Category : Devotion of the Week
Category : Devotion of the Week
I was nineteen years old and a sophomore in college. It was our Spring Break and I spent the week in Oklahoma with my friend who grew up there. We made the rounds. That night it was “Drown Night” at Pistol Patties in Stillwater, an Oklahoma State hangout at the time. Pistol Patties was running a special: “Buy one beer, laced with Everclear; get one free until 8:00 p.m.” We arrived with an hour to spare and made up for lost time. By the time the special ended, my world and judgment were hazy.
I remember my friends bringing over a handsome OSU student to meet me, as if I was the queen greeting subjects. I can still picture him. He had dark hair; a mustache and was wearing overalls (popular at the time). There was an immediate attraction; he asked me to dance and we spent the rest of the night getting to know each other. At about 11:00 p.m., my friend and ride, also inebriated, said to the young man, “I’m going back. Can you take Lisa home?” He agreed, but because I was not thinking in my right mind, I didn’t oppose the plan. “Home” was an hour away. Stillwater to Edmund, Oklahoma, where my friend’s parents lived.
The boy did drive me “home,” but in order to make it back there was a stop at his dorm room along the way. Friends later told me I was lucky he was the only one who took advantage of me, and not a gang of other boys that night. The OSU frat boys were known for that, they said.
As I look back, I realize I was fortunate that something worse didn’t happen. I didn’t know the character of this young man or if he was really a student. I could have been drugged or killed.
I also realized that I put myself in this position. While what he did was wrong, I should have said goodbye to the temporary tryst, jumped into my friend’s car and never put myself in that situation.
But I didn’t.
I’d like to say this is the only time I compromised God’s pure plan for my life concerning sexuality, but it is not. Because of those wayward college years I understand God’s grace.
However, I didn’t comprehend the full scale of my sinfulness until many years later during a Bible study on Romans. The curriculum asked us to insert our names into a passage from Romans 1:21-25:
“For although Lisa knew God, she neither glorified him as God or gave thanks to him, but Lisa’s thinking became futile and her foolish heart was darkened. Although Lisa claimed to be wise, she became a fool and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore God gave Lisa over in the sinful desires of her heart to sexual impurity for the degrading of her body with another. She exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator–who is forever praised.”
I traded my relationship with a Holy God for the idols of popularity with boys and for what I thought was love. Maybe you can relate to this story. It is never right for a man to take advantage of a woman, but often times we put ourselves in compromising scenarios. Over the years as a television sports reporter and a rededicated Christian, it sometimes took great willpower to honor my marriage and my faith while on the road. But I did by setting up guardrails in my life, saying “no” to invitations, and through prayer.
I wish I could have a “do-over” for the lost years, but what I love about my heavenly Father is that he sent his Son to shed his blood for me to cover all of the sins I committed. After I repented for the mistakes I made as a teenager and into my twenties, 2 Corinthians 5:17 says I became a new creation in Christ. The old was gone.
I am thankful I am no longer that person from college anymore. While I am still a sinner, it is now my desire to live up to my heavenly Father’s standard, not mine. Through His strength and guidance, I am able to do that.
Thank you Lord for your grace. Without it, I don’t know where I’d be.
Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does” (John 5:19).
I remember when I was asked to speak to three women’s luncheons at South Padre Island. It didn’t take long for me to say yes, because the beach is my happy place. For some reason, it is the location where I hear the voice of God the clearest. It is where I find rest. The expanse of the water, beyond what my naked eye can see, waves crashing against the seashore with seagulls squealing overhead, all remind me of the greatness of God.
After I speak to the groups about my faith story this week, I plan to take three days to lay my life before the Lord. I will ask him how to proceed with my writing, my speaking, Pearls of Promise events, church life, volunteer and paid work. Everyone should take extended periods of time to do this.
You may have a plan for your life, but is it God’s plan? Jesus said he only does what he sees his Father doing.
What does the Father want you to do?
We only know that we are in God’s will when we take the time to listen to his instruction.
Almost fifteen years ago, it was at the beach that God told me to make a radical change in my life by quitting my job so I could focus on seminary and my family. He called me to seminary and knew the road ahead would be too demanding for me. I was disobedient, and tried to juggle it all the following year. Trying to balance full-time and church work, mothering two small children and part-time school had unhealthy consequences. God knows best and that is why we must seek his direction.
