Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Finding My Way

Sometimes we know that we are full of purpose yet we feel stuck. We know we’re on a journey, but we don’t know which way to go. I began “Sharing the Journey” so that others like myself could come and see that as we traverse the path of life, we are not alone. We journey together, maybe on different paths, but together in desired destination. My desired destination is my home. Earth is not my home; it’s but a temporary residence. I have a home in glory where there will be no more sickness, no more pain, no more sorrow, just joy unspeakable – full of glory.

But unlike some, I don’t want to just make it in. And there will be those who enter by the skin of their teeth. If that’s all I can get, I’ll accept it. But it’s not my desire. I once shared with a Bible Study group that when I see Jesus face to face and He welcomes me home, I don’t want to hear Him say, “Whew, Dutchess. You made it!” I want to hear Him say, “Well done my good and faithful servant.”   

My well done will not be the same as your well done for my purpose is not your purpose. Well it is and it isn’t. We both have been tasked with kingdom building but you may be a carpenter while I’m a painter. Different jobs but the same desired end.

As you can see, my journey has been a lot of “meandering”. But if you look back, you’ll notice I’ve been sitting still for far too long. The Father sent me a messenger several years ago to tell me I’ve been reaching out to God for a long time – and that’s good. But I’ve now been called to step out. So I’m up off my toosh and stepping out in faith. I’m not sure which specific route to take but I’ve got to move in the general direction of my calling. I can’t hear the Master’s voice as well as I have in times past. I can’t feel Him near guiding me. But I have His promise that never will He leave me nor forsake me. He is with me always. I can’t sit still waiting to feel anymore. I’m am girding up my loins with the truth; for the Lord is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth. (Psalm 145:18) He is here.

A Writer’s Musing

I sat at my desk with pen and paper in hand
Well actually it was my laptop on a table
But I sat to write words to encourage you
But realized I’m just not able

Yes God has given me a tongue of the learned
To speak a word to he who is weary
But today, I am the weary soul
In my heart it’s cold and dreary

I know that I have been given a gift
But it’s a gift of which I have not control
Don’t know if it’s unconfessed sin in my heart
Or a prayer life that’s gone dry and cold

Why is my soul downcast within me?
Why do I feel so glum?
Reignite the fire of passion, sweet Spirit
Recharge my love for the Son.

I’m not satisfied with being okay.
I want a life of purpose and vibrancy.
I want the life Christ died to provide
I surrender that I might be free.

Hear my prayer, dear omnipotent One
Take these shackles off my feet
Make me, shape me, mold me, transform me
Make me what you want me to be

Then again shall I declare your goodness
Again I shall speak with tongues of the learned
And I shall share your goodness and love
Then again I shall point to your Son.

All rights reserved © 2015

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Take Heart!

Dealing with disappointment is not easy and definitely not fun, but we have to deal with them because they are as much a part of life as breathing. Jesus tells us very plainly in John 16:33 (NIV) “In this world you will have trouble…” Are disappointments not a form of trouble? But if we continue reading that same verse we’ll see that Jesus goes on to say, “take heart!” Now how are we supposed to take heart when we have trouble? Again, in John 16:33 Jesus tells us, “I have overcome the world.”

Please note, when Jesus spoke these words He was not speaking to everyone. The conversation recorded in John 16 actually begins in John 13 during the “last supper.”  Jesus begins by washing His disciples’ feet and explaining to them the things that are about to take place – His arrest, “trial” and crucifixion. It is during this discourse that Judas Iscariot leaves to betray Jesus. When we come to chapter 16, they have finished the meal and have left the room. (See the end of John 14:31)

The point is still that Jesus is not out teaching and preaching publicly. He is having a conversation with His disciples – those who have committed themselves to follow Him. So when we finally come to John 16:33, Jesus is not giving a word of encouragement to the masses. He is speaking to a specific group of people – His people.

Therefore, when we face trials, tribulations and disappointments, we – who are called by the name of Christ – can take heart! Jesus has overcome the world along with all of the problems we find in the world. If Jesus has overcome and we are in Him through faith, then we too have overcome the world.

