time.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 – 8

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.”

I have become fully aware of the passage of time during the last few weeks because of a momentous event that has happened in my own family. My older son graduated from high school ten days ago. When we chose to homeschool nine years ago, I knew we were making a choice to be different. Because of this choice, I thought my husband and I would not be able to experience some of the typical passages of time such as graduation. Boy, was I wrong! So very wrong!

We moved to Alabama almost four years ago, and the laws in this state required us to have a cover school. Upon moving here, we registered with Everest Academy. When it came time to let the administrator know that our older son would be graduating, we found out there would be a graduation ceremony and that he would be able to participate if he wished. We gave him the choice, and he said he wanted to. I am so glad he did because I needed to experience this typical ritual with him and I needed to see something else in action.

You might ask what that something else is. I needed to see that Alabama had truly become home and that we had a community around us. At the beginning of May, we sent our graduation invitations — some to our family and friends out-of-state and the rest to our local family. I knew it was unlikely that our out-of-state family and friends would be able to come for various reasons some having to do with illness, some having to do with blessed events in their own lives, and some having to do with their distance from where we live. Our son was remembered by some of these people though, and I’m so appreciative he was.

Back to the thing I needed to see though. When we sent the invitations, we all picked people in this area who had become family to us. These people have had a marked impact on all of our lives over the last four years, and we wanted them to witness our son’s achievement.  Because it was a homeschool graduation and we weren’t limited on tickets or space, we invited a lot of people. During this time of year, people have a lot going on, and I knew some wouldn’t be able to come which would have been fine.

Here, though, in this picture are the people who came to the ceremony, and here, in the second picture, are the people who came to dinner afterwards.

graduation2015

graduation20152

 

They came to witness this passage of time with our son. I also  now know, with certainty, that I have a family here in Birmingham — a family by choice; a family who is loved because Christ first loved us.

God’s blessings on you all today!