ARM Blog

Before my family and I left for Lexington, I thought I had cleaned out the fridge of all of the leftovers and anything else that might have gone bad while we were away.  When I came back and opened the refrigerator, I discovered that I had missed one container of leftovers in the back corner of the bottom shelf.  I realize that at this point I have a choice to make; grab the container and empty it out, or close the door and pretend like I didn’t see it.  I’m sad to say that I chose the latter.  Now, I am certain that I am not the only one who has ever made that choice, so please no judgement!!  

So, the next time I open the fridge it’s the same thing, and with each passing day the task becomes that more daunting and it just becomes easier to close the door again.  I think to myself, well maybe Jocelyn will get rid of it.  I actually started asking the question, “Am I really that attached to this particular container?”  You see, the problem is that every time I open the fridge, there sat that container staring me in the face.  

I think our hearts work the same way.  We go through life and, because we live in a broken world, we get hurt.  Things are said to us that hurt and instead of dealing with that pain, we put it in a container and store it away.  We face a defeat or we falter morally, and again instead of dealing with it, we store it away.  Guilt and shame - yep you guessed it - put a lid on it and tuck it away.   Anger and resentment, bust out the Tupperware.  I think you get my point.  In Psalm 51 David prays, Lord create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me.  Through this psalm, David is literally asking God to clear out all of the old Tupperware containers of his heart.  David is praying to be rid of the leftovers of his life.  

Getting rid of old leftovers is never fun, in fact most of the time it’s downright disgusting.  So there comes a point where you just have to bite the bullet and toss it out.  You take a deep breath, turn on the water and the garbage disposal, squint your eyes, rip off the top, dump it out and then it’s gone! Which is exactly what I ended up doing!  Do you know what happened the next time I went the fridge?  I opened the door and that container was gone, no longer staring me in the face and mocking me.  It was actually a very liberating feeling!  

Here is the good news!  This is exactly what God wants to do with the leftovers in your heart.  I am grateful that during the Aldersgate Conference last month, God had a chance to deal with a lot of leftovers in people’s hearts.  ARM provides opportunities for the Holy Spirit to bring freedom to people and allowing them to live into the full potential God has created them to be.

Just outside of Charlotte, NC there is an amusement park called Carrowinds. Their newest rollercoaster is called theFury 325.This super coaster reaches a top speed of 95 mph. Why “325”? The height of the initial drop on this crazy ride is, you guessed it, 325 feet.

Touted as the largest roller coaster in the South East, I can’t wait to take my turn riding on the Fury 325. I love to ride roller coasters. There is the mounting anticipation of every ratchet sound of the carts being drawn up the first hill. Then gravity takes over pulling the cars back down to earth, while your stomach is left somewhere back up and behind you. Throughout the ride, sometimes you hang on for dear life; other times you have both hands in the air screaming with joy; and sometimes you close your eyes or force yourself to keep them open to take it all in. When you pull back into the station, still breathless from the rush of adrenalin, your first thought is wondering when you’ll get to do that again.

I have heard it said life is like a roller coaster, full of ups and downs. There are some moments that you are climbing and climbing, and then the bottom appears to drop out. Sometimes you feel that life is upside down and corkscrewing out of control. Sometimes you are laughing and screaming for joy, while others you’re simply hanging on for dear life. For some we simply wonder, “When is this crazy ride going to pull back into the station?”

Throughout that “rollercoaster” journey, one of the Scriptures I cling to is Psalm 139. It describes the mighty and powerful nature of God. David declares in verses 7-10, “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast” (NIV). This is one of the many great promises of scripture, that whether we find ourselves on the highest mountain or in the lowest valley, God is already there. While life is full of ups and downs, flips, rolls and unexpected turns, we are reminded time and time again that we are not alone.

b2ap3_thumbnail_2.pngOne of the fun parts about riding coasters today is that at some point a camera takes your picture. The pictures are often are hysterical because they catch the raw emotions that, in retrospect, are funny to see. I’ll leave you with this image today. When your cart finally pulls back into the station and you see the snapshots of your life, you’ll be able to see that Jesus has been harnessed in beside you the entire time. While you were screaming and holding on for dear life, God’s hand was on yours and He was smiling with great joy at the ride you had shared together. May you take heart today in knowing that wherever you find yourself on this crazy ride of life, Jesus is right there with you.

Recently I have been revisiting personal journal entries reflecting on God’s leading in my life. The golden thread woven throughout those writings is the faithfulness of God. Psalm 145:13 says it beautifully, “The Lord is trustworthy in all that he says, faithful in all that he does” (CEB). The Message paraphrases it even more simply, “God always does what he says, and is gracious in everything he does.” 

While perusing my journal one morning, the rhetorical question Moses asked in Numbers 23:19 (NLT) bubbled to the surface of my thoughts. “Has he [God] ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through?” The answer, of course, is “No.” Even in the behind the scenes narrative of the Easter story, we can see God’s faithfulness to fulfill His word. Just before the Triumphal Entry, Jesus gave detailed instructions to the disciples about how to locate a colt in Luke 19. Verse 32 says, “So they went and found the colt, just as Jesus had said.”  When He told Peter and John to make preparation for the Passover meal, and gave detailed instructions about whom they would meet and what they should do, Luke 22:13 indicates, “They went off to the city and found everything just as Jesus had said

So be encouraged today. The Omnipotent One who spoke the words of hope, release, and freedom to you will fulfill it… just as He had said. The Omniscient One who outlined the specific details to you will bring it to pass… just as He had said. The Omnipresent One who instructed you with such clarity will order your steps... just as He had said. Rest in the assurance that indeed, “The Lord always keeps his promises; he is gracious in all he does” (Psalm 145:13 NLT). With expectation and anticipation, trust that as your future unfolds, you will discover things “Just as Jesus had said.”

