By kimberlygallagher

the shoreline of perspective

[cross-posted to www.stepforwardtoday.com]

[VIDEO CLIP]theshorelineofperspective

Standing on the shore, looking out at the expanse of water and sky – nothing but water…sun…clouds…and the whooshing sound of the waves as the tide goes in…and out.

Breathing in salty air…breathing out life.

Clearing my mind.

Clearing my soul.

Gaining perspective.

Sometimes God places us on the shore – to rest and retreat away from the crashing waves of chaos that push and pull at us: – that space of creative silence where we can’t generate content or pour ourselves out. That place of perspective and discernment where we don’t speak, but instead tune into what God is speaking to us.

This unexpected shore of perspective might be a job change, an illness, a shift in family dynamics…some life event or situation that causes us to step back and take stock of the situation, to reprioritize and reconnect with what is important.

“Since we live by the Spirit let us keep in step with the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:25)

Sometimes we feel sidelined on the shore.

Sometimes we feel passed by on the shore.

Sometimes we feel alone on the shore.

But the shore is a vital part of our walk with the Lord. If we live our entire lives walking on the busy, crowded water of our mission, or tossing in the chaos waves of the storm, we will miss what the Holy Spirit can only say to us in the quiet, decluttered spaces.

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

Stillness, retreat and silence are all necessary parts of our relationship with God. It’s easy to get caught up in the daily details of the task or mission, and even easier to make those details about the things we want instead of what God wants for us. Spending time in stillness and silence draws us closer to our Creator, deepens our faith, strengthens our relationship with Him, and reminds us that His plans are greater than what we can understand in our limited knowledge.

Time on the shore of perspective is time to allow God to bring the components of our lives into focus so that we can head back into the water with His Purpose, to let Him accomplish what only God can do.

#endhumantrafficking

[cross-posted from my facebook page]

“What’s on your mind?” facebook asks me, inviting me to update my status even when I need to finish a project right now. Well, friends and “facebook” I’ve had a really heavy subject on my heart for a few days now, and it’s one that I’ve posted about before. It’s the heart-pounding, blood-pressure-rising, instant-headache-inducing, gut-wrenching, sickening problem of human trafficking.

And it’s everywhere.

Whether you live in the inner city, the ‘burbs, or a ranch in the country, there’s no escaping these crimes against the innocent.
Sure, you can look the other way and pretend that it doesn’t exist, but the fact is that girls – from elementary school through adult age – are being taken and forced into a “life” of sex, drugs, porn and prostitution.

Not exactly dinner conversation.

Look at your kids, or your nearest relatives, or kids’ friends. There they are: loved, happy, playing with toys and friends, going to school, dreaming, with their whole lives in front of them as it should be.

Not so for so many whose lives have been completely shattered. And, really, it’s so stomach sickening when you think about these little girls, as young as age 9, being forced to have sex multiple times a day for $4 each in Brazil, in the slums right outside of the Olympic arenas. And then there are the drugs that are forced on them.

And not just in Brazil and Bangladesh but right here in the U.S. and in our backyards. It’s the same – just more expensive.

So, why am I sharing this? What can any of us do? Well, I’m still figuring it out for myself, but I made a list to get us started…

1. Raise awareness about human trafficking, just like this post I’ve written. Share this post with your audiences. And, as awkward and disgusting as it is, talk about it. The more we bring the darkness to light, the greater chance awareness leads to rescue for the girls and women that are suffering.

2. Pray – for the innocents that are suffering and for the organizations and rescue teams that work in these difficult places. Some of these organizations are World Vision USA, Polaris, Rescue:Freedom International, Meninadança, Operation Underground Railroad, A21 , Rahab Ministries, Medina County Coalition Against Human Trafficking, Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force.

3. Get involved – Organizations are always looking for volunteers.

4. Give – There a bunch of non-profit organizations that are fighting the war on human trafficking and they always need financial support.

5. Sponsor a child and save a generation from trafficking. World Vision USA comes to my mind first because our family just had the opportunity to walk through the @World Vision Experience: Into The Margins Heartland Community Church over the weekend.

