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Strength You Need by Dr. Lynnette Simm

I have gone back to reading a book I have been working on for awhile. Yes, unfortunately, I am a slow and distracted reader so I have four or five books I keep picking up when I have time to read. Yesterday, I picked up The Strength You Need: The Twelve Great Strength Passages of The Bible by Robert J. Morgan. I’m ashamed to say that I have had the book on my nightstand since 2017 and keep reading a bit and moving on, then back again. However, as I picked up the book yesterday, I realized God was calling me to each section at His perfectly timed moments. He brought me just what I needed for the events happening in my life.

As I reflected on my notes in 2017, I remember reading Chapter 1 on Deuteronomy 33:25, “Your strength will equal your days.” This came just as I had walked through cancer with my dearest friend Elle, as she moved to heaven after succumbing to the disease. The following year (2018) I see notes in Chapter 3, “The joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10), as I raced to the airport to fly to my oldest daughter because she was being admitted to the hospital for a collapsed lung. While the reason for our visit was scary, our time together was heartfelt, memorable, and created an unbreakable bond.

The notes from 2019 highlight Chapter 5. “In quietness and trust is your strength” (Isaiah 30:15). Those was the encouragement as I woefully dropped off my youngest to her first day of college and accompanied my mother to her cancer treatments. 

God had perfectly timed each reading. Now, I did say I was a slow reader, but I have read a lot of other things in between. However, it is June of 2020 and I am just now picking up this book again. And wouldn’t you know it—another divine appointed reading. Chapter 8 is about the book of Habakkuk, specifically Habakkuk 3:19 which says, “The Sovereign Lord is my strength; He makes my feet like the feet of deer, He enables me to tread on the heights.” Morgan shared in his book how Habakkuk bemoaned to God wondering why His people were behaving so poorly and when it would all end. God replied that He had better get used to the horrible behavior because He wasn’t going to do anything to change it and, in fact, would be sending in a nation to take them captive! Habakkuk cried out again asking how could God let the worst of the worst come and to allow His people to be taken captive? He explained to God we are bad, but the enemy armies invading are worse! Regardless, Habakkuk said he would stay at his post.

God explained that by faith His people will be saved. They need to have trust that His plans are far greater than they could understand, and that evil will be judged. Habakkuk rejoices in the knowledge that God’s plan is divine and filled with love for His people. He then says that He will strengthen those who have faith and will give them feet as deer to handle the rough terrain until we reach our heights. He then writes a song of rejoicing! 

God didn’t take the hard time away —He just promised to be there with Habakkuk (and us) during the hard times. In fact the hard times may get worse, but God had divine plans for each and every one of us; but most importantly, God wants us to trust Him and rely on Him, even when we don’t understand why times are so difficult.

Trust the Lord to help us maneuver through this trying time in history. Trust in the Lord to guide us and show us how we share His love within our families and communities.

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We want to invite you to our next POP Chat, this Wednesday night from 6:30-7:30 p.m. Our guest worship leader will be Teresa Hammering and Lisa Burkhardt Worley will be teaching about “How to Have Unity.” We will also have a conversation about the subject so you don’t want to miss out! Here’s the link to register: https://share.hsforms.com/15bHBupdrTBugXxD9Y8Q_MQ3jo4z?utm_medium=email&_hsmi=89304151&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-8r8FWa_kFZcONxlsE2ffQ7UwrWi80D9kV7cShhbPCtoJU6G_84OxxMXOdyqUVM3SpAmUUVJ1uYGLCH76typbi-yn-wIA&utm_content=89304151&utm_source=hs_email

One Way to Get Through Crisis by Lisa Burkhardt Worley

I’m still holed up in my house, but not necessarily because of COVID-19. It’s because I am obsessed with completing a short book project about the journey back to my Jewish roots.

However, when I do venture out, the world still does not feel “normal’ to me. My state, Texas, is reporting record-breaking Coronavirus hospitalizations this week.  

