Spurring Hearts

Encouraging others through faith and life

Heart-felt Thanks November 21, 2012

Last year, I posted 30 days of Thanksgiving on the blog.  This year, when I attempt to put into words the things I’m thankful for, I become overwhelmed at the goodness of God.  My expression then only becomes heart-felt thanks to Him … a private conversation between me and my Creator in a language that only He can read.

Over the years I’ve learned not only be thankful for the good times, but also for the times in my life that were/are not so pleasant.  Struggles.  Unanswered prayers.  Loss.  Humbling moments.  Death.  Despair.  Heart-breaks.  Pain.  Surgery.  Tears.  Many people curse and turn from God during these times in their lives, but for me I’ve learned it is when He is closest to me. … or perhaps better said … when I’m closest to Him.  I cling to Him there.  Hide under His wings.  Feel His heartbeat.  Hear His voice … and know that I am loved unconditionally.

Don’t get me wrong.  There are moments, days, even a few years in my life that I would never want to re-live, but looking back, I also am certain that those are the times that I grew the most.  I came to know God in ways that would never have been possible without the struggles, and not a second was wasted according to His eternal plan for me.

Bottom line.  I’m blessed.  We’re ALL blessed beyond measure – through the good and the bad … and this Thanksgiving Eve, I express my heart-felt thanks and offer all praise to my Heavenly Father.

I wish the most blessed Thanksgiving to each of you and your families.

“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.”
1 Chronicles 16:34

Spurring you on,

Hebrews 10:24


The Recipe for Life’s Super Glue August 30, 2012

A precious friend is tragically killed in a car wreck.  Aging parents experiencing life changes.  Children attempting to do life on their own terms.  Moving classrooms for the third year in a row.  Knee surgery that left me flat on my back most of the summer.  Family members battling cancer, trying to understand divorce, and suffering for the choices of others.  Friends fighting for their marriages, looking for jobs, and searching for God’s plan in it all.  The list goes on and on.  All of this – and more have left me once again a little unglued.

So unglued in fact that the words just haven’t come.  As hard as I’ve tried to post to the blog – I’ve experienced writer’s block.  Perhaps because I usually write from my heart, and my heart has been, well … unglued.

Tonight at church, we began a ladies Bible study authored by Lysa Terkeurst by that same name.  “Unglued.”  I wonder how many ladies sitting in that room felt the same way.  Chances are – I wasn’t the only one.

When I was teaching First Grade, our reading program supplied us with alphabet/phonics cards to use as a teaching tool.  The cards had a small hole in the top so that they could hang on a hook upon the wall.  I purchased those nifty “peel and stick” plastic hooks.  After climbing the ladder, measuring, and laboring over the installation of these cards – I was pleased at the perfectly proportioned, finished product.  Job well done.

The next morning, I discovered that overnight several of the hooks came unglued, and the cards fell off of the wall.  I rehung them using hot glue and repeated the process for many days – only to walk in almost daily and find more on the floor.  Some were hidden as they slid under book shelves – others were tattered and frayed as the impact of the fall damaged their corners. The old saying goes, “The third time is the charm.”  The third time those hooks finally stuck.  The recipe for success?  Super Glue. (A little dab will do ya!) 😉

This illustration reminds me how often our lives look perfectly placed.  Everything is in order, and we are pleased at how well things look and a job well done.  Then, unexpectedly, some of the placeholders come unglued.  When our house of cards come tumbling down, we discover some dark, hidden things and a few tattered and frayed ones.  Wouldn’t it be easier if we could dab a little super glue onto broken hearts, shattered dreams, torn reputations, crumbled homes, withered finances, and dilapidated hopes?

Colossians 1:16,17 gives us the recipe for life’s super glue. “For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.  He is before all things, and in him all things hold together(emphasis mine)

All the King’s horses and all the King’s men couldn’t put Humpty together again.  However, when things in our lives are spinning out of control, The King of Kings,  Jesus Christ, holds it all together with His nail-scarred hands.

This thought reminded me of a well-viewed video by Louis Giglio on laminin.  I shared this with our study group tonight.  No matter how many times I’ve seen it, I stand amazed.  I hope you’ll take the time to watch it.  It will be the best 8 minutes you’ve spent in a long time.

Click on the link to be blessed.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nsvPa0dsZzE

Spurring you on,
Hebrews 10:24


Allow God to Be God June 12, 2012

The pile of mail lying on my kitchen table was graced by familiar stationary.  For years, this correspondence was a welcomed friend. I was always anxious to read and celebrate the wonderful news it would contain.  Now – I wasn’t so eager.  It served as a reminder of how life can change in an instant.  Was it really only a few months ago that I received that 6:00 a.m. phone call?

