Greater Than Your Heart

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Heart noun: One’s mood or feeling. Courage or enthusiasm. The central or innermost part of something. The vital part or essence.

Whether we realize it or not our heart, is a vital part of our life. I think in some ways that is why we go to such great lengths to protect it. We can even allow it to become calloused when we don’t want to feel anything. We try to protect it from hurt, fear, rejection, hopelessness and pain. Our hearts can get caught up in the troubles and burdens that life brings. A lost job, a broken relationship, a huge mistake that we made a long time ago and we are still carrying the weight of it. We can allow our current mistakes to pile on the huge mistake we made long ago and let our heart sink into despair.

But, there is good news in all of this, our heart can be a part of seeing our greatest triumphs. If we allow it to function in the way that it was created and what it was designed for. Our heart was created by the One who is love. He came to show us how valuable we are to Him by giving up His life and dying for us. His Name Is Jesus. God created our hearts to love and be loved. He also knows the circumstances that have tried to hinder us from receiving His love. He knows that there is an enemy in this world that would seek to steal, kill and destroy us. Even in the midst of knowing these things, Jesus said this in John 16, I’ve told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world. Take Heart! As you trust Him, He will be with you in those difficulties and help you come through it victoriously.

Sometimes, we may feel that we are deserving of bad things coming into our lives because we think that God is punishing us for the wrong that we have done. Probably one of the biggest things that can hinder one from receiving His love is condemnation. But, if we have asked forgiveness for what we have done, the scripture says that He (God) will remember our sins no more. It says in Romans 3 It is is God’s righteousness made visible through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ. And now all who believe in Him receive that gift. For there is really no difference between us for we all have sinned and are in need of the glory of God. Yet through His powerful declaration of acquittal, God freely gives away His righteousness. His gift of love and favor now cascades over us, all because Jesus, the Anointed One, has liberated us from guilt, punishment, and power of sin. Colossians 1:20-23 says, And by the blood of His cross, everything in heaven and earth is restored brought back to Himself–back to it’s original intent, restored to innocence again! Even though you were distant from Him, living in the shadows of your evil thoughts and actions, he reconnected you back to Himself. He released His supernatural peace to you through the sacrifice of His own body as the sin-payment on your behalf so that you would dwell in His presence. And now there is nothing between you and Father God, for He sees you as holy, flawless and restored! Continue to advance in faith, assured of a firm foundation to grow upon. Never be shaken from the hope of the gospel you have believed in.

I would like to share with you one last scripture. It is found in 1 John 3 it says this,

My dear children, let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love. This is the only way we’ll know we’re living truly, living in God’s reality. It’s also the way to shut down debilitating self-criticism, even when there is something to it. For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves.  And friends, once that’s taken care of and we’re no longer accusing or condemning ourselves, we’re bold and free before God! We’re able to stretch our hands out and receive what we asked for because we’re doing what he said, doing what pleases him. Again, this is God’s command: to believe in his personally named Son, Jesus Christ.

In this scripture it is clear that all God is asking of us is to believe in Him. I love how these verses address that we can shut down the debilitating self-criticism toward ourselves. Despite the mistakes we have made, He is greater and the amazing thing is that you no longer have to let your heart condemn you for those mistakes. He has made your heart pure and as you trust and believe in Him He will work all things together for good. He is faithful to His word. He has a future and a hope for you.

My prayer for you today is that you will put your faith in the One who created you and your heart. I pray that you would no longer allow your heart to condemn you in knowing that God does not condemn you. I pray that you would be free from condemnation and that you would know that He loves you and is for you. He is not holding your mistakes against you. He will turn around what the enemy has meant for harm for your good.

 

He loves me…He loves me not?!?

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Love True Love is what brings us together today. Yes, that is what I am here to talk about today. In the movie the Princess Bride you see the story of Westley and Buttercup, who realize that their love for one another is not just a passing whim, but it is true love. The story then goes on to show what the power of true love can do in the midst of danger, of seemingly impenetrable obstacles and even death. No matter what happened true love always prevailed. True love even triumphed when Buttercup thought all was lost as the king had Westley taken away from her. She thought that she would never see him ever again. Westley said to her, I will always come for you. Buttercup replied, How can you be sure?  Westley then said, This is true love. Do you think this happens everyday?

In the end, true love won and Westley and Buttercup lived happily ever after. Sigh, although it was only a movie, the question is does true love really exist in real life?

How would you respond if you had someone who loved you with a love that was true? What kind of person would you be if every time you interacted with them they always encouraged you and never put you down? Someone who always accepted you for who you are even on the days that you have a terrible attitude and are just plain mean to them? Someone who never got mad at you but every time you turned around all they did was show you how much they loved you and how valuable you are to them? How would you respond if there was someone who was so in love with you that it did not matter to them what obstacle stood in the way they would come and find you? This person would always go to such great lengths even to the point of death just because they loved you and wanted to be with you. They would overcome any danger, fight any foe and be willing to look death in the face. It certainly would change your perspective in many ways. Certainly in how you view yourself.

Is it just a fairy tale?

Who in the world would be like that?

Believe it or not there is someone who is like this.

His name is Jesus.

When you were a kid did you ever go to Sunday School? Usually the song everyone would sing was Jesus Loves Me. The words are so simplistic but if you really think about those words, you will find that they are quite profound. It’s one thing to sing those words but it’s another to believe them.

Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so. Too often we can feel like we are not good enough to be loved by Jesus. It’s easy to do especially if you are one who always feels like you don’t do everything right. Or that you always make some sort of mistake. Or how about this one? You’ve made way too many mistakes to ever have anyone love you. Especially, God since He is perfect and sees everything, there is no way that He could love someone when He sees all the mistakes they made.

But God is not like that at all. In fact you are so valuable to Him that He sent His only Son to die on the cross for you just so that He could be in a relationship with you.  When we come to Him, He takes our mistakes, He takes our mess and removes it and remembers it no more.

In the Bible, in Micah 7:18, it says this He will tread our sins beneath His feet; He will throw them into the depths of the sea.

In Isaiah 38:17 it says’ He took our sins and threw them away.

In Psalms 103 it says, As high as the sky is above the earth, so great is His love for those who honor Him.

In Hebrews 8, God says I will remember their sins no more.  He casts our sins into the bottom of the sea and remembers them no more.

How beautiful is that? God loves you for you. I want to give you one more example that I once heard before. Have you ever had a crush on someone and you didn’t know if they loved you or not? So you decided to pick a daisy and then proceeded to tell yourself in picking the petals of this daisy I will know the outcome as to whether they love me or not. You then pick the petals off one by one saying they love me, they love me not. You pick every petal and when you come to the last one you either have a sigh of relief because they love you or you want to start over by picking another daisy to see if you get a different outcome other than they love you not.

Imagine this with me when Jesus died you were given a daisy. Except this daisy doesn’t have petals that say He loves me not. This daisy only has petals that say He loves me. He loves me. He loves me. He loves me and the daisy that you have been given never runs out of petals.

Jesus loves you and always will. It does not matter what you’ve done in the past. It does not matter if you made a mistake even a moment ago. His answer will always remain the same to you. Jesus loves you. My prayer for you today is that if you walk away with anything from this blog post it would be this. That you have a revelation of the love of Jesus. That you experience for yourself the length, the height, the width and the depths of His love for you. You are His most prized possession. Open up your heart today and let Him love you with a love that never runs out. A love that is not conditional but unconditional.

Restoration Will Come

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Pain. Brokenness. A Shattered Heart. Everyone has experienced this at least once in their lives. No one is exempt from these things. Maybe even at this very moment I might be describing what you are experiencing in this time of life.

There’s no need to be embarrassed about it. I get it. I’ve experienced what has been called “a rush of a thousand heartbreaks.” It’s a pain that doesn’t seem to go away. At times, the pain may ease up a little but there is still that dull ache that seems to always remain.

So what do you do about it? I mean it’s not like you can put a bandaid on your heart like you would on a skin wound. You can’t even ask a doctor to do surgery on your emotions let alone your heart so that the pain you are experiencing will heal properly and go away.

The only thing that you can do is go to the One who created your heart. You must go to the one who knows how your heart functions. He is the only one who can make it whole again. You may think that it doesn’t matter to Him that your heart has been shattered into a million pieces. You may think that He doesn’t have time for that. You may think He doesn’t even care about the details of your life. You may think that He wouldn’t even care if you had a bad day. Well, I am here to say that He does care.

In the Bible, in the book of Hebrews in chapter 4 it says, Now that we know what we have—Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God—let’s not let it slip through our fingers. We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.

He understands exactly what you are experiencing and He wants to help you and is ready to do so from the moment you ask Him. This includes healing your broken heart.

In Psalms 34 it says, The Lord is so close to all whose hearts are crushed by pain and He is always ready to restore….even when bad things happen to the good and godly ones, the Lord will save them and not let them be defeated by what they face.

In another Bible translation the verse says this, If your heart is broken, you’ll find God right there; if you’re kicked in the gut, he’ll help you catch your breath.

When you are going through a hard and painful time, know that the Lord is right there to restore what has been broken and turn it into something beautiful once again. It may not happen over night, it may take a little time but know that He is there to help you through it. As you trust Him, you will experience the wholeness and freedom from pain that He wants to give you.

In Psalms 147 it says, He heals the wounds of every shattered heart…God supports and strengthens the humble…He’s the One who brings peace to your borders…

You know it’s okay to tell God that you’re hurting. You don’t have to mask your pain when you get around Him. The truth is He already knows that you’re hurting because He’s God and He knows everything. He wants you to give Him your pain so that He can give you His healing.

I would like to end with one of my favorite scriptures. This one has helped me a lot when I have been going through a tough time. I have definitely found comfort when reading it.

It’s found in Psalms 56 it says, You’ve kept track of all my wandering and my weeping. You’ve stored my many tears in your bottle-not one will be lost. You care about me every time I’ve cried. For it is all recorded in your book of remembrance. The very moment I call to you  for a Father’s help the tide of battle turns and my enemies flee! This one thing I know: God is on my side!!!

Let the Creator of your heart fix what has been broken and make it whole again!

What Truly Matters

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Have you ever wanted to make a good impression on people?  Especially, when you think to yourself, “wow they are so cool.” It seems like everything about them is so amazing. They dress with great style. You both like the same movies. Talented is their first name and Adventurous is their last name. There’s only one problem. No matter what you do to become their friend it doesn’t work. In fact, quite the opposite happens. They talk and hang out with everyone else but you. It doesn’t matter how kind you are to them or how many times you go out of your way to help them out; having a friendship with them never seems to work out.

What do you do? You may think to yourself. I know. Maybe if I change my hair color that will work? Nope. Maybe if I dress cooler that will change their mind? Nope. How about if I bend over backwards to help them any time they need it? Nope.

There is only one thing you can do. Let it go. If you have to jump through that many hoops to try to get someone to be your friend, you will have to continue doing so just to keep the friendship alive. Trust me, I have been there before and believe me it’s not fun nor is it worth it.

I love this quote by C.S. Lewis, who is one of my favorite authors, he says this, “I would rather be what God chose to make me than the most glorious creature that I could think of. For to have been born in God’s thought and then made by God is the dearest and most precious thing in all thinking.”

You don’t have to be someone else to be acceptable by others. You just have to be you. Just be the person that God has created you to be and He will draw the right friends into your life.

Sometimes it can be tough you know. I am a pastor’s daughter and my life is filled with many opportunities to help people. I have a very big heart and I love to help them. I hate watching them go through hard times. I don’t like watching them experiencing painful things. I love to encourage them when I can and pray for them. But you know, sometimes I just want to be a friend to them, hang out with them and just plain have fun. It doesn’t always work out that way though.

I have had some experiences where I will see someone come up to me and in my heart I am really excited to see them.  I think oh how nice they just want to say hi and ask me how things are going. They want to be friends. Then the excitement begins to turn to sadness as I see on their facial expression that, that is not their intention. They then proceed to ask me if I will help them with something. Although, it makes me a little sad as I was hoping that we could just enjoy one another’s company and get to know each other more I agree to help them.

Please don’t misunderstand me it’s not that I don’t want to help people. But, sometimes I just would like to be with people, hang out with them, instead of being someone they only come to when they need something. At times, it makes me hesitate in being around certain people. It definitely makes it harder to be myself around them. I suppose that is why we need God. He helps us to know how to get past all that and be who we are created to be regardless of how some people may act toward us. We can trust that He will bring those people who are there just to be a friend especially when you need one. Where it’s a relationship of give and take. You will encourage them and they will encourage you. Your friendship will become all the more richer and have more meaning as you are valuing one another and are learning from one another.

I would like to paraphrase a story with you that I recently heard.  It’s a book called Just The Way You Are by Max Lucado. If you ever get a chance to read the actual book I would highly recommend it because of how powerful it is.

The story begins in a little village where a family of five orphans lived. One day the king heard about their plight. So he decided to adopt them. Soon, he would come to visit them. When the children and the villagers heard about what the king had done, they were all excited. The villagers told the children that in order to live with the king that they had to impress the king. The villagers said this because they assumed that, that was the way that all kings were even though that had never personally met one themselves.

 

So some of the children set about working hard on their talents in order to impress the king. But there was one orphan, a little girl who believed that she had no gift or talent in order to impress the king. The only thing that she did have was a good heart. She was scared that she would be a disappointment to the king. She thought that maybe one of her brothers or sisters would be willing to help her develop a talent. She too would be able to impress him when he came and she could live with the king. But as she asked each one of her siblings for help, they only replied that they were too busy getting ready for the coming of the king. The girl became very sad and she returned to the front gate of the village. This was the place where she would always go to feed the animals in order to make enough money for food for her brothers and sisters. She loved feeding the animals and talking with the villagers. She had a big heart and really cared about people. She loved to ask them about their families and the adventures that they had just returned from. It didn’t matter to her if they were rich or poor she loved them all the same. She had a very good heart.

One day a man who was dressed in merchant clothes, came to the front gate of the village and asked the little girl if she would help feed his donkey. She looked up at the man and saw that he had a kind face and smile. She readily agreed to feeding his donkey. She then asked him why he had come to the village. He responded by saying that he was looking for someone. She could tell that he was weary from his journey and invited him to rest on a nearby bench. The man sat down and fell asleep for a little while. When he woke up, he noticed that the little girl was sitting by his feet looking up at him. The little girl quickly became embarrassed and looked away. The man asked her if she had been there long? She replied that she had. He asked if there was something that she wanted? She said, no. She just liked being around him because his was so kind and had a peaceful heart. The man then told her that she was a smart little girl and that when he came back that he would like to spend more time with her.

It wasn’t too long after that, that the man had returned. The little girl asked the man if he had found who he was looking for? He said, yes. But each one that he was looking for was too busy to spend time with him. The little girl came to realize that the man was the king. She told the king that he did not look like a king at all. The king replied that he purposefully would try not to look like a king because people would treat him strangely. They would ask for favors or complain to him. The little girl asked the king, but isn’t that what kings are for? The king replied yes, but some times I just want to be with my people. I want to laugh with them, to cry with them and sometimes I just want to be their father. The girl then asked the king if that was why he had adopted the children? The king said yes. Adults think that I need to be impressed, children don’t. They know that I will love them just the way they are. The girl said, but my brothers and sisters were too busy. The king replied, yes but I will come again another time maybe they will have time for me then. The girl mustered up all the courage she could and said to the king, Sir I have no gift or talent can I be your child? The king smiled at the little girl and said, you have given me the best gift of all, your kindness your heart, your time, your love. Of course you will be my child. So it was that the children of the king missed the time of their visitation but the girl who had no gift but a good heart became a child of the king. The End

I know that I have been talking a lot about relationship today. But, in life it truly is one of the main things that we all have. I believe that the treasure found in a relationship is when there is a heart connection. It’s not about impressing one another but about being with one another, encouraging one another to be the best that God wants us to be. What I love about the story “Just The Way You Are” is that all the king, who represented God, wanted from the orphans was a relationship with them. Where they could enjoy being with one another. It is the same with our relationship with God. He doesn’t need us to impress Him in order to have a relationship with Him and be accepted by Him. He loves us just the way He created us to be. He wants a heart relationship with us. Where we can come together and just enjoy one another’s company. It isn’t all about us trying to impress Him, or complaining about our lives or even coming just to get things from Him. Although, because He knows we’re human He will help us, comfort us and be there when we need it. But just like the story said sometimes He just wants to laugh with us, have fun with us and just enjoy each other’s company.

He also wants us to have those kinds of relationships in our lives. So this is my encouragement to you today. Don’t stop being who God created you to be in order to have a relationship that may only be temporary and not very life giving to you. Ask and trust God to bring people into your life who will help you grow more into who He has called you to be. A relationship that is life giving for the both of you. Watch as He brings them into your life.