But let’s be real. It doesn’t always look as if we have overcome and it certainly doesn’t feel like it – especially when we are in the midst of a trial. But there is yet another promise to encourage us. Romans 8:28 tells us, “…all things work together for good to them that love God…” (NIV) The KJV says, “…in all things God works for the good of those who love him…” Again, I have to point out this is not for everyone – only for those who love God. And Jesus makes plain in John 14:21 that the one who loves Him is the one who keeps His commands.

So if you are a disciple of Christ, you are a Christian in your heart and not just by a church’s membership roster, the disappointments of life that are sure to come your way are nothing to lose heart over. Take heart! Jesus has overcome and through faith in Him so have you. But more than that, those disappointments are a part of the “all things” found in Romans 8:28. If you love God, He will take those disappointments and work them for your good. You may not be able to see it but He does and He’ll bring you to it.

If you are not a disciple of Christ I beseech you now – become one! Pray this, “Jesus I am a sinner in need of a savior. I believe you are the Son of God who came in the form of man and died on the cross as a sacrifice for my sins. I believe that on the third day God raised you up from the dead conquering death, hell and the grave. I ask you now to forgive me of my sins and come into my heart. Make me a new creation in you.” If you prayed that prayer and believe the words you prayed, the promises above are now for you.

All of your problems will not suddenly disappear; Jesus promised we’d have them. The good news is now as a follower of Christ, you don’t have to carry them on your own.  You can rest assured God can and will take it all and work it for your good. Stay in the Word of God for there you will find strength and encouragement to overcome. Find a local body of believers who preach and teach the word of God. And finally, forsake not the assembling of yourself with them (Hebrews 10:25) so that you may be exhorted and trained up in the ways of God. If you allow Him, He’ll blow your mind!

Note: I encourage anyone who is going through to read the stories of Job and Joseph from start to finish. They went through but when they came to the end…wow! (Job is found in the Old Testament book of Job and Joseph can be found in Genesis 37-50.)

Thursday, July 9, 2015

What An Honor

As I came before the Lord in the early hours of the day, the Holy Spirit reminded me what a privilege and honor such a time was. I thought of the excitement I felt when introduced to men and women of greatness and authority – men and women of power and distinction. I have not met a president of this (or any) great country, but what an honor that would be. How much more the honor of coming – invited – into the presence of not just a great and mighty god, but the only true God, creator and sustainer of all that is. I am His and He is mine and He loves me with a never-ending love. Spending the opening hours of the day with Him is not a chore or an item to be checked off my to-do list. It is not something I have to do, but something I get to do and I pray I never take that privilege or my God for granted.

Precious Father
so holy and wise,
what am I
to your all seeing eyes?

When you look down
upon my humbled form
what makes you cover me
and keep me from harm?

What do you see
when you look on my face?
Am I just another
of this pitiful race?

I think not;
I believe you see more.
You see your beloved –
the one Christ died for.

When you see me
I pray see the blood –
covered and transformed
So much more than just mud.

Filled with your Spirit –
humble and true,
when you see me –
I pray you see you.

Precious Father,
so holy and wise,
thank you for seeing me
with love in your eyes.

Written by Dutchess Horton
© 2015 All rights reserved

Friday, May 15, 2015

It’s Not Always What You Do

If you have read any of my previous posts as I have shared this Christian journey, you know I have had a bit of struggle along the way.  I didn’t feel as if I was doing anything wrong. If fact, I felt I was doing fairly well. I was reading my Bible; I was praying; I wasn’t doing any of the things of the world God had delivered me from. I could not figure out what I was doing wrong, yet I knew something was not right because I felt stuck or in a holding pattern. In short, I didn’t feel God’s presence as I once did. I knew He was there, but something in the relationship was stagnant.

Last night I went to a worship service and came forward when the call went out for prayer. The woman of God told me that on THIS NIGHT, you are delivered. It wasn’t an instantaneous thing. In fact, I couldn’t really feel the hand of God until the woman of God removed her hand. But when He came...

