The life that Jesus lived qualified Him for the death that He died – AND – the death that He died qualifies us for the life that He lived!

– Jeff McKee

Out of the Whirlwind

That one night changed everything. Life would never be the same again.

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Ten years ago, in the pre-dawn hours of Sept. 16, 2004, Hurricane Ivan struck our area on the Gulf Coast. “In the Caribbean, Ivan became a category 5 hurricane, with winds of 160 m.p.h., on the 9th when it was south of the Dominican Republic, and on two occasions the minimum pressure fell to 910 mb. Ivan moved across the east-central Gulf of Mexico, making landfall as a major hurricane with sustained winds of near 120 m.p.h. on the 16th just west of Gulf Shores, Alabama.” (http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/outreach/history/)

Though we had been through hurricanes before, Ivan eclipsed most every memory we had about those experiences. That difficult night began a long and arduous task of recovery and rehabilitation for our area. Entire neighborhoods disappeared. Personal belongings lay scattered across miles and miles with little hope of ever being returned. Life would never be the same!

Ten years later it appears that everything is back to normal. That is, until you compare then and now. Many people have relocated to other places, houses have been built differently, and even a few precious loved ones lost their lives in connection with Ivan.

One of the definitions for whirlwind in the Bible is a hurricane. Whirlwinds though, aren’t always named storms like Ivan. Sometimes it begins with a visit to the doctor or the emergency room.  Still others are signaled by a confession from a loved one that forever changes your life. That one phone call – all of a sudden life becomes a whirlwind of questions with little to no answers.

Whatever your whirlwind, I want you to know that there is another side! One day the storm will pass, and most likely you and your scars will carry on.

What does The Lord have to say about these whirlwinds?

 

1. GOD USES THE WHIRLWIND TO MOVE US

2 Kings 2:1

1  And it came to pass, when the Lord would take up Elijah into heaven by a whirlwind, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal.

2 Kings 2:11

11  And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.

Whirlwinds of life have a tendency to move us – not necessarily physically, but spiritually and even emotionally. After the storm calms down we usually find we’re not the same person as before. Our experiences, our expectations, and our emotions have all changed as a result.

You will see in the text above God literally moved Elijah. How abrupt this experience must have been for both Elijah and his apprentice Elisha. One minute they’re traveling down the road, the next they are divided.

The whirlwind not only moved Elijah, but consider how it moved Elisha. He now had to step up and decide whether or not he would continue. Would he still trust God when his closest friend was now at a distance.

This happens all the time. A friend betrays, a mentor disappoints, a job falls through. Is it possible that God works out of the whirlwind to change our lives? I believe so.

 

2. GOD USES THE WHIRLWIND TO SPEAK TO US

Job 38:1

1  Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said,

 Job 40:6

6  Then answered the Lord unto Job out of the whirlwind, and said,

We are all familiar with Job. He has long been the reigning champion of sufferings endured. I find it interesting though, how God chose to speak to Him – out of a whirlwind. This pretty well described Job’s life in recent days. His world had been turned upside down in a very short amount of time. He lost his wealth, his children, and his own health.

What a comfort it is to read that, “The Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind”! OUT OF THE WHIRLWIND! Thank The Lord that the whirlwind can never silence His voice!

Notice Job’s response afterward:

Job 42:1-6

1  Then Job answered the Lord, and said,

2  I know that thou canst do every thing, and that no thought can be withholden from thee.

3  Who is he that hideth counsel without knowledge? therefore have I uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not.

4  Hear, I beseech thee, and I will speak: I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto me.

5  I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee.

6  Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.

The Lord was able to speak to Job like never before because He had His attention like never before.

 

What whirlwinds of life are you experiencing? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Marks of a Life Well-Lived

I’m honored today to share a great article I came across recently. It was written by Michele Cushatt who gave me permission to share it with you. I believe it will be a great blessing to your life! Michele is “an experienced keynote speaker and emcee, Michele’s speaking experience covers the United States and includes Compassion International, Women of Faith, Focus on the Family, Proverbs 31 She Speaks, Hearts-at-Home, women’s and writer’s conferences, business and church events as well as various radio, video and audio recording projects.” To find out more about Michele visit her about page by clicking here.