Jesus loved to be with people. Just read the Gospels. He constantly spoke to crowds and traveled with a dozen close friends. I enjoy groups of people as well and love spending time with my Christian sisters, but Luke 5:16 says, “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”
You can’t hear the voice of God with distractions around you.
You can’t decipher his message with the television blaring.
You won’t receive God’s word for you as you speed past his presence.
That’s why I am excited about this week. I look forward to sharing my testimony with many women and praying God will use my personal story to lead someone to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior. However, I am also anticipatory about what my heavenly Father will say to me in the days that follow. The timing of this trip to the southern Texas coast couldn’t be more perfect.
Won’t you consider setting aside a period of extended time to meet with God about your life?
“You are my God, and I will praise you; you are my God, and I will exalt you” (Psalm 118:28).
It was only a few weeks before the Level-Up Conference and I was worried. The numbers weren’t where I anticipated and there was still a lot to do. In Moses-like fashion I asked God, “Are you sure you called me to do this?” I knew the answer but I just wanted my heavenly Father to pat me on the back and say it would be okay.
With our marketing card in front of me, I prayed on my knees for our Level-Up team. Protect them from harm. Speak through them. Keep them well, Lord. It was then that I heard,
“When are you going to level me up?”
The thought came from left field so I knew God was speaking.
I had been focused on the team, and the people attending but forgot the main thing.
This event was about glorifying God and exalted Him through the program. I repented immediately and changed my prayer and my focus.
How can we lift You up through this conference, Lord? What is the best way to make Your name great?
This message from God was a turning point in many ways. First, through His adjustment, God confirmed the Level-Up Conference was His directive. I never doubted His call again. Once we placed the emphasis of the conference where it needed to be, a flurry of registrations came in and God placed His holy stamp on the event.
As I look back on Saturday’s conference, I am in awe of my heavenly Father’s work.
I am thankful to Him for giving me an amazing woman of God to partner with on this project.
I am grateful for how he provided a specific message to every speaker, and how he anointed each singer or musician.
When our décor volunteer encountered a family emergency, days before the event, another friend stepped in to decorate the tables. What a blessing she is!
I am thankful for a sister in Christ who traveled from San Antonio to serve on the prayer team because she believed in what we were doing.
I only know a few stories but I am praising God for how he worked in women’s lives on Saturday.
I am grateful for the Lord’s leading to the perfect venue and for the church employees’ spirit of hospitality while we were there.
Please forgive me for doubting your call, Lord.
Please forgive me when I don’t place you at the center of my life.
Thank you for gently redirecting my path when I stray off your path.
Before this conference even happened, God was already whispering information about the next event in my ear. I tried to block out the details. Not now. I have to get through this one!
Today I say, “Yes, Lord. I am ready Lord. When and how? And most importantly, show me how to appropriately level You up.”
God Rescues us from the Wrath to Come
“Pull the red lever. Pull the red lever!”
Sitting to the right of the helicopter pilot, I frantically looked around for the red lever that he was shouting about.
Just minutes before, the pilot, knowing I was a bit nervous about my first helicopter ride, was joiking around with me as we flew over a lake.
“Do you know how to swim?” he chuckled.
“Yes, but hopefully I won’t be swimming today.”
It was my first week as a television intern at the ABC affiliate in Dallas and I was tagging along with a news crew to a story in Cleburne, Texas. It saved a lot of driving time to take the chopper.
But then something went terribly wrong. The compressor malfunctioned on the helicopter. The pilot had to shut off the engine. I was in the co-pilot seat and the pilot was commanding me to pull the red lever to lower the fire screen between us and the engine. I fumbled around, couldn’t find it, so he pulled it himself. The screen was designed to protect us if the engine ignited. Meanwhile, because we were high enough in elevation, we were able to auto rotate to the ground and landed with a thud.
While we survived, one week later the same helicopter suffered a different fate. It crashed, this time carrying the pilot, sports photographer and the photographer’s wife. It got caught up in telephone wire while trying to download highlights from a Baylor football game. I was the one in the sports department who was taking that feed, but I could have easily been on the helicopter if the photographer’s wife had not made the trip to log the plays.