6. Keep your eyes open and report suspicious activity to local law enforcement or national authorities.

7. When you’re out with kids, keep a close eye. If you send them for an errand (getting in a line to buy an ice cream, etc.), or you let them go to the public bathroom by themselves, or countless other scenarios, be aware!! Where are the exits? How crowded is the area? Who are the people nearby? How close are you if you need to step in? I realize this may sound ridiculous, but traffickers often work in pairs and they know when a child is vulnerable. We want to raise our kids to have these independent reward experiences, but safety must come first.

8. ??? I’m sure I’ve missed a hundred ideas but hopefully this post will help get the conversation started. If we all pray one prayer, have one conversation, pay a little extra attention, and ask God to open our hearts & minds, He will use us, and it will make a difference. Why and How? Because girls are being rescued and God is changing hearts, and piecing the wreckage back together…even in the darkest places.
‪#‎endhumantrafficking‬ ‪#‎humantrafficking‬

I glimpsed the heart of God

I caught a glimpse of my mom earlier. She went home to be with the Lord three years ago and there are so many little circumstances and random things that happen that remind me of her.

Earlier tonight I was tucking in our youngest, who is 6 years old going on 20. She was all cozy in her blankets, holding onto her snuggle elephant, saying, “Mommy, I love you sooo much. I don’t want to grow up and I’m not going to leave you, and I don’t want you to ever die.” I reassured her and told her how special she is, and how excited I am for her future and the plans God has for her.

Her bright smile lit up her eyes. It was one of those sweet, cuddly, nose-to-nose moments where your heart just spills over with joy for this sweet gift in front of you.

That’s when it happened: In that short moment, I caught a glimpse of  my mom and it was as if my mom and I were in the same body.

In an instant, I saw my mom’s smile and the joy on her face as she looked at me with such happiness and love — which was probably a million times throughout our years together, over the smallest of things and mostly for no reason at all, just because. And that’s exactly the same way I was looking at my mini-me as she spoke to me some of the same things I would’ve said to my mom when I was small.

Children mirroring parents. It’s awe-inspiring and a little frightening how much we learn from each other without even trying.

Not only did I experience my mom’s love for me on another level, but I glimpsed the heart of God.

We, as parents, and our parents, and generations before, pour out love for our children as unconditionally as we possibly can. How much more does our Father God love us?

For as much as our hearts overflow when our children say, “I love you”, how much more do we bless the heart of God when we worship, adore, praise, and share our hearts with Him?

Be encouraged that God is in every second of our lives, constantly watching over us, constantly walking with us, and constantly loving us even when we feel unlovable, even when we run away, even when we mess up.

“See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God…”
— 1 John 3:1

 

worship

forward in love and worship

[cross-posted to www.stepforwardtoday.com]

We step forward in love

…Our hearts overflowing in thankfulness for the mercy and grace we’ve been given. Rescued from the pit of death we deserved, we have no choice but to say, “Yes God. Use me.”

We step forward with our gifts and talents

…Using everything we’ve been given to point people to Jesus. We sing, we sweep floors, we take tickets, we serve coffee, we design buildings, we engineer sidewalks, we direct traffic, we run companies, we discover new formulas, and we take every opportunity to say, “It’s not me. God makes it all possible.”

We step forward in faith

…Pushing past the blinding fear of failure and mockery. Our heart beating out of our chest, palms sweating, we make the phone call, we put in the application, we set up the meeting, we take the class, and we say, “OK God – I trust You.”

We step forward in worship

…Our hands lifted high, with all that we are, we surrender and we worship our King, our Redeemer, our Savior. We say, “I love you God.”

 

YOU are a Disciple

[cross-posted to www.stepforwardtoday.com]

Whatever your age, circumstances, etc., if Jesus is your Savior, you are the next generation of Apostles. You are a Disciple of Christ. Just as Jesus prayed for all Believers in John 17 (reference below), He has prayed for you now:

Verse 20 “I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message.”

Jesus is praying for all new Believers that will hear the Gospel Message. And how will they hear this message? Through YOU, through me, and countless Believers as we share the Good News of Jesus Christ and His saving work on the cross – a message spread as far as God gives us reach.

Another part of this prayer that struck me was verse 24, “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.”

Jesus longs for us to be with Him. Do you long to be with Him too? Does your heart ache for a dying world?