Most people continue to wear masks, and today, when I took our dog, Jewel, to the vet to get a couple of shots, I was not allowed to go in—the technicians had to come out to the car and get her. Meanwhile, our church that I miss so much, is reopening in July but on a very limited basis. I believe a lot of us will continue to watch online.

All of the above is why we cancelled both of our Pearls of Promise Level-Up Conferences this fall. Our events are intimate, and facilitate emotional healing. I just don’t see it working when we have to social distance and wear face coverings.

So in the midst of this ongoing saga, what should we do? I have one suggestion.

PRAISE.

Praise God in the crisis.

Praise God because we can tap into His strength when all this attempts to take us down emotionally.

Praise God because He will bring us through it.

Praise God in advance because He has the cure.

Praise God because He loves us.

In 2 Chronicles 20, King Jehoshaphat, one of the “good kings” of Judah was facing war against the men of Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir. Some people told Jehoshaphat “A vast army is coming against you from Edom.” So Jehoshaphat declared a nationwide fast, and the people from every town in Judah came together and sought the Lord’s guidance. That’s when the Spirit of the LORD came on Jahaziel, one of the prophets, and he said, “Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s” (2 Chronicles 20:14). Then with the enemy armies fast approaching, the prophet said something bizarre. “You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions, stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you.”

Not one arrow would be shot?

No swords thrust?

No hand-to-hand combat?

And this is how it happened. King Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the LORD and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army. They said, “Give thanks to the LORD for his love endures forever.”

As they began to sing and praise, the LORD set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir and they were defeated. The enemies of Judah literally destroyed one another.

And when the troops returned home victorious, they were still praising. “They entered Jerusalem and went to the temple of the LORD with harps and lyres and trumpets” (2 Chronicles 20:28).

What if we tried this? What if we quit complaining about our circumstances and praise God ahead of time for what He will do in the future? What if we ask the LORD to see what’s happening from His perspective and praise Him for the answer? What if we praise G-d for the continued time at home? He is doing something special in us because He continues to have our undivided attention. Hey, I’m getting a new book completed!

Praise could be the answer.

We want to invite you to our next POP Chat on ZOOM Wednesday, June 24 at 6:30 p.m.. We will be introducing worship leader, Teresa Hammering, and Lisa Burkhardt Worley will be sharing about the topic, “How to Have Unity.” This will be a one-hour time of Prayer, Worship, Teaching and Discussion. Here’s the link to sign up. Hope to see you! https://share.hsforms.com/15bHBupdrTBugXxD9Y8Q_MQ3jo4z?utm_medium=email&_hsmi=89304151&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-8r8FWa_kFZcONxlsE2ffQ7UwrWi80D9kV7cShhbPCtoJU6G_84OxxMXOdyqUVM3SpAmUUVJ1uYGLCH76typbi-yn-wIA&utm_content=89304151&utm_source=hs_email

I’m Not Hiding by Dr. Lynnette Simm

Wow, has our country been dealing with a lot of drama! It makes me want to run and hide. I feel so overwhelmed with everything that is happening: Covid19, the stock market roller coaster, unprecedented unemployment, riots, civil unrest, cities still closed, universities unsure if they will open, an election coming, and I won’t even get into everything that is happening in my personal life. Fear, anxiety, depression, and worry is everywhere on media, social media, and even at the dinner table. It seems like there is no place to hide, no retreat, no place to go for some peace and joy. 

So why am I not hiding?

I am not hiding because people need me. 

My husband needs me. 

My daughters need me. 

My parents need me. 

My siblings need me. 

My extended family needs me. 

My friends need me. 

My community needs me. 

My country needs me.

They need me to be strong, to care for them, and to speak up for them. It’s not that I feel all self-important, but each of us are needed. Everyone has value. Everyone is a treasured member of their family, of their friend group, of their community, and of this country. 