“The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this” I Thessalonians 5:24 (NRSV).

Special note from the author: This marks my final entry as the author of the ARM Blog. It has been a joy to share on a monthly basis for more than five years. The foundation for these writings has been a prayer based on Isaiah 50:4, asking that God would give me an instructed tongue to know the word that sustains the weary. Thank you for your many words of encouragement in celebration of how God has done that through these simple observations of God’s activity in everyday life.
Next month, we look with joyful expectation as Rev. Jason Everson, President of the Board of Directors writes July’s ARM Blog. Jason is a true man of wisdom, grace, and courage and will bless you with his warmth and transparency.   

My time alone with God most mornings includes journaling on my iPad. Incorporating Scripture and quotes from the devotional I am reading, I usually write out what God is showing me, the promises He has spoken, and reflections about how those Truths apply to my life.

When I finish each day, there is a backup procedure that allows me to store my entries in the cloud. Doing so allows me to then be able to access that journal on my iPhone. But, there’s a catch. To access the most recent entry, I have to first “restore” the journal.  

When I tap the “Backup/Restore” button in the app on my phone, a pop-up window asks, “Are you sure?” The question is accompanied by a warning, “This will overwrite all journals and can’t be undone.” If you click “Yes,” the restoration procedure begins and within a few seconds, I receive all that was stored in the cloud.

As I have reflected on that restoration process, I couldn’t help but think of the restoration that God graciously offers us. The Scriptures tell us that God restores life (Psalm 71:20 NLT), health (Psalm 30:2 NLT), comfort (Isaiah 57:18 NIV), and honor (Psalm 71:21 NLT). God restores the crushed spirit of the humble (Isaiah 57:15 NLT) and He restores our soul (Psalm 23:3 NKJV). God even restores the years that the swarming locust has eaten (Joel 2:25 NKJV), places long devastated, and things devastated for generations (Isaiah 61:4 NCV).

As you reflect on your own journey, perhaps you have been discouraged thinking that the chapters of your life have already been written and “it is what it is.” Receive this fresh reminder; the God of Restoration can restore you! God’s grace can overwrite all of the previous chapters of your life. Look to the One who can restore vigorous life and joy and simply ask Him, “Restore me” (Psalm 119:37 AMP  Psalm 51:12 NRSV). He indeed is able!

“Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen” (Ephesians 3:20-21 NLT)

One of the early slogans promoting Apple’s App Store was, “There’s an app for that.” That simple phrase communicated reassurance that whatever you need, there is a tool to assist you.

What is the “that” which you face in your faith journey today? Perhaps the doctor’s report revealed “that” or “that” came in your mailbox today. Maybe you received an unexpected phone call and discovered “that” or God spoke to you and asked you to do “that.” Whether the path God asks us to walk appears benign or difficult, the Scriptures invite us to step forward with the reassurance, “there’s grace for ‘that.’”

Even if God’s leading seems counter-intuitive, “there’s grace for ‘that.’” Sometimes God clearly leads people out of situations. Other times, He invites people back into situations.  We may have been ready to pack only to find that it is not yet time to move. That is when God asks us to wait because He has more for us to do.

In the book of Genesis, we meet a woman named Hagar who was a servant of Sarai. Pregnant and treated harshly, Hagar intuitively fled to the desert to preserve the life growing inside of her. In chapter 16 beginning at verse 7, she encounters an angel of the Lord who directs her to go back and to submit to Sarai.

“Are you kidding me? Go back into the very setting that seems to threaten the new thing that God is doing within you? Really? Talk about counter-intuitive!”

There’s grace for that.

In I Kings 19, the prophet Elijah’s journey lead him to a place of exhaustion. Spent in ministry, he is then threatened, and flees for his life. First nurtured by the angel of the Lord in the desert, he is then instructed in verse 15 to “go back the way you came.”

“Seriously?”  “Go back?”

There’s grace for that.

Perhaps God is asking you to remain in a ministry setting: to stay in that choir, or on that committee, or at that church. There’s grace for that. Maybe you have emotionally fled because of the dynamics of a situation. There’s grace for that. Perhaps you have packed your office and yet, you are sensing that God is calling you to do the most counter-intuitive thing and stay. There’s grace for that.

The Sovereign God who brought you into that setting can supply the all-sufficient grace to not “go back and pout” or “go back and play the martyr,” but to “go back and submit.” How, you ask? “‘You will not succeed by your own strength or by your own power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord All-Powerful” (Zechariah 4:6).

Receive the grace from the One whose strength is perfected in our weakness. God can, and will, provide a ceaseless supply of love, peace, strength, wisdom, endurance, and even joy, to “love them all the way to the end” in foot-washing humility (2 Corinthians 12:9, John 13:1).

Indeed, there’s grace for that.