My6inchchallenge's Blog

Tackling difficulties and overcoming the challenges life serves up – by Dona Halliday

Archive for God

From death to life, empowered to stand

For several weeks I had been praying a short, simple prayer, “Holy Spirit of Life, ‘life’ your people, that we may live! Breathe in us, Spirit of God…”

…Only to find myself sliding in a kind of despair I’d never experienced before. I struggled with doubt I would have never thought possible and questioned every promise from God that would rise up in my spirit. At times when it seemed that the light and life had gone out inside me and I chose not to pray, I’d awake during the night to hear my spirit praying, “Holy Spirit of LIFE, life me with Yourself. I want to live!…”

As always, after God speaks and brings breakthrough in my personal life, He confirms His word in some public setting, speaking though some other source.

At watch might service, the sermon was entitled, “Time to live again.” As I study Ezekiel 37, the scripture reference from last night’s sermon, I once again rest in the covenant relationship with a God who will come to us when we find ourselves in valleys of despair and death.

He commands only that we perceive, become conscious by the ear and give our attention to His word (vs. 4 – Dry bones, HEAR the word of the Lord!). He follows with promises of what HE will do — vs. 6 “I will attach tendons, I will bring flesh on you, I will cover you with skin, I will put breath in you, and YOU will come to life.

I’m very much aware that death requires nothing of us, but LIFE does. Even after the first prophecy – that produced the rattling and noise of the coming together of bones, that gave the dry bones the appearance of a healthy physical body – they were still lifeless, without any power to act. However, when The Breath was called forth and the Spirit of God surged in them they stood up, ready for action.

The good news is that no matter what causes us to give in to despair, if we can decide not to shut down and close ourselves off but instead to open our ears and perceive/discern that in the midst of whatever it is, God is still speaking and working – we can live.

Becoming an Extravagant Lover

“What if he’s just like every other man…?”

She pushed the thought away and continued placing light, gentle kisses on his person. She suddenly realized she was crying, each tear drop voicing the ache in her sad, lonely heart, “Do YOU love me?…”

A familiar question. Millions are still asking… Imagine, after spending the night curled in someones’ arms, exchanging intimate kisses and passionate embraces…on the brink of giving one’s self to another…during…after…when lovemaking felt so much like being loved…the question is still whispered from empty, broken hearts, “Do you love me?”

…But Jesus was and is not like every other man. If He was insecure in who He is or uncertain about His purpose, he would have kicked at the kissing harlot, indignantly reminding her of who she was and who He is. Feeling the need to prove His own righteousness and win the approval of religious men He would have further wounded her instead of healing her.

No, Jesus is not like any other man, He is THE Extravagant Lover.

In the book “A Love Worth Giving,” Max Lucado states that the secret to loving, is living loved. Based on the story in Luke 7: 36-50 he speaks of the 7:47 principle from the same text “A person who is forgiven little shows only little love.” Or to my understanding, “a person wrapped in his own self-righteous cannot really grasp his need of grace or forgiveness and therefore is incapable of (being an extravagant lover) offering grace, love and forgiveness to those in need. He can only give from the place where he lives.

This is where Simon dwells. The story shows that Simon, though very religious, showed contempt not only for this sinner but also for the Saviour. May I suggest that when our “righteousness” renders us incapable of showing love, causing us to live and speak hate, spewing condemnation and judgment on any person or group, wishing for their isolation and death, that we not only show contempt for them, but we also show contempt for the Saviour who died that they might live.  Living loved as Max Lucado describes it means first accepting the love that Jesus offers then learning to live and give from that place, (thus becoming an extravagant lover).

This is where the sinful woman lives. She knew who she was, a sinner. She knew what she needed, grace. So, she walks into the room bearing her alabaster jar, heads for the Saviour, stands behind him and weeps. Years of rejection and brokenness yield enough tears to wash His feet. A heart full of gratefulness, bursting with love expresses itself through kisses.

And what does The extravagant lover do? At the risk of His reputation, He gives her exactly what she needs. A safe place to express her love and the acceptance she so desperately craves. Her tears continued to flow voicing a new sound, “I’m loved, HE loves me!” The sinner becomes an extravagant lover as she pours out from what she has accepted, His grace, love and salvation.

On life, love, growing older, keeping life simple, natural hair and more…

life, love, growing older, keeping life simple, natural hair

Celebrate Life!

As I celebrated another birthday, I think what’s so beautiful about growing older is what can develop on the inside, and how our perspective on life changes.