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On August 19, 2014, my mom, brother and I said goodbye to our Papa for the last time. We’ve had a tough time of it, enduring these long, empty days without his presence. Losing him extinguished a light. We’re not—I’m not—the same. I realize death is expected, for all of us. I understand we are not alone in suffering. I’m fully aware that these things—illness, loss and grief—are a part of life. But that doesn’t make the losing and crying and aching any less significant or profound.

Nine days after our goodbye, on a sunny August Thursday, my mom, brother and I gathered in a Las Vegas church. The same church Dad attended every Sunday, sitting on the right side, fifth row, aisle seat. I can still picture him standing there, arms raised, voice loud and strong. Boy, how he loved to sing.

But on August 28, his seat remained empty. The rest of the room did not, however. Friends and family gathered from all over the country to honor this man who loved Jesus and knew how to live. My brother and I led the service, something Dad asked us to do in his final weeks. As for my part? I told stories. And through the backdrop of storytelling, I highlighted the marks of a life well-lived.

Continue reading over at Michele’s site by clicking here.

 

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“Want your life to count? Want it to matter beyond the next project or to-do or accomplishment? Relationships. Faith. Service. Joy. These are the marks of a life well-lived. The chairs circled in your honor will never be empty when you live thus.”

 

How Do I Say No?

This post has been on the back burner for about a month now, and I haven’t been ready to write it until now. Within the last couple of days I’ve had folks asking this very question: “How do I say no?” It’s not a word that comes easy for everyone.

Yes or No

 

Do you remember the “Just Say No” campaign that surfaced in the 1980’s? It was created and championed by then First Lady Nancy Reagan as an answer to the drug epidemic that was spreading in the U.S. Why was that slogan pounded into our culture repeatedly?

At the heart of the problem was the inescapable trap of being influenced by our peers. “Just Say No” introduced the position that we had other options. It was to remind us that “yes” was not mandatory and that “no” was ok.

It’s not just a teen peer-pressure problem though.  I find it just as difficult today, many years later, to say no. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about drugs or alcohol. What I am talking about is the importance of not saying yes to everything. It’s about managing your life to accomplish the things that really matter.

Let me give you 3 tips to help you say no.

1. SAYING YES MEANS SAYING NO TO SOMETHING ELSE

We all run on limited resources such as time and energy. You can only be in one place at any given time. You cannot effectively multitask your life!

Multitasking, in my opinion, is virtually impossible. You may chop up tasks or relationships into tiny pieces to move quickly between them, but the truth is, you’re still only giving your attention to one thing at a time. All you’ve done is trim down the time and energy devoted to any one area.

Say yes if you need to, but just remember something else automatically gets a “NO”.

2. DETERMINE YOUR PRIORITIES AHEAD OF TIME

Let’s say you’ve got that friend that needs help at their house. You can say yes, but remember you have to neglect something in the process. Now consider that it’s during the time you promised your spouse that you would spend the day with the family. What do you do?

If you have determined what’s important ahead of time, it’s a no-brainer. With solid values in place you have grounds to say no. You have a previous engagement already scheduled. See how easy that was? (yeah, I’m preaching to me too!)

Sometimes though, it’s not just a time issue. It may be that what you’re being asked to do goes against your personal value system – your convictions. You must have your priorities in place before the temptation arises.

At this point you’re no longer making the decision – you’ve already decided ahead of time. Now it’s just a matter of following through.

3. MOST EXPECTATIONS ARE SIMPLY UNREASONABLE

You can’t be everything to everybody all the time! (I know, I’ve tried) It’s hard enough to be an effective, Christian, spouse, parent, etc. For me, add pastor to that list and you’ve definitely got your plate full.

Those are all wonderful, fulfilling, and usually healthy experiences. The point is,  there’s not much extra room for people or things that simply doesn’t fit. We stress ourselves to the limit trying not to hurt anyone’s feelings, and that seems noble, but it’s not sustainable.

I’ve known people that have run themselves empty trying to please everyone except those that should’ve been most important. After all the smoke clears, what have you gained if you’ve sacrificed those that matter most for unreasonable expectations.

You’ll never be able to be there for every person in need, you’ll never have all the right words, and you’ll never be everyone’s hero. Dedicate yourself to the those things that matter most.

Psalm 27:4

One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in his temple. (emphasis mine)

 

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