GOD SAID MAKE THE PHONE CALLS

GOD SAID MAKE THE PHONE CALLS

The gold leaf project with my union company was delayed and I needed to find a filler job. I have a list of people I call for just this sort of situation and I knew the Lord was telling me to make the calls. But I was enjoying my time off and I was stalling. Somehow making those calls seemed too difficult and I didn’t want to do it.

I took the coward’s way out and left messages on their home phones rather than just calling them direct on their cell phones. When no one called back I knew I was going to have to change my attitude. I was reluctant because doing the right thing meant stepping out of my comfort zone. I felt I was being pushed and I didn’t like it. I was tired and I was being stubborn.

The situation reminded me of Jonah in the Bible. God wanted him to go to Ninevah and warn the people that if they kept up their bad ways they’d be destroyed. The people of Ninevah had a horrible reputation. Their brutality was renowned. Jonah didn’t want them to be forgiven and saved. He wanted them to be punished.

Jonah was pretty sure that if God was sending him there, the king would most likely repent and God would forgive and save the city. He didn’t like that idea and instead of heading toward Ninevah, he took off in the opposite direction. He didn’t want to be any part of God’s mercy.

But God didn’t let him go that easily. Jonah ended up in a near shipwreck, got swallowed by a whale and three days later got barfed back up onto the beach. It was after this tumble of events that Jonah decided he better go ahead and do the thing God asked him to do. Like with me, the thing God asked of Jonah wasn’t a hard thing. It was something Jonah was used to doing. He just didn’t feel like doing it this time. But finally after some stiff coaxing from the Lord, Jonah went to Nineveh, warned the king and the city was saved.

I’ve never had God ask me to do something I couldn’t do.  More often than not, what He asks is something small. The devil likes to deceive us and make it look like a big deal, but most of the time it’s really not. God loves us right where we’re at and only asks us to do things that end up blessing us—one small thing at a time.

I knew if I just made the phone calls like the Holy Spirit urged me to, someone would have a fun and profitable job for me. Finally I made myself do the right thing and ended up with three great side jobs, different and exciting.

I know we want to do bigger things for God, and He will ask us to do them, but only when we’re ready. We get ready by making a steady habit of saying yes to the small things without being stubborn or rebellious. God will bless us enormously and we will bless Him by our obedience.

Love, Carolyn

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GOD DOESN’T SLEEP

The last couple weeks I was working odd hours and a lot of night shifts, so I was forced to neglect my correspondence on Facebook. Then I got a break and had a few extra hours of awake time. I opened my computer and waiting for me were 98+ notifications, 3 friend requests and 4 messages. I like to keep up with new friends and send personal messages to those who’ve shown interest in my writing, so I knuckled down and got everything done before I went to bed. Correspondence to reply to? Zero! What do you think happened while I slept?

I got up early and checked my computer. I had 98 more notifications, 2 messages and another friend request. My heart’s desire is to “go ye into all the world and preach the gospel,” (Mark 16:15). I do it by writing true life stories about applying God’s Word to everyday situations. I love writing and hearing the responses; It’s just that my writing responsibilities were at zero when I went to bed, and now I had another full load to take care of again. It’s a good thing I believe in what I’m doing.

Then I remembered a promise from the Bible: God does not slumber or sleep. While I was sleeping, He was busy taking care of business for me. “He will not allow your foot to slip or to be moved; He Who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel [His people, which includes us now] will neither slumber nor sleep” (Psalm 121:3-4).

Even while we sleep: God, Jesus Christ, Holy Spirit and the angels are still working on our behalf to get the gospel around the world, to get our prayers answered and our lives blessed.

Love, Carolyn

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BALAAM’S ASS AND MORE THAN ONE CHANCE TO DO THE RIGHT THING

Jane and I walked into the second-hand store looking for a copy of the Amplified Bible. As we came around the corner there was a big white Bible laying out on the ledge, separate from the other shelved books. I said, “Oh look, there’s Joyce Meyer’s Bible.” At that moment it didn’t even occur to me that Joyce uses the Amplified all the time. There it was, laid out so nicely for us, but I somehow didn’t make the connection. We started to walk away.