I cannot fully describe what it’s like to KNOW you are in the very presence of God. I heard someone once describe it as having liquid sunshine flow through your veins. The closest I can come is comparing it to that feeling of being in love. There’s a difference in loving and being in love. It’s like that rush I got when I hadn’t seen my fiancĂ© in a while (we were at different duty stations serving in the US Air Force). I’d talk with him on the phone and be assured of his love for me, but when I would see his car come around the corner and know he was with me – it took me to a whole new level of love and emotions. It was liquid sunshine.

Anyway, that was the feeling I had last night. And to seal the deal and make sure I didn’t depart from His presence (and anytime there is a separation it is we who do the departing for He has promised never to leave nor forsake us and He is not a man that He should lie) I got another word after the service. I was reminded, very specifically, of things I used to do and told to return to those things. I knew it was the voice of God speaking because again it was very specific. The vessel He used to remind me of what I once did, had no way of knowing the things she reminded me of. It was God.

So today, as I returned to my first love, seeking Him as I once did, He allowed me to see something I’d seen before, but never fully considered. It’s not always what you do that separates you from Him. 2 Chronicles 12:14 KJV says, “He did evil, because he prepared not his heart to seek the LORD.”  The NIV says, “He did evil because he had not set his heart on seeking the LORD.”  To put it simply, by not actively (or in my case whole-heartedly) seeking God, I by default, began to drift from God. As the woman of God mentioned last night, it’s like Peter walking on water to Jesus. When he began to sink it wasn’t because he did something wrong, he simply lost focus. James 4:17 NIV say, “If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.”

It is sin that separates us from God – all sin. And I was reminded today, sin is not necessarily something wrong that you do. Sometimes it’s the good that you fail to do. Saying I was not seeking God as actively or as wholeheartedly as I should may not sound like sin to some. Call it what you will, it made a difference in our relationship. When God called me out of the workforce, He told me very specifically to seek His face. I did just enough to get by even though I knew what it was He desired of me. It wasn’t what I was doing that caused me to feel far from God. It was the thing I’d failed to do.

A dear sister wanted me to return to the altar last night to complete my process of deliverance (I kind of ran away – in praise.) What she didn’t know, couldn’t know, was that my deliverance was from disobedience and it could only be completed where it began. Dear sister, I’ve received my deliverance. May God keep me as I press forward, never forgetting, “It’s not always what you do.”

Saturday, May 9, 2015

An Unquenchable Appetite for God’s Righteousness --- “What Are You Hungry For?”

This post was taken from my book "From The Shepherd's Heart - A Devotional" (available on dutchesshorton.com, Amazon, and BarnesandNoble.com) It's become an important part of my journey as my desire grows stronger for the presence of God and less for the presents of God. It keeps my passion for Christ flamed and I hope it flames up a passion in you as well. ~Dutchess

          In the 1980’s a gospel recording group called the Truthettes released a song about a little boy whose soul was blessed during church service. The young man, unable to fully express what it was he was feeling, came home from the worship service and told his mother, “I’m so hungry.”  The mother, not realizing just what her son was trying to convey, had him follow her into the kitchen so that she could make him a sandwich.  It was at this point in the song that the boy declared, “I don’t want no peanut butter and jelly.  I want my soul to be saved.”2  
          Sunday after Sunday the Word of God is preached in churches all across the world.  Unfortunately, Sunday after Sunday the people of God hear that Word and think no more about it until time for the next worship service.  They do not allow the Word to really get into their hearts and stir up a hunger for the righteousness of God.
          To hunger for God is to desire God, to seek after God.  It is to desire Him above all other things -- our daily bread, personal comfort, wealth and riches.  Matthew 6:33 tells us if we seek Him first, we’ll receive the other things we desire.  In fact, Psalm 37:4 tells us if we delight in Him, He will give us the desires of our heart.  He’ll satisfy our hunger if we hunger most for Him.
We know that to hunger for his righteousness is to be blessed. (See Matthew 5:6)  If we turn to Jeremiah 29:13 we will also see that if we seek after Him we will find Him if we seek Him with our whole heart.  We need to stop being so ambivalent about the things of God and develop a hunger for Him; a hunger that grows and becomes a full-blown craving for more and more of the living God.  Once you have it (and He’ll give it to you if you ask), He will turn and satisfy your mouth with good things.  (See Psalm 103:5)

Father God, we who have a hunger for you and your righteousness thank you and praise you, for we know we shall be satisfied.  For those who have yet to experience an unquenchable appetite for you, we ask that you stir up in them, in us, a desire that cannot be ignored nor satisfied by anything other than you.  Fill us all until our cup overflows and your righteousness pours forth from us and is a blessing to others. 

