Can You Help a Sister Out

When leaving the hospital in St. Louis, I approached the parking validation machine so I could pay for parking. The machines are inside the hospital but outside the skywalk that leads to the parking garage elevators. A public safety officer sat next to them.

I squinted at the machine in an attempt to read the instructions without my glasses. The officer saw my struggle and was very helpful, pointing out where the ticket went then where to place my money. We may small talk about why I was visiting St. Louis.

He sat back down next the glass doors to the skywalk and the elevators to the parking garage. I turned the wrong way and went onto another skywalk and before I knew it, I was at the entrance of the medical university. I sighed, turned around and headed back to where the validation machines were.

As I rounded the corner from the wrong direction, the safety officer looked at me oddly.

I pointed up to the parking garage sign. “Is this the way to the garage?”

“Yes,” He tilted his head. “But weren’t you just here?”

“I went the wrong way.” I playfully smacked his arm and laughed. “Way to help a sister out. I was over at the medical hospital before I figured it out.”

“Sorry,” he snickered. “I didn’t even pay attention.”

As I rode the elevator up to the level where my car was parked, I wondered how many times we don’t pay attention to what’s really important—people. We may hear them, but do we listen? We look, but do we see them? Do we sit back and watch them go the wrong way never saying a word?

Let’s take the time to see and listen to the people God puts in front of us. When the Spirit prompts us to open our mouths, let’s speak. It could be something as simple as offering directions, saying a kind word or sharing the Gospel. No matter what you do or say, you may just be helping a sister, or brother, out.

Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. Hebrews 13:16 (ESV)

Blessings, Dana

danakray.com

https://www.facebook.com/danakray/

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Flat Tire

The other day I approached an intersection and heard a loud flapping sound. I pulled up next to a six-wheeled pickup truck that had a tire cage in the bed and was hauling new tires. I looked over at the truck and noticed one of his inside tires was blown and the rubber was pounding against the pavement.

We continued down the road. I found it amusing that this truck had a blown tire and he’s hauling around a hundred tires in the back of his truck. He had everything he needed to fix the flat, but never stopped to use it. He drove on because he could. He still had five good tires, but no doubt the ride wasn’t as smooth, enjoyable or efficient.

Often times, we walk around this earth hurt, unfulfilled, attacked or spiritually drained. God has given us everything we need only we never tap into it. We continue on because we can, only we aren’t happy or content.

Do you have a tire blown and you just keep driving using the other five wheels. This leads to a mediocre life. Pull over. Change it. Look up and use the tools God has given us. His Word. Pray. Believe. Trust in Him. He came so we may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance. John 10:10

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How Long Will You Wait?

I was in a brand new hospital. After visiting a friend I left the room, found my way back to the elevator, and pushed the button. I was pretty proud of myself. I didn’t get lost. I noticed that the little light didn’t come on under the arrow down button on the elevator. I shrugged it off. It’s a new building. It has some kinks to work out. I’m sure the elevator is on it’s way. I pushed the button another couple of times just to make sure. No light but no worries. I’m sure it’ll be here. I got my phone out, checked twitter and facebook then looked up at the elevator. Hmm, strange, it should’ve been here by now. It’s a small hospital and I’m only on the fourth floor.

I pushed the button, again. No light. I pushed it harder. No light. I pushed it over and over. Still no light. I’m trying not to make a scene but I continually pushed the button. A nurse walked by, smiled and went on her way. I gave it one last push and figure, lights burnt out, surely it’s on it’s way.

I watched a couple of Vine videos then double checked the sign. It said elevator. Maybe I should tell someone. I push it again. I look at the time and sighed. I’d been standing and waiting for a while. I gave it another couple of pushes then gave up. I’m finding the stairs. It’s only four flights. I can walk.

I walked back into the hallway and looked for a stairs sign. There in the corner, hanging from another wall was a sign that said elevator. I turned the corner, pushed the arrow down button. The light lit up and within seconds the elevator door opened. I walked in and began laughing at myself. I later found out the other elevator wass for employees only. If I’d looked closer, there was a black box on the wall that allowed employees to swipe their cards which turned the elevator on.

As I got in my car I wondered why I stood in front of that elevator for so long. Why didn’t I move when it was obvious it wasn’t working? I thought of the Israelites standing at the Red Sea. Yes, God sometimes tells us to be still but sometimes, He tells us to move! The Israelites were backed up against the sea. Moses told them to stand firm and see the deliverance of the Lord. God said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on.”

There are times we feel like we can’t do anything but wait. We continually push the button thinking surely the light will come on. We think we are being still, waiting for God, but in reality, we’re overcome with fear or exhaustion all the while God is telling us to move so that we can receive His deliverance.