Then two strangers came up looking for a particular book and began asking a lot of questions. They were somewhat annoying, but we were polite and they “happened” to keep us there just long enough that Jane “happened” to look down and see the spine of Joyce’s Bible. As plain as could be it read: “Amplified Version.” Sometimes God puts an answer right in front of us and we still don’t see it. But because He knows what’s in our hearts He gives us more than one chance and comes at us in any way possible.

This is our blessed assurance. We don’t want to miss God, but if we do, God has a promise we can claim beforehand for those times when we miss or ignore the revelation. Second Corinthians 5:14 says: “The love of Christ constraineth us.” The word “constrain” means to bind together or draw together. He’s relentless and keeps coming back, like when you want someone to come for dinner and you keep asking them and try all kinds of ways to get them to just give in and say, “Okay, I’ll come.”

Parents know that children have this constraining thing down to an uncanny science when they want something. They come at you from every imaginable angle to get it. Jesus does the same with us so that we listen to Him.

Throughout the Bible there are many examples of the Lord constraining His people. One of my favorites is the record of Balaam and the ass. It’s found in Numbers 22 and is the funniest of Bible stories.

Balak, the king of Moab, knew Balaam as a prophet. If he could get Balaam to prophesy against the Israelites in the upcoming battle, he would win. So King Balak sent his men to Balaam with a nice bribe.

Balaam told the men he’d ask God about what to do and let them know in the morning. God not only forbid him to go, but He forbid him to prophesy against Israel. But King Balak wasn’t giving up so easily. He sent more prestigious men to Balaam with the promise of promotion, a place of honor in his kingdom and the message, “I will pay you very well and do whatever you tell me. Just come and curse these people for me!”

Balaam decided to ask God one more time if he could go. Balaam wanted to go. He wanted the promotion, the prestige and the money. Everything good, right? Surely God would bless this, right? This makes me think of how many times we try to make God bless what we’ve already decided we’re going to do.

God gave Balaam another chance and said, “If the men come to call thee, rise up, and go with them.” God said, “if the men call,” but Balaam skipped right over the “if” part and “rose up in the morning, and saddled his ass, and went with the princes of Moab.” God was angry with Balaam’s action, but because of God’s persistent love, He gave Balaam another chance to do the right thing. He sent an angel to try to keep him from making a big mistake:

“And God’s anger was kindled because he went: and the angel of the Lord stood in the way for an adversary against him. Now he was riding upon his ass, and his two servants were with him.

“And the ass saw the angel of the Lord standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand: and the ass turned aside out of the way, and went into the field: and Balaam smote the ass, to turn her into the way.

“But the angel of the Lord stood in a path of the vineyards, a wall being on this side, and a wall on that side. And when the ass saw the angel of the Lord, she thrust herself unto the wall, and crushed Balaam’s foot against the wall: and he smote her again.

“And the angel of the Lord went further, and stood in a narrow place, where was no way to turn either to the right hand or to the left. And when the ass saw the angel of the Lord, she fell down under Balaam: and Balaam’s anger was kindled, and he smote the ass with a staff.”

This next part is hilarious:

“And the Lord opened the mouth of the ass, and she said unto Balaam, What have I done unto thee, that thou hast smitten me these three times?”

Wouldn’t you think Balaam would wake up by now? After all, his ass was talking to him! But Balaam was so outrageously angry that he actually started talking back to the ass and carried on a whole conversation.

“And Balaam said unto the ass, Because thou hast mocked me: I would there were a sword in mine hand, for now would I kill thee.

“And the ass said unto Balaam, Am not I thine ass, upon which thou hast ridden ever since I was thine unto this day? was I ever wont to do so unto thee? and he said, Nay.”

Then finally God got through to Balaam:

“Then the Lord opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand: and he bowed down his head, and fell flat on his face.

“And the angel of the Lord said unto him, Wherefore hast thou smitten thine ass these three times? Behold, I went out to withstand thee, because thy way is perverse before me: And the ass saw me, and turned from me these three times: unless she had turned from me, surely now also I had slain thee, and saved her alive.

“And Balaam said unto the angel of the Lord, I have sinned; for I knew not that thou stoodest in the way against me: now therefore, if it displease thee, I will get me back again.”

I know we usually do our best to listen for the Lord’s guiding and then follow through on His instructions, but isn’t it great to know that when we miss it, God will go to the farthest ends, (even if it takes talking through the mouth of an ass), to constrain us and compel us to come back to Him?

