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SILENCE

SILENCE

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Silence. Why is this so difficult?

Can you remember a time you prayed with all your heart about something? Possibly you prayed for years and years. Maybe it seemed as if your prayers just hit the ceiling and bounced back. In all honesty, this can be discouraging! In fact, at this point, many give up and throw in the towel.

Silence. How do we trust when we don’t see results?

Corrie Ten Boom was a Nazi prison camp survivor who watched her sister suffer and die during their imprisonment. She barely survived herself. Despite all her trials, she forgave her abusers and continued to trust in God. Her life story is a picture of living, walking, and breathing Jesus. Through difficult and life threatening situations, her faith in God never wavered. She trusted Him even when she didn’t see immediate results. How? She believed in who God was, not in what He could do for her. She trusted God’s Word twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Her faith wasn’t based on what God was doing in her life but in the character of God.Even in desperate circumstances, her walk with Jesus remained strong. She focused on Him, not the situation. As a result, her life example continues to encourage others, many years after her death.

Silence. Sometimes in the stillness, God is doing His greatest work.

I understand the silence of depression. The haunting memories linger close to my heart and mind. In this season it seemed difficult for me to hear from God. Deeper and deeper I spiraled into this pit. I prayed, but no answers. I asked, but no response. My thoughts escalated out of control until one day I screamed, “God, Help!” And He showed up in a mighty way. Little did I know He allowed this time of what I call “silence” to be one of the greatest teachable times in my life.

God calls us to listen to Him. Trust His plan. Surrender it all, with no strings attached. Cast your cares upon Him.

In the silence…

Pray. Continue to lift your requests before Him.
Trust. God is in the midst of accomplishing His purposes for His glory.
Praise. Praise Him before the answer is revealed.

Do you feel like a broken record when you ask God over and over to answer the same request? Do you trust He is in control? Is the stillness weighing on you? Right now, turn the silence into a deeper faith in Jesus. Remember, sometimes in the silence, God is doing His most powerful work. Have fun praying, trusting, and praising Jesus in the silence.

INSIDE THE WALLS OF GUILT

INSIDE THE WALLS OF GUILT

The following is a short story God poured into my heart after praying for a friend held captive by guilt, shame, and blame.

~Inside the Walls of Guilt~

Image 21 - Inside the Walls of Guilt

Desire for Grace. Freedom in Forgiveness.

Disgrace permeates my mind. Humiliation runs through my veins. My shameful actions seem too great for God to forgive. Once again, I cry out in distress, “God help me let go and fully trust you!” Reluctantly, I grasp my Bible and turn to Psalm 51:1-5…

Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your unfailing love; according to Your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight.

These dingy, gray walls of guilt hold me captive to my past. Gazing outside the window, I long for the freshness of spring, the warmth of the sun, and the freedom to run through the meadow. How do I break free from my soiled past? My eyes fix on the next few verses…

Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place. Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. –– Psalm 51: 6-11

Weeping, sobbing, kneeling before the Lord, I ask, “Are You sure You can create a pure heart in me? I desire this so much. For years, these grimy, stained walls encircled my mind. This darkness closes in more and more each day. Time is fleeting. I want out but can’t find the exit. I don’t deserve freedom from this hopeless dungeon of guilt. My sin is too great to merit Your forgiveness. But… I trust Your Word. I trust in Your forgiveness.

With tears streaming, I open my arms, take in a deep breath, and say, “Surrender––I surrender all.” Suddenly my soul is renewed. Something releases. The chains unlock, and I feel a sense of freedom. I read the rest of Psalm 51: 12-19 out loud…

Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will turn back to you. Save me from bloodguilt, O God, the God who saves me, and my tongue will sing of your righteousness. O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, Oh God, you will not despise. In your good pleasure make Zion prosper; build up the walls of Jerusalem. Then there will be righteous sacrifices, whole burnt offerings to delight you; the bulls will be offered on your altar.

Scanning the room, I notice a wide open door–a door I never noticed before. I hear the Lord say, “My child, this door of forgiveness is always present. But your years of guilt built layers and layers of debris, covering this passageway to freedom. I’ve been waiting to free you, but you needed to see yourself as I see you… FORGIVEN–past, present, and future. I love you and long to experience an intimate relationship with you.”

Immediately, the sweet aroma of springtime travels through the doorway. I breathe in this fragrance of forgiveness––God’s forgiveness! Tears pour. Heart warms. Humbleness flows. The once bleak and dreary walls now appear white as snow. Praises erupt. I thank Jesus for His grace and mercy. Examining this restoration process leaves me humbled and amazed.

Inside the walls of guilt is a desire for grace and freedom in forgiveness.

                                                                                                                                                        

As a Christian speaker, I hear this story over and over. Many people have a difficult time accepting God’s complete forgiveness. They live bonded to their tarnished pasts and unwise choices. This acceptance becomes Satan’s battlefield where he ambushes the mind with fiery darts of guilt, lies, and accusations. Surrendering it all to Jesus frees us from our past.

LIFE CHALLENGE

Can you relate? Maybe you know someone who struggles with forgiving herself of past or present sins such as addiction, verbal abuse, abortion, sexual sin, an affair, gossip, rebellion, eating disorder, self-absorption, materialism, judgment of others, legalism, or something else. We like to categorize our sins. We think God views some sins greater than others. The fact is “sin-is-sin” to God. He is waiting for us not only to repent of our sins but also to surrender our guilt and accept His gift of forgiveness. Experience His forgiveness today. Like Psalm 51:17 says, The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart.