At first, I thought I had heard the wrong name.  I began thinking of every “Mike” that I knew.  There was no way that God could error … not Mike … and in such a senseless accident.  There were so many questions and no answers.  Wasn’t this the man that had dedicated his life to a world-wide ministry?  Wasn’t this the one who went into the prisons and schools – places where so many others would never choose to minister for lack of status or wealth?  Not the Mike that everyone loved!  “God, you do realize this man and loved You passionately and served You fervently?”   “Surely not the Mike that I served beside of on the streets of Africa … not the one who is like a brother to me … not my friend!”

Mike Jenkins was the type of person that impacted everyone he met.  He openly shared his love for God, his beautiful wife Denise, and his family everywhere he traveled.  Mike never got over the amazing grace that had been bestowed upon his life.  Why God would take him at a time when his ministry was exploding is inconceivable to us.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.
Isaiah 55:8

How can the created question The Creator?  The truth is that God doesn’t make mistakes.  He is still in control, and His plan is always a good one.

Many times over the past few months, I’ve tried to write about how Mike and his ministry have impacted my life.  The emotions have been too raw, and the words haven’t come.  Until they do, I would like to share the bitter-sweet reminder received by mail.  That familiar stationary was the newsletter from MJEA.  Every morning Mike sent an email devotional.  This newsletter contained the last one he wrote.  It was typical Mike … encouraging us all to trust God even when we didn’t understand.  (March 21, 2012.)

Allow God to Be God

What then? If some did not believe, their unbelief will not nullify the faithfulness of God, will it? May it never be! Rather, let God be found true, though every man be found a liar. Romans 3:3-4, NAS

Everyone, at some point in their lives, feels that God has betrayed them and let them down. They find He seems more like an enemy than a friend. Nine out of ten people say, “Well, God, if that’s how You want it to be, then I’ll go my way and You go Yours.” Only one out of ten, I reckon, breaks that betrayal barrier and holds on, like Jacob who wrestled with the angel and said, “I won’t let go unless you bless Me.”

The same kind of thing happened to Abraham. We read in Genesis 22:2 how God tested Abraham by asking him to sacrifice his son—his only son. That made no sense to Abraham. But Abraham showed he was willing to obey God, and God honored him for what he was prepared to do.

Sooner or later, God will ask you to do something that makes no sense at the time. Perhaps the barrier you have to break is the one that doesn’t make sense at the time, but you must give God the benefit of the doubt. Abraham obeyed God and was never sorry.

We want God to be partial for us, but we have to come to the place where we allow God to be God. Would we affirm Him if He were to work powerfully in another church, in another denomination? Would we say, “That is God”?

During the American Civil War, someone came up to President Lincoln and asked, “Is God on our side or their side?” Lincoln’s reply was, “All I want to know is whether we are on God’s side.” That is what we need to learn. When it comes to understanding God, we need to be on God’s side and let God be God.

I miss you Buddy.

“Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.  Psalm 116:15

You many learn more out more about Mike’s testimony and Ministry at:  http://mjea.org/

and on his Facebook Memorial Page at:  http://www.facebook.com/MikeJenkins12#!/groups/135430146585058/

Spurring you on today to trust when there are no answers,

Hebrews 10:24


Promises Kept June 7, 2012

Quietness in my house is a rare treat.  This morning I have basked in the stillness.  Taking full advantage of the moment, I opened my devotional to words that immediately took me back to a time years ago.  A difficult time.  One of pruning.  A growing, yet immensely painful time in my life.

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.  When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you.  For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.”  Isaish 43:2-3

As I read these words, I vividly remembered clinging to them as if they were the only hope that I had.  I could feel the force of the water as I desperately came up for air.  The rivers were so deep that my feet barely ever touched the bottom, and I became weary treading the water to stay afloat.  So intense were the fires, that the impact of the heat was breathtaking.  So clear were the memories of the pain that … I almost overlooked the promises kept.

As I passed through the waters, I experienced the presence of God like never before.  He was with me.
Going through the rivers, many days I thought I would drown, but they did not overflow me.
Walking through the fire, I felt the heat, but I wasn’t burned nor even scorched.  Like Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego who preceeded me through a literal fire, God brought me through without even the smell of smoke on my clothes.

This morning, for the very first time, the last part of this passage took precedence over those spoken promises.

 “For I am the Lord your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior.”

Yes He Is!