In the bookstore Christ worked through two strangers to constrain us and they kept us at the bookshelf until we saw the desired Amplified Bible right there in plain sight.

God constrained Balaam through a talking animal. What an amazing Lord we have.

Question: “Why was the ass smarter than the man?” Answer: “Because she could see what was right in front of her.”

Let’s pray that we will open our eyes to see what the Lord puts right in front of us and thank God that He will give us more than one chance to do the right thing.

Love, Carolyn

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WE CAN SEEK THE LORD IN OUR OWN WAY

When someone comes to a hard decision, Christians sometimes are quick to pipe up with the rote answer, “Seek the Lord.” But is that really helpful? Sometimes not.

If someone is struggling with a life changing decision, they may not even know how to seek God and the real truth is that there are many ways.

Instead of asking if they’ve sought His answer, I think a better question is: “When it comes to getting an answer from God, how do you really believe He could get through to you?”

When I was twenty one, I had a very important life decision to make. I didn’t know what to do and everyone around me had a different opinion of what they thought was best for me. I was confused and scared.

I carried my Bible around with me and read it all the time. I believed in it so much, I trusted God would show me in the Bible what to do and I believed that if I randomly let it open to a page, there would be my answer. It fell open to Ephesians 6 and I read the first verse, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.” I honestly didn’t like that answer very much, so I repeated the process, not once, but two more times and each time the Bible fell open to a different place, but each time there was another verse about obeying your parents, so that’s what I did.

I have a friend who believes God answers those hard questions when she digs deep enough within herself and gets mad at God. I think it’s really that she finally gets serious enough to boldly demand an answer and it works every time.

I know that some people fast and pray to get solutions to really difficult problems.

What has worked for you in the past? What do you really believe about God? How do you really believe He might be able to get to you?

When Moses asked God who He was, God said, “I am that I am.” Written that way, it doesn’t tell us much, but translated, this means He is whoever we need for Him to be. And He hasn’t changed one bit. God is whoever we need Him to be. He and the Lord Jesus Christ are willing to meet us wherever we’re at.

Gideon put out a fleece and asked for a sign (Judges 6). Some religious people say that we shouldn’t have to do that anymore. I’ve done it before and I’m not ashamed to say it. And sure enough the Lord gave me a sign just like I asked. God is merciful and kind. Whatever we can believe about how He might get those important life changing answers to us, He is willing to meet us because He loves us so much.

Jesus told us that God notices the death of every sparrow, so He certainly cares about us.

The Lord is truly multi-facetted and versatile. Let’s not put rules and limitations on what He’s willing to do for us even now. “For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth” (Matt 7:8).

Love, Carolyn

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HOW TO UNDERSTAND AND DEAL WITH DANGEROUS ILLUSIONS

I was having a really difficult time figuring out what I wanted to do for my vacation. I really wanted to go on one but I couldn’t seem to settle on anything. It shouldn’t have been so hard, but somehow it was. I had such an idealized picture of what a vacation should be that I had a hard time letting go and letting God open a door for what would be best for me. It turned into a major problem.

My ideal vacation was from the past—an image, a phantom from my youth—having a great time camping, fishing, and floating down the rapids. But every time I tried to duplicate it, it just didn’t measure up. The image was pulling at me so much that I was getting really aggravated, and everything I planned fell through. I needed a vacation so desperately that I was exhausted just thinking about it. It started as a desire but turned into lust and idolatry. Lust, because I became obsessed with it; idolatry because I’d put it on such a pedestal.

The Holy Spirit interrupted me in the middle of my dilemma and let me know what I was doing, so I stopped seeking the vacation and sought God instead. I looked up the word “idol”: “a phantom, an image in the mind.” I told myself that I had to just let the old phantom image go, that past vacations with the family are now memories, and really great memories, but still memories. I couldn’t continue chasing ghosts. I had to trust that God open doors for new kinds of vacations. I knew He would want me to have a great vacation so I quit trying to figure it out myself.

Chasing a mirage doesn’t deliver true results. The Bible calls this “vanity.” “Walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind” (Eph 4:17). The book of Job puts it this way: “Let him not trust in emptiness, deceiving himself; For emptiness will be his reward” (Job 15:31). The vanities (illusions) are all around us, promising things, looking good, baiting us, but they don’t deliver. Living in Las Vegas I see this all the time.