Monday, April 20, 2015

Continuing My Journey

I sat down before my computer today and prepared to write my second book. I prayed, I got all of my study materials together, and I put my hands on the keyboard. Nothing. Not one single solitary word. In my Charlie Brown voice – “UGGHHHHH!”

I prepared a cup of coffee and returned to my computer. Still nothing. I turned on some inspirational music. Nada. I prayed some more. What could possibly be wrong with me? I know I’m supposed to write this book. I know what’s supposed to be in it and the direction it’s to go. I know how to do this – I want to do this. But I wasn’t doing a thing, except maybe giving myself a tension headache.

I could hear a little squeaky voice quote to me James 4:17, If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them. God had given me a work to do and instead of doing it, I was doing nothing – another day wasted. The devil is a liar! Yes, the devil will quote scripture to you also. He did it to Jesus during the temptation. (See Matthew 4, Mark 1, and Luke 4) He wanted me discouraged and down whereas God wanted me to just sit and enjoy His presence. He’s been calling me to seek Him and I just wanted to keep working for Him and the two are not the same.

You see, I’m in a tight spot at the moment so sitting still is very difficult – even sitting at the feet of God. My daughter has been accepted into a wonderful university and is so excited. There was stiff competition and she was wait-listed twice. But then she was accepted. Her dad and I were/are so proud. But the pride and joy has been tempered by the tuition plus room and board tab of $44,000. That’s just for her freshman year and doesn’t include books and other expenses. We have about half of it. But God…

Then I have been having trouble with my van. The oil light keeps coming on; my left turn signal works only when it wants to – which is about half of the time that I want it to; and finally my muffler fell completely off. It’s parked in the driveway. Oh, and I failed to mention, it needs an inspection so that we can go and get the new registration sticker for the tags. But God…

That is just the top of the list of things going on in my life that has my back up against the wall. I can almost feel the Israelites’ distress as they faced the Red Sea while hearing the thunder of Pharaoh’s chariots coming up behind them. I want to turn around and surrender – which in my case would be returning to the work force God called me out of or doing something, anything, to supplement our income. But God…

God is calling me to a higher place but before I can pack my bags and move, I have to be prepared for what is there. These old wine skins I now have in my possession will tear if God poured His new wine in.

So here I sit. I’m writing but not what I’d planned to write. I’ll even share it on my blog though some of you may not get the message I’m trying to convey. Many more of you will think, “I hear what you’re saying, but…” My thought is if just one person truly hears what I’m saying and is encouraged by it, then I’ve done my job.

So what am I saying? My ways are not His ways; neither are my thoughts His thoughts. But if I allow myself to be transformed by the renewing of my mind, I’ll come closer to allowing this mind (the mind of the Father) to be in me which is also in Christ Jesus. What God is doing in me and through me appears to be foolishness to many, occasionally even to me. But I trust God.

I will continue to study His Word and spend time in His presence through prayer and praise and worship. I’ll continue to seek His face or as Matthew 6:33 says, I’ll “seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things [college tuition, new vehicle…] will be added unto [me].” I trust God and I praise Him for these light afflictions. My trails come only to make me strong. And maybe, just maybe, I can strengthen someone else along the way.

Be blessed!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Burnt Toast

Growing up in a ridiculously small town in Eastern North Carolina, my family didn’t have very much. Of course as a child I didn’t realize it or if I did, I didn’t think much of it. I do know that we didn’t waste very much. If clothes ripped, they could be patched. If someone outgrew something, it could be altered or even better, passed down to someone else. If the toast got burnt, as it often did since we didn’t have a toaster but put bread in the oven on broil, we just scraped off the burnt and added jelly or butter or even both, and you couldn’t tell the difference – it was still edible and still good.