If you hear Him tell you to move discard the distractions, the fear, the embarrassment, whatever is holding you back and move. Your deliverance, like the elevator, could be just around the corner.

How Big is Your Brave

I was recently at a meeting with a lot of senior ministers, children’s ministers, youth ministers, and music ministers. My feelings of inadequacy began to rise. Thoughts invaded my head. I’m not smart enough. I don’t know the Bible as well as them. I’m not spiritual enough. Those thoughts and feelings make me sit quietly even when I feel the spirit prompting me to speak.

I left the first day of the two day meeting frustrated with myself. I’ve prayed about this feeling of inadequacy for years. As I drove home, I cried out to God, “When am I going to have a breakthrough. Am I always going to feel this way? When will I get over it? Why does this continue to haunt me? Will I always walk around with this not good enough feeling?”

I asked over and over again when my breakthrough was going to happen but heard no answer. I decided I needed some music so I flipped on the radio. The first words I heard were…Say what you wanna say and let the words fall out. Honestly, I wanna see you be brave. I just wanna see you, I just wanna see you, I just wanna see you be brave. (Brave by Sara Bareilles) I realize the song is talking about something totally different but it was as if the words were coming directly from God’s mouth. Everybody’s been there, everybody’s been stared down by the enemy, fallen for the fear and done some disappearing…bow down to the Mighty, don’t run…I just wanna see you be brave.

It doesn’t matter if we feel inadequate. The question is, do we trust God to equip us to do the job He has called us to do? When we’re weak, He is strong. Do it afraid. He just wants us to be brave. He wants to see it. Show Me how big your brave is.

Clip and Zip

I had the chance to go to camp this weekend with some kids and the thrill of the weekend is zip lining. All the kids were harnessed up, ready to go. One was very apprehensive. He was scared. I could relate. I’m petrified of heights but I have zipped a few times. Once you get over the fear, it’s really fun.

This frightened little man walked all the way up to the tower, climbed the stairs, looked down and said, “No way.” He climbed back down and walked back to the base. Looking up at me with his sad eyes, tears flowing, he said, “It’s just too scary. I couldn’t jump off.”

I agreed with him. “I know it’s really, really scary but after you take that first step it’s really, really fun.”  He wasn’t buying it. I started for the tower.

When I got up to the tower my heart pounded. I climbed the stairs and the arguments in my mind start. Will the harness hold me? Will the line snap? Will I fall? It’ll be fun. I’ll be fine. I could die.

The mini war was interrupted by the guy on the second landing. He asked me to climb up those last five stairs to clip onto the line. I will admit, that is the worse part. You’re on this little platform. You have nothing to hold on to and it’s a straight shot to the ground.  I was scared enough and I didn’t need to stand up there waiting my turn, thinking about what I was about to do. It would scare me too much. I told him I’d rather wait until the lines were clear. I prefer to walk up those last stairs, clip on the line and zip.

I clipped. I zipped. It was a blast. The kids all cheered and adults snapped pictures.

Zip lining is like a ride with Jesus. You harness up, trusting the guy who put it on. You clip onto the line, trusting it will hold you. The hardest part is stepping off the platform. If you look down and around, you may just chicken out but when you trust, the ride is a blast!

I thought of Peter stepping out of the boat. He stood on the edge of the boat, looking around, the wind blowing, wondering, Can I walk on water? Will I sink? Will Jesus help me? Jesus told him to, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

Peter heard Jesus, suppressed those fears, and stepped out. Can you imagine the ride? Walking on the water with the wind blowing around you. How cool would that be? Yes, he looked around, he was afraid. He took his eyes off Jesus and started to sink but Jesus saved him. And for a moment he walked, however brief, and it had to be amazing.

When Jesus calls us to do something, the hardest part is taking that step off the platform. Trusting that God has it all under control and the line will hold. Once you let go, lean back in the harness, and enjoy the ride because it is amazing. “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more that all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.” (Eph. 3:20)

Don’t waste any more time standing on the platform looking down.  Clip, zip and enjoy the ride.

Better Blessings!

As I reflect on Easter weekend, I am amazed at the “better blessings” I’ve had. On Friday, we had a Great Day of Service and a Good Friday Night Church service. On Saturday we had our Easter Egg Hunt, with over 400, probably closer to 500 people. Every spare moment Saturday and Sunday, I spent helping my daughter and writing out high school graduation invitations for my oldest son.