There’s one casino we’ve nicknamed “the sex hotel.” The young guys come in and you can see the hunger and expectation on their faces. I watched one guy in a restaurant start flirting with a waitress in a way that he fully expected her to take him in the back room for sex right there on the spot. It was kind of hilarious, but sad too. The billboards advertise sex, so the guys come in expecting to get it, but it’s a phantom. They can look all around the main floor of the casino and restaurants and be sorely disappointed. They’re trapped by visions of their imaginations.

I had been caught up in chasing the illusion—a mental and emotional image I had of the perfect vacation. But my picture was something that really wasn’t available in the same way as I saw it in my mind. I wanted to understand how this delusion was working on me, so if I got tempted in this way again, I would be able to recognize it and stop it more immediately. I thought about how being obsessed by this phantom idea made me feel and act; I had become totally crabby and irrationally irritable. I felt like I was being squashed in a vise grip.

The dictionary says a vise is a “screw, that which winds, consisting of two jaws opened and closed to hold or squeeze with.” That’s exactly how I felt. The idol, the image, the vacation mirage had me in its jaws and was squeezing. I felt pressurized and unsatisfied. When I looked up the word “vise,” the dictionary said that it could also be spelled “vice.”  I realized that a v-i-c-e (defined as a fault or harmful habit) works much the same way as a v-i-s-e with people’s minds. The vice gets a grip on the mind and it won’t let go. We usually don’t even know the real reason we got trapped by it in the first place.

God tells us that His desire for us is to be free. Paul wrote to the Galatians: “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage” (Gal 5:1). The “yoke of bondage” is the oppression, the vise grips of the unprofitable bondages the world puts on people, rather than the freedom that comes with Christ and walking by the Spirit.

The world is a big billboard of phantoms, and we’ve been bombarded with them since we were young—things we were led to believe were right for us to seek and seize. They were presented to us through all kinds of media including books, magazines, TV, the internet, religion, our parents, teachers, peers, our cultural and ethnic backgrounds, to name a few of the sources of these phantoms. We have even combined what these sources put out, and developed our own versions of certain ideas, or pictures of how we think we’d really like things to be.

My recent picture was of a specific vacation I was idolizing and obsessing over. Another example comes from when I was twenty-one. I had the idea of having twelve kids. I figured since I really liked teaching Sunday school classes with lots of kids, I would love having twelve of my own. But that was my imagined scenario, and I didn’t check it out with the Lord. I also dreamed of being married by the age of twenty-five and I felt devastated when that didn’t happen.

One of my friends used to envision herself having one perfect job—one that she would absolutely love, and she would do it all her life. It didn’t happen. Women often fantasize about what they want in the perfect husband and take the chance of missing the best husband for them—the one God sends. People get an idea of what they see as their perfect family, but then they end up as a single parent, step-mom or a step-dad, and they may feel that their dreams have been forever shattered, and they have a hard time coping with the reality of the new family they’ve been given.

We’ve all had dreams we thought were our own, but sometimes those visions of what we think we want, don’t come from God, but rather from the enticements of the world. When we insist on pursuing these things without really checking them out with the Lord, our thoughts and actions can turn very un-Christ-like and we get further and further away from the good path God has for us. It gets harder and harder to see the truth. Paul says: “I warn you beforehand, just as I did previously, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (Gal 5:21 AMP). That’s because when we’re chasing phantoms we’re off track and can’t be at the same time enjoying God’s great inheritance. Paul isn’t saying that if we get trapped by a delusion we’re not going to heaven. It’s just that our lives aren’t going to be as free and satisfying in this life.

Unfortunately many of us only find out that something is wrong for us after we’ve sought it out over and over and it still isn’t doing what we wanted. These illusions disappoint and fail us so many times we finally just can’t ignore them anymore. That’s when we need to take some bold action.

It’s no time to be apathetic. Romans 13:11 says, “And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation [wholeness] nearer than when we believed.” It’s time to examine those things we think we want and make some brave changes if necessary. Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Why wait, when we can turn some things around right now?

If we truly seek the Lord Jesus Christ, He will not fail us.