God Remembers You Even In The Night Season

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I have heard it said that it is always the darkest before the dawn. There are seasons in life that I would call the Night Season. This is the season where everything is so pitch black you could not see your hand in front of your face even if you wanted to. All you can do in this time, is wait for the dawn to come in order to move forward without stumbling over obstacles and possibly hurting yourself in the process.

When it’s dark, you can wonder if there is anyone out there that could help. You want to yell out does anyone have a flashlight? Candle? Anything? Darkness can also distort images. You sometimes find out that what you think may be one thing, when the light is turned on you find out that it wasn’t what you thought it was at all. In fact, it was something totally different.

Darkness can be frightening sometimes. You can find yourself wondering if the light will ever come or if it will be this way forever.

You can often feel alone or even forgotten. If you are in a season like this, I would like to encourage you to not lose heart. Your dawn is coming.

I would like to share some scriptures with you that may be a great help. Just this last week, I was feeling pretty discouraged and alone. That day I was praying and the phrase came to my mind “He remembers you in the night season.” The Lord began to remind me that He had not forgotten me.

He reminded me of a story in the Bible. It is found in the book of Esther. This story is about a man named Mordecai who was Esther’s cousin. It is found in Esther chapter 2 and it goes like this.

One day while Mordecai was at the gate, Bigthan and Teresh, two of the king’s eunuchs who guarded the door, were plotting to kill King Ahasuerus. They were angry over some matter. But Mordecai learned of their plan and reported it to Queen Esther who told the king about the plot, giving credit to her cousin.  After a thorough investigation, the report was proven true. So the two officers were killed and displayed on a pole. All of this information was chronicled in the presence of the king, in the public record.

A little while later, according to King Ahasuerus’ wishes, Haman (son of Hammedatha, an Agagite) was promoted to a rank above all his fellow nobles in the kingdom. The officials at the king’s gate all bowed down before Haman and paid him homage because the king commanded this. But Mordecai, the Jew, refused to kneel and refused to honor him. 

Mordecai’s actions came to the attention of the king’s officials standing at the gate. Officials (looking at Mordecai): Why are you disobeying the king’s command? The officers questioned him daily about his disobedience to the king, but Mordecai refused to listen and bow down. The officers reported this to Haman to learn whether or not Mordecai’s excuse would be tolerated, for Mordecai had told them he was a Jew. Haman was furious when he saw that Mordecai refused to bow and pay him the respect he was due. But Haman wasn’t to be satisfied with killing only Mordecai, so he began to think of ways to destroy all of Mordecai’s people, the Jews, throughout the kingdom of Ahasuerus.  

As time went on, although Haman got permission from the king to destroy Mordecai and the Jews, he still was not satisfied. Haman said  to his wife and friends, But I must be honest; seeing that Jew, Mordecai, as I pass through the gate makes it difficult to celebrate any of my good fortuneThen his wife Zeresh and all of his friends came up with an idea. Zeresh and His Friends: You should make a wood pole 75 feet high! Tomorrow morning, have the king sentence Mordecai to be executed on it. Then you’ll be able to have a good time at the banquet with the king. Haman thought the idea was brilliant. So he had the pole made.

That same night the king was unable to sleep, so he ordered the official records of his reign to be brought and read before him. As the record was read, the king was reminded of the time when Mordecai saved his life. Mordecai had been the one who reported that Bigthana and Teresh, two of the royal eunuchs who guarded the doors, were plotting to assassinate the king. 

King Ahasuerus(to his servants): Did Mordecai receive any recognition for this action? Was he honored in any way? Servants: He received no recognition for this. King Ahasuerus: Is anyone out in the court now? Haman had just arrived at the outer court of King Ahasuerus’ palace. He hoped to speak with the king about executing Mordecai and hanging him on the pole he had prepared. Servants:  Haman is here waiting in the court to see youKing Ahasuerus: Allow him to come in. So Haman entered the king’s chambers. He waited for the king to speak first. 

King Ahasuerus: Haman, I want to ask you something. What do you believe is the proper manner in which to honor a man who has pleased me? Then Haman thought to himself, “There is no one the king wishes to honor more than me.” 

Haman: If you desire to honor a man, I believe you should do this: First, have your servants bring one of the robes you have worn and one of the horses you have ridden that has worn the royal crown on its head. Then, you should give the robe and horse to one of your most noble officials. Have him robe the man whom you want to honor and then lead the man on horseback throughout the center of the city. It should be announced that this is what happens for the man whom the king wants to honor. 

King Ahasuerus: Your idea is perfect, Haman. I want you to go and do this immediately. Take one of my robes and one of my horses and do exactly what you have suggested to Mordecai, the Jewish man who sits at my gate. Do everything you have said, and don’t leave out one single detail. Not one!  Haman was mortified. He took the robe and horse; he dressed Mordecai in the king’s robe and led him throughout the square of the city.

Haman (shouting): This is what happens for the man whom the king desires to honor! When it was done, Mordecai returned to the king’s gate. But Haman fled to his home, mourning and covering his head in humiliation

In the end, Haman’s plan to destroy Mordecai and the Jews was revealed to the king. The king became so angry and had Haman hung on the pole that Haman built for Mordecai. Mordecai and the Jews’ lives were saved that day. Talk about a turn of events.

Have you ever felt like you were trying to do your best to be pleasing to God by obeying Him but, as you have chosen to do so the circumstances in your life turn for the worse?

Mordecai never stopped obeying the Lord even though the circumstances were grim. Not only did the Lord in turn remember him, but He honored him in front of his enemies. Then his enemies were destroyed.

Psalms 23 says,  Even in the unending shadows of death’s darkness, I am not overcome by fear. Because You are with me in those dark moments, near with Your protection and guidance, I am comforted. You spread out a table before me, provisions in the midst of attack from my enemies; You care for all my needs, anointing my head with soothing, fragrant oil, filling my cup again and again with Your grace.

Isaiah 49 says,  The Lord has abandoned me. God has walked out the door; my Lord left me alone. He has forgotten all about me. The Lord says, Is it possible for a mother, however disappointed, however hurt, to forget her nursing child? Can she feel nothing for the baby she carried and birthed?  Even if she could, I, God, will never forget you. Look here. I have made you a part of Me, written you on the palms of My hands…always on My mind, always My concern…

 Know this you are always on God’s mind. He has not forgotten you. He will spread out a table before you, provisions in the midst of attack from your enemies.

Esther 8:16 says, For the Jews, it was a time of celebration. Darkness had turned to light. Sadness to joy. Shame to honor.

Keep trusting the Lord and watch as He turns your situation around for good. I leave you with this last scripture found in Psalms 30:11 it says, You did it: You turned my deepest pains into joyful dancing; You stripped off my dark clothing and covered me with joyful light.

Let God break through the darkness for you. I know He will because you matter to Him!

 

Oh To Linger Just A Little Longer

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Have you ever been in a place where all you wanted to do was stay there forever? See the picture above? That is a picture I took of one of my most favorite places. I love to linger there. Everything about this place is so beautiful and peaceful. For me, it is a place that is hard to leave. I could see why there were people who built a house near here. I am sure they loved the place so much that they decided to stay.

I love to go on little adventures and see a lot of beautiful places. I can’t help but think of the one who created it. I truly find myself in awe.

Psalms 111:2-4 says, The works of the Lord are many and wondrous! They are examined by all who delight in them. His work is marked with beauty and majesty; His justice has no end. His wonders are reminders that the Lord is gracious and compassionate to all.

Psalms 115:16 says, The heavens above belong to the Lord, and yet earth in all of its beauty has been given to humanity by Him.

These scriptures say it all so eloquently. His wonders are reminders that the Lord is gracious and compassionate to all. Yet earth in all of its beauty has been given to humanity by Him.

When I see the beauty of God’s creation, I am reminded of so many things about who He is. I believe that is why He created such beauty. So that we would be reminded of His greatness. I believe that He wanted to show us that there are so many intricate details to His beautiful creations. Yet, in every detail He is saying that He cares about us and loves us.

How could one not come to love the Creator who went to such lengths in creating a universe for us to live in? It reminds me of the scripture Psalms chapter 8 where it says this, When I gaze to the skies and meditate on Your creation—on the moon, stars, and all You have made, I can’t help but wonder why You care about mortals—sons and daughters of men…But You placed the son of man just beneath God and honored him like royalty, crowning him with glory and honor.

I often find myself in awe when it comes to thinking of how God created so much beauty around us to enjoy. But it’s more than that. It is so that we would see how much we matter to Him and be drawn into having a relationship with Him.

Psalms 65 says, You leave us breathless when Your awesome works answer us by putting everything right. God of our liberation—You are the hope of all creation, from the far corners of the earth to distant life-giving oceans. With immense power, You erected mountains. Wrapped in strength, You compelled choppy seas, crashing waves, and crowds of people to sit in astonished silence. Those who inhabit the boundaries of the earth are awed by Your signs, strong and subtle hints of Your indelible presenceEven the dawn and dusk respond to You with joy.

Psalms 65 rings so true to my heart. Every time I go on little adventures and see His beauty I am reminded of His Presence. When that moment happens, it makes me want to linger in that place a little longer. At times, I will find myself talking to God or just thanking Him for His beauty. These are sweet moments I wouldn’t trade for the world. These have become moments that I will treasure in my heart forever.

Psalms 139 says, I will offer You my grateful heart, for I am Your unique creation, filled with wonder and awe. You have approached even the smallest details with excellence; Your works are wonderful; I carry this knowledge deep within my soul…Your thoughts and plans are treasures to me, O God! I cherish each and every one of them! How grand in scope! How many in number! If I could count each one of them, they would be more than all the grains of sand on earth. Their number is inconceivable!

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Many times we can get caught up in the busyness of life. We can even get caught up in the cares in our lives. We can have a tendency to forget how big God is and how much He truly cares for us, love us and wants to shows us His goodness. But, if we would stop for a moment to notice the beauty that He placed all around us and linger we will find a refreshing that will come to our lives that is irreplaceable.

In Luke 12 it says, If worry can’t change anything, why do you do it so much? Think about those beautiful wild lilies growing over there. They don’t work up a sweat toiling for needs or wants—they don’t worry about clothing. Yet the great King Solomon never had an outfit that was half as glorious as theirs! Look at the grass growing over there. One day it’s thriving in the fields. The next day it’s being used as fuel. If God takes such good care of such transient things, how much more you can depend on God to care for you…Don’t reduce your life to the pursuit of food and drink; don’t let your mind be filled with anxiety. People of the world who don’t know God pursue these things, but you have a Father caring for you, a Father who knows all your needs.

 Before I go I would like to share a little bit of a poem a friend of mine wrote. It goes like this…

Stop and smell Life’s flowers.

Let them be a red light for you.

Let true Love’s fragrance fill your senses

and it’s beauty imbue.

Go forward through pure green meadows.

Follow God’s Riverbed.

Let Joy’s sound of birds and bubbling streams

quiet thoughts in your head.

Listen to falling yellow leaves

as they carpet the ground

speaking Hope’s language of answered prayer

and changes all around.

When the Light’s red, it’s time to rest;

when green, it’s time to go;

when yellow, proceed with caution, for

it’s time to take it slow.

There are different seasons and times

in God’s Garden of Grace.

But the greatest of all is when we’ll

see Jesus face to Face.

by Laurel Marquardt

My prayer for you today is that you will make time to go to a place filled with God’s beauty and you would stop for a moment and linger. Your life will never be the same as you will discover more about who God is and how much He truly loves you!!

There Is Beauty In The Valley

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Valley – a low point or condition. 

We all go through different seasons in life. Some seasons are better than others. In fact, there are some seasons that I’m sure everyone wishes would stay around in their lives forever. Other seasons we can often wonder, if they will ever come to an end or stay that way forever.

Today, I thought that I would talk about the seasons that can bring discouragement, hopelessness, depression and disappointment. Seasons where you are hurting and feel unloved, unimportant, unvalued, overlooked and even at times forgotten. You feel forgotten not only by those around you but even forgotten by God Himself.

I am talking about being in a season of the valley. I want you to know that no one is exempt from this season. You are not the only one. Even as I type these words, I must admit that I have been going through a valley season.

When you’re in a valley, it’s easy to think that you will never get out of that place. You can feel lonely. Even when you see others around you who aren’t in a valley season and it can appear that they are always on the mountaintop. You can begin to wonder what is wrong with you. When you’re going through it, you don’t always have people around you encouraging you by saying to you, you will make it through this. You will not be there forever. You may even feel like God is against you and doesn’t even want to help you. It then can become real easy to give up and throw in the towel.

Well, today I am here to hopefully bring you some encouragement, if you are in a valley season.  

Recently, I went exploring. it has become one of my favorite things to do. There was a place I had discovered awhile back that I fell in love with. This time I was going back because the flowers that I love were there and they were in full bloom. I was pretty excited about it. The place is called Callalily Valley.

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 The little valley is filled with callalilies that are watered by a stream that is flowing down through the valley into the ocean. It is one of the most beautiful places that I have seen. It is somewhat hard to find because it is so hidden, but once you do find it you don’t want to leave.

There is a couple of stairways that you can go down to get into the valley. I went down there and just wanted to be immersed in the beauty of all of it. I walked around and went to where the source of the flowers were by the stream. In the process because it was so muddy, I got thick mud all over my shoes and was covered in mud up to my ankles. I was able to wash my shoes off in the little stream and found the water quite cold but refreshing. 

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As I left that day, the Lord reminded me of a scripture found in Song of Solomon chapter two. It says this, I am the lily of the valley. It then began to hit me in the middle of the valley in my life, He is there. He brings me joy in the midst of pain. He brings me comfort in the midst of the circumstances that are uncomfortable. Then, I was reminded just as I had washed the mud off of my shoes in the stream of the scripture Psalms 23 where it says, He provides me rest in rich, green fields beside streams of refreshing water. He soothes my fears; He makes me whole again…Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil. Because You are with me in those dark moments, near with Your protection and guidance, I am comforted…You care for all my needs, anointing my head with soothing, fragrant oil, filling my cup again and again with Your graceCertainly Your faithful protection and loving provision will pursue me where I go, always, everywhere. 

The Lord began to show me that even when I am covered with “mud”from walking through the valley, He is there with me. He is the one who brings me to a place of rest where I can be refreshed and made whole by Him. He is the one who takes away the fear of evil by letting me know that He will lead and guide me through every step of the way in the valley.

The result is that I began to discover who He really is. He is the one I can trust to bring me through the good times and the bad times. He is the one who will take care of me in every situation I walk through. He then, will lead me out of the valley into a better place and I will not be able to help but praise Him all the more for His goodness to me. 

You may be going through a valley too. I want to encourage you don’t give up. The Lord is right there in the valley with you and He is not going to leave you. He is going to take care of you, refresh you, make you whole and even stronger than you are now. You can trust Him. He is for you and not against you. Let Him be the one to walk you through this valley. The valley you are in now will not be where you will stay. You will come out but let Him help you. Let Him comfort you and see you through. I promise you that you will not regret it!! 

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Perfectly Imperfect

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Flawed. Frail. Broken. Blemished. Imperfect. Inadequate. Worthless.

These are words that you do not want to hear when someone is describing you. In fact, hearing the opposite words such as Exceptional, Whole, Undamaged, Defect-less, Unmarred, Untainted, Faultless. Now that is something to be proud of. 

Well, if you must know I am one of those people who if she could have her way, she would be perfect. I mean the thought of how awesome it would be to always say the right thing to someone would be amazing.  You wouldn’t ever hurt anyone’s feelings because something harmful, mean and spiteful wouldn’t even dare to come out of your mouth. Why? Because you don’t say those crude things.

Or how about this? You always excel at everything you do!

Math would never be a bother. Why? Because you are so smart. In fact, you are a Genius. You could out do Einstein any day, at any time.

Sports would never be an issue because, you would always out maneuver anyone in the game.

Cooking? Not a problem. You know exactly how to put just the right ingredients together and cook it at the right temperature. You never burn your food and everyone who eats it says that it tastes like heavenly angel food. And of course, you never gain any weight because you know just the right amount of calories you would need in each portion of food that you make. Thus, giving you the ability to never have to exercise. Hallelujah!!!

Then there is your personality. You are always kind, gracious, understanding, compassionate, sweet and loving. You are never angry, frazzled, worried or frustrated.

You are extremely funny. Every time you make a joke people laugh so hard that they can’t even breathe. As a matter of fact, they laugh for days and days about your jokes. People love to be around you because, you…are…awesome!!!

You know how to hold a conversation easily with people. You never experience that awkward silence that can often happen when talking with someone because you never say anything awkward. Awkward silence is non-existent when you are around. 