Thinking of that, I was reminded of how my heavenly Father doesn’t waste anyone. Every life has redeemable qualities, IF they are submitted to the Master’s hands. Just looking at my own life is proof of this. Many were prepared to toss me away. Many more said I wasn’t nothing and won’t never gone be nothing. (Poor grammar, yet this is how it was said.) 

But God.

The Master looked down from Heaven and declared I was His beloved. That I was redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. That I was His precious creation predestined for adoption into sonship. He reached down from His throne and picked me up and scrapped off the burnt – the sins of my past, the wrong choices and even many of their consequences. Then He clothed me with the righteousness of God through Christ Jesus. He filled me with His precious Holy Spirit. He declared that I was no longer a sinner, a waste of space and energy. He declared I was His chosen, His beloved, the apple of His eye.

My heavenly Father, took this burnt soul and redeemed me. Over and over, He scrapped the burnt off. He covered me and made me new. I was no longer destined for the trash bin called hell, but I was “edible”. I had (have) purpose and if fully surrendered, I could still be used by Him.

I don’t believe it is an accident that I’m writing these words today. Seriously, how many people think of newness of life after remembering saving burnt toast? I believe God led me to write these words to encourage someone who’s ready to give up. Someone who’s been told they weren’t nothing and won’t never gone be nothing. Someone who’s failed and feel there’s no more use for them. If you’re that someone, be encouraged. God has a way of making burnt toast taste sweet and delicious. Surrender to Him and believe. You are who God says you are and you can do what God says you can do. Declare with me, “I BELIEVE GOD!” Take a moment to pray and ask Him to scrape the burnt off.  Here, I’ll begin…

Precious Father, I’ve made some mistakes in my life and I don’t see how things can ever get better. But I’m choosing right now to believe that you can make me a new creation. You can give me purpose and a reason for living. You can make all things new. Please, Jesus, come into my heart and forgive me of all my sins. Fill me with your Holy Spirit that He may lead and guide me into all righteousness. Scrape the burnt off and make me fit for the Master’s use. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Continue to spend time with the Father and allow yourself to be led by His Spirit. I’d love to hear from you as God makes all things new in your life. Be blessed.  ~Dutchess

Monday, February 23, 2015

But God...

This morning marks the beginning of a new day, a new work week, and for me, a brand new attitude. I awoke early this morning after having dreamed again. And that won’t make sense to most people, in some ways not even me. So let me try to explain. I have dreams that play like movies. Often times I’m not even in them, just an observer. They are always entertaining but nothing deep or spiritual. In fact, many of these “movies” would not qualify as something I would even chose to watch. The significance of these dreams – to me – is they only come when I’m in close communication with my Heavenly Father.

So if you go back and read the 2nd sentence of that first paragraph you should be able to deduce that I had fallen out of close communication with my Father. Sure I spoke to Him daily, throughout the day even. But it was not the kind of communication you’d have with someone with whom you shared a close and intimate relationship. I’d grown discouraged and even apathetic in my relationship with the Father. I know He is who He says He is and that He cannot and will not lie. I know He loves me with a perfect love and that my best is His desire. I know and knew all of this.  So why the break in communication?

Have you ever heard a man or woman breaking off a relationship with a significant other with the phrase, “It’s not you, it’s me.”? Well that is what happened. It was all me. I didn’t feel worthy. I didn’t feel as if I was living up to His expectations of me. I didn’t feel that I was contributing anything significant to our relationship – so I slowly but surely withdrew.

But God… Apparently when He said He would never leave me nor forsake me, He meant it! I turned away from Him but He never turned His back on me. I tried to step away and just be “casual” in my dealings with Him but apparently He’s invested too much in me to be just casual. He loves me with a never ending love. He has plans for me, plans to prosper me and to give me a hope and a future. He has pursued me and even laid down His life for me. A casual relationship was not enough for Him and I’m so glad.