He will help us to recognize what ideas and visions are dangerous illusions, and what images are solidly from Him. If we let Christ be with us when we take a closer look, we’ll see where the visions come from: tradition, family, culture, peers, the media, the Lord, or some other source. Once we know where they come from it’s a lot easier to deal with them. If they’re not from God, He’ll provide us with something better. He did that with my vacation.

I didn’t go camping at all, but instead I got to go to Maui and had the best vacation ever.

Love, Carolyn

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MEEKNESS: AN ELEGANT QUEEN IN A GORGEOUS ERMINE CLOAK

MEEKNESS: AN ELEGANT QUEEN IN A GORGEOUS ERMINE CLOAK
It was one of those rush jobs. The designers were sending over three 4ft. x 4ft. samples of red brick and they wanted me to do three variations of whitewash and aging on them. The samples were supposed to arrive at 10a.m. but they didn’t come until two hours later. The mortar wasn’t even dry yet and they wanted to pick them up the very next day. This was going to be tough.

I was under the gun to work quickly. I got three fans out to dry the pieces and started to mix my colors. (Yet another last minute project where I had to produce something great in an outrageously short amount of time.) Usually I get uptight when I’m pressured into this type of situation. Somebody pushes me and I want to push back. But I told myself, Jesus is with me. It’s okay. I can do this.

I worked rapidly and steadily and got two of the pieces finished. Then the project manager came out to tell me the guy was going to come for the pieces two hours earlier than planned. What? I thought. They bring me the pieces late. They aren’t even dry enough to paint and now they want them completed two hours earlier? I started to get angry and then a strange thing happened.

I felt a meekness come over me. This felt really odd. It’s not in my nature to be meek when I’m being pushed. I’m more likely to be rebellious and ready for a fight and I can have a very sharp tongue if I let it loose. People who don’t know me very well may not believe it, but that’s because I’ve tried to keep those reactions in tow.

But this time I didn’t have to anything to control those reactions because they disappeared instantaneously and a huge meekness enveloped me. It wasn’t me trying to be meek. It was genuine. It clothed me inside and out and it felt really true and good. It was like an atmosphere of meekness, through and through, beautiful, elegant and powerful. This isn’t me, I thought. But I didn’t have the time to ponder it, so even though it felt alien, I went with it.

I finished up the samples even before the deadline, which was pretty amazing and I’m sure it was the Lord helping me on that one! I told my project manager he could call the guy to pick them up and I followed him over to the job site with my touch-up kit.

The samples were displayed leaning against the wall of the restaurant where we were going to do the job. A group of five men waited for the designer and gave their opinions about which one they thought the designer would choose. I sat at the side with my box of touch-up colors in case the designer needed to see changes on the spot. I hardly recognized myself.

I was so calm and peaceful in this new coat of meekness. I walked onto the jobsite with my hard hat on, my safety vest, my boots, my painter pants marked with the various colors of past jobs. I found a place to sit on a dusty cardboard box on top of a stack of bricks. There was construction dust and dirt all around, but I felt like an elegant powerful queen in a gorgeous ermine cloak and beautiful crown. Meek isn’t weak but quite the opposite.

The designer arrived and picked one of the samples he said he loved. That made me happy, but not nearly as happy as this new meekness I was experiencing.

How elated I was to feel the genuine calm, in contrast to the uproar I usually felt in these hurried, stressful, last minute type situations. Some part of me had changed on the inside. This new feeling didn’t feel like me. I know the old me: sharp-tongued, rebellious and angry. This new meekness wasn’t the old me, it was the fruit of the spirit mentioned in Galatians 5:22, the new me, Christ in me.

Romans 7 talks about the two natures we have in us, the old one and the new one. Only God, through Jesus Christ can deliver us from our old nature (Rom 7:24-25). I could try my best to be meek under stress but even with my strongest efforts it wouldn’t last very long, and it definitely wouldn’t be true meekness.

But with the miraculous working of the Lord Jesus Christ, the rebellious angry nature of the old Carolyn was replaced by the true and wonderful meekness of Jesus Christ. That’s the new nature God intended for me to have. It had nothing to do with me changing myself. It had everything to do with God working in me to change me to my real self in Christ.

Almost every morning Jane and I add this little phrase to the end of our prayer: “I can hardly wait to see what God’s going to do today.” It’s an exciting life.

Love, Carolyn

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Also if you’d like a FREE PDF printable copy of any of my sample books, just let me know. carolynmolica@yahoo.com