Here are a few disjointed, yet connected thoughts:

On Life:
Don’t try to dance to everyone’s rhythm, find your own beat and move to it.
• People will try to define you, don’t let them. Discover who you are and be that.
• People will try to confine you. Grow in spite of.
• People will try to rattle you. Possess yourself from the inside and draw from that place of peace.
• Keep things that make you giggle, close – when life offers nothing to laugh about draw from that place.

On Love:
I learned very early not to allow fear to keep me in relationships, I’ve had to learn not to allow fear to keep me from relationships.

On Keeping Life Simple:
Even if you can’t afford to get dressed up and go to a live performance, get dressed up anyway, throw back your windows and let the birds serenade you. Learn to make your own moments beautiful, no matter your place or circumstance.

On Growing Older:
I love where I am at this moment. I love that I feel free to dance even if everyone chooses to sit it out. It’s great to feel good in your own skin.
Don’t be bothered by little things, and learn to forgive quickly. There are too many older people who are still bothered by little things.

On Natural Hair:
It seemed like such an unlikely affair, I fell in love with my naturally graying hair. Wearing ones natural hair doesn’t make one more self-aware, but I believe the journey of knowing and loving oneself is worthwhile — and such an awakening!

On God:
I really believe God exists. What He’s doing in me – renewing me, changing my attitude, my outlook;  filling me with strength, peace – that’s what beautifies.

It’s time to accept those who are different

“I’d have to change my response to the wedding vows from ‘I will’ to ‘I’ll do my best with God’s help’.” That did not go over very well with the minister and his wife with whom I was having this conversation. It was years ago, I don’t even recall why we were talking about this, but my response had greatly offended him and his response had not hidden that fact.

It keeps amazing me that people can seem to be getting along so well, yet offenses, misunderstandings, differences and disagreements can not only divide us, but cause an end to relationships, or even worst, cause people to make enemies of each other.

Time teaches that differences/disagreements/etc are normal happenings in life. However, I think the greater lesson is that our responses can paint very accurate pictures of where we are at various stages, and therefore can be the impetus for personal growth.

The idea of standing before God and saying, “I will,” to me meant writing a blank cheque of commitment to someone as we stepped in an unknown future, and it filled me with terror. Yet, in “Meeting God at Every Turn” as I read Philip Lader’s vow to Linda Ann LeSourd (Catherine Marshall’s stepdaughter), something within me exhaled and I finally got it.

Part of Philip’s beautifully written vow read, “…the “I will” said today is not so much fact accomplished, as responsibility assumed… you and I are commissioned by this wedding to make God’s love believable to the world. By His grace however, we have different gifts, and these beg quarrels. When frustrated by your tenacity of opinion, I shall not waive my own, but shall honestly and patiently seek resolution…”

When I think of how different we are — we can respond to conflicts, successes, challenges, pain, disagreements and even pleasure differently. Even if we’ve been raised in the same household we can still respond to life in very different ways. I believe our differences were meant to be complementary and not used as reasons for division.

However, as we live out life in its varying arenas – relational, religious, political, etc. “making God’s love believable to the world” still seems the most difficult thing for us to do?

In Acts chapter 10 Peter was being transformed by God’s lesson on acceptance. In a vision, as Peter dismissed the very idea of eating or being involved in any way with “unacceptable” things transformation took place when he exchanged his way of seeing things for God’s way.  It was time for the hostility between Jews and Gentiles to be faced, for hearts to be opened and for arms to be extended in love to the unacceptable.

God’s purpose has not changed, his reconciling love has always been extended to the whosoever – no matter how wide the cultural or ethnic divide. His heart has not changed, He still desires that ALL persons be brought into an intimate relationship with Him.

Acceptance becomes easier, I believe, when we realize that we would have been included with those who were condemned as unacceptable. Unacceptable, but for God’s grace and His command of not calling anything impure (unacceptable) that He had made clean.

As we represent Christ, His love, grace, mercy & forgiveness have to be the guide to our interactions with the “different” people in our world. His love has to touch those who have been destined to walk in the reach of His light that shines through us, and His acceptance of the whosoever has to be the standard by which we measure our acceptance of others.

Impelled at the point of surrender

Have you ever started a journey to a certain place, yet found yourself in a different location realizing that it was where you needed to be all along?

As I continued my study in Acts I started listing the different seasons of the early church: times of power and growth, peace and favor, obedience and courage, death and persecution…

Stephen had just been stoned to death and Acts 8:1 says, “…a great persecution broke out against the church… and all except the apostles were scattered …” These acts of persecution that were intended to destroy the church were being used by God to fulfill the great commission. Once again I felt unsettled by the reminder that God still allows, and moves through painful and discomforting circumstances.

I was amazed by the actions of the disciples, for though they had been thrust from their places of comfort, security and familiarity it is recorded that they preached the Word in all the “displaces” of their persecution.

Once again I was led to one of Catherine Marshall’s books, “Meeting God At Every Turn.” I didn’t know why I felt the need to track down her book, but at a time when we are being taught to declare and decree what we want, to demand an end to our discomfort  — what about a time of surrender?  Trusting God to work through us to accomplish His purpose no matter in what season we find ourselves.

“In Meeting God at Every Turn”, as Mrs Marshall traversed through some tough decisions and challenges she does this intentional probing of her life, her heart, her motives.  As she examined her life, I started examining mine, and felt deeply shaken by the awareness that there was a part of me that I kept closed, protected, even from God. Protected from that place of complete surrender, lest surrender takes me the way of Calvary — that place of “others-living,” where it’s not about my space and comfort but it’s a willingness to deny me, ALWAYS, for the cause of Christ.

This is the place where I had not intended to journey but was a journey that I needed to make — broken, honest and exposed before God, I surrendered everything…

One thing I know about the Word is that it’s active and alive. It probes our heads and hearts, challenges our places of comfort, exposes our motives and reveals hidden things with the intention of transforming our lives. For if the Word has no power to impact our living, if there is no intimate personal relationship with our Savior, if there is no indwelling of the Spirit to empower, lead and counsel, if there is no Difference Maker, then what would be the point? We could do life anyway we see fit. But at the point of our surrender to God, I’m convinced that’s when we are most powerful, where no matter what impels us, our hearts and lives can affirm, God’s Kingdom come, His will be done….

The time for obedience

It was Saturday and mommy had left my sister and I at home to do chores. My younger brother and stepbrother were outside riding on a cart they had made. The road they were on sloped and at the bottom was a cliff …

Someone suggested that we leave the chores and go have fun with them.

My sister got on the cart with my stepbrother and he guided the cart down the hill. When it was my turn I decided I did not need to have anyone ride with me. I climbed on the cart and it started wobbling. As it gained momentum I realized that I had neither knowledge nor experience on how to steer or stop the contraption.

I panicked, feeling certain if I kept going I would go over the cliff and just as certain that even if it killed me mommy would still give me a beating for having disobeyed.

I jumped off the cart while it still moving and wounded my knee. I was able to hide the incident from my mom only until the next morning, I was in so much pain I could not walk. I still have a scar on my left knee that reminds me of that day.

I had been drawn away from my study of the book of Acts by this memory.

The Wesleyan Bible Commentary on the book of Acts states, “There is no substitute for obedience, and there is no spiritual Pentecost, (and to my understanding, no power,) without obedience.

The book of Acts reminds me of my need for the Helper, I can’t ride this journey of life on my own.  It also reminds me that the body of Christ needs His power in order to obey the charge given to the church. The Wesleyan Bible Commentary further states – “….It was divine energy, (power) that the disciples were to receive through their enduement with the Holy Spirit…. but this power was not a gift to be received apart from the personal Lordship of Christ through the Holy Spirit in their lives.”

If God’s power working through us is in fact intertwined with us obeying His teaching, then is it not time for obedience? D.L.Moody is quoted to have said, “You might as well try to see without eyes, hear without ears or breathe without lungs as to live the Christian life without the Holy Spirit.

The time for courage

“Gift of Jehovah,” that’s what his name means. I sat at my desk on Tuesday morning, working, but the tears would not stop. He was dead. For several days my mind offered up a single cry, “Father, I don’t understand…” I had really admired this 19-year-old who was so responsibly and committed to his faith and his work in the church.

I tried searching the internet for news about the accident — it’s sometimes hard for me to process things without facts. I did not find anything about him but there were so many others who had died during that week and I found myself grieving for them and their families as well.

If what my faith teaches is true, that, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved,”  then, is it not time for courage? I found myself troubled by this question, “Where will eternity find all those who had died?”

I was reminded of Matthew’s re-commitment to God on Sunday, he had held his hand up high when Pastor Garmon had asked if anyone wanted to renew their commitment to Christ, and I sat next to him as he reaffirmed that commitment out loud. I realize that if I believe “The Book” then Matthew’s life, no matter how much we miss him, is not lost. Paul said while we live we have the opportunity to glorify Christ and bring benefit to others, but when we die, if we know The Christ, we gain.

Matthew’s death reminds me that we have no guarantee of the length of the days of our loved ones –they can be taken in the next second, minute, hour, day; So I ask again, is it not time for courage?

In Acts 4:13 the Bible tells us that as Peter and John boldly proclaimed that there is only one way to God — that is through Jesus Christ — that those who opposed the message were astonished at their courage. Courage to speak the truth of The Word even though it could cost them their lives.

My prayer is that God would give us the courage to live and speak the Good News of the Gospel with clarity, conviction and boldness. Courage to work through those things in the body of Christ that divide us and cause others to question the validity of The Faith. Courage to decide to do life according to the Word so that we don’t cause others to stumble. Courage to reach and love those in our space back to a relationship with Christ. Courage to reach our world.

What if I *saw the beggar – A time for healing

It was night-time and I wondered if he still hoped that tomorrow would be different. Was it really possible for him to remain hopeful for 20, 30, 40 years? I couldn’t imagine being in his state — for he awoke every morning, seemingly powerless — having to be carried from place to place, bathed, fed, clothed, then taken to perform his daily work. He was a beggar.

He enjoyed sitting outside though, for here, surrounded by beauty, he had dreams that his life would be different. He was pulled from his day dreaming by the bustle around him. He realized that it must be almost 3pm – prayer time, it was like clockwork.

He did not like this time. It got very busy, but as the people passed through the gate pressing their way to the temple he could not bear to see how they looked at him. So with his head down cast, he said in his practiced, upbeat tone, “Anything for the poor and cripple? Anything…?”

Some passed by as though they did not hear, some in a rush to get inside to pray did not even notice him there, but every now and again he would hear the tingle of coins as they fell into his can.

He tried not to become discouraged, but he had hoped that something miraculous would happen here, at the gate called Beautiful. He’d heard about the Nazarene and his power to heal, but he had never met Him. He’d heard that His disciples came to the temple to pray and wondered if they could do the same miraculous things that He had done.

“Anything for the poor and cripple, Anything…?” His mind was far away, he had said those words so many times he did not need to think about them. He was surprised when he saw two pair of legs stop in front of him, “Look at us!” one of them commanded. He looked into their eyes, afraid to find the familiar look of disgust, but instead he saw compassion.

“Silver and gold I do not have…” the man had continued. But it was ok, his look of compassion had been like a balm, soothing and healing the years of disregard and disdain. “…but what I have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk!”

So they had been with the Christ! he thought. He felt his ankles becoming strong as the man reached out his hand and pulled him to his feet. As he leaped and jumped around like a child he raised his voice in praise. He was healed!

After sometime he asked the man, “Have I not seen you here before? “Peter’s my name,” the man had responded, ” and this is John, and yes, we’ve been here many times before.” He looked at them hesitantly and said, “you seem so different, may I ask what happened?”

Pentecost happened,” Peter said.  “An empowering by the Holy Spirit has taken place, an enabling to DO, to impart God’s power to affect change in the lives of others.

God’s power has been given. If you feel crippled or powerless by the tough challenges of life, it is 2012 the time for healing, time to arise and do.

*See – to give attention and care to

Relationships – Mind blowing intimacy

Genuine love ultimately seeks covenant relationships.

Love's progression

Years ago someone I dated for a very short time told me I was not romantic. I did not know a lot about him. He had shown me his garage, it was full of fancy cars; he had told me of beautiful female celebrities he had spent time with and that his career was moving him to very exciting places — so, when I had gotten up from the sofa, pulled the front door wide open and wished him a good night, he was quite surprised.

There are certain things I don’t argue, this was one of them. I understood that the idea of romance meant different things to us. Romance to him simply meant sex. Romance to me means simple things, like walking and holding hands, dancing without music, walking on dried leaves just to hear them crackle and touch with no particular agenda – just the intimacy of that physical connection.

I’ve always been a watcher of lovers. I’m intrigued by that exchange, when it’s felt that no one is looking.

Many years before that, while I was still 20 something, my pastor had showed up at my mom’s house late one evening, visibly upset. He had proceeded to give me a dress down stating that someone had told him they had seen me holding hands with my fiance in “town,” our capital, Basseterre. He then said that there’s a survey that says 10% of what you see in public means that there is 90% more going on in private.

I’ve learned a lot about respect and honor over the years but back then I had calmly replied, “Really? Does it mean that when you treat your wife with total disregard in public that there is much more of that going on in private?”

My pastor who had known me since I was a child had not spoken to me for a long, long time after that.

But I’ve always been an observer of lovers, especially those who have been married for a while. I’m fascinated by what love looks like when it is lived out — maybe because I still don’t love as well as I’d like to.

Until I was in my 30s I had on my relationship “never list” – never marry a pastor, they don’t know how to love their wives.

How is that possible, though, since they represent such a phenomenal lover?

I’ve been excited for several days about this love chapter that I’m reading in John. About the relationship and mind-blowing intimacy desired there. You know how difficult it is to separate from the one you love – you always want to know when you’ll see them again. Here, Jesus calms his disciples anxiety over his departure with the promise that he’s coming back to get them.

Still teaching he leads them to an understanding that as he’s preparing a place for them, he needs them to invest that time in becoming a prepared people. A prepared people whose hallmark is love for God. Jesus then demonstrates what that looks like as he talks about the love and intimacy between Himself and his father — we are so connected, Jesus says, that if you know me you know Him. An intimacy so riveting that every action is about fulfilling the desires of the other – His Father.

Jesus makes it plain that love and intimacy is not only about the climax of one’s emotional high but that love is responsive in other ways – love seeks to know, desires to please and strives to obey.  “Whoever has my commands and obey them, he is the one who loves me…” John 14:21

Love ultimately seeks to be in covenant relationship. It’s progressive. Jesus promises that when our response of love is our obedience, then something truly intimate happens. There is an exposure, a baring of sorts, as he reveals intimate details, has intimate conversations, moves in with His father to make a home with us, and builds a relationship based on trust. There is a safety in true love and intimacy that dispels fear and allows us to live in peace.

Jehovah-Jireh and the little black dress

The story of the little black dress is really about God'a ability to provide.

The Lord will provide

I believe symbols are imperative, for as a people we are sometimes prone to forgetfulness. Often in the Old Testament the people of God were instructed to hold on to something, even an ordinary thing, as a  reminder of the extraordinary display of God’s power.

In Exodus 16, Moses instructed Aaron to take some manna and keep it for generations to come so that they can be reminded that God provided bread in the desert.

In Joshua 4, Joshua instructed 12 men to take 12 rocks from the middle of the Jordan River so that in the future it can be remembered that on their way to possess the land that God had given them, He had cut off the flow of the river so that His people could pass over on dry land. 

Manna, rocks and my little black dress have something in common, they are reminders that Jehovah will provide.

I had purchased my dress more than a year ago and on Tuesday evening as I slipped into that dress once again to attend the 2011 NARI CotY (Contract of the Year) Awards I was definitely in need of that reminder. I had spent days pouring over John’s account of the feeding of the five thousand (John 6) and found myself stuck at Andrew’s response to Jesus.

Read the story again, and see if you find yourself there. I certainly did. The crowd had followed Jesus and He had ministered to them by teaching them and healing them. It was now late and they were hungry. The only food in their midst is discovered by Andrew, it’s a poor boy’s lunch. Andrew brings it to Jesus and says, “Here is a boy with 5 small barley loaves and two fish, but how far will they go among so many?

Do you find yourself being challenged by those “HOW” questions? How long, how far, how much, how soon, how in the world is this possible?

Let me tell you about the little black dress. It happened over a year ago the night before an event I was to attend. I’d decided to get creative with something I’d had for years, but that night in my dreams I saw a little black bubble dress. The next day as I took a shortcut through a store to get to my car I turned around just as I was about to exit the building and hanging on the wall was my black dress.

It’s significant to me to remember that had I not seen it in my dreams I would have turned back around and headed out the door. But when I saw my dress I got it from the wall and took it to the cashier. When I inquired about the price she had no idea and after checking with management she came back, scanned random items behind her, and I left with a gorgeous, black dress for which I paid $9.97.

The dress is my symbol, it reminds me that even when I give away what I need, God has the power to take what little I have left and show Himself as Jehovah-Jireh. He’s our God, our provider.

I love Jesus’ response to Andrew’s question. He simply instructs them to have the people sit in the green pastures.

How far can 5 loaves and 2 fish go?  As far as Jesus commands them to. Jesus took the poor boy’s lunch, gave thanks for the little that was available, and did what in the natural 8 months wages could not do, he provided for the people until they were satisfied.

Jesus is still answering those how questions. Whenever we feel as if what we have or who we are is not enough, take it to Jesus and trust Him to make up the difference.

More than enough by the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir

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