May we have that same love and longing for our families, our neighbors, our co-workers and people all over the world as we seek to live our calling as the next generation of Disciples.

————————————————
John 17 – Jesus Prays for All Believers
20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

24 “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.

it’s a good friday

It’s 12:44 as I begin to write this post. Approximately 44 minutes ago, some 2,000+ years ago, Jesus declared, “It is finished,” or “Father, into Your hands I commit my spirit” depending on which Disciple’s account you read.

The earth shook, the curtain in the Temple was torn in two and darkness filled the sky. At that point, nobody knew the glorious news that would come on the 3rd day when Jesus rose from the dead to appear first to Mary Magdalene.

As I look outside, the sun is shining and I, along with many of you, are preparing for the Easter Sunday celebration…shopping, cooking, cleaning, etc.

How Good it was to stop for a few minutes to read through Matthew 27:33-61 and just…well, think about it.

This day has become known as Good Friday, marked by the horrific act of one man beaten, tortured, insulted, stripped of any humanity, and nailed to a cross to die.

Now, just stop and think about that for a second. Maybe you’ve never seen this acted out in a play or in a movie. Maybe you’ve read the words a bunch of times but they never jumped off the page. Maybe this seems like a fantastic story but it never seemed real. After all, we live in an era where crime, bullying and violence are part of everyday life – just pick up the paper, read the Internet news or watch TV. In many ways, we’ve become desensitized to it until it reaches us personally, and so it becomes easy to sort of gloss over Jesus’ suffering on the cross. We can just look the other direction and not pay any attention to it.

Maybe you’re not sure this Jesus person was even real…

I want you to take a moment to think of an adult male figure in your life who cares about you and is known as a “good person” – someone who would “give a stranger the shirt off his back” (you’ve heard this phrase before).

Now, picture that person being arrested for his good works (doesn’t that sound crazy already?) and then being beaten, stripped of clothing, tortured and whipped to bleeding, denied any first aid or intervention, and then insulted and made fun of on top if it all while your family, friends and neighbors, even the whole city stands by and does nothing. (I wonder if Action News would be there to cover it? Would anyone riot in the streets or protest while holding signs?)

Next, picture that person being sentenced to die on a cross and being forced to carry the cross, on foot, a great distance – weakened, bruised, bloody, and barely able to stand. Every time he stumbles or falls, he’s beaten again.

Then, when the person arrives at the crucifixion spot, he is laid down on the cross while his hands and feet are nailed to it. Can you hear each scream with each spike being driven into his hands and feet. I don’t know about you, but accidentally banging something or spraining something is pain enough let alone the idea of having my hands and feet nailed to a block of wood.

Finally, the cross is lifted high, sunk into the ground, and this person hangs in the hot sun, slowly suffocating as his lungs collapse, until his lungs collapse.

It’s outrageous, isn’t it? Horrific? Ludicrous? We can come up with 100 more adjectives but aside from anything it was or was like, is the fact that it happened. And it happened for you and for me.

2,000+ years ago today Jesus suffered beating, torture and mockery, and died on the cross for my sin and your sin…for the sins that happened before today, the ones we’ll commit today, and the sin that will happen tomorrow. All sin.

He was, and is, our Savior.

Why? Because God loves us more than we can understand in human terms. The infinite and unconditional love God has for us caused Him to send His one and only son Jesus Christ to Earth in human form. Nothing that happened in the story of Jesus was a surprise to God. It was planned before the foundation of the Earth. And God did it all to make a way for us to be reconciled to Him. We can never be good enough on our own. We can never overcome our sins on our own. By believing in Jesus as our Savior we have the opportunity to receive God’s mercy and grace…salvation…eternal life with our Father and Creator, God. (John 3:16)

If you have never recognized Jesus as your Savior, today is a good day to make that decision and it’s as simple as A-B-C. Wherever you are, find a quiet spot. Maybe you’re not used to praying or talking to God. It’s okay. In your own words, simply…

A- Admit that you’re a sinner and you can’t do it on your own (e.g., “God I’m a sinner” or “God, I’ve really screwed up” etc.)

B-Believe that Jesus is your Savior (e.g. “I believe that Jesus died on the cross for me” or “I believe Jesus is real” etc.)