You never get any weird looks from anyone because, you are not strange.

You always look perfect. You are highly photogenic. You never a hair out of place. Your clothing is always in style. You should be in a Fashion Magazine you are so stylin’. Every time your picture is taken you never have a weird facial expression or look awkward or fat. No, you look like the epitome of perfection itself. 

What a life!!!!!

Although I hate to say it. What I have just described is but an alternate reality.

There is one word that hinders this alternate reality of taking place in mine or anyone else’s life and that is the word human. That’s right human. It’s what we all are and cannot get away from. Because we are human, we have what is called human nature. In the dictionary human nature is defined as this:

  1. the qualities common to humanity
  2. ordinary human behavior, especially considered as less than perfect

 

There you have it right there as black and white as it can be “ordinary human behavior especially considered as less than perfect.” As much as I have tried again and again to obtain complete perfection, I have only found that imperfection seems to trip me up and remind me that I am human.

 

For example, when I take a selfie. (Actually I prefer to call it a “Shellfie” because my name is Shelly and since I am taking a picture of myself, I call it a Shellfie. There you have it a random fact about me.)  So the goal of a selfie or in my case a “Shellfie” is to take a picture of something cool or beautiful in the background while you smile an amazing smile and look awesome. But in reality, this is what happens to me. Here you have it some behind the scenes moments of my very own “Shellfies”.  Keep in mind that my purpose was to show everyone how I was having a great time enjoying the ocean and a coffee from Starbucks. (Because in a Shellfie that is what you do. You show what you enjoy to do.) 

 

 

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Sigh…..not exactly what I was hoping for. I must inform you that now I have resorted to wearing hoodies when taking a “Shellfie.” It sometimes helps the untamed fiery red mane on my head. It takes a lot for me to say this when I do say it…But….Oh Well!!! I have times where I am meaning to say something nice to someone and it comes out the wrong way and they get hurt. I have the awkward silence moments that occur in conversations that I have with people. I admit those are the times that I would rather be off somewhere by myself because the feeling can be too much to handle.

 

I am not the most amazing cook. I have been known to burn food (particularly rice I don’t know why). When something that I have made turns out well, well then it is a time to celebrate!!!  

 

I have been on diets and would work really hard to lose weight and when I would have my weekly weigh in it would be discovered that I only lost 8 ounces. Not even a pound!!!! 

 

I am not particularly fond of running because I have been known to trip and fall flat on my face which can be quite embarrassing when you’re in front of a bunch of people. I have also been known to fall down a large hill and when I finally was able to stand up the lower half of me was covered in mud. 

 

Math well, that is not open for discussion. Especially when talking about adding letters together with numbers. 

 

I think you are starting to get the picture. Obviously, I am as human as one gets. I have been coming to the realization that it’s okay to be one. Do I still make an effort to do the right thing and say the right things? Yes. Do I make an effort to choose to be kind, sweet, loving, encouraging toward others, not given to anger, fear etc.? Yes. Do I always achieve it? No. Sometimes, I have some pretty messy days. I do things and say words that I wish I didn’t. I have been through times where it has really bothered me that I make mistakes. I would often wonder (and still do at times) if I am always making mistakes how can anything good come out of my life?  I grew up in the church most of my life. I would always hear about how God wants to use you. I grew up thinking well, He wants to use the people who have it altogether. I would watch different people and see God use them mightily and think well it’s because they have hardly done anything wrong in their life. So, naturally God would use them to make such a great impact on the world. Then little by little, God has been showing me how wrong that thinking is. 

 

I read this story the other day in an article Joyce Meyer wrote. It goes like this:

 

A water bearer in India had two large pots hanging at the ends of a pole that he carried across his neck. One of the pots was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water at the end of the long walk from the stream to the master’s house. The other pot had a crack in it, and by the time it reached its destination, it was only half full. Every day for two years the water bearer delivered only one and one-half pots of water to the master’s house. Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments—perfect to the end for which it was made. The poor little cracked pot was ashamed of its imperfections and miserable that it could accomplish only half of what it had been designed to do. After two years of what the imperfect pot perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer and said, “I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you.”

“Why?” asked the bearer, “What are you ashamed of?” 

“Well, for these past two years, I have been able to deliver only half a load of water each day because this crack in my side allows water to leak out all the way back to the master’s house. Because of my flaws, you have to do all this work without getting the full value of your efforts,” the pot said.

The water bearer felt sorry for the old cracked pot, and in his compassion he said, “As we return to the master’s house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path.” Indeed, as they went up the hill, the old cracked pot noticed the beautiful wild flowers on the side of the path. But at the end of the trail, it still felt bad because half of its load had leaked out once again.

Then the bearer said to the pot, “Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of the path and not on the other pot’s side? That’s because I’ve always known about your flaw and took advantage of it by planting flower seeds on your side of the path. Every day as we walked back from the stream, you watered those seeds, and for two years I have picked these beautiful flowers to decorate my master’s table. Without you being just what you are, he would not have had this beauty to grace his house.”

God uses even our brokenness to His fullest purpose for our lives.

I would like to share one last story with you. It is found in Luke 7:36-50 it says this, “One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to come to his home for lunch and Jesus accepted the invitation. As they sat down to eat, a woman of the streets—a prostitute—heard he was there and brought an exquisite flask filled with expensive perfume.  Going in, she knelt behind him at his feet, weeping, with her tears falling down upon his feet; and she wiped them off with her hair and kissed them and poured the perfume on them. When Jesus’ host, a Pharisee, saw what was happening and who the woman was, he said to himself, “This proves that Jesus is no prophet, for if God had really sent him, he would know what kind of woman this one is!” Then Jesus spoke up and answered his thoughts. “Simon,” he said to the Pharisee, “I have something to say to you.” “All right, Teacher,” Simon replied, “go ahead.” Then Jesus told him this story: “A man loaned money to two people—$5,000 to one and $500 to the other. But neither of them could pay him back, so he kindly forgave them both, letting them keep the money! Which do you suppose loved him most after that?” “I suppose the one who had owed him the most,” Simon answered. “Correct,” Jesus agreed. Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Look! See this woman kneeling here! When I entered your home, you didn’t bother to offer me water to wash the dust from my feet, but she has washed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair.  You refused me the customary kiss of greeting, but she has kissed my feet again and again from the time I first came in. You neglected the usual courtesy of olive oil to anoint my head, but she has covered my feet with rare perfume. Therefore her sins—and they are many—are forgiven, for she loved me much; but one who is forgiven little, shows little love.” And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven…Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

 

Here we see a woman who one could say has ruined her life and that God would never use her for His glory and for His purpose. Yet here she comes and she is holding a jar in which she has bought with the wages she received from her job. She breaks the jar open and spends it all on Jesus. Then it says in a similar scripture that recounts this story that when she broke open the jar the fragrance filled the room. Jesus knowing who she was didn’t turn her away because He saw that she was bringing all of her brokenness to Him. She recognized that He came to heal her brokenness and make her whole. When she broke open the jar, she was not only bringing her past before Him but she was giving Him her future. She knew that He could heal her, give her a great future, free her from the guilt and shame that she had. He in turn gave her hope. He restored her to the person that He had created her to be. He gave her a new life. He gave her beauty for her ashes. In Isaiah 61, it talks about what Jesus came to do for us. He says this:

 

The Spirit of God, the Master, is on me because God anointed me. He sent me to preach good news to the poor, heal the heartbroken, announce freedom to all captives, pardon all prisoners. God sent me to announce the year of his grace—a celebration of God’s destruction of our enemies—and to comfort all who mourn, to care for the needs of all who mourn…give them bouquets of roses instead of ashes, messages of joy instead of news of doom, a praising heart instead of a languid spirit. Rename them “Oaks of Righteousness” planted by God to display his glory.

You may feel like you are way too broken to be used by God. But, when you bring Him your brokenness He takes it and creates something beautiful out of it. I want to encourage you today to bring Him your imperfection and  in return He will give you His perfection. As you lean on Him, He will help you and give you a life that is unimaginable.  Bring all of you to Him and watch as He begins to restore you and give you a life filled with hope!! 

Forever With Me

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There’s nothing like going out on a great adventure. It’s filled with excitement, wonder, surprises and at times pure delight. Lately, I have had the desire to go out and explore around the area where I live. I must say it has been so refreshing and quite enjoyable. I never knew that I could be surrounded by such beauty that was practically in my backyard.

Sometimes, it is so easy to get caught up in the busyness of life. It’s easy to get caught up in things that we feel we really need to be somber about and make sure that we take care of them. But, sometimes in those things that we feel we need to take care of, we find there is nothing we can do to fix it.

It’s in these moments, that we must take a step back and allow someone who has the means to do so to take care of it. It’s in these moments, we must let go and relax in knowing that the only one who can take care of our need is Jesus. This is what I have been learning. I have a tendency to worry and always want to fix things that are broken. But then, after struggling time after time, hoping that each time I try to fix it that it will work, I only end up feeling exhausted from stressing out about the situation with no result. 

So finally, I thought to myself why do I do this? If I would just give it to God and enjoy my life like He wants me to, I will have not only enjoyed the journey but in the end I will see that He is always faithful to take care of me and any situation that I may face.

Thus, began my adventures of going out on my day off from work and exploring, enjoying Jesus’ presence, relaxing and letting Him do what I cannot. Oh, the fun and joy it has brought. Jesus began to show me that He has so many beautiful things that He wants to show me and give to me if I would only yield to Him, relax, and go on an adventure with Him. And not just any old adventure but one the brings joy, excitement and great delight. This is what I have begun to discover as I have taken the time to go to these different places. I can’t explain it but I felt such peace, joy and a sense that He is with me all the time everywhere I go. Luke 12:22-32 says this, 

“Don’t worry about whether you have enough food to eat or clothes to wear. For life consists of far more than food and clothes. Look at the ravens—they don’t plant or harvest or have barns to store away their food, and yet they get along all right—for God feeds them. And you are far more valuable to him than any birds!  And besides, what’s the use of worrying? What good does it do? Will it add a single day to your life? Of course not! And if worry can’t even do such little things as that, what’s the use of worrying over bigger things?  Look at the lilies! They don’t toil and spin, and yet Solomon in all his glory was not robed as well as they are. And if God provides clothing for the flowers that are here today and gone tomorrow, don’t you suppose that he will provide clothing for you, you doubters? And don’t worry about food—what to eat and drink; don’t worry at all that God will provide it for you. All mankind scratches for its daily bread, but your heavenly Father knows your needs. He will always give you all you need from day to day if you will make the Kingdom of God your primary concern. So don’t be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom.”

 My prayer for you is that if you are one who tends to worry that you too, will begin to experience the beautiful things that the Lord wants to give you as you rest in Him and watch Him do what you cannot. Below are some pictures of some of the adventures that I have had. (You are free to click on the pictures to see a larger view)

May you too enter into the rest that Jesus has for you and take Him up on His desire to go on an adventure with you. You will never be the same! You will never regret it!

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shellyocean

Hold To The Truth

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Sometimes everyone needs a little encouragement in life. Especially, when one is going through a hard time. My hope for you is that when you read this blog, that by the end of it you feel encouraged. In the world that we live in today, it can be easy to think that  you may be the only one that seems to be having a hard time. For example, you could go on Facebook or it may even be when you get around people in general, they seem to have the perfect life. Nothing ever goes wrong for them. Everyone always likes them. They can do no wrong. They seem to be the perfect human. If you have experienced that, I want you to know that you are not alone. I too, have experienced this as well. I have been around people who don’t have a hair out of place. It wouldn’t matter if it was an extremely windy day, their hair is still perfect, even after its been wind blown. Me, I wake up in the morning and my hair is sticking out everywhere. At times, my hair seems to have a mind of its own, it does not want to do what I am trying to get it to do. Then, there are the people who seem to always say the right thing. Me, well my words can get jumbled and at times don’t even make sense to me. I have said things that I shouldn’t have said. Well, it can sometimes be a disaster. Or, how about those people who, they always are so happy, they never ever have a bad attitude or a bad day ever. And I mean Ever!! Me, well at times I have to work hard at having a good attitude and being happy. Especially, on the days I feel down and discouraged. Then, there are the people who have such great poise. They walk with such grace. Me, well I trip over my own feet. I don’t even need to have anything there in front of me to trip over. At times, I just trip for no apparent reason. Last week, I had a day where I went to go get the mail and on the way back I discovered that I stepped in doggie Doodoo. Talk about disgusting. Guess who had to clean it? Yeah, that would be me. It wasn’t long after that on the same day that I realized I had been walking around with my jacket on inside out. Then later, I discovered a piece of hair in my drinking water. Yep, I was totally winning on that day.

So do you feel any better yet? Even a little more encouraged? Now you know that there is someone else out there that goes through rough spots at times. She knows that she is by all means in no way perfect and the harder she would try the more she would find out that she still is imperfect. I have come to realize something though. It’s okay to be me. You know, I have had those moments where I have compared my life to others. I have felt that because I wasn’t like them in personality, in looks or I didn’t interact the way they would with people. I felt that I did not measure up in the area of what a person should be like in order to be acceptable. 

But, little by little, I am realizing that I don’t have to be like everyone else. I don’t have to try fit into their mold. Because the truth is, I wasn’t made to be exactly like them. God created me to be me and I can be who God created me to be. A couple of weeks ago, I was asked to lead a song in church. I love to sing but, sometimes I get nervous when having to sing in front of people. This particular day I felt like my voice wasn’t up to par. I was messing up and hitting wrong notes in practice. But, I wanted to please God and worship Him despite my feelings. I had hoped that when the time came to lead the people in the congregation in singing the song, that my voice would be okay by then. Well, the song started out fine but, in the middle of the song my voice cracked. I found myself hitting wrong notes. I could feel myself getting so embarrassed that I could feel my ears getting hot. They were obviously turning red because of it. I kept thinking, God I am singing this for you and kept trying to keep my focus on Him. I was able to get through the song but when I finished, I felt like I had failed in the area of pleasing God. I felt that people weren’t being ministered to by God’s Presence and love because I messed up. I apologized to God and He said to me if your voice cracks and you hit wrong notes do you think that I never want you to sing another song to me again? God then reminded me of what He once said to me. When a little child gets up and sings, do you think about whether they hit all the right notes or that they sang all the right words? My answer was no and even if they did, it didn’t matter because, my heart melts into a little puddle and is touched deeply. God said that is how I feel when my children sing to me. It is how I feel when you sing to me from your heart. I don’t sit there and say well because your voice cracked I hate it. Don’t ever sing to me again. The fact that you are singing to me because you love me and want to bless me, means more to me than whether you hit all the right notes or not. It is not based on your performance. To know that God accepts me regardless of whether I do things perfect or not, is such an amazing revelation. But, what I want to say is that He feels the same way about you. You don’t have to perform for Him. He wants you to relax and be who He created you to be. Trust in Him to help you where you feel you don’t measure up.

You know it has been a process for me and still is a process in learning what God is like and how He sees me. But, I know that as I trust Him, He will help me in every area that I need help. I have begun to realize that when I feel insecure the more I keep my eyes on Jesus and trust in Him, I will begin to receive His confidence.

2 Corinthians 3:4-5 says this, This is the confidence that we have through Christ in the presence of God. It isn’t that we ourselves are qualified to claim that anything came from us. No, our qualification is from God.

In Proverbs 14 it says this, Those who respect the Lord will have security…

The word respect means a particular way of thinking about or looking at something; an act of giving particular attention. As you put your attention on Jesus, you will find security, confidence, strength, hope and whatever it is that you need. There are so many scriptures in the Bible that show us what we have in Christ. All we have to do is put our attention on Him and receive what He has for us. This can be done by speaking out His word and believing that we have what He says that we can have.

Hebrews 10 says this, So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you!

I want to encourage you that when you are experiencing feelings of inadequacy, fear, insecurity, doubt, hopelessness, depression, discouragement or any thought that brings you down to turn your focus on Jesus. Allow Him to give you what you need. This is where you will find hope, security, confidence, joy and peace. If you don’t know where to start, start by reading the Bible. Specifically, the New Testament. Read about Jesus. Discover what He is like. I cannot even begin to tell you how much better you will begin to feel when you look to Jesus. But, I do know this you will never be the same again and you will be glad that you did!

 

 

A Promise Is A Promise!

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Promise – a declaration or assurance that one will do a particular thing or that a particular thing will happen.

I think it’s safe to say that there is not one person in this world that hasn’t been affected by promises. And by promises, I mean promises that have been personally made, or promises that others have made to you. Promises can be so significant. A broken promise can bring heartbreak, disappointment, distrust and sadness. But a fulfilled promise can bring joy, life, trust, and even strength into a relationship. I am sure that if anyone was asked the questions would you rather have a life full of broken promises? Or would you rather have a life full of promises fulfilled? The answer would be a life full of promises fulfilled.  