As I turn back to my Father and give Him my all even as He has given me His all, I feel I must ask, are you giving Him your all? Have you somehow become less than fully committed to Christ and the relationship He died to have with you? Have you begun to believe the subtle hints and lies the enemy has whispered in your ears? Have you begun to follow your feelings instead of the truth? Beloved (and that is who you are) turn back to the Father with your whole heart. Forget what you “feel” and trust the truth which is God’s holy Word. Saturate your mind with scripture and allow the Holy Spirit to lead and guide you into all truth and righteousness. Allow the Father to love you as He desires to love you. No you don’t deserve it and you will never measure up but that does not decrease His love for you one iota. It’s not what you are or what you do; it’s who He is and what He’s done and is yet doing. The enemy won’t give up. He won’t quit telling you his lies. But when he starts whispering sweet nothings in your ear, just smile and say, “But God…”

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Walking Into My New Normal

Anyone who knows me well knows that I am a terrible procrastinator.  I don’t know why I do it but I put everything off until the last possible moment. Sometimes that works – like when I’m writing because I don’t have time to second guess myself. Other times it’s awful – like when I’ve invited 30 people to my house for brunch and I wait until the night before to start cleaning SO I can cook. Yeah, that didn’t go quite as I’d planned. But God knows I’m trying. I keep confessing that I’m a reformed procrastinator. But…

Well now I’m tired of procrastinating. It’s hurting me; it’s hurting my family; it’s hurting those God has called me to minister to. There are things I’m supposed to do, to be, to have. But there are prerequisites for all of it. So here I am – working on my prerequisites. Starting with something one of the ladies at my church told me, I’m going to write my modified life plan.

Starting backwards or at the end, what I want ultimately from life is to get to the end and hear my Father say to me, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Matthew 25:21 NIV) But in order to hear Him say that I must first do what He’s told me to do. So what has He told me to do, that’s step two in this “from the end to the beginning” life plan. He’s told me to seek His face. That’s all. I should be all excited and jumping up and down right? So why aren’t I? It's because I lack a made up mind. But that’s another post – I think.

In order to please the Father one has to first KNOW the Father. And I’m not talking head knowledge here. I need to know who He is, what makes Him tick, what ticks Him off, and what makes Him smile. And I can know all of this because He gave me a guide book. All I have to do is open it up and LISTEN as He speaks to me. Well, that’s not all I have to do. I have to do what He says after He’s spoken to me. And that’s where I am today on this from the end life plan.

I am easily distracted and an emotional operator so I’m going with lists to keep me focused and on point. I must do what I KNOW to do until what I know to do is what I feel like doing. No more procrastinating, no more working according to the old pattern and operating system of yesterday. I’m walking into my destiny, into my new normal. Glad to have you sharing the journey.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Just Journaling

2 January 2015

Is it just me or do you become easily distracted when that still small voice begins to speak to you? I can go all day totally focused and on point until I feel that little nudge and then bam! everything needs my attention and needs it now! I can go all day (well a good part of the day) and not even think of food. But then the Holy Spirit will begin to whisper my name and suddenly I’m ravenous. Or I will remember that I was supposed to pay a bill or make a phone call -anything to keep me from answering that voice.

Oh and now at the beginning of the year it’s at its worse. Of course we’ve all committed to doing better and being better – to being more available to God. Not just to do stuff for Him, but to just spend time with Him (I hope we have committed to that.) But of course you’re also committed to exercising more and getting more done on your never-shrinking to-do list and maybe even writing more. And no matter how difficult it’s been to get the other things done, they suddenly seem easier when it’s time to spend a moment in the presence of God.

Oh, Father God, for grace to do better – not necessarily bigger, but better.

Precious, Father, grant me ears that ever hear you; eyes that continually see you; and a heart that is unceasingly available to answer your call – no matter what time of day it is or what else may be going on, may I drop it all to answer your still small voice. Sweet Jesus, may it be reminiscent of the early days of motherhood where at the slightest sound from my sweet baby, I hurried to her side to see what it was she desired of me. And may I be even more eager to grant you whatever you ask. If you tell me to write a friend may I do it immediately and with all the love and compassion you would show. If you tell me to go and do, may I like the twelve, drop everything and immediately follow you. If you tell me to simply sit and abide in your presence, may I count it an honour and dwell with you for as long as you will have me. May no task seem too small and no request too big. May I hear and like the sweet virgin Mary and respond, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord.” I exist, Father only to please you. May I never allow the cares of this world to change my purpose.