C- Commit your life (e.g. “Please come into my heart and show me how to live for you God” or “Please show me how to live your way God” or “I dedicate my life to you” etc.)

If you just prayed, congratulations and welcome to the family of God! Your name is now written in the book of life and all of Heaven is rejoicing! Tell your pastor, tell a close friend, and get into a Bible believing church that will help you grow in your faith.

Today is, in fact, a very Good Friday. And how glorious Easter Sunday will be when we can celebrate that Jesus is Alive! I pray that He is alive in your heart as well. Please share this post with a friend.

where is Jesus in your life today?

I was just sitting at the kitchen table working on our Thanksgiving grocery list. As I looked at one of the empty chairs across from me, I pictured Jesus sitting there…and then I pictured Him in the chair next to me. What joy! My heart was overflowing! Even though we can’t physically see Him, Jesus is with us every second. “…surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20, NIV) Where is Jesus in your life today?

God is faithful

[cross-posted to www.stepforwardtoday.com]

I was just looking out onto the autumn landscape, savoring a moment of calm and that “settled” feeling that only comes from knowing that God has had his hand on my life from the very beginning. Through every twisting, turning, joyous or horrific moment, He has never left me even before I had a relationship with Him!

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a
future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

Be encouraged today that whatever road you’re on, whatever circumstance you’re facing, whatever life stage you’re in, God is still with you and He still has a plan for you.

“…He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6)

fork in the road

We’ve all been through circumstances where we’ve come to the proverbial “fork in the road” – that moment of decision that would dictate our path forward on a particular issue or in a particular circumstance.

With ever-changing cultural norms and often volatile socio-political climate, we, as Believers, are under increasing pressure to give into what’s popular and relevant versus taking “the path less traveled” and standing firm in our faith. After all, what’s more appealing: Being ridiculed, ostracized and potentially killed? Or living a life of pleasure, power, success and popularity?

It’s much easier to go along with the majority in order to fit in and not make waves. But at what cost? As we seek to be culturally relevant from a Biblical perspective versus relevant for the sake of fitting in, we must remember to not forsake God’s teachings to us – the Scriptures – His instruction manual for our daily living: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness…” (2 Tim 3:16) Nowhere in the Bible are we instructed to pick out whatever we feel looks good, as if God’s Word were a spiritual buffet of choices.

God knew we would have difficult decisions to make. He knew that standing up and living our lives according to His Word would be “the road less traveled” and go against what’s popular and accepted. “You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” (Matt 10:22) and “Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” (Eph 6:11)

This world is temporary and will one day cease to exist. Our home is Heaven where we will worship our Creator, our Father, the Author and Perfecter of our Faith – forever. People are fickle and seek what is profitable for themselves, but Jesus “is the same yesterday, today, forever.” (Heb 13:8).

Every sacrifice we make here, even though painful, gut-wrenching, and beyond our ability to comprehend, is worth seeing HIM face-to-face, living our lives in Eternity. Until that day, “‘Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.” (1 Cor 16:13)

persevering

“…But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the Word, retain it, and by PERSEVERING produce a crop.” – Luke 8:15, emphasis added

Did you notice the key: “by PERSEVERING produce a crop”?

Let’s take a look Webster’s definition of the root word ‘persevere':
1. to continue doing something or trying to do something even though it is difficult
2. to persist in a state, enterprise, or undertaking in spite of counterinfluences, opposition, or discouragement

If we look at the Greek root from the Strong’s reference, the word for perseverance is “hupomone” (pronounced hoop-om-an-ay). Hupomone can be broken into 2 parts: Hypo=under and Meno=remain, endure. The full definition is “endurance; steadfastness, especially as God enables the believer to “remain (endure) under” the challenges He allots in life.”

As Christians, we have a responsibility to not just hear the Word of God casually and go about our business, but to RETAIN the Word and live out the teachings of the Word, regardless of our circumstances; to persevere in the difficult times when we feel discouraged, disliked, maligned in some way, frustrated, faced with seemingly insurmountable obstacles, etc.

God did not promise us our journey would be easy. Instead, He said “I will never leave you or forsake you.”

[Hebrews 13:5 “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” ]

[Joshua 1:5 “No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.”]