In this world because people are human, there is always the possibility that when they make promises, those promises may not be fulfilled. There are many reasons as to why some promises are broken. A person can forget the promise that they made.  And, some promises are broken because a person chooses not to follow through. So, if that is the case does that mean that we will always have a life where broken promises are present? Yes, that can happen but, there is a way to live a life with promises being fulfilled. 

At first I thought to live a life filled with promises that have been fulfilled was a dream that was too good to be true. Until, someone began to show me otherwise. His name is Jesus. 

I would like to share with you the things that He has shown me in being able to live a life full of His promises fulfilled. I would like to start by sharing with you a scripture in the Bible. It is found in John 10:10. These are the words spoken by Jesus Himself. He said this, “I have come in order that you might have life—life in all its fullness.”

Jesus’ main purpose for coming to the earth and dying on the cross was not only to forgive us of the sins that we had committed but, it was also that He could give us life. He wanted to give us a life that was not just an ordinary life to be lived here on the earth but, a life that is lived to the fullest. A life overflowing with His goodness, blessings, favor, health, joy, peace and wholeness. 

Isaiah 9 speaks of why Jesus came. It says this, For a child has been born—for us! the gift of a son—for us! He’ll take over the running of the world.
His names will be: Amazing Counselor, Strong God, Eternal Father, Prince of Wholeness. His ruling authority will grow, and there’ll be no limits to the wholeness He brings.

The word wholeness means this, complete or full, not lacking or leaving out any part. Free of wound or injury. Recovered from a wound or injury. When Jesus came, He came to restore our lives so that we might walk in His wholeness. So that we might walk in all of the inheritance that He has for us. His Joy, Peace, Righteousness, Health and the list goes on. It is His desire that we are whole in every area of our lives and are experiencing all of the inheritance of what He died for us to have. 

In Romans 8 it says, This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who He is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance!

He wants and desires to give us an unbelievable inheritance. I know that this can seem too much like a fairytale. I had a little bit of a hard time believing that God wanted to bless me with an unbelievable inheritance. A life that is filled with life and life more abundantly. 

A couple of weeks ago I was struggling with believing that I could receive the fullness of God’s promises. I even had thought that God was much like what is called an “Indian Giver” meaning that He would fulfill the promise based on how I behaved. If I did all of the right things then He would give me His promises to the fullest. If I didn’t do all of the right things I might get some or none of His promises. In that moment as I was expressing my concern to God, He reminded me of a scripture in the Bible. It is found in Numbers 23:19 it says, “God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?”

Then God repeated to me the phrase in this scripture. “God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man that He should repent.” Then I thought what, does the word repent mean? It means this, to change one’s mind. Then God showed me that when He promises me something He does not change His mind based on what I have done. He does not say I promise you and then take the promise back because I failed to do what is right. What He said He would do, He will do.

Why? Because it says in 1 Corinthians 1:20 Jesus says yes to all of God’s many promises. It is through Jesus that we say, “Let it be so,” when we give thanks to God.

Because I have invited Jesus into my life, I have been made in right standing with Jesus. Every promise that God has for me I can have. All I have to do is believe Him and say let it be so. It’s that simple. Wow! How amazing is that? When you invited Jesus into your life, you have been made right with Jesus and all you have to do to receive His promises is believe Him and say let it be so. Indeed this is a fairy tale that has come true!

I would like to end with this last verse in Hebrews 6. This is just another example of how much God wants to pour out His promises into our lives. 

 It says this, “When a man takes an oath, he is calling upon someone greater than himself to force him to do what he has promised or to punish him if he later refuses to do it; the oath ends all argument about it. God also bound Himself with an oath, so that those He promised to help would be perfectly sure and never need to wonder whether He might change His plans. He has given us both His promise and His oath, two things we can completely count on, for it is impossible for God to tell a lie. Now all those who flee to Him to save them can take new courage when they hear such assurances from God; now they can know without doubt that He will give them the salvation He has promised them. This certain hope of being saved is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls…

You too, may have struggled in the area of wondering if God would pour out His promises upon your life or, if He would withhold His promises from you based on your behavior. I have good news for you, all of His promises are Yes and Amen in Him and all of His promises are for you in this lifetime. Believe Him and watch as His promises unfold in your life. Know that they will exceed way beyond your highest expectations. You can trust Him!! He will never go back on His word!! He Is Forever Faithful!! 

An Untroubled Heart

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The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in Him. At first glance, this scripture is so encouraging.  I used to think this scripture was just a nice word of encouragement to make me feel a little better about life until, I began to experience the goodness of the Lord. I used to think that He was somewhat with me in times of difficulty until, I began to understand that He wanted to be my shelter and protection from danger and distress in every situation. I used to think that He stood at a distance and would at times step in to show that He cared a little about me until, I began to experience His love permeating my being making it evident that I am the object of His affection. I have been learning so much lately about the characteristics of God. I don’t say this lightly when I say that I am completely in awe of Him. One of the things that I have been learning about Him is that He is my peace (my rest) in the midst of my life’s struggles, heartaches, and concerns.

When I began to study and hear about the person of Jesus and the things He did and said in the Bible, it has become more clear to me as to what He is like. I hope that in sharing these things with you that you will begin to understand how much God really cares about you personally and that He really does love you unconditionally in a way that no human ever could. It is a love that is deeply satisfying and it is for you.

In the Bible, in the book of John in chapter 14 you see Jesus talking with His disciples. He was sharing with them that He will no longer be with them physically on earth. He was going to be crucified. Little did they know that He was choosing to die so that He could be in a deeper relationship with them and open the way for us to come to know Him as well.

In the last words that Jesus said to His disciples, He said this in John 14 verses 25-27, “I have told you this while I am still with you. The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and make you remember all that I have told you. “Peace is what I leave with you; it is my own peace that I give you. I do not give it as the world does. Do not be worried and upset; do not be afraid.

The two things that Jesus wanted His disciples to know was that even though He was leaving, He was leaving them with a precious gift. He was leaving them with His peace. He also knew what it was like to live in this world. A world that is so easily caught up in cares, fears, doubts and concerns. He knew that the human heart could so easily be overwhelmed with the cares of this world. So He gave them the Holy Spirit, to remind them in those times of what He said, “Peace is what I leave with you; it is my own peace that I give you. I do not give it as the world does. Do not be worried and upset; do not be afraid.”

How amazing is that? But what is even more amazing then that is He did not leave His peace and Holy Spirit only for the disciples. He left His Peace and His Holy Spirit for us to remind us that He is with us. He will take care of us. 

What does this mean for us? Well, let’s look at what it means to not let our hearts be troubled. As I was doing a study on the phrase “let not your heart be troubled”, I found this. It means don’t let circumstances and the things around you get you all bent out of shape. We can’t always change the things around us, but we can guard the things within us. It is not things on the outside, but things on the inside that affect us most. God has shown how we can keep our peace, even when things around us are not looking to good. Proverbs 4:23 says, ” Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. “ 

Isaiah 26:3-4 says, “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD, is the Rock eternal. ”  

Philippians 4:6-9 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” 
1 Peter 5:6-7 says, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you. ” 
How do we remain in peace in the midst of troubling circumstances? We do it by guarding our heart. We guard what is going on the inside of us. We cannot always change the circumstances around us but we can change our response in the midst of them. We do that by continually keeping before us what Jesus says to focus on during these times. We can focus on the truth of His word that He cares for us and we can trust Him to work in every detail of our lives.
Joseph Prince gave a great example of how we can deal with a troubled heart. He said this, “A troubled and fearful heart works like fingers that clamp down hard on a water hose. The supply of water is flowing from the tap, but little or nothing is coming out at the other end of the hose. God’s ever-present supply of blessings toward you is like the water flowing freely from the tap. But you don’t see the blessings when you allow your heart to be gripped by worry or fear. So when fearful, anxious thoughts come, remind yourself of Jesus’ words: “Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” Even when things appear to get worse, say, “Lord, I refuse to worry about this. In the midst of all this, I see the finished work of Christ. He said, ‘It is finished!’ When you guard your heart, God will guard everything else for you!
God wants you to know that He cares about your every need. It is His desire to see you enjoy the life He gave you. He wants you to give Him your cares so that He can turn it into a blessing. This is why Jesus left His peace with us.  He did not say let not your heart be troubled for the mere purpose of giving us another rule to live by. He said it because He cares about our well being. He gave us His peace to remind us that when we trust Him. He can and wants to take care of us. 

My prayer for you today is if you are in the midst of troubling circumstances, you will not allow your heart to be troubled. When you willingly give God your cares no matter how small or big they may be, He will step in and take care of you when you remain at peace in Him and trust Him.

Rest For Your Soul

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Have you ever had someone invite you over to their house for dinner? So you show up all excited because you really want to get to know that person more. Why? Because you like their personality. They seem to be so much fun to be around. You come in the house with the expectation of great conversation, delicious food and most importantly a time of getting to become better friends. But, then when you get there the person tells you to have a seat and says I have to do a few things in the other room. They hurry out of the room. You hear a bunch of noise coming from the other room. You ask them if you can help with anything and they say no I’ve got it under control. I can do it.

You sit and wait. Five minutes pass by. Then five minutes turns into ten, ten into fifteen. You have now been sitting there for over an hour when finally the person rushes out of the other room practically out of breath and they say to you here is dinner. They hand you a plate full of food and then say go ahead and eat I have to finish something and leave again. After you have finished eating, the person comes in and says well, did you enjoy the food? And you say yes, are you going to eat now to? They reply oh no I already ate. Well, I have to get up early tomorrow morning for work. I had a great time with you. Let’s do this again next week.

As you get into the car, you realize that you spent the majority of the night all by yourself. You never got to know the person any better than you knew them before. Not much of a relationship is it?

Surprisingly, just like the scenario I described this is how many who say that they are in a relationship with Jesus treat Him. But the scenario I described is not an example of a relationship it is an example of religion. The person who invited the other one for dinner missed the point of what the evening was about. They were so caught up in serving that they never sat down to enjoy the person’s company and get to know them more. Did they show them hospitality by making them dinner and bringing them food? Yes, but they missed the good part which was to enjoy being with the person they invited to come over.   

Many times Religion can be often confused with Relationship. We can think if I do all these things for Jesus such as, give to the poor, say all the right words, pray ten hours a day, read a whole book in the Bible (such as the whole  book of Psalms) everyday then I can say I have a relationship with Him. Is it good to give to the poor? Yes. Is it good to read our Bible and pray? Yes. Jesus loves it when we do good. But there is something that He loves more than all of that. He Loves You!! And even though He knows you inside and out He loves it when you tell Him about what is going on in your life. He loves it when you tell Him your needs. He loves to help you through the hard times and the struggles that you face. He loves to bless you with everything He has for you. He loves it when you spend time with Him. He loves it when you let Him talk with you and tell you how much He cares about every detail of your life. He loves it when you trust in Him.

I would like to share with you one of my favorite scriptures and then show you what the Lord showed me about it. Matthew 11:28-30 says, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

In this scripture, Jesus began to show me the difference between Religion and Relationship. Religion is where I would try to in my own strength make myself righteous before Jesus so that I could be in relationship with Him. This resulted in burning myself out, becoming tired and wanting to give up because I just couldn’t do enough to be right with Jesus. Relationship is that I am already righteous because I accepted Jesus as my Savior and He made me right with Him.

Then God showed me this picture of how I would be running around trying to make sure everything was in order so that Jesus would not get upset. Jesus would be sitting there and watching until finally He said to me, Are you done being tired, worn out and trying to fix yourself? Because if you are, I will show you what it means to be in relationship with me. You don’t have to do all these things to impress me. I loved you from the moment you were created. Sit here and rest. Be with me. You don’t have to do anything more to make me love you, accept you or be in relationship with you. Because I always will love you, accept you and be in relationship with you no matter what you do. Let me teach you what it means to be in relationship with me. Let’s enjoy our relationship together. I will walk you through life. 

This is what it means to be in relationship with Jesus. If you can relate to this and have been working hard to be right with Jesus and in relationship with Him, the questions I have for you are this: Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Because if you are, Jesus is waiting to show you what it means to be in a true relationship with Him. A relationship that will bring you joy, love, peace and rest. You don’t have to perform for Him. You may ask but aren’t we supposed to read our Bibles and pray? Yes, but not out of obligation. You read your Bible and pray because you want to know more about Him and discover what He thinks about you. You do it because of the overflow of love you have from your heart that comes from the realization of how truly wonderful He is. You do it out of a place of rest not out of a place of turmoil. 

I would like to end with verse it is found in Deuteronomy 33:12 it says, “Let the one the Lord loves rest safely in Him. The Lord guards him all day long. The one the Lord loves rests in His arms.”

Jesus loves it when you rest in Him. Lay aside your religious duties and let Him love you. When you do, He will show you who He is and what He is really like. He will take care of every detail that concerns you. You don’t have to do it all on your own. He is waiting to be with you. He will be your guide for life.

 

Paralyzed

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The struggles of life is something everyone goes through. No one is exempt from it. Some are better at hiding what they are truly going through more than others. I can definitely relate to the struggles of life. Today I want to share about how we can help those we care about that are going through a hard time.

I have mentioned in another blog entry that I wrote called ‘Can You See Me?’ about how people may not realize it but I observe more about them then they may think that I do. I especially pay attention when I begin to see evidence that they are struggling with something or seem to be hurting. Sometimes I see it in their demeanor, other times I hear about it from others that they are going through something. Then there are times when their pain is more obvious in their words, actions and attitudes. I have been watching as some people have and are going through some really tough things. Some that are dealing with life threatening situations. It’s hard to watch someone you care about going through a difficult time. Sometimes I feel that even speaking words of comfort to them is not enough. I have watched as they put a brave face on even though I can see that they are hurting.  

All in all, it has come to my attention that I have a problem. I have a big heart and at times do not have a way of helping someone. How do you help someone who has lost a loved one? How do you help someone who has been given a serious diagnosis by the doctor? Yes, these are questions that I have gone through in my mind. I am one who wishes to fix things, solve problems and try to make things better. But I have realized in certain situations I cannot. 

Until one day when Jesus showed me something in Mark 2 it says this,  A few days later Jesus went back to Capernaum, and the news spread that he was at home. So many people came together that there was no room left, not even out in front of the door. Jesus was preaching the message to them when four men arrived, carrying a paralyzed man to Jesus. Because of the crowd, however, they could not get the man to him. So they made a hole in the roof right above the place where Jesus was. When they had made an opening, they let the man down, lying on his mat. Seeing how much faith they had…he said to the paralyzed man,  “I tell you, get up, pick up your mat, and go home!”  While they all watched, the man got up, picked up his mat, and hurried away. They were all completely amazed and praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”

In these verses of scripture, I saw the point of what Jesus was trying to tell me. Number one the man was completely paralyzed there was nothing he could do to get better. Number two his friends recognized it and saw that he was helpless and perhaps was discouraged about it and even in pain. Number three because his friends did not wish to see their friend suffer anymore they did the one thing that they thought would help their friend. They brought him to Jesus. They knew He would help their friend. Their faith that their friend would get well through Jesus was so strong that they did not care about what they had to do in order to get their friend to the person who could make them whole. Then, you see their friend go from a state of being paralyzed to getting up and walking around and becoming healthy in every way. What a powerful story! Here is an example of what we can do for someone who is hurting, This is what we can do for someone who is in a situation that we cannot fix. We can take our friends to Jesus and watch Him intervene and cause a miracle to happen in their lives. I can tell you that there have been situations that I have watched people go through and I brought them to Jesus in prayer and then I watched as God would turn their situation around from bad to good. Then their joy becomes my joy. There are some situations where I have not seen the fullness of the breakthrough of those who I am contending for. But, I know that it does not mean that God is not working in their situations. He may want to heal other areas in their lives first before He heals that specific area that I am praying for. Does it mean I should stop praying for them? No, because I know that in due time Jesus will answer me. Why? Because He is faithful to His promise of healing those who are in need of healing. To providing for those who need provision. That’s what He came for, that is what He died for. He came so that we would be made whole.

I want to encourage you today. You may have a friend who is going through something hard you may not always know what to do or what to say. But, you can do this. You can bring them to Jesus in prayer. Tell Him about the situation and ask Him to intervene in their situation. If the situation is not resolved right away, don’t get discouraged. Sometimes, you have to bring them to Jesus more than once. You may not see a lot of progress in the natural but that does not mean that He is not working in their situation. Rejoice in the little progress that you do see and then watch as their breakthrough begins to become more and more evident. When you give it to Jesus, He is faithful to complete that which He has started in their lives. If He tells you to do something, such as say something, bless them with something or He just wants you to pray step out and do it. It will not only change their lives, but it will change yours!