I was only 22 at the time, but years later, I realized God saved me from certain death in both those instances and now I never take the gift of life for granted. Each day I thank him for another opportunity to serve Him.
I also realize God saved me from eternal death as well. When I gave up the control of my life to Jesus at age 35, a television career was no longer my passion. I began to live for Christ. The scales were taken off my spiritual eyes and I saw things with an eternal perspective. I also realized, through my salvation, God rescued me from the “wrath to come.” John 3:36 says, “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”
If you have ever wondered, “Why would a loving God send people to Hell?” Flip it and realize, “A loving God offers everyone an opportunity to accept his Son so they don’t have to go to Hell.”
2 Peter 3:9 says, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
I am thankful God was patient with me. After praying a prayer in high school to accept Jesus, I drifted away from the faith for seventeen years before rededicating my life to the Lord. That’s when the change in me began.
Today I ask you, Are you certain of your eternal future? We can’t take any day for granted. If you have never given over your life to God, here’s a simple prayer to pray:
“Lord, God, I have done a lot of wrong in my life and I want to be right with you. I confess the wrong and ask you to forgive me. I recognize Jesus as the promised Messiah and know that he died on the cross as the ultimate sacrifice so I might be cleansed of my sin and gain eternal life with you. I give the control of my life over to Jesus today and ask that he reside in my heart from this day forward. In Jesus Name I pray, AMEN
God Rescues Us From Trouble
The righteous person is rescued from trouble, and it falls on the wicked instead. (Proverbs 11:8)
I’m a fairly good driver, except when I don’t know where I am. The other day I was driving our Level-Up Conference keynote speaker, Thelma Wells, to a radio interview when I almost turned into oncoming traffic. Later, near the broadcast studio, we needed to go straight on a road that was blocked because of the Texas Rangers game so I took a left when I should have gone right. An angry traffic copy shouted “Turn around!” By that time I was rattled. I’d like to say these are a first for close encounters on the road, but I’d be lying. I am on the road a lot and have seen God’s hand of protection countless times.
Does this mean we will never experience severe trouble or a major car accident? No.
Does this indicate there will never be problems in our lives? No.
In John 16:33 it clearly says, “In this world you will have trouble.”
But it does indicate that God rescues us more times than we are aware of. When we do end up in that traffic accident or in a situation where we need supernatural help, our heavenly Father is there when we call on Him, unless it is time for us to go to our eternal home. It’s my theory that the Lord softens the impact.
I just heard a testimony from a man who was involved in a rollover car accident when he was twenty. He wasn’t wearing a seatbelt and walked away with cuts. Authorities told him 95 percent of all people who are not wearing their seatbelts in rollover accidents are killed. When that sunk in he realized God rescued him from death for a reason, so he gave his life to Christ.
Has God ever rescued you on the roads?
I heard another testimony of a woman who was a clerk in a convenience store when an attacker tried to rob the store and kidnap her. She shouted the name of Jesus over and over and the attacker fled.
There is power in the name of Jesus.
In addition to rescuing us from dangerous situations, God also delivers us from what troubles us emotionally. Psalm 34:17 promises, “The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles.”
I was troubled last night, but I woke up to the song, “Oh My Soul” by Casting Crowns. Whatever song I wake up to is the one I sing back to the Lord during my morning quiet time. This tune talks about being weary from losing control and about losing hope, but the key message in the lyrics is “You’re not alone.”
And that is the primary message I want to share with you today.
If you are a Christian, you are not alone.
When you go through troubles, God can rescue you both physically and emotionally. Just cry out to Him and expect Him to work on your behalf.
It’s not to late to sign up for the Level-Up Conference on October 7th at First Baptist of Lewisville, Texas. Our “Buy One, Get One Free” promotion ends tonight. Join Thelma Wells, Sharon Hill, Kathy Green, Suellen Roberts, Lisa Burkhardt Worley and a total of fifteen speakers and worship leaders for a day of leveling up our relationship with God, leveling up our prayer life and leveling down the mountains in our lives. www.tinyurl.com/level-conf