Maybe you need a little reminder today that God does keep His promises.  He knows  we sometimes need a little refining in our lives, but once we’ve been sifted and sanded in all the right places, we come forth as gold.

Spurring you on today,

Hebrews 10:24


The R.O.C.K. Changes Everything April 8, 2012

Easter Morning.  The foundation of our faith.  The grave could not hold him.  The tomb was empty.  He overcame death.  He’s alive!  I’m so thankful for His Presence in my life!

This morning was an especially worshipful one for me.  My love and passion for the beach is known by all who know me, and today I woke to a gorgeous sunrise in the east, while the full moon was still in the sky in the west.  The ocean lay in between.  Gorgeous.  God was spilling out all over His creation.

The message this morning at our pier sunrise service was inspiring, and I wanted to share a few points with you.  Although it’s a familiar story, I hope you’ll read on to see a new viewpoint regarding the rolled away stone, the R.O.C.K.

Matthew 28:1-10

Jesus Has Risen

1After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.2 There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. 4The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.

5 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”

8 So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me

Christ had spoken of his resurrection.  The stone (rock) was placed in front of the tomb so that no one would steal Jesus’ body and claim that he had truly arisen .  (See Luke 24 –  Jesus says: “all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.” And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures. Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day.”)

That big rock, however, was no match for Elohim, the Creator of the Heavens and Earth.  He sent a violent earthquake to roll the stone away.  That rolled away rock is a visual that changed everything for us.

R – The Rolled away stone means power over death.  Victory.  God is true to His Word.

O – The Open tomb.  Open that we could see.  Open invitation to enter in.  Open that we could know.  Open that we may share.  Christ didn’t need the stone to be rolled away.  He could have walked right through it if he wanted to, but used the open tomb as an invitation for us all to enter in and witness His Resurrection Power.

CCourage and Good Cheer.  The rolled away rock reminds us that in this life, things/people don’t always meet our expectations, but we can face it with courage and good cheer.  Early on that first Easter morning, Mary Magdeline and the other Mary certainly felt devastated as their hopes and expectations had been crushed.  Everything changed when they went to the tomb and seen the rolled away stone.

KKnowledge.  The rolled away rock gives us a knowledge that we should all be compelled to share.  When the “Marys” saw the rolled away stone, they suddenly had a knowledge that Christ was indeed risen.  The angel, then Christ himself, told them to go share the knowledge that He is Alive!  They couldn’t contain the good news.

If we apply the principles of this acronym, then the R.O.C.K. certainly does change everything for us.  Go and share the good news today.  Celebrate.  He is risen.  He is alive.   Happy Easter!

Spurring you on,

Hebrews 10:24


Trusting God While Facing a Red Sea March 12, 2012

This special creation was made by my friend’s sweet daughter.  What a lesson to learn at a young age!  I hope that she will hide this verse in her heart and cling to it when she faces the Red Seas of her life.

Last weekend, I spent some time with the precious ladies from Colonial Heights Christian Church at their Ladies Retreat.  Making the day more special, I saw some old friends, and had an instant connection with some new ones.  There was a sweet presence of God up on the hill in Newport, Tennessee.

I mention this only because my session tied beautifully with the last blog post, “Trusting God.”  The book, “The Red Sea Rules” by Robert Morgan, took us on the journey with the Israelites to the Red Sea.  Although they followed God’s direction, they found themselves in an impossible situation.  Sandwiched between their enemy and the Red Sea, the Children of Israel were overcome with doubts and confusion.  No way out.  “But didn’t God lead us here?”  Fear.  “We were better off as slaves in Egypt.”  Hopelessness.  “We will surely perish in this desert.” Desperation.  Despair.  Maybe you can relate.  If so, I highly recommend this book/study for some amazing insight during life’s crisis times. (I’m adding it to my resource page.)

While preparing for the weekend, I completed the Bible study that coincides with the book. It allowed space and time to journal thoughts and insights.  As I share these penned words from my journal entry , I pray that you are spurred on to trust God in a bigger way.

Trusting God.  I always thought that I completely trusted him — until Tammy said those words … “I realized that I didn’t really trust God.”