It’s Nothing But A Mirage!

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Have you ever watched a movie of a guy who is in the desert for a long period of time? You watch as he becomes more and more tired under the blazing hot sun. The man pulls out his canteen to drink some water but it is empty.  Soon it becomes very evident that the man is thirsty. All of the sudden he thinks he sees water in the distance. He then travels toward the direction of the water but, when he arrives there is nothing there but dry ground. Then he realizes that it was nothing but a mirage. 

What exactly is a mirage? A mirage is something that appears real or possible but is not in fact so.

In the Bible, there was a man named Jacob who experienced what it was like to live in a mirage. Let’s look at Genesis chapter 37 and see what happened to  him.

This is the story of Jacob. The story continues with Joseph, seventeen years old at the time, helping out his brothers in herding the flocks. These were his half brothers actually, the sons of his father’s wives Bilhah and Zilpah. And Joseph brought his father bad reports on them. Jacob loved Joseph more than any of his other sons because he was the child of his old age. And he made him an elaborately embroidered coat. When his brothers realized that their father loved him more than them, they grew to hate him—they wouldn’t even speak to him.

Jacob said to Joseph, “Your brothers are with flocks in Shechem. Come, I want to send you to them.” Joseph said, “I’m ready.” He said, “Go and see how your brothers and the flocks are doing and bring me back a report.” He sent him off from the valley of Hebron to Shechem. A man met him as he was wandering through the fields and asked him, “What are you looking for?” “I’m trying to find my brothers. Do you have any idea where they are grazing their flocks?” The man said, “They’ve left here, but I overheard them say, ‘Let’s go to Dothan.’” So Joseph took off, tracked his brothers down, and found them in Dothan. They spotted him off in the distance. By the time he got to them they had cooked up a plot to kill him. The brothers were saying, “Here comes that dreamer. Let’s kill him and throw him into one of these old cisterns; we can say that a vicious animal ate him up. We’ll see what his dreams amount to.”

 Reuben heard the brothers talking and intervened to save him, “We’re not going to kill him. No murder. Go ahead and throw him in this cistern out here in the wild, but don’t hurt him.” Reuben planned to go back later and get him out and take him back to his father. When Joseph reached his brothers, they ripped off the fancy coat he was wearing, grabbed him, and threw him into a cistern. The cistern was dry; there wasn’t any water in it. Then they sat down to eat their supper. Looking up, they saw a caravan of Ishmaelites on their way from Gilead, their camels loaded with spices, ointments, and perfumes to sell in Egypt. Judah said, “Brothers, what are we going to get out of killing our brother and concealing the evidence? Let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites, but let’s not kill him—he is, after all, our brother, our own flesh and blood.” His brothers agreed. By that time the Midianite traders were passing by. His brothers pulled Joseph out of the cistern and sold him for twenty pieces of silver to the Ishmaelites who took Joseph with them down to Egypt. Later Reuben came back and went to the cistern—no Joseph! He ripped his clothes in despair. Beside himself, he went to his brothers. “The boy’s gone! What am I going to do!” They took Joseph’s coat, butchered a goat, and dipped the coat in the blood. They took the fancy coat back to their father and said, “We found this. Look it over—do you think this is your son’s coat?” He recognized it at once. “My son’s coat—a wild animal has eaten him. Joseph torn limb from limb!” Jacob tore his clothes in grief, dressed in rough burlap, and mourned his son a long, long time. His sons and daughters tried to comfort him but he refused their comfort. “I’ll go to the grave mourning my son.” Oh, how his father wept for him.

Jacob spent most of his life thinking that his son was dead when the truth was that all along he was alive. Joseph brothers were used by the devil to bring deception (or a mirage) into Jacob’s life. Why? Because, they didn’t want to admit the truth. But even though deception (or a mirage) had played its game to the fullest in the end it did not win. God reunited Jacob and his son Joseph by showing Jacob the truth. God restored Jacob’s joy and life. Joseph said this, what the enemy (Satan the deceiver) meant for my harm God turned around for my good.  

Before I end this I would like to share with you one last story. There was a person who saw a chicken in his yard. He found a rope and took the chicken. Then he took the chicken and pushed the chicken’s head on the ground and placed a rope over his neck to keep the chicken from getting up. For awhile the chicken struggled but after some time the chicken quit struggling. Then the person took a piece of chalk and drew a line where the rope lay on each side of the chicken. He then left the chicken to lay there. Then someone else came along and saw the chicken lying there. He came over and removed the rope off of the chicken’s neck. The chicken did not move from where he lay as he still believed that the rope was still there because he could see the line.

 Isn’t it interesting how the chicken could have gotten up at any time once the rope was removed? And yet because the chicken believed the rope was still real it just laid there. There are times in life where the devil can present something to us that looks like it is real when it is not. Without realizing it, we are basing our belief on something that is only a mirage. For instance, Jesus gave us the promise that when we accept Him into our lives we are free from all sin. He even says that He remembers our sins no more. He said that He has removed our sins as far as the east is from the west. Before we were saved, we were like the chicken who was bound by that rope (which represented sin) living in bondage. When we gave our lives to Jesus, He removed the rope saying we are free. But at times we can still feel like we are not free because of our feelings, thoughts and the way we still act. This is like the chalk line that the chicken saw that caused him to believe that he was not really free even though he was.

This is where the mirage in our lives can appear. The devil comes in and creates a mirage by telling us if you really are free from sin, then why did you have that bad thought? If you are free from sin, why did you do the wrong thing? We then give in to condemnation believing the mirage that we are not truly free as Christ had said. The result is that we then remain paralyzed and do not walk in the freedom that Christ died for us to have.

2 Corinthians 5:21 says, God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. We are not righteous because of all the right things we do. We are righteous because of what Christ did for us.

In Ephesians 2 it says this, For it’s by God’s grace that you have been saved. You receive it through faith. It was not our plan or our effort. It is God’s gift, pure and simple. You didn’t earn it, not one of us did…

You may be one who has been looking at a mirage and thinking I must not be forgiven because I still mess up. Well, I have good news for you, it’s not the truth. Yep, it’s just a mirage and God wants to turn around what the enemy has meant for harm in your life for good. You don’t have to live in a mirage anymore. I want to tell you that your forgiveness is not based on how you feel. The moment you received Jesus into your life by believing in Him was the moment you became free from sin. As you keep believing that you are forgiven, you will begin to live like you are forgiven. And when you live like you are forgiven, your life will begin to show it. As you keep your eyes on Jesus, you will become more and more like Him. Choose to believe His Word that you are free. Choose to no longer live in a mirage. 

The Care Taker

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How sweet is the love of a father for his little one? When I see a dad and his baby, my heart just seems to melt. You can see how much love and care he has for his little one in his actions. You can see that joy is evident on the father’s face as he will at times throw the baby in the air. There you see one of the best moments in life as the baby laughs in delight! Yes, there is definitely a special bond between a dad and his little one and yet it seems that it is not often talked about. So, I would like to take a moment and share a story with you that will give you a glimpse of just how wonderful dads are. 

This story was written by a nurse. The story goes like this: After a baby is born, a baby is usually scared, screaming and flailing around. I would carry the baby into the newborn nursery, start checking his vital signs, etc., and the monitor would show a high heart rate, elevated blood pressure, rapid respirations, all of which reflect how stressed he is.

 Then I’d see the baby’s father hanging around, often not sure what to do, also looking a little stressed and unsure of his surroundings. So I would say to the father, “Come over here, stand right here next to your baby, and just start talking to your son.” I would encourage the father to lean down close to his baby, and speak some quiet words of comfort. I would say, “It’s, okay. . . he knows your voice.. . . go ahead and talk to your baby.”

The father would start to talk to his child, sometimes using his child’s chosen name, and say things like, “I love you. It’s okay. I’m here. You’re going to be okay. You’re safe. You’re my son. I love you. Everything’s going to be alright. I’m here now, I’m here.” 

Remarkably, once the baby heard his father’s gentle voice, he would calm down, his body would relax and find rest, he’d become very quiet. The baby’s heart would stop racing, his respirations would calm down. This little newborn child would often strain to turn his head towards ‘that voice’, blinking through the bright lights, instinctively trying to ‘see’ the voice that he knew so well. 

In this very scary new world, outside of his mother’s warm and safe womb, this little child had found peace, he knew he was safe, he knew he was not alone, he knew everything was going to be alright, he knew he was where he was supposed to be. . . within the sound of his father’s voice.

 

What an amazing story! All it took was the sound of the father’s voice to calm the baby down and reassure him that everything was okay. In my own life, I have had times where circumstances were difficult but a word from my dad would make me feel at ease. I would begin to relax and think oh it’s gonna be okay. I love my dad a lot and I am so thankful for him. Dads just have a way of bringing a feeling of security into a son or daughter’s life.

The examples that I just gave you are a foreshadow of what God is like. You know recently I was having a really hard time. It was one of those days when the things that had been bothering me seemed to be magnified. The result was that I ended up in tears that night in my room because I was feeling really overwhelmed with what was concerning me. I began to pour out my heart to God until I had told Him everything that was concerning me. I began to let Him know that I realized I could do nothing about the circumstances I was facing. The only way the circumstances would be resolved was if He would take care of them. Then I released every situation to Him. The next day I felt so much better. God began to show me some things. He showed me what worry really is. Worry is usually something important to you like a person, a job, a dream or desire in your heart. Then He showed me what the meaning of a care is. A care is the concern that we have about that person, job etc. Then He brought the scripture 1 Peter 5:7 to my mind it says this, Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you.

He was saying to me that He cared about what was going on with me and wanted me to give it to Him. He was saying you’re right you cannot take care of those things on your own but I can take care of them. Then He reassured me that everything would be okay. Such peace settled in my heart once I knew that He would take care of it. I don’t have to try and solve these things on my own. He is faithful and will do what He says that He will do, as I place my trust in Him. 

You may be facing some situations where you don’t know what to do. You may even be wondering and saying to yourself how can I fix it and have come to the realization that you can’t fix it. Give the situations, to God tell Him about it, admit to Him that you cannot fix it. When you say to God you can’t fix it, it gives Him the opportunity to tell you that He can fix it. Give that worry and care to God. He is the best Care Taker and He knows exactly what is needed to fix it. When you invite Him to take care of your concerns, He will. Psalms 55:22 says, Our Lord, we belong to you. We tell you what worries us, and you won’t let us fall.  

Have you ever seen a father tell a child to jump and that he will catch him. What does the child do? He fearlessly jump into his father’s arms. What makes him so fearless? He knows that when his daddy says that he will catch him. He can trust that he will catch him and not drop him. 

God is asking us to trust Him. We can rest assured that as we do He will be right there and will not let us fall. He will take care of us. As you give your cares and worries to Him, He will reassure you that everything will be okay and peace will enter your heart. Let Him Be Your Care Taker!

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The Metamorphosis

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Have you ever stopped to think about how amazing it is that a little caterpillar can go into a cocoon and after a period of time he comes out as a completely different creature than what he was? No longer a caterpillar but a creature with wings. Once this little caterpillar’s world was only on the ground and limited to where he wanted to go. Now he is able to fly and see even more things than he ever has before. Now, he can rise and fly freely living a new life of adventure. 

To me this is something I find quite fascinating. You know God can speak to us in many ways and one of the ways that He speaks to us is through His creation. For example, in Matthew 6:26 Jesus says, Look at the birds in the sky. They do not store food for winter. They don’t plant gardens. They do not sow or reap—and yet, they are always fed because your heavenly Father feeds them. And you are even more precious to Him than a beautiful bird. If He looks after them, of course He will look after you.

Sometimes, I think God points out different things about His creation to teach us about how He desires for us to live. In the example of the birds, He is teaching us about how He always provides for the birds of the air. But, then He takes it a step further in saying that He values us even more than the birds. If He takes care of them how much more will He take care of us? What an amazing promise!!  We can trust Him to take care of us. We don’t have to worry or question for a moment if He will. We can rest assured that because He said it, He will do it. Not because He has to but because He wants to. Because He loves us. 

The caterpillar is also an amazing example of what God wants to do in our lives. Let me explain. Here is a definition that I found in an encyclopedia about caterpillars it says this, caterpillars are voracious feeders and many of them are considered to be pests in agriculture. Interesting huh? They are considered to be pests. One of the definitions of the word pest is something resembling a pest in destructiveness. 

 Jesus began to show me that before I invited Him into my life I was much like the caterpillar. I was headed down the road of destruction that would eventually lead to death. Then He showed me that He died for the sins that I had committed so that I could live with Him. He also presented to me the choice of starting completely over and living a new life. I have never fully understood what all that meant but now He has begun to show me more and more what it means. He presented to me the chance to have a life filled with joy, peace, grace, blessing, wholeness and the list goes on and on. So I decided to take Him up on the offer. As I asked Him into my heart, the next thing that happened is what I call the metamorphosis. What is metamorphosis? Metamorphosis is a change of the form or nature of a thing or person into a completely different one, by natural or supernatural means. 

1 Corinthians 5 says, For if a man is in Christ he becomes a new person altogether—the past is finished and gone, everything has become fresh and new. All this is God’s doing, for He has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ; and He has made us agents of the reconciliation. God was in Christ personally reconciling the world to Himself—not counting their sins against them—and has commissioned us with the message of reconciliation.

Once I received Jesus, He changed me into a new creation. He changed me from a caterpillar into a beautiful butterfly. Here is the definition of a butterfly. They are believed to be free spirits in their flight and lack on constraints. They are also thought of as harmless, innocent creatures. My life went from being on a path of destruction to one of freedom with no constraints. My life changed from a life of devastation to a life of restoration. The thought of a new life and being forgiven brought such joy to my heart. But, I must admit, I have at times struggled with the question am I really a new creation? Am I truly forgiven like it says in the Bible? I believed that God might forgive my sins but there were some sins I was only forgiven of to a degree. Those sins were too ugly to be completely forgiven. Those sins were sins that I must carry the rest of my life. Sure I would live a good life, but not a great life. I would receive some blessings but not all of the blessings God could give me if He wanted to. Why? Because those sins still needed to be punished. I have thought that the sins I committed were uglier than other people’s sins. I would stand by and watch as people I knew would receive blessing after blessing and joy after joy in their lives. Yes I did see some of the mistakes that they had made but thought well God overlooks what they have done. Sure their may have committed ugly sins but not as ugly as the sins I had committed. I believed that was why I would not receive the fullness of the inheritance that Jesus had for me.

Now that I look back though, I can see how Jesus began to take me on a journey since I first came to know Him. I remember it in the words that He spoke to me. I remember Him speaking to me about the transformation that had taken in my life. I no longer had to mourn over the past but I could walk into the joy of what He has given me. Even in the darkest moments of my life I began to question why I was still alive on earth. I felt I had already messed up God’s plan for my life and I just had to bear the burden of the pain of what I had done. Still, He stood beside me and kept telling me that He loved me, that He is for me, that He had fully forgiven me. It wasn’t until recently that this finally begin to settle in my heart. Psalms 103 says, He forgives all our sins. Then further on in Psalms 103 it says You see, God takes all our crimes—our seemingly inexhaustible sins—and removes them. As far as east is from the west, He removes them from us. Isaiah 43:25 says, “I—yes, I alone—will blot out your sins for my own sake and will never think of them again. 

He doesn’t look at me and see all my wrongdoings (past, present and future); He sees what is right with me. He doesn’t even think of them anymore. Why? Because of one reason and one reason only and that is Jesus. Isaiah 53 says, it was our weaknesses He carried; it was our sorrows that weighed Him down. And we thought His troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for His own sins! But He was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed.

Jesus saw beforehand all the sins I would ever commit and He chose to take them upon Himself. Jesus took the punishment that I deserved upon Himself so that I could be made whole, so that I could be forgiven of a debt that I could not pay, so that I could be made right before God. The other day I was listening to someone speak about what it means to be in Christ and this is an amazing example that she gave. She said it like this imagine Jesus standing before you and you walking up to Him and unzipping the side of His body and stepping into His body and zipping it back up. Does God still see you? No, He sees Jesus. He sees that He is righteous before Him and because you are in Him you also are righteous before God. 