Blessings From My Heart to Yours,

Carla McDougal

Founder of Reflective Life Ministries, Author of My Prayer Chair, SOLD OUT, & Reflecting Him

Executive Producer of… STRONGER: Healing for the Broken. Victory for the Wounded.

GOD’S VOICE… Listen. Hear. Act.

GOD’S VOICE… Listen. Hear. Act.

God's Voice: Listen. Hear. Act.
GOD’S VOICE: LISTEN. HEAR. ACT

God’s voice speaks. But, do we listen? He calls our name. But, do we hear? He gives us direction. But, do we act?

One morning, back in January, I was sitting in my prayer chair and opened my Bible to Isaiah 30:21 –

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.”

Immediately, I felt as if a lightning bolt hit my soul. This verse wasn’t new to me. In fact, I’ve read it over and over through the years. But, this time something was different. I asked God to help me understand why, but no logical explanation was revealed.

So, I claimed Isaiah 30:21 as my focus verse for 2015. For the following months, I continued asking God to help me grasp the fullness of the verse. Little did I know, He was preparing me to recognize His quiet, yet powerful voice from the thousands of other voices in my life…

  • The Voice of Reason.
  • The Voice of Doubt.
  • The Voice of the World.
  • The Voice of Self.
  • The Voice of Fear.
  • The Voice of Logic.
  • And so many more.

God was training me to listen as He guides and directs my decisions along the way. I found the more I surrendered to Him, read His Word, and communicated with Him the easier it was to discern His voice. Over the past 9 months, God has slowly opened my eyes to His purpose for igniting a passion for this verse in my life. Oh, that I may hear with listening ears and act with confidence knowing He is directing the way.

God knows what lies ahead. He desires for us to surrender it all to Him and follow His lead. Looking back over the year, I see how God gave me opportunities to practice this verse. Learn His voice. Follow His lead. He knew the major decisions the Reflective Life Ministries’ production team would face this year especially when it came to our faith-based movie project – STRONGER. He has divinely orchestrated connections for us to partner with Christ-centered PTSD organizations for this film. He has helped us define our purpose for STRONGER as He led us each step of the way.

Are you in the midst of a situation, decision, or life choice? Listen to God’s voice. Speak these words out loud… God, when I turn to the right and to the left, may I hear Your voice behind me saying, “This is the way; Walk in it.” 

From My Heart to Yours,

Carla McDougal – Film Producer, Author, Speaker for Reflective Life Ministries

I SAY YES #jamilynhull

I SAY YES #jamilynhull

Service

 

I didn’t even know her, yet something drew me to her. The moment I heard about her death tears poured. But why? I don’t know her family and friends. We didn’t attend the same church. So, why would her life affect mine in such a drastic way? Turning to the Lord, I asked Him this same question. In the quiet of my heart, I heard God say…

Because Jamilyn Hull lived her life sold out for Me. From the moment she woke up until she laid her head on her pillow at night, she served Me completely. As My daughter, she lived every day with My Kingdom purposes at the forefront of her heart and mind. Keep your eyes open. I have something to teach you through my daughter, Jamilyn Hull’s life.

This conversation with God lingered in my mind. I began asking God to show me what He wanted me to learn.

My daughter, Carly Jo, is serving as an intern this summer at The Woodlands Church. The same church where Jamilyn, 26 years old, served as the WC Trading Co Manager and Developer for International Outreach. Carly Jo said Jamilyn loved missions and serving God around the world. Thursday evening, June 25, Jamilyn was returning home from a week-long mission trip to Haiti. On the drive home from the airport, a tragic auto accident ended her life. Unanswered questions blasted social media. From around the world love poured out.

The worship center filled to capacity. Not a dry eye in the place. Over 5000 streamed in from around the world to watch the memorial service. A celebration of life, not of death. A festival of praise, not sorrow. Unspoken questions still lingered… Why in the midst of serving You, Jesus, would her life be taken? You could have prevented the accident or sent your angels to protect her? And then it happened. On the back of Jamilyn’s memorial program, written the last night of her mission trip, the last night before she met her Savior face-to-face…

549411_10155722127665543_6003841873839116212_nEven now, tears well up. Please read her words one more time. Let them pour over you. Let them soak in. Let them inspire you. Let them challenge you… Whatever may come and whatever that looks like. 

From what I understand, one of her favorite statements was I say Yes! One of her friends wrote, “Thank you, Jamilyn, for always challenging me. I will forever miss you! I say YES to loving people unconditional, I say YES to caring about the broken, I say YES to living every day on purpose, I say YES to chasing after Christ’s heart no matter the circumstances, I say YES to being the light on a hill-top, I say YES.”

So, I say Yes to following Jesus completely and living my life sold out for Him. Thank you, God, for teaching me this powerful life lesson through Jamilyn’s life. Your ways far exceed our understanding. As Jamilyn said it, I say Yes to committing to Your cause and I am committed to Your will, whatever may come and whatever that looks like. Amen.

Please leave comments at the end of the blog.

From My Heart to Yours,

Carla McDougal

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