Just recently, I was given the blessing of being needed. I flew to Wisconsin to stay with my niece, her husband, and their brand new two-week-old baby boy. While I was there I did not do anything extraordinary. I moved boxes. I unloaded boxes. I put dishes away. I vacuumed. I made meals. I held a baby. I changed a diaper—okay more than one diaper. All of these things added up to be a blessing to new parents. They weren’t extraordinary things and they weren’t expensive things, they were just done out of love.

Another reason I’m not hiding is because I know where my peace comes from; and I know where my joy comes from. They do not come from what I have, from what I have earned, and they don’t come from the media or social media. My peace and my joy come from the Lord, PERIOD, full stop. My peace comes from my time with the Lord in prayer, in His Word, in worship music, and in fellowship. My joy comes from sharing prayers, hardships, laughter, and from sharing love.

In a time where it is easy to run and hide —and no one would blame you for it— it is important to remember who your foundation is in. I look to my Lord and Savior to find my strong foundation. I DO NOT look to the Lord to find judgment in others. I DO NOT look to the Lord to find condemnation in others. I DO NOT look to the Lord to lift myself above others. My Lord, Jesus Christ, is about “joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23). Jesus is about “healing the broken-hearted and binding up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3). 

So please do not run and hide. Instead, reach out to bless others. Do the little EXTRAordinary things to help one another. Now is not the time to hide, but to shine. Shine the Light of the Lord in the Love that You Share.

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We’d love for you to join us on the next POP Chat, which is Wednesday, June 24 at 6:30 p.m. In this meeting we will introduce a new Worship Leader, Teresa Hammering, and Pearls of Promise Founder, Lisa Burkhardt Worley, will teach on “How to Have Unity.” Per usual, there will be prayer and discussion. Here’s the link to sign up: https://share.hsforms.com/15bHBupdrTBugXxD9Y8Q_MQ3jo4z?utm_medium=email&_hsmi=89304151&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-8r8FWa_kFZcONxlsE2ffQ7UwrWi80D9kV7cShhbPCtoJU6G_84OxxMXOdyqUVM3SpAmUUVJ1uYGLCH76typbi-yn-wIA&utm_content=89304151&utm_source=hs_email

How to Seek Clarity by Lisa Burkhardt Worley

In my Bible reading this morning, a verse popped out of me from Ecclesiastes 12:12: “Be careful, for writing books is endless, and much study wears you out.”

That got personal.

I am finishing up a book that I’ve been writing and have plans to start doctoral work in the fall. After reading this verse, the question came up, as it did for Eve in the Garden, “Did God really say…”

With all confidence, I can confirm that I am supposed to be writing the book I am working on. I wanted to share some important biblical truths with a dear friend, and was looking for the right publication to facilitate a conversation. When I couldn’t find the exact book I needed, I clearly heard the Holy Spirit say, “You do it.”

The last time I heard, “You do it,” it became an original Bible study that turned into the book I co-authored with Catherine Weiskopf, If I Only Had…Wrapping Yourself in God’s Truth During Storms of Insecurity, a four-time writing award winner. The process for the current manuscript has been supernatural, almost an obsession, and the writing of it has gone faster than any other book I’ve penned to date. In addition, an artist friend offered to do the cover—for free. His yoke is easy…

As for school, that is where there is some waffling, and I want to make sure I have the same clarity that this is part of God’s plan for my life. I am seeking the additional stamp of approval from the Lord because I can come up with many reasons why I shouldn’t do it. Have you ever needed confirmation? Maybe you’re in a similar place now and need an “all systems go” message about what you believe is a new calling. Here are some of the steps we can take for clarity when we think we’ve received a divine directive, then start to question.

  1. Seek Clarity from God’s Word. I am digging a little deeper, and asking specifically if I am supposed to proceed with this advanced schooling. I know school will not be blessed if I heard Him wrong, and if it’s not of Him. We should all desire to be in the center of God’s will, and His word can show us how to proceed. Just today I was reading about the people of Judah during the reign of King Asa. 2 Chronicles 15:15 says, “They earnestly sought after God, and they found Him.” You can find your answer when you earnestly seek it through God’s word.
  2. Seek Clarity from Godly Counsel. Proverbs 15:22 says, “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” I have asked a close friend, who is also my leadership coach, to pray for my discernment, and I know that the next time we have a conversation, she will help me process what all has occurred to lead me to this decision. She has already sent questions that you can ask yourself: “How Is the Lord leveling up your influence?” “What learning is a burden or easy yolk upon you?” “Where are you filled with more energy and joy?” To date, she has not had a check in her spirit about my plan and has been extremely supportive of this decision to pursue my doctorate.
  3. Seek Clarity from Patterns. For me, this is one of the ways I best know when God is leading me in a certain direction. Repeat messages from the Bible, devotionals, or from other people. As I looked back on some of the reading that has spoken to me over the past couple of weeks, it has all been about this calling to a advanced degree. From my YouVersion study, “Resting in His Power”: “If we are in tune with God, we walk through open doors, knowing that He is going to do the heavy lifting and that it’s His work to do through us. God is not going to lead us into failure.” Hmm. I had been worried about the study workload combined with my ministry workload. Then I heard team member Rosemary Legrand in my head when this verse came up from Proverbs 20:24. Rosemary has this on her Voice Mail message: “The LORD directs our steps, so why try to understand everything along the way” (NLT). Just this morning, my devotional said, “He calls you, qualifies you, and then empowers you with the boldness to take the first step.” There were other repeat messages, as well as being awarded a small scholarship, but you see the pattern and the encouragement. God knows what’s ahead even though I don’t and is trying to calm my fears as he stretches me through a call to additional learning. He will do that for you as well.

Before I committed to seminary back in 2003, I also developed cold feet. After I was accepted, I threw up a number of roadblocks because I became scared of what the commitment would involve. But the Lord is faithful. He tore down every blockade that I constructed, so that both my husband and I would know, beyond of shadow of a doubt, that this was His calling on my life and so I would never look back. He promised to lead me through it, which He did.

Are you afraid of a future assignment that seems like it’s more than you can handle? It’s normal. If you need clarity, Just press in closer to God and listen. He’ll show you where he wants you during this season.

“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it” (Isaiah 30:21).

Life is Always Uncertain by Dr. Lynnette Simm

 I have always liked the catchphrase from Forrest Gump. “Momma says, ‘Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get.” Well our curtain global situation, as well as our national issues, is a chocolate that has been especially bitter. We never know what really is going to happen in life. I’d like to think that we have some kind of control. We plan our days; we plan our hours; we plan our lives. Yet anything can change those plans. During this time people have used the word “uncertainty.” We’re in a time of uncertainty, but I just read an article from Dr. Lenard Sax and he explained it’s always been an uncertain time.

What we don’t like is the interruption to our planned life. Sax went on to share research from Kenneth Pargament, professor emeritus in the Department of Psychology at Bowling Green State University, about how to deal with uncertainty. Pargament distinguished between “positive” and “negative” religious coping. He and his colleagues found that positive coping was associated with a significant boost in spiritual outcomes and stress-related growth. Examples of positive coping included seeking comfort through assurances of God’s love and care; trying to give spiritual support to others; doing what we can, and putting the rest in God’s hands; and confessing our sins. Negative coping was associated with a significant decline in outcomes. Examples of negative coping included wondering what I did for God to punish me; trying to deal with my feelings without God’s help; thinking that some things are beyond God’s control; and questioning God’s love for us.

Sax followed up by explaining that, “Pargament’s research is helpful to me. I reflect on the positive coping strategies and I try to engage them. I consider the negative coping strategies and I try to avoid them. Most important, I have come to recognize that my own desire for certainty is a temptation. As with any other temptation, I ask for God’s grace. Then I return to my work, to the task at hand, and to my family.” 

I pray as you read this you are struck by how uncertain life has always been. Then ask yourselves, how are you going to handle the current situation you’re in today? I am going to follow Forrest Gump’s example and just keep running…to God that is. 

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