This is what it means to be in Christ. I want to give one last example about the caterpillar and the butterfly before I end. Once the caterpillar turns into a butterfly, it can never change back into a caterpillar. It can never be what it once was. Now, that it is learning to fly each day not only does the butterfly become stronger and stronger but it becomes more and more free as the days go by. I want to encourage you, you may have asked Jesus into your heart and yet you still feel like you have failed God. You may even feel that you have messed up your life and that there is no hope. You may have even questioned how could God love you when you’ve messed up?  Well, I have good news for you. He loves you unconditionally with no strings attached.  A great passage to read over and over in the Bible is Romans chapter 8. I want to encourage you to take time and read it.  I am just going to highlight some of the verses. In Romans 8, it talks about what happens when we have given our heart to Jesus. It says this, But for you who welcome Him, in whom He dwells—even though you still experience all the limitations of sin—you yourself experience life on God’s terms. It stands to reason, doesn’t it, that if the alive-and-present God who raised Jesus from the dead moves into your life, He’ll do the same thing in you that He did in Jesus, bringing you alive to Himself? When God lives and breathes in you (and He does, as surely as He did in Jesus), you are delivered from that dead life. With His Spirit living in you, your body will be as alive as Christ’s! So don’t you see that we don’t owe this old do-it-yourself life one red cent. There’s nothing in it for us, nothing at all. The best thing to do is give it a decent burial and get on with your new life. God’s Spirit beckons. There are things to do and places to go! This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who He is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance!

You are a new creation you no longer have to live under condemnation. Jesus has paid the price for you to be free from all of your sins! You are forgiven! You can let go of your past and move into a life of freedom. You can receive the unbelievable inheritance that He has for you. Know and believe that God is not mad at you and that He loves you with an everlasting love.  

In Romans 8 it also says this, God knew what He was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love Him along the same lines as the life of His Son. The Son stands first in the line of humanity He restored. We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in Him.  After God made that decision of what His children should be like, He followed it up by calling people by name. After He called them by name, He set them on a solid basis with Himself. And then, after getting them established, He stayed with them to the end, gloriously completing what He had begun. So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing Himself to the worst by sending His own Son, is there anything else He wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture: I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.

In Jesus you are no longer like the caterpillar, you are like the beautiful butterfly. You Are A New Creation!! You can let go of your past and live the life Jesus fully intended for you to live!! 

 

Relax! Everything Will Be All Right!!

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Do you ever lie awake at night with a feeling of restlessness? You are so tired but cannot fall asleep. Your mind feels like it is racing a million miles an hour. Finally you fall asleep from mental and emotional exhaustion. In the morning when you wake up, the feelings and thoughts of uncertainty and fear of what may happen suddenly creep right back in. What is ailing you? Well, these things that have been occupying your mind is what I call the ever infamous, unresolved, uncertain circumstances. How do I know? Because I have experienced this many times and let me tell you it is not fun. I would like to share with you something that God showed me that has helped me in the area of resting in Jesus.

In life there will be moments that are difficult, wearisome or stressful. There are moments that can cause fear, doubt and confusion. The list can go on and on. The question is how do we deal with it? Jesus said in John 16:33, I have told you these things so that you will be whole and at peace. In this world, you will be plagued with times of trouble, but you need not fear; I have triumphed over this corrupt world order. 

In the Amplified Bible it says this, I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.]

Jesus’ words to us are very clear when you experience trouble and hardship you don’t need to be afraid because He has overcome the trouble that you are going through. Because Jesus died on the cross for you, you have access to His Presence at all times. That means everywhere you go He is with you. Whatever you need is provided for you in His Presence and because of His blood all you need is available to you in the moment you need it. You see when Jesus died on the cross for you He not only died for your sins but He also died so that you might live a victorious life.

In Revelation 12 it says, Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, 

 Another version of this verse says, They won the victory over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the truth which they proclaimed; 

In this scripture you see that the accuser of the brethren who is Satan accused us before God day and night and he has been cast down. Because of the blood of Jesus, Satan has been defeated and we have access to the tools that Jesus has given us to walk out our victory over the enemy. Revelation 12 says, they (meaning those who are in Christ Jesus which is us) overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony. What does it mean when it says the word of their (or our) testimony? It means that when we are speaking out in agreement with what God said it overcomes the enemy. If you are struggling with fear speak out the scripture, Perfect love casts out all fear. If you need provision, speak out the scripture, my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory because you are in Him. If it’s healing you need, speak out the scripture by His stripes you are healed.

Why is it so important to speak out what God says? Faith comes by hearing and hearing the word of God. As you continue to speak God words over your life, you will begin to believe what He says about you. You will begin to know who you really are in Him. You are healed. You are free. You are righteous. You are more than a conqueror. You are His child. He will take care of your every need. He will perfect that which concerns you as you rest in Him. 

T.D. Jakes says, You can change your condition when you understand your position. Once you understand who you are in Christ you can see your condition change around you. Take a look at this little clip:

When you start to forget who you are, it’s time to look in God’s Word and remind yourself of who He says you are. From the position of understanding who you are in Him, you will see your condition change. Ephesians 1 says, Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, His blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we’re a free people—free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free! He thought of everything, provided for everything we could possibly need, letting us in on the plans He took such delight in making. He set it all out before us in Christ, a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in Him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth. It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, He had His eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose He is working out in everything and everyone. It’s in Christ that you, once you heard the truth and believed it (this Message of your salvation), found yourselves home free—signed, sealed, and delivered by the Holy Spirit. This signet from God is the first installment on what’s coming, a reminder that we’ll get everything God has planned for us, a praising and glorious life. I ask—ask the God of our Master, Jesus Christ, the God of glory—to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing Him personally, your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is He is calling you to do, grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life He has for His followers, oh, the utter extravagance of His work in us who trust Him—endless energy, boundless strength! All this energy issues from Christ: God raised Him from death and set Him on a throne in deep heaven, in charge of running the universe, everything from galaxies to governments, no name and no power exempt from His rule. And not just for the time being, but forever. He is in charge of it all, has the final word on everything.

Ephesians 2:6-7 says, He raised us up with Him and seated us in the heavenly realms with our beloved Jesus the Anointed, the Liberating King. He did this for a reason: so that for all eternity we will stand as a living testimony to the incredible riches of His grace and kindness that He freely gives to us by uniting us with Jesus the Anointed.

Once we understand who we are in Christ and we declare what God says about us, then we are to rest in Him. In Exodus 14 it says, “Don’t be afraid! Stand still and you will see the Lord save you today….You only need to remain calm; the Lord will fight for you.”

As you give God all of the situations that you have been bothered with, you can rest assured that He will work every situation out for you. No matter what stay focused on who He says you are and you will see the situation turn around. He is faithful to do what He says He will and He will not go back on His word. I want to leave you with one last scripture it is found in Jude it says this, Relax, everything’s going to be all right; rest, everything’s coming together; open your hearts, love is on the way!

Rest In Jesus! Relax, Everything’s going to be all right!! You can trust Him to perfect that which concerns you!!  


Can You See Me?

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Have you ever felt like you were invisible? Or like you were overlooked and misunderstood? Have you ever been having a conversation with someone and you notice that they aren’t paying attention to you at all? Or have you ever heard someone say that they are great friends with you and yet they never hang out with you, don’t even know your favorite color, what food you like to eat or what you like to do for fun?

Yep, I have definitely experienced that. It’s hard when you want people to see you the way you really are and yet for whatever reason, whether it’s because they’re busy or distracted, they miss the details of who you are as a person. 

It’s kind of like Facebook in a way. I think that it feels kind of strange that you can be friends on Facebook and yet never talk to each other. It’s interesting to me that what was meant to be a relationship building kind of website really can cause more distance between people than a deeper friendship. Just a thought.

 On Facebook one can go in and look at someone’s profile and see what that person likes, read their statuses and look at their photos, and then one can immediately say I know that person and what they are about.  But the truth is, they don’t really know that person. They are only looking at the surface of someone and making their assessment of who they think that person is based on what they see. 

For instance, someone who really knows me will know what would make me laugh and cry. They would know what I would like to eat, what I would like to wear and what gets me excited. If people were to go to my Facebook page, they would see that I post a lot of things about Star Wars. You would see pictures of me and my family. You would see posts of scriptures, encouraging quotes, and sometimes funny things.

But all of those things about me are just a glimpse of what I am like. There are many different facets to who I am but one can only see them if they take the time to look and spend time with me. You see if one were to look a little closer to see who I am these are some of the things that they would see. Sometimes, it may look as if I am not paying attention to what is going on with people but the truth is that I observe more than they might think. I care about what people are going through. I pray for people more than they know especially when I see them having a hard time. I don’t always talk with them about what I see happening in their lives but, I talk to God about it and trust Him to take care of them. Then I watch as He does take care of their situation. I also love to encourage people. At times, I will purposely go out of my way to bless them. Whether it be with an encouraging word or even blessing them with something that they would enjoy. I want to make sure people are well taken care of.  

I have a tender heart. My heart is a lot more sensitive than I let most people know. Sometimes, people can say and do things that are hurtful. I don’t always show them that how they are acting towards me really bothers me. But even when I am hurting, I still try to treat them in kindness in return. It isn’t always easy but I am thankful when Jesus helps me to treat them in love the way that He would. 

Integrity means a lot to me. When people do what they say they will do, I deeply appreciate it. I love it when people spend time with me because they want to. They are not doing it because they want something from me but they just want to hang out with me and have fun. Those are times I treasure.  

That is just another little glimpse of what I am like. All in all, I must say it’s always easy to assume what people are like. But something special happens when you take time to see who people really are and you treat them for the person that they really are. Instead of treating them as the person who you assume they are.  

It is the same way with God. We can hear about Him and we can assume that He is a certain way. Then our relationship will be based only on what we’ve heard. But when we take time to get to know Him, we will understand who He really is. 

In 1 Corinthians 2 it says this, No one can really know what anyone else is thinking or what he is really like except that person himself. And no one can know God’s thoughts except God’s own Spirit…God has given us His Holy Spirit that we may know about the things given to us by Him.

I like to share a quote by A. W. Tozer he says this:

The sovereign God wants to be loved for Himself and honored for Himself, but that is only part of what He wants. The other part is that He wants us to know that when we have Him we have everything – we have all the rest.

God desires to show us who He really is and that will only come when we stop and spend time with Him. When we stop and take time with Jesus, we will know who Jesus is. There are so many facets to who He is and one will never know them unless they stop and pay attention to the one who is ready to show them who He really is. We can hear about His love but never really know it because we don’t take the time to experience it. We can hear about how awesome it is to trust Him and see Him come through for us but never truly understand what it means unless we place our worries, cares, doubts and concerns, into His Hands to take care of us. And when we do experience it ourselves, we begin to understand a little more of who He is.

I would like to encourage you to stop and look at Jesus. Take time to find out who He really is. Don’t just go by hearsay and assume you know who He is. You may be very surprised when you begin to know Him for who He is.  

Where Are You God?

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Have you ever had a moment in life where it seemed like God was no where to be found? For example, you asked God to be in your life and for awhile everything was going well. You heard what God was saying and felt what He was feeling. Then all of the sudden, you felt nothing. Panic easily began to set into your life. You began looking for Jesus. You did everything you could think of. You read your Bible, you went to church, you spent hours in prayer asking God where He is. You were doing a lot of outward things in order to find Him. But, it seemed as if He was not there. It seemed like everything you did amounted to nothing with no results.

I too, have had those things happen in my life numerous times. Until, God gave me a revelation. Now, am I saying that you shouldn’t read the Bible, go to church or pray? No, I am not saying that at all. I am saying that sometimes even in the midst of doing all of those things we miss what God is trying to say to us because, we are trying so hard to find the answer ourselves and we are not looking to Him.

Today, my prayer for you is that when you finish reading this blog entry that you walk away feeling encouraged and have a new understanding of who God is and how He wants to relate to you. 

Let’s read what Jesus said in Revelation 3:20, “Look! I have been standing at the door, and I am constantly knocking. If anyone hears me calling him and opens the door, I will come in and fellowship with him and he with me.”

Okay let me explain Revelation 3:20 like this, Jesus is standing at the door of your heart and is knocking on it. If you respond to Him by opening up the door of your heart and asking Him to come in, He will come in and fellowship with you. You see before Jesus died on the cross the only way to relate to God was through a priest. The priest would go into the Holy of Holies where the ark of the covenant was. This was where God’s presence rested.

Hebrews 9 says, Only the high priest entered the smaller, inside tent, and then only once a year, offering a blood sacrifice for his own sins and the people’s accumulated sins. This was the Holy Spirit’s way of showing with a visible parable that as long as the large tent stands, people can’t just walk in on God. Under this system, the gifts and sacrifices can’t really get to the heart of the matter, can’t assuage the conscience of the people, but are limited to matters of ritual and behavior. It’s essentially a temporary arrangement until a complete overhaul could be made.

If you continue reading Hebrews chapter 9 it goes on to say this, But when the Messiah arrived, high priest of the superior things of this new covenant, he bypassed the old tent and its trappings in this created world and went straight into heaven’s “tent”—the true Holy Place—once and for all. He also bypassed the sacrifices consisting of goat and calf blood, instead using his own blood as the price to set us free once and for all.

If you read about Jesus’ death in the Bible you will see that many things happened as a result of His death. One of the things that happened is found in Matthew 27. It says this, Then Jesus gave another loud cry and gave up His spirit and died. At once the curtain in the house of God was torn in two from top to bottom.

You may be thinking what does that mean? It means that we now have personal access through Jesus to God. We no longer have to relate to God as someone who is distant, unapproachable and one you that could never have a deep relationship with.  

After Jesus rose again, He said this in Matthew 28. “You can be sure that I will be with you always. I will continue with you until the end of time.”

Once you have invited Him into your life He will never leave you or forsake you. Okay, so you may be wondering if He never leaves me or forsakes me then why can’t I feel Him? Why can’t I hear Him? 

This is where Revelation 3:20 comes in once again. Let’s look at it one more time. 

“Look! I have been standing at the door, and I am constantly knocking. If anyone hears me calling him and opens the door, I will come in and fellowship with him and he with me.”

Alright let me give you the example that God showed me concerning this verse. Let’s say that you are with a friend at dinner and you are sitting right across from one another. What would you do if your friend said to you hey I need your help. Then they began talking to you about what their issue was and didn’t stop talking even when you were answering them. And if they did stop for a second and you said something to them they wouldn’t acknowledge that you are right there in front of them speaking to them but they acted like you were somewhere far away not paying attention to them. Now, that would be weird right? But many times this can be what we do. We think that God is somewhere out there and we have to try and get a hold of Him. We miss the fact that He is inside of us waiting for us to realize that He is there and is answering us but we aren’t paying attention. 

Another version of this verse says, “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.

Jesus is sitting at the dinner table with you. He never left you from the moment you asked Him into your heart. All you have to do is acknowledge that He is there with you, stop and listen to what He has to say to you. You see the devil is really good at making people think that Jesus is somewhere out there and if we just do all of the right things then He might answer us. He might help us. We might receive what He has for us. But it’s all a lie. The truth is there are so many things that we have as Christians because we are in Christ. But, because we don’t have a revelation of who we are in Christ we don’t walk in what He has for us. I think that the devil has been trying to hold back the body of Christ from walking in who we really are. Because once we realize who we are he is in big trouble. 

Because Jesus is in you when you whisper something to Him, He will hear every single word that you say. When you stop and listen, you will hear Him speak. You might even hear the answer to the question that you have been asking. It’s that easy. How amazing is that? We have access to Jesus at all times. 

You may have been going through a very tough season, a time where a lot of things happen don’t make sense. Well, I am here to tell you that the God who spoke the universe into existence just by saying a few words.  And today there is not one planet that has fallen out of orbit. The God who sent His only son to die for you just so that He could be in relationship with you lives right on the inside of you. You have access to everything that He has. And I mean everything.

Romans 8:11 says, If the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, the one who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your human bodies also, through his Spirit that lives in you.

You have access to His provision, His healing, His presence, His joy, His victory, His freedom. The list in the Bible goes on and on of what we have in Christ. All we have to do is believe. It’s not complicated, it’s simple! Especially, when you let Jesus show you who you really are! 

This is some great news!! Never forget that He’s right there with you ready to speak to you, ready to fellowship with you! This is what really it means to be in Christ!! He is with you always!! He will never leave you or forsake you!!  

Remember That One Day When I Went To Skywalker Ranch? Yeah…That Was Pretty Awesome!! Part Two

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I would like to give just a little side note.  If you have not gotten a chance to read my blog entry from last week, I would like to encourage you to do so as this blog entry is a continuation from the blog entry that I posted last week. I want you to be able to get the full story.

After finishing up at the Skywalker Ranch General Store, our tour guide brought us outside and led us down a different pathway that took us on the other side of Ewok Lake. The pathway curved around and brought us to the main house. This is where George Lucas works. The whole concept of the design of the house was inspired by George Lucas himself all down to the most minute detail. George had the house built after one of his favorite eras the Victorian era. The front door had this ornate glass that was so reflective that it almost looked like a mirror. It was absolutely stunning. I wanted to take a picture of the glass but I wasn’t sure if I was allowed to as you could see into the house so I refrained. But it was one of the most unique and beautiful glass windows that I have ever seen. The house is filled with art from George Lucas’ favorite artist Norman Rockwell. George Lucas had the furniture made at his own Mill Shop that he has on the ranch. All of the art glass and many of the light fixtures were designed and made at his Art Glass Studio which is also on the ranch. George Lucas loves Redwood so there is Redwood all through out the house. I can see why he loves Redwood so much as it is so beautiful and the color is very rich. 

Just a side note of something that I learned, part of the Ewok films were filmed in the Redwood trees that are just outside of the Ranch.

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Anyway, back to what I was originally talking about. I loved all the intricate details of the house. I know that I keep using the word stunning but everything about the house truly was stunning. When we walked into the house, there was a huge staircase in front of us with large windows by the landing. There was a beautiful fireplace in the entry. Above the fireplace that was in the front entry of the house was a glass case with a lot of George Lucas’ awards inside of it. It was cool to see all the different awards that he had from his  accomplishments.

We were shown another room that had another beautiful fire place in it. He has 14 fireplaces throughout the whole house.

Then our tour guide took us to a little hallway that had glass cases on both sides of the walls and inside of the cases were artifacts from different movies. Such as, Luke Skywalker’s original lightsaber that was also given to Anakin Skywalker to use. The prototype of Jabba The Hutt, a mini A-Wing model that was in The Empire Strikes Back, an AT-AT model that was also in The Empire Strikes back. There were artifacts from the movie Willow. Also, from Indiana Jones (another one of my favorite movies) his hat, his whip, the golden idol in the Raiders of the Lost Ark, as well as the medallion that was used to find the ark of the covenant, and the holy grail. Charlie Chaplin’s cane with a  letter of authentication was there as well. It was pretty awesome! 

After that, we walked through a sitting room with a Grand Piano, a Steinway to be exact. One time George Lucas had the staff all gather around the piano for Christmas and sing together. 

As our tour continued through the house, we saw a private theater that was for the staff. On the wall were a lot of the games that George Lucas had made. Some that I had played a while ago but hadn’t seen in a long time and had forgotten about but they were some of my favorite ones to play.

George Lucas also has a library in the house that he made for the employees and for those working on films to use for work related projects. This place was phenomenal. When you walk in almost everything is made out of Redwood. When you look up, there is a huge dome-like stain glass and when the sun shines through it, it causes the room to be lit in a beautiful golden-like haze. There are also little stain glass windows all around the top of the room. The library reminded me a lot of the library that was the movie Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Our tour guide gave us a brochure with a picture of  the library on it since we weren’t allowed to take pictures. So even though it doesn’t quite give the full effect of what it really looked like in person, here is a glimpse of what it looks like. 

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In the library, he also had a wooden box with Darth Vader on the front of it. In it he has book of all of the Star Wars movies and each page is a picture of the film frame of each part of the movie.  We talked to librarian that was there. What started out as six month job for her turned into a 27 years. George Lucas would honor his employees that have worked for him for 20-30 years. If you had worked there for 20 years you would get an Oscar like statue that was really C3PO. If you had worked there 30 years you would get an R2D2 statute that had glass over it. The employees love it! 

We toured some more of the grounds and saw where all of the archives used to be held which have now been moved to what they call the archive building. George Lucas plans to have a museum built which will hold all of the Star Wars archives. Talk about Way Awesome! 

Later, I learned that from the information the tour guide gave us that George Lucas has a guest complex with different rooms. All of the different rooms and suites are named after people that George Lucas admires. Every room is filled with memorabilia, photos, art, books and some are filled with period furniture that is associated with the person the room or suite is named after. One of the people he admires is Frank Lloyd Wright. It’s pretty sweet I must say.

Well, it looked as if the tour was coming to an end as we came back to the Tech building. I noticed our tour guide left us for a moment and when he came back he said we had been cleared for him to be able to show us something. We went into what they call the Stag theater. The tour guide allowed us to go to the front of the theater where there were two giant statues. These statues were from Senator Palpatine’s office in the movie The Phantom Menace. They were amazing.

The guide then said to have a seat in the theater chairs so that we would have a feel of what it would be like to watch a movie there. So we sat down and he said, it’s too bad that we can’t watch anything. I was like, “yeah.” Then we just all sat there silently, not saying  anything at all, in complete, total silence.

All of a sudden over the speaker a guy’s voice came saying, Do you want to watch something? The guide totally surprise us and said he had planned for us to watch some things. I must admit at this point I got a little emotional as I was feeling as if I was being spoiled. I was so amazed at the lengths our tour guide was going to, he was truly going out of his way to bless us. He didn’t have to do all of that but he did and I greatly appreciated it! 

We saw raw footage of Star Wars: A New Hope.  It started out with raw footage and then would switch over to what Star Wars really sounds like with the background music, Darth Vader’s real voice, and sound effects. It was amazing! Our tour guide told us that after they filmed the movie the actors and actresses would have to come back in and re-record their lines in the movie. The actors such as Darth Vader’s lines were recorded by someone else. James Earl Jones recorded his voice over the lines of David Prowse who was just the body actor for Darth Vader. In watching the raw footage, it was really strange to hear David Prowse’s voice saying all of Darth Vader’s lines and it sounding so different to James Earl Jones booming voice that had replaced the voice of David Prowse. All that to say I think that George Lucas made a great call on having James Earl Jones voice as Darth Vader.   

Then we saw part of Indiana Jones and The Raiders Of The Lost Ark. They showed how they layered sounds in order to make it sound so authentic and real when rocks were falling and different things were happening.

The last thing we were shown was part of the movie Oblivion. Our guide wanted us to hear how each speaker in the ceiling was used. It was such clear sound and at one point in the movie there is a swooping sound and as the sound moved from speaker to speaker you could feel it under your feet. I had never experienced anything like it.

Our tour then came to an end and it was a perfect ending I must say. I was so thankful for our tour guide who was willing to take time out of his day to show us the ranch. I will be forever grateful for this experience and to those who made the day a beautiful one. All in all it was amazing. We saw so much in 3 hours that it would take a lot of time to say everything that happened. 

But, this was definitely an experience I will never forget. An experience that will remind me that when you ask God for something He just might surprise you! I am not sure as to all of the reasons why God opened the door to go to Skywalker Ranch. Sometimes, I think it was just because I asked Him and He wanted to bless me! Other times I think that He had seen me going through some tough times and just wanted to cheer me up and show me that He loves me and takes notice of even the most minute details in my life. At times I had thought how silly it must be to ask God to be able to see something I would enjoy. But, then He gave me an example of when you want to ask your parents for something and you are pretty sure that they will say no but you ask them anyway because you still have a little bit of hope that they might say yes. You think, well it doesn’t hurt to ask. And so you ask and they surprise you by saying yes. Then, you are glad you said something to them. I guess what I am trying to say is that I believe there are times when God wants us to ask Him! So, I would like to say to you don’t be afraid to ask Him!! No matter how silly you may feel! You may be surprised at the outcome!! Your answer may be yes!! 

Remember That One Day When I Went To Skywalker Ranch? Yeah…That Was Awesome!!!!

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Well, today I thought that I would share about something amazing that happened to me. Every time I think about it I wonder if it really happened because it was one of the most surreal experiences I have had in my life! For those who may not know, I am a fan of Star Wars. I grew up watching the movies and they have seemed to have stuck with me ever since. One of my favorite things to do is to look up things about Star Wars. I love finding old behind the scene pictures of the different Star Wars movies with the actors and actresses. I love watching the clips that they have of behind the scenes moments and auditions. I love reading stories about George Lucas and how he thought Star Wars would flop. Obviously, it didn’t. I even have a little Star Wars collection of character figurines, t-shirts and all kinds of stuff. 

Well, not too long ago I was able to go to Lucas Film Ltd. in San Francisco. It was unexpected thing that happened being as I didn’t even know that it was there let alone, that you could go in and see some of it.  It was an amazing experience. I got to get a picture with the Yoda fountain that was in front of the building and then I was able to go inside the lobby and see a lot of the Star Wars exhibits. Then it got me thinking. I had heard about Skywalker Ranch which is a movie ranch and the workplace of George Lucas. I thought it would be so cool to get to tour it. So I went on Google to search it out. Well, it turned out that it is very difficult to get a tour at Skywalker Ranch. George Lucas prefers to keep it as a private facility. Even though I thought there was no way that I could go there; I would still look up things about it from time to time.

Well, one day I saw an advertisement for a contest. If you entered this contest and won you would win a trip to Skywalker Ranch, have a private tour of the ranch and be able to meet George Lucas and Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker). At first, I wasn’t sure if it was a scam but, it turned out to be legit. So I entered the contest, eight times actually. Haha! But after I entered the contest I prayed and asked God if I could go. I wasn’t sure that God would work it out but I thought it never hurts to ask.

Well, the time came for the announcement of the winner and I didn’t win the contest. I was a little disappointed that I didn’t win but still said to God if there is any way that I can go I would still love to go to Skywalker Ranch.

Then, to my complete and utter amazement God provided a way. At that point, I was shocked. What I thought was a closed door wasn’t a closed door. God may have answered no to the contest but it was because he wanted to do it in a more special way. So on May 12th, 2014 I was headed off to Skywalker Ranch. I was pretty much beside myself with extreme excitement. I kept wanting to pinch myself to make sure that I wasn’t dreaming. I believe I had a permanent smile on my face. 

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Well, I was allowed to bring some of my family members so we all piled up in our van and drove up into the hills of California. There were beautiful Redwood trees all around. The ranch is so hidden on the road that you wouldn’t know that it was there unless you were looking for it. We pulled up to a wooden gate and I wondered how we were going to pass through the gate as there was no one there. Suddenly, the gate slowly opened for us all by itself. I thought, “IT’S THE FORCE!!! YES!!!”

We started driving down the road and we came up to a security booth. We were questioned by the security guard who then made a phone call to our tour guide. We were given papers that we had to sign in order to go in. The security guard then gave us a map and told us where the tour guide would meet us.

We drove down a long winding road and you could see a garden where vegetables were being grown.

Just a little side note, George Lucas likes to grow his own vegetables instead of buying them from the store.

As we continued along the road, there was a baseball field. Then we came to this huge building that had ivy all over it. We parked our van by the wooden building as this was where we were to meet our tour guide. We met up with our tour guide and he took us inside of the building that is called the tech building. We were not allowed to take any pictures inside of any of the buildings but we were allowed to take photos outside.

The inside of the tech building was absolutely stunning. We were first led into a huge room with a polished concrete floor. The room had trees in it, tables everywhere and when I looked up there was a huge skylight that filled the room with light. We then went to our tour guide’s office where he showed us a list of different movies that he had been working on. He is a sound technician for Skywalker Sound. He works on different movies that they do the sound for. He was working on How To Train Your Dragon Part 2, Maleficent and some other movies as well. And yes, he had worked on the Star Wars Movies too. So Cool!!

Then he took us to their scoring control room where they work on recording albums and music for movies. He introduced some of the guys there that were working on some things. We were able to hear some of their stories about their experiences with different famous people who had come into record. Our guide then took us inside of their scoring stage where at times they will have an orchestra come in to record. There was a beautiful Grand Piano in the middle of the room. And on the front wall was a gigantic movie screen so the orchestra could play music to the movie that they would be making a sound track for. The walls in the recording studio had the ability to be moved to create the type of sound that they wanted. Even the floor had the ability to change the sound. 

After that we went outside of the tech building through some different doors, we walked out on to a porch with a beautiful view of the ranch.

IMG_4677We then walked down a pathway of stairs and when you looked left or right there were rows of beautiful roses. The guide pointed out a rock that was there and told us that there was a video camera in it. Apparently, they have them everywhere. The pathway led to a gate and as we went through it there was a lake in front of us. This was no ordinary lake. It was a manmade lake that George Lucas wanted there. He calls it Ewok Lake. This was my absolute favorite as I love the Ewoks. So, when our tour guide said that we could get our picture taken there if we wanted to I was like YES!!! So I did!! 

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Our tour guide then told us it was time for lunch which I was quite surprised at as I didn’t know that we would be eating there. He took us to a building where the employees eat. I kept thinking I am having lunch by Ewok Lake this is so cool! I couldn’t stop smiling and had earned the nickname “smiley” while I was there. Even though, I am one who smiles a lot anyway it was obvious that I was on cloud nine. I am sure my smile was bigger than usual!

When we went to order our food, I realized that our tour guide was going to pay for all our lunches. So, I started concocting a plan of how I could pay for it. When he started to give his credit card to the cashier, my dad beat him to it and said he would pay for it. The guy said what do you want to arm wrestle for it? Everyone laughed. Then he let my dad pay for it.

As we were waiting for the food, we were told that George Lucas loves art and one of his favorite things is stain glass. So our tour guide told us a story about one of the stain glass windows that was in this building. They had been renovating the building and there was a particular stain glass window that had been there since the beginning. George Lucas was going to come in and look at the stain glass window to see if he wanted to still have it in the building. Well, the lady who had made the stain glass window had it wrapped up in this cloth and moved it into the barn that was on the ranch. There was a guy who had just started a job there and he was in the barn and was moving stuff around. He saw some cloths and didn’t think that there was anything underneath it and put his knee on the cloth and then realized the stain glass was in it. Unfortunately, it cracked but the good news was they were able to fix it and George Lucas chose to have it inside of the building. It has become one of the favorites.

During lunch, we heard some little tid bits about the upcoming Star Wars movie. It shall be interesting. Yes, it shall. After lunch the tour guide took us to the General Store there and we were able to buy some things in the store. So, I did not hold back and bought a few things. I thought, “I may never come back here so I am going to leave with some souvenirs.” So I have some little mementos from the ranch only to remind myself that I was there. Plus, the mementos are pretty cool. One of the things I bought was a maroon hoodie. Our tour guide told us that George Lucas loves that color so all of the firetrucks and vehicles on the ranch are in that color. We saw vehicles in that color driving around the ranch. I thought it made the hoodie even more special because of the meaning behind it.  

Well, you may be wondering what happened next. But, I will have to save the rest of the story in a to be continued blog entry for next week. Only because there is a lot more to say. I hope you are enjoying what you’ve read so far. Stay Tuned!! Until next week!! 

Against All Odds

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Don’t you just love it when someone keeps their promise? Especially when it has to do with something that you would really enjoy. Each time you think about it, you smile to yourself and you may even feel like you’re on cloud nine. What an exhilarating feeling!! 

But what about the times when a promise is broken due to circumstances not working out? Or it was due to just plain negligence and distraction from the person who gave it. It is so easy to feel discouraged, upset and even devastated. Depending on the situation, distrust in that person’s ability to follow through can start to set in. 

What about this? Have you ever received a promise from God? You feel excited about the future and all that will take place. But then a series of bad things happen in your life all at one time and you find yourself starting to lose hope. Or how about when you have been praying for years to see the promise come to pass and it hasn’t. That’s when discouragement and faint heartedness can set in. You can begin to feel like God has forgotten about you or that He doesn’t care. 

Well, I would like to share with you a story about someone who had a promise from God and it looked as if that promise would not be fulfilled.

I would like to tell you a story about a man named Abraham. You can find his life story in the book of Genesis in the Bible. Abraham and his wife Sarah longed to have children. God gave Abraham a promise that one day he would have a son. God also gave Abraham a promise that He would become the father of many nations.

However, many years passed and he still had not received the fulfillment of God’s promises. 25 years had gone by since God gave Abraham and his wife the promise of a son. At this time, both Abraham and his wife were past the age of being able to have children. Did Abraham complain, give up and walk out on God? Did he get bitter and think that God was one who doesn’t keep His word? Did he think that God had forgotten and abandoned him? Well let’s find out.

Romans 4 in the Message says, Isn’t that what we’ve always read in Scripture, God saying to Abraham, “I set you up as father of many peoples”? Abraham was first named “father” and then became a father because he dared to trust God to do what only God could do: raise the dead to life, with a word make something out of nothing. When everything was hopeless, Abraham believed anyway, deciding to live not on the basis of what he saw he couldn’t do but on what God said he would do. And so he was made father of a multitude of peoples. God himself said to him, “You’re going to have a big family, Abraham!” Abraham didn’t focus on his own impotence and say, “It’s hopeless. This hundred-year-old body could never father a child.” Nor did he survey Sarah’s decades of infertility and give up. He didn’t tiptoe around God’s promise asking cautiously skeptical questions. He plunged into the promise and came up strong, ready for God, sure that God would make good on what he had said. That’s why it is said, “Abraham was declared fit before God by trusting God to set him right.” But it’s not just Abraham; it’s also us! The same thing gets said about us when we embrace and believe the One who brought Jesus to life when the conditions were equally hopeless. The sacrificed Jesus made us fit for God, set us right with God.

I would like to point out another version of this same scripture it says, against the odds, Abraham’s hope grew into full-fledged faith…

Abraham’s response to God concerning God’s promise was that He trusted God anyway. Why? Because, He knew the faithfulness of God. It didn’t matter to him that it looked like all of the odds were against him. It didn’t matter that there was every reason in the natural that what God had promised wouldn’t come to pass. He believed that God would do what He said that He would do. And then you see God’s response to Abraham. “Abraham was declared fit before God by trusting God to set him right.” Another version of that verse says, God saw his faith and counted him as righteous; this is how he became right with God.

You know you might be going through a rough season right now. If so you are not alone. I get it. I am still waiting for the fulfillment of a promise that God has given me. It can be tough when all the circumstances seem to be pointing to the fact that it would never happen. Yes, it looks like the odds are against me. I have even had my moments of discouragement. But, what I have been learning is this, if you look at the end of Romans chapter 4 you will notice that is says, But it’s not just Abraham; it’s also us! The same thing gets said about us when we embrace and believe the One who brought Jesus to life when the conditions were equally hopeless. The sacrificed Jesus made us fit for God, set us right with God
We too can have the same result as Abraham did when he believed God when it all seemed hopeless. I am learning that as I believe that God will do what He says He will do, it will be accounted to me as righteousness. This gives God the ability to work on my behalf as I wait on Him and trust Him.
I know that when the promise is fulfilled that it will bring glory to His Name because it wasn’t anything that I made happen on my own. I just believed in Him and He brought it to pass. 
I want to encourage you today to keep your hope in God. He will not let you down and He will not go back on His promise. My prayer for you today is that if you are in a place where it looks like all of the odds are against you, that God will give you the strength to trust Him. I also pray that you will not give up hope and that you will rest in the fact that He loves you and is working behind the scenes. What you are going through right now will pass!! As it has been said and is so true, “storms don’t last forever.” Dawn will always come after the long night. He is faithful to His Word and He will be faithful to you. Look to Him!! Believe in Him!! Trust Him to fulfill His every promise!! Know that because you believe in Him the odds will be in your favor!! Know that He is working behind the scenes even now!! It will just be a matter of time before you see it!! Believe in Him!! 

Treasure Part Two

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In a blog entry I published a couple of weeks ago, I established that we are God’s treasure. (If you haven’t read it yet I would like to encourage you to check it out.) But, in this blog entry I would like to talk about a different aspect of the word treasure.

So, I would like to share with you a couple of stories from my own life. I was at a prayer meeting at our church and my dad who is a pastor had just purchased these bracelets for people to be able to wear. On the bracelet there are two words “God’s Treasure.” My dad wanted people to be reminded that they are God’s Treasure and what a great reminder to have right there on your arm, a bracelet saying God’s Treasure.

Well, during the meeting my dad said, I would like to get more of these bracelets so that we can pass them out to people in our community. Then they can know that they are God’s Treasure. The people from our church would pray and ask God who they should give the bracelet to and then give it to them.

Well, the next day I went to one of our local stores as I had to buy some things. I grabbed what I needed and got in line. There was a long line and only one cashier at the register. I looked over and there was another lady that worked there that came up behind the counter. She said to me I can help you over here. As I started walking toward her, my eyes glanced at my wrist. I was wearing the bracelet that said God’s treasure on it. I hadn’t been thinking anything about it and there it was before me. I went up to the cash register and thus a thought war began in my head.

I thought, oh am I supposed to give this bracelet to this lady? 

Then I thought no, this is my bracelet I should keep it because I need to be reminded that I am God’s Treasure. 

Then the lady said to me, would you like to buy a bag to carry your stuff in? I said yes. As I was thinking yeah because I am going to give her this bracelet. Yes a lot was going through my mind in that moment. Do I give her the bracelet or not? That was the question. I noticed there was someone standing behind me and was going to leave when I thought what if this is God prompting me to give her this bracelet. Then, I just couldn’t leave, I needed to obey Him. 

The next thing that I knew was I was taking the bracelet off of my wrist and I started to hand it to the lady. I said I feel like I am supposed to give this to you so that every time you wear this bracelet and you look at it you will know that you are God’s treasure. The lady smiled at me and immediately put it on her wrist. I told her to have a good day and left the store. It was such a glorious feeling to know that I had just shared God’s love with someone. 

The next story that I would like to share with you is when I received a message on Facebook from a friend asking if I would do a favor for them. The favor was to write a letter of encouragement to a young lady who was going into rehab for 30 days to get free from an alcohol addiction. This was the second time that this young lady would be going into rehab. The first time she was there, her aunt would send her a card of encouragement for every day that she was in rehab. This helped her get through the time that she was in there. Since then, her aunt had passed away so she was sad that she would not be receiving any cards of encouragement for the 30 days that she would be in there. So my friend asked me if I would send the young lady a letter of encouragement. 

At first I admit that I was a bit reluctant as I had never met the young lady. But, I felt a tugging on my heart and I agreed to do it. As I was thinking about what I should write to the young lady, I suddenly felt God’s tremendous love for her. I felt that He wanted me to tell her how much He truly loved her. He gave me some scriptures to share with her. I started crying because I could feel God’s heart for her and how valuable she was to Him. I then remembered that I had another bracelet that said God’s Treasure on it. I put it in the envelope and sent her the card. 

I am sure you may be wondering why I am sharing this with you today. Well I will tell you. God not only wants us to know that we are His treasure but He wants others to know as well. 

1 John 4:7 says, My loved ones, let us devote ourselves to loving one another. Love comes straight from God, and everyone who loves is born of God and truly knows God.

When we share the love of God with others, we are showing them who He is. You never know what someone may be going through. They could be going through a really rough time or may be they have never experienced what real love is. As you allow God to love them through you, they will begin to see a glimpse of who He is, how much He loves them and how valuable they are to Him. 

I would like to challenge you to ask God this week who He wants you to reach out to and show His love to. It will not only change that person’s life but it will also change yours!! 

Pain

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Pain who likes it? No one does and yet no one is exempt to it. There are many forms of pain. But, I wanted to talk about a particular side of pain. I would like to talk to you about emotional pain. This kind of pain is not the easiest type of pain to deal with. I think that it can be discounted and overlooked sometimes. You see, if you have a cold or the flu you will stay at home, rest, drink a lot of fluids and eventually you will feel better.

But emotional pain is quite different. It’s not like you can take an Advil and the pain will disappear in two hours. But, although you must deal with it differently, you will find that you need to treat emotional pain with as much care as you would physical pain.

Emotional pain is an indication that something within you has been wounded. If left alone, it will affect your life in a destructive way. It’s kind of like this, if you stifle your emotions whether it be through ignoring them by drowning yourself in busyness or in something that makes you feel better you may be okay for awhile.

But because you have held your emotions in for so long, they can be a lot like a volcano suddenly exploding and causing a lot of damage to you and others around you. Why? Because you haven’t taken care of your emotions properly.

I would like to share with you a story about someone who was experiencing a lot of emotional pain and how he dealt with it. His name is Jabez and you can find his story in the Bible.

In 1 Chronicles 4 it says, His mother had named him Jabez, saying, ‘I gave birth to him in pain.’ 

Here you see Jabez who was just born and instead of being welcomed into the world with love, he was greeted with rejection. He did nothing wrong and yet here he was being mistreated. Jabez spent most of his life battling the pain of rejection and the feeling of being unwanted.

It definitely looked very grim for Jabez. His destiny seemed to be heading on a downward spiral. But then Jabez did something that changed his life forever. 

In 1 Chronicles 4 it continues on and says this, Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, ‘Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.’ And God granted his request.

Jabez took all of the pain that he was inflicted with and he brought it to the one person who could help him. He brought it to the Lord. What’s so amazing about this story is that when he brought it to the Lord, God didn’t reject him and say this is just how your life is going to be. You are stuck with a life of pain.

No, the Lord listened to his request. “Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let Your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.”

AND GOD GRANTED HIS REQUEST!!!! 

You may be experiencing emotional pain right now. Well, I have good news for you. There is a remedy and it is found in Jesus. You can bring Him all of your pain.

There’s a wonderful example of a man named David in the Bible. When talking about his relationship with God he wrote in Psalms 142 this, I spill out all my complaints before him, and spell out my troubles in detail:

He knew that God would not turn Him away but that as he brought his troubles before Him that He would deliver him. Why? Because that’s who God is. That is His character. Because David knew what God was like, he even goes the extra mile and says this to us in Psalms 62:5-8 My soul quietly waits for the True God alone because I hope only in Him. He alone is my rock and deliverance, my citadel high on a hillI will not be shaken.  My salvation and my significance depend ultimately on God; the core of my strength, my shelter, is in the True God.  Have faith in Him in all circumstances, dear people. Open up your heart to Him; the True God shelters us in His arms.

We can have faith that God can take our our pain caused by circumstances and He can turn it into something beautiful. 

Isaiah 61 says, I will take away the ashes on their head, and I will give them a crown. I will take away their sadness, and I will give them the oil of happiness. I will take away their sorrow…

In the Bible, it talks about how when someone was really grieved they would put ashes on their head to express that they were in pain. In Isaiah you see God sending His Son Jesus to free people from their sorrows and pain. The scripture in Isaiah is Jesus speaking saying what He wants to do for us. Another version of this verse says that He will give us beauty for ashes. He will turn our sorrows into joy.

All He requires of us is that we bring our pain to Him and believe that He will do what He says that He will do. 

Today I want to encourage you. If you have been experiencing a lot of emotional pain from circumstances beyond your control, go to God like David did. Pour out your complaint before Him. Take every trouble that you have and bring it before Him. Just like He listened to Jabez He will listen to you and He will not turn you away. 

Say to Him, Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let Your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” 

Know this, God will grant your request!! Your life will never be the same. Your destiny that may seem like it’s in a downward spiral will completely transform into a destiny that is beyond your wildest dreams!! Let God give you beauty for ashes!! Let Him turn your sorrows into joy!! Let Him free you from pain!!  

 

 

Grace And Mercy

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What is Grace? Is it just a little prayer that we say before we eat? Is it something that is used to excuse the fact that we have done something wrong? The answer is no. I would like to share a quote with you to help better define the meaning of the word Grace. Joseph Prince says it this way, “Grace is integral to our walk with God – for Grace is actually Jesus Christ. He is Grace personified. His Grace is evident through the work of the Gospel – for the Gospel itself is Grace.

John 1:16-18 says, We have all received one blessing after another. God’s grace is not limited. Moses gave us the law. Jesus Christ has given us grace and truth. No one has ever seen God. But God, the one and only Son, is at the Father’s side. He has shown us what God is like.

I think that if we were to do an interview with people today about what God is like, we would most likely hear them react by saying that He is an angry God. You must perform perfectly for Him so that you aren’t punished. I believe this is one of the tricks that satan tries to use to keep people from really knowing who God is. This is how he hinders them from wanting a deeper relationship with Jesus and living a life of freedom. 

But, if you look in the Bible, you will see who God really is. He is not angry with us. Why? Because all of the judgment that we deserved concerning our sins was placed on Jesus when He died on the cross. When Jesus gave His life, He took on all the wrath that God would have poured out on us because of our sins upon Himself.

In Isaiah 53 it says this about Jesus, The servant grew up before God—a scrawny seedling, a scrubby plant in a parched field. There was nothing attractive about him, nothing to cause us to take a second look. He was looked down on and passed over, a man who suffered, who knew pain firsthand. One look at him and people turned away. We looked down on him, thought he was scum. But the fact is, it was our pains he carried—our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us. We thought he brought it on himself, that God was punishing him for his own failures. But it was our sins that did that to him, that ripped and tore and crushed him—our sins! He took the punishment, and that made us whole. Through his bruises we get healed. We’re all like sheep who’ve wandered off and gotten lost. We’ve all done our own thing, gone our own way. And God has piled all our sins, everything we’ve done wrong, on him…Even though he’d never hurt a soul or said one word that wasn’t true. Still, it’s what God had in mind all along, to crush him with pain. The plan was that he would give himself as an offering for sin so that he’d see life come from it—life, life, and more life. And that God’s plan would deeply prosper through him. Out of that terrible travail of soul, he’ll see that it’s worth it and be glad he did it. Through what he experienced, my righteous one, my servant, will make many “righteous ones,” as he himself carries the burden of their sins.

Psalms 30:5 says His anger lasts for a moment but His favor lasts for a lifetime. Isaiah 54 says, “Just as I swore in the time of Noah that I would never again let a flood cover the earth, so now I swear that I will never again be angry and punish you. For the mountains may move and the hills disappear, but even then my faithful love for you will remain. My covenant of blessing will never be broken,” says the Lord, who has mercy on you.

You can rest assured that God is not angry with you. He will never be angry with you because of Jesus whose has made you right before God. When Jesus died on the cross for your sins, the last three words that He said was It Is Finished!! That means all of your sins past, present and future sins have been forgiven. How awesome is that? For example, let’s say that you had committed a crime and were taken to court. The judge gives you the verdict of not guilty. If someone were to try to take you back to court, there is a law called double jeopardy. The law of double jeopardy means that you can not be tried for the same crime again. God has given you the verdict of not guilty because, you have been made righteous through Jesus Christ. You don’t have to be afraid of Him lashing out at you in anger because, He looks at you through eyes of Mercy and through eyes of Grace. 

Hebrews 4:14-16 says, Inasmuch then as we have a great High Priest Who has [already] ascended and passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession [of faith in Him]. For we do not have a High Priest Who is unable to understand and sympathize and have a shared feeling with our weaknesses and infirmities and liability to the assaults of temptation, but One Who has been tempted in every respect as we are, yet without sinning. Let us then fearlessly and confidently and boldly draw near to the throne of grace (the throne of God’s unmerited favor to us sinners), that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find grace to help in good time for every need [appropriate help and well-timed help, coming just when we need it].

So what does that mean? It means that when you need God’s help He wants you to boldly come to His throne so that you can receive His grace and mercy. Know that God is for you and when He sees Jesus in you He wants to lavish on you His Love, His Favor and yes His Grace and Mercy!!

Treasure

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Everyone loves the thought of finding treasure. There have been many movies that have come out that are about finding the lost treasure. When I think of a movie that is about treasure, one of the first movies that comes to mind is the ever popular:

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Indiana Jones. I always loved watching him be presented with a quest to find treasure. Then, he’d be off on an amazing journey full of danger and adventure. After having spent years of his life looking for treasure, he was always able to figure out the riddles in order to get to the final destination. 

Yes, finding treasure can be a lot of fun. For instance, when you are cleaning out the drawers of the dresser in your room and lo and behold you find $50.00. Wahoo!!! Talk About The Best Moment Ever!!! I know this because this has happened to me numerous times. I would be cleaning my room and find money. Or I would find old birthday cards and when I opened them a gift card was inside of it. It’s a nice little surprise indeed!! 

Which that reminds me of a story that I would like to share with you. Once upon a time, there was a man who was in love with a woman who he thought was the most beautiful woman in all of the universe. His intention was to marry her and live with her happily ever after. But one day, the woman had fallen into a trap of an Evil Schemer. This trap was built to separate the man and the woman for all of eternity. The man knew what the Evil Schemer had done.

Then the man did something unexpected. He disguised himself in such a way that he was able to enter the place by where the woman was trapped. He knew that in order to save her he must give up his life. Yet, He still chose to reveal himself to the Evil Schemer because of his great love for the woman. The Evil Schemer immediately had the man beaten and then brutally killed. The Evil Schemer felt such triumph in killing the man. The woman hearing of the news began to weep. Three days later, she felt a hand on her shoulder. She turned to see who it was and there standing before her was the man whom she loved. She was surprised to see him standing there alive and well. Yes, it was true that he had died. Curiosity overcame her as she didn’t know how he could be alive. He then explained to her of a secret law that he knew. The law was this if one willingly gave up his life for someone then the one who gave it up would in turn get his own life back.

She then asked him why did you risk your life to save me? The man looked at her with passion in his eyes and said because you are my treasured possession. Then after the man had defeated the Evil Schemer, he and the woman got married and they lived happily ever after for all eternity. The End.

This story that I just told you about is a symbolic story. The story is about you and me. The man represents Jesus. The Evil Schemer represents the Devil. The woman represents you and me. This is the story of how we had fallen into the trap of sin and how Jesus died for us because He values and loves us so much. He then rescued us because He wants to be with us for all eternity. I don’t think that there will ever be a moment when I am not awestruck by His love. But He really views each one of us as His treasured possession. 

Exodus 19:5 says, you are my treasured possession. 

Matthew 10:29-31 says What is the price of two sparrows—one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it.  And the very hairs on your head are all numbered.  So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows. 

Zