Tuesday, June 23, 2015

So You Want To Hear God


   
  Something had to change. I refused to live a minute longer in the muck and mire my life had become, so I made a decision. Determined, I stood up straight, sniffled away the sobs, and then phoned my mother.
      “Mama? I’m going to the chapel to pray, and I’m not coming out until I hear from God! If you want to bring me some bread or water in the next few days, that’d be great. I’ll appreciate it.” She could most likely still hear I’d been weeping.
      “Oh, Caryl.” Well aware of the fights with my husband and the pressure of our paving company’s financial woes, she empathized fully with her dearly loved firstborn. I could hear it in her voice. “I’m sorry. Are you sure that’s what the Lord wants you to do?” She was probably thinking of our four children and how they would manage without me, but it seemed to me that my sanity was what I needed to be most concerned with, and her question served as that old proverbial straw!
       “No, Mother! Of course, I’m not sure!” Without a doubt she had to hold the receiver away from her ear, but could still hear at arm’s length. I battled a bad temper since forever, a paternal generational curse. “Aren’t you listening to me? Did you hear a word I said? I can’t hear anything from God. I’ve been praying and praying and praying, and I hear NOTHING!

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them,
and they follow me: John 10:27
       I slammed down the phone and went for my purse and the car keys. Before I got to the door, the phone rang. I’ve never been one not to answer a ringing phone. It seemed rude.
       “Hello?” I tried to sound as sweet as I could.
       “Caryl? Honey, I thought I might share with you what the Lord showed me to do through His Word when I really needed to hear from Him. Would you like to hear it?”
       “Sure, Mama.” I dropped my purse to the floor where I stood and stared at the ceiling. What she told me that day has impacted my life in a wonderful way. A simple, fool-proof, Bible-based way to get an answer from the Lord.
       “Okay. All those voices in your head come from three sources only. The first is yourself, it’s your mind speaking, reasoning with your spirit man; sometimes called your flesh. You’re probably most familiar with it. Second is the Voice of God through His Holy Spirit, teaching, guiding, comforting. That’s the voice that always encourages you to do what’s right and show love to everyone. Thirdly, you hear from the devil or his powers and principalities. Some people call them demons, and they’re not so wrong.

       “So the first thing you want to do when you really want to hear from God is to pray. Repent of any known or unknown sin. Go boldly into God’s throne room and right up to the steps because you are sinless now, covered by Jesus’ blood. Say something like, ‘Father, I really need an answer to my question today. But according to Your Word, I do not want to lean to my own understanding or ability to reason. I only want to hear Your wisdom, so in Jesus’ name, I lay my flesh down before You and ask that You silence it. I do not trust in anyone but You, and I only want to hear Your Voice.”
       Well, so far so good. That sounded logical and certainly easy enough. “What then?”
       “Keep in mind this is all by faith. You have to believe that God will silence your inner voice.”
       
       “I will, Mama. Then what?” 
       “Next, we need to address the demonic forces that would lie and lead you astray from God’s will and plan for your life.”
       “Yes, yes. How, Mama?”
       She was so sweet and patient as always. “God’s word says that whatever we bind on earth will be bound in Heaven and whatever we loose on earth will be loosed in Heaven. Believing that Truth, you need to bind Satan and any of his powers, principalities, and minions from speaking to you. Say something like, ‘In Jesus’ name and by His power, it is written that I have the authority to bind and loose, so right now, I bind Satan and any of his emissaries from speaking to me so that my ears will only be open to the Words of my God. You all are bound and cannot speak to me when I ask the Lord my question.’ Then again, by faith, believe it is done according to the Word.”
       “I can do that. Then what?”
       “That’s all.”
       “That’s all?”
        “Absolutely. Ask your question and know that the next voice you hear is God’s.”
       “But that sounds so easy.”
       “Things don’t have to be so complicated and hard as often try to make them. Works every time I’ve done it. The father of lies tells us everything is too hard and won’t work. Resist the devil and he will flee. That’s what the Bible says.”

   

 So I believed the Word, and proceeded to do all that Mama told me to. Faith had not been a problem in so long I couldn’t remember because God so proved Himself over and over again in my life. I knew that I knew He was able and His Word was true. When I got to the end of binding the devil and his cohorts, the strangest sensation I ever encountered came over me.
       It was as though someone had turned off the TV in my head. You know, like at night and the TV’s blaring even though everyone else in the house is asleep. And when you turn it off, it’s so extra silent? That’s how it was. 


       My mind was empty, no thoughts, no talking up there. Just dead quiet. Weird! I mean it, the weirdest.
       I proceeded to ask my question. “Lord, what do you want me to do?”
       My answer came as clear as a bell’s ding-a-ling.

       I believe when we love Him, we only want His perfect will for our lives. We'll do anything A*N*Y thing if we know it's God telling us. It’s funny to think that was thirty years ago. Mama’s been with Jesus eighteen years, but her wisdom offered that day, her Godly advice to a hurting daughter has helped me so many times since that I can’t even count. 
       God cannot be put in a box or formulated, but He has bound Himself by His Word, and this is Truth according to His Word. I continue to hear God’s voice and do my best to walk in obedience. That's how I show Him how much I love Him.    

Praying my story gives God glory!


NEW RELEASES: May - Sins of the Mothers, Book Four in the historical Christian Texas Romance series  /  June - Story & Style, The Craft of Writing Creative Fiction a guide for aspiring or multi-published authors  /  July - One and Done, contemporary Red River Romance with a Texas Ranger pitcher for its hero just in time for the All Star break!
  
Caryl McAdoo currently writes three series: the historical Christian ‘Texas Romance’; a contemporary ‘Red River Romance’; and The Generations, her Biblical fiction. The novelist loves singing new songs the Lord gives her, and she paints. In 2008, she and her high school sweetheart-husband Ron moved from the DFW area—home for fifty-five years—to the woods of Red River County. Caryl counts four children and fourteen grandsugars life’s biggest blessings believing all good things come from God. Praying her story gives God glory, she hopes each one will also minister His love, mercy, and grace to its readers. Caryl and Ron live in Clarksville, the county seat, in the far northeast corner of the Lone Star State.
LINKS: All Books  /  Website  /  Newsletter  /  Facebook  /  Blog   /  Twitter  /  GoodReads  /  Google+  /  Pinterest          
  
     

                

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The Essence of Integrity

Copyright: Aleksei Potov
About twenty-five years ago, when we lived in Atlanta, our pastor told a story in his sermon one May. It was Mother’s Day, and he took his wife and four children to the restaurant at Stone Mountain for brunch. His youngest son had just turned whatever age it was when his meal was no longer free. As he stood before the cashier, the thought crossed his mind—for just a second—that he could fudge on his son’s age, and save a good bit of money. But his son was watching him, and what would the real price of saving maybe $20 be?

Integrity.

My daughter Emma had a fender-bender about ten days ago. She was leaving the parking lot of her apartment complex and bumped into another young woman who was backing out. (To avoid too many shes, I’ll call her Eve.) Eve was talking to her insurance agent when the police—whom Eve insisted be called—arrived. Eve said her company said it was her own fault. But by the time she talked to our insurance company, Eve had changed her story, and since my daughter admitted she was a bit distracted by the paper she had due, we were held 100% at fault. Emma said, “All they are teaching me is to lie! Maybe next time I just won’t tell the truth.”  I know her well enough to believe she wouldn’t really do that, but she was so frustrated, so upset that she was being judged unfairly and being made to pay for it because she told the truth while Eve lied.

Integrity.

Copyright: Jean-Marie Guyon

The same day as Emma’s accident, my best friend’s father died. For years, her mother had shown up every day at the care facility where he lived. He had Alzheimer’s, and though he required more care than she could give him at home, he was quite happy there. She spent most of every day there, visiting, talking to him. Her friends encouraged her to skip days, do what she wanted, have some fun. Let the nurses do it all. She refused. The last couple months he had pneumonia, and could only eat pudding and applesauce. She still came every day and fed him. She had vowed to care for him in sickness and in health. So she did. Faithfully, cheerfully.

Integrity.

Where has it gone? Why is it so rare?

The world tells us to get whatever we can for ourselves, no matter what it costs. Even if it hurts others, or even if it hurts us in the long run. Only now matters. Only success matters.  
That is decidedly not what God thinks.  The material gains or savings are fleeting. But the effects our actions have on us, on our children, on those around us are long-lasting, even eternal. We must think carefully before we take action. The consequences are often far more profound than we realize.

To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.   Proverbs 21:3

The righteous who walks in his integrity— blessed are his children after him! Even a child makes himself known by his acts, by whether his conduct is pure and upright.   Proverbs 20:7, 11 

Saturday, June 6, 2015

A Time to Remember...

... and a time to be thankful.



“Yesterday, December 7, 1941 … a date which will live in infamy,” declared U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, plunging the United States into World War ll. Although the U.S. was ill prepared for a global war, this didn’t stop boys like Floyd Edwin Lawrence.


At the age of 17, Edwin tried to join the U.S. Navy to avoid being drafted by the Army. “I didn’t want to sleep in a fox hole,” he said. “I had three letters of recommendation as they required, but they still sent me home because I was too young.” However, three months later, to Edwin’s relief, he received a letter to report for duty to the U.S. Navy. He traveled in boxcars from Birmingham, Alabama, to Bainbridge, Maryland, finally settling in Washington D.C. Edwin’s days of raising chickens and tending to the vegetable garden in Fayette, Alabama, were long gone as he prepared for his new occupation as a sniper. With only seven hours of sniper training, Edwin received his orders to board the aircraft carrier USS WASP on the 8th deck, but at the last minute, he was pulled from his orders and never left for overseas. On September 15, 1942, the USS WASP was hit by three torpedoes, losing men, including most of those on the 8th deck.


Floyd Edwin Lawrence, Seaman Second Class, shelved his 50 Caliber Browning automatic rifle and stayed in Washington for the remainder of his time in the war, overseeing warehouses and other stockrooms across the river at the gun factory. On March 17, 1946, he returned to his home in
Fayette, Alabama. Today, at age 89, Edwin lives in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, doing the things he enjoys--sharing his love for cooking, especially his black-eye peas and cornbread sticks.


For Edwin, June 6 is a time to remember those our country lost, but also a time of reflection. Our history has taught us lessons of courage, passion, bravery, sacrifice, and what freedom truly means. “We need to get back to flying our flags more here,” he says. “We need to appreciate what we have, because you never really appreciate what you have until it’s gone.”


As you take time to remember the 71st Anniversary of D-Day, fly your flags high in honor of those men and women who gave so much for the freedoms we enjoy today. Floyd Edwin Lawrence thanks you.



Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Cultivating Romance

Photo by Ambro taken from freedigitalphotos.net
You've seen them at local restaurants and coffee shops--those couples who, though they sit together, maybe even across from each other, appear to be engaged in everything else other than one another. 

And of course, there are couples who've long since given up going out--or spending time together period. 

But then there are those couples who, twenty, thirty, forty years in still laugh, love, hold hands, and genuinely seem to enjoy one another! It's obvious to all--they are madly in love.

So why the difference? 

Honestly, answering that question would take a lot more space than this blog post allows,
Photo by Stuart Miles found on freedigitalphotos.net
but I would like to focus on one crucial aspect of long-lasting committed love, and that's romance. 


When we think of romance, often our mind jumps to five-star restaurants, candlelight dinners, and dozens of roses brought to our doorstep. But romance is much more a state of mind than a high-dollar evening. 

Romance is also an act of will. My phrasing might sound completely
Photo by piyaphantawong taken from freedigitalphotos.net
unromantic, but let me explain.


We live in a crazy-busy world. I know I'm not the only one who frequently looks at my schedule and to-do list, wishing I had but one more hour in the day and one more day in the week. With so many pressures and responsibilities pulling us in so many different directions, it's easy to allow our to-dos to crowd out our must-dos. And contrary to our achievement-oriented culture would have us believe, relational-building is absolutely a must-do. 

A must-do we must attend to with determination and focus, because otherwise, there's a good chance romance won't happen. 

Our daughter was away this past weekend, giving my husband and I more than two full days all to ourselves. Friday night was fun. We went out to dinner, then came home and did ... absolutely nothing, well, except tell each other we loved on another about half a dozen times. 

Talk about teenage regression: 

"You go to sleep first."
"No you."
"No you."
"I love you more."
"Uh-uh, I do." 

Saturday, we spent more time together--shopping, going to a birthday party, more shopping. (I had a gift cards from Mother's Day and Christmas I hadn't spent yet.) 

By Saturday afternoon, after having spent a good chunk of time with my love, I glanced at my to-do list, then at a speech I've been working on, and I felt a tug. I felt two opposing tugs, actually. One was to get busy and catch up on my rapidly imploding to-do list. (A list I'm even more focused on, thanks to a possible upcoming jury duty that could swallow all of June!) The other was a bit softer, less urgent, but I believe, prodded by the Holy Spirit, and that was to pour into my husband and our marriage. 

As I debated these two options, a thought came, quiet but swift, Your marriage is more important.

True, we'd already spent a chunk of time together, and no, our marriage wouldn't have collapsed had I pulled away for a couple hours to get a few things done. But in that moment, I sensed God nudging me toward my husband, reminded me of the treasure He'd given me in Steve, the treasure He'd given us both in our marriage. And as with every treasure, we needed to take time to guard that which we'd been given.

We do that by building and laying the ground work for deep and lasting romance. 

In other words, flowers won't bloom in untilled soil. 

Ah, that brings us back to roses, those uberly expensive flowers that somehow have become synonymous with romance. So what if you're broke? What if you have a bunch of little ones running around the house, requiring an exorbitantly expensive babysitter? Does that mean you and your spouse can only enjoy romance once a month?

Nope. It means you need to get creative, and as you do, I'm pretty sure you'll find those simple, free activities you discover along the way are much more romantic and heart-melding than hours spent at a fancy restaurant. 

They're also much more heart-melding than every moment you spend on your computer, or cleaning your floors, or chatting on the phone with your girlfriends. 

That's not to say you can't do those things, but rather, may we always keep the first things first, and our marriage, one of the most sacred unions known to man, is definitely a first thing. 

What does your week look like? Evaluate it from a "cultivating romance" angle. Do you have enough time carved out for your spouse? If not, what do you need to do to change that?

Share your thoughts, along with any cheap but swoon-inducing ideas you might have, in the comments below.

And speaking of romance, before you go, I want to invite you to participate in an Amazon give-away to win one of four copies of my debut novel, Beyond I Do. 


Will seeing beyond the present unite them or tear them apart?

Ainsley Meadows, raised by a hedonist mother, who cycles through jobs and relationships like wrapping paper on Christmas morning, falls into a predictable and safe relationship with Richard, a self-absorbed socialite psychiatrist. But as her wedding nears, a battered woman and her child spark a long-forgotten dream and ignites a hidden passion. One that threatens to change everything, including her fiancĂ©. To embrace God’s best and find true love, this security-seeking bride must follow God with reckless abandon and realize that marriage goes Beyond I Do.

You can read the first 36 pages HERE.

You can enter the GIVE-AWAY HERE.

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