I’ve always believed that God is Sovereign and He brought me to my Red Seas, but I would soon begin looking for wood and nails to build a boat to cross.  I don’t know the first thing about building a boat — but God will show me because he needs my help.  In my panic, I have to help Him fix things.  So, I wear myself out doing so.  Anxious?  Hammer those wooden planks together.  Nervous?  Add some super glue in case a nail works loose.  God and I, we make a good team, but believe that the Trinity is the best team?  I confess I haven’t.  Sure, I trusted God to put the wood and  nails on the beach so that I could work … but how much have I really trusted Him enough to stand at the edge of the sea … feel the sand move with the ocean’s tide beneath my feet … and wait?  Wait for a greater glory.  One that is totally God.  Trusting God might mean that I wait and watch as the water begins to recede from my feet and the sand beneath becomes dry.  Every step I take on the sandy shore becomes dry ground.  I take another … and another … and another.  How far have I come?  I look back and I’m standing miles from the shore where I began.  There are massive walls of water on both sides of me.  The sea is parting beneath my very feet.

What was I thinking?  I could have rowed a boat for hours – days- weeks.  Sore, aching muscles.  Exhausted.  Instead … this time, I stood at the water’s edge and waited … and walked … walked all the way across.  Imagine my relief when my feet touched the shore of the other side.  But then, something even more amazing happened … the walls of water collapsed — swallowing up the enemy that was viciously pursuing me!  I was safe.  They were defeated.  The same God who led me into this place, led me safely through … and He did it without my help.”

What greater glory are you missing by not fully trusting God?

When I am afraid, I will trust in you.”  Psalm 56:3

Spurring you on,

Hebrews 10:24


Trusting God February 20, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Rhonda H. Shaver @ 11:59 am

“I realized I didn’t really trust God.”  Sitting across the table from my dear friend, her spoken words rang in my ears.  Shocked.  This was someone who had walked the walk and talked the talk.  We traveled many roads together, and I never thought I’d hear her utter those words.  She said them with such peace.  They didn’t stick in her throat.  I’m not sure why I was surprised at the ease of her confession.  Honestly that is one of the things I love so much about her.  She is real.  Her strengths – she knows and uses well; but she always remains teachable in her weaknesses.

Those spoken words bounced right off her, but they stuck to me.  It was like cupid drawing back his bow straight to my heart.  Conviction.  The Holy Spirit was doing His job.  He had just used my friend’s words to confirm that my lack of complete trust in Him had become sin in my life.  “Please LORD, help me to have a teachable spirit.”

More faith and less works is a difficult task for a “Type A” Personality like myself.  I could probably even agree that I had the gift of service.  If you put the two together, then you have a “do-er”.  I certainly am a “pray-er”; but I had grown accustomed to praying and then in my own power, trying to figure out a million ways I could work on the situation until God delivered.

There are certainly times that God calls us to action, and in those times we should M.O.V.E.  More often, He calls us to stillness … waiting … trusting … believing …. growing … persevering.   Those times are so much harder.  It’s easier to help Him speed up the process.  You know those moments when…

  • We pray for God to open doors, but then we begin making contacts that might help Him;
  • We pray for bills to be paid; then we use the credit card to pay them;
  • We pray for relationships to be restored; then we try to be other people’s Holy Spirit;
  • We pray for better health; and destroy it more by anxiety and sleepless nights;
  • We pray for peace; and list all the things we have to worry about.

That day began my journey to more fully trust God.

“Guard my life, for I am devoted to you. You are my God; save your servant who trusts in you.”
Psalm 86:2

This verse became my heart’s desire; and He put me to the test.  I embarked upon a sudden journey that left me depending upon Him for every move.  Many days I wanted to simply do … do something.  Thankfully, I had begun to learn to wait and let Him work.  My works would be like putting a band aid on over a wound.  They would help on the surface, but God needed time to work on the deeper things.

It’s easy to say that we trust God – but what happens when prayers aren’t answered on our time tables… Red Seas become overwhelming in our lives. …fear smothers us?  Trust is faith.  Often we have a “saving” faith; but not a “living day-to-day” faith.  I wish I could tell you I mastered this trust issue in one test.  Truthfully, although I have shown improvement in this area, I will probably falter some along the way by offering Him my help.  (I don’t know what He did without me, before I was born.)   ~ wink ~.

The Bible gives many accounts of God’s faithfulness.   He’s the same God of the Old Testament who delivered Daniel from the lion’s den; Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego from the fiery furnace; Ruth and Naomi from despair, and took the Israelites into the Promised Land.  He’s the same God of the New Testament Who healed the lepers, the blind, the deaf and dumb; raised the dead – and caused the lame to walk.  He did all that and so much more without my help.  Let me encourage you today to keep trying – keep believing – keep trusting.  “He is able to do exceedingly and abundantly above what we can ask or imagine.”  (Ephesians 3:20)

Spurring you on,

Hebrews 10:24