Today’s Easter service was amazing, then our family went to lunch. From Friday to Sunday life was non-stop.  It was so crazy, that last night by ten, I was so groggy that I barely remember getting my daughter into her bed. I sat down to wait for that last load of laundry to get done but fell asleep on the couch only to wake up around six this morning.

I had plenty of time to get ready for church. As I prayed about my lessons, I asked God to give me something to teach about the resurrection that was new and refreshing.  For myself to learn something new and refreshing about the resurrection.

I taught out of the Gospel of John and began to really focus on the disciples.  They witnessed the most horrifying thing in the world.  They watched the Lord not just go on trial but He was convicted even though He was innocent.  They saw Jesus beaten beyond recognition, whipped, spit on, insults hurled, a crown of thorns, carrying his own cross, nailed to the cross, then left, hanging, to die. If that wasn’t enough, the soldiers cast lots for his garments and a thief hurled insults at him.

His body taken down and buried. That was Friday. What happened next in the disciple’s lives, I can only imagine from my own experiences of losing loved ones to death, then multiplying it by a million.

The grief. The shock. The disbelief about what happened. They were scared for their own lives. They sat locked in a room. I’m not sure how much they even ate. Their weekend must have been the longest in their lives. They’d given up everything for Jesus. Everything. Now he was gone. Dead. Buried. I can hardly imagine it.  Every thought they had was of Jesus dying. It replayed in their heads. What do they do now? Where do they go next? It’s no wonder Thomas wasn’t around.

My weekend was filled with amazing, Godly things we did, but I couldn’t help but think about how different theirs was so many years ago. Mine was fun, exciting, and meaningful. They were scared, grieving, and exhausted.

But how exciting it must have been for them that Easter Sunday when they saw Jesus alive!  We can enjoy Good Friday because we know the outcome.  We believe. We know. He’s alive! They grieved in a way we can’t even comprehend, but oh, how they must’ve rejoiced when they saw Jesus appear in that room. How they must’ve rejoiced when He breathed on them and they received the Holy Spirit.

As I taught this today I told the kids something really cool happened a week later. Yes, Thomas doubted and wanted to see Jesus for himself. Jesus appeared to the disciples again, showing Himself to Thomas and then he mentioned each one of them in my class. He mentioned me. He mentioned you. “Jesus said, “So, you [Thomas] believe because you’ve seen with your own eyes. Even better blessings are in store for those who believe without seeing. “ John 20:29 The Message

Did you catch that? Even better blessings are in store! What a better blessing this weekend has been! I pray yours was filled with better blessings, also!

Facing Goliath

I often wonder how Jesus even puts up with me. I know He and God sometimes sit up in heaven laughing at how much work I make the Holy Spirit do.

I was asked to speak in front of a group of people. That is the one thing that terrifies me the most. Statistics show that speaking in front of people is the number one fear even above death. It’s nice to know I’m not alone but it drives me crazy on how afraid I get. Give me three hundred kids and I’m fine but ten adults and I’m shaking in my boots.

Joyce Meyer has said to do it afraid. Beth Moore once said you may never get into your Promised Land if you’re too afraid to do what God is calling you to do.

I knew God was telling me to do it so I agreed. I knew it would be hard and scary. I believed I could do it through the help of the Holy Spirit. What’s funny is once I agree to something in the Spirit the flesh takes over. I start thinking of ways to get out of it and the roller coaster begins. One minute I’m excited to speak the next my stomach feels like I could puke. I could totally relate to Elijah when he was so pumped about God showing Himself then he wanted to die.

I began talking to my flesh, scolding it really. I said, “Dana, God spoke the world into existence, He parted the Red Sea, parted the Jordan, brought down the walls of Jericho, rained fire from Heaven, rose Jesus from the dead and you really think He can’t help you through a few minutes of speaking in front of people?” It was pretty pathetic when I think about it now but it was very real a few days ago.

I clung to a profound word a preacher said a few days before I had to speak. She explained that so many of us want to see a miracle. We want to see God conquer a Goliath only we don’t want to be a David and face it. But to see the miracle God wants to work in our lives, we have to face a Goliath. We have to come to a Red Sea and a Jordan River. We have to face the walls of Jericho.

It really hit home. We have to face these fears and allow God to work through us. We have to get out of the way and let the Spirit work. I did just that. I got up there and faced my Goliath. I did it afraid. My stomach was in knots but people said I did a good job and they said they couldn’t even tell I was nervous. I don’t know if that’s true or if I blessed anybody with my words but I do know I obeyed God and getting through it was as much of a miracle as David taking out Goliath with one stone.

If you want to see God work some miracles in your life then you will have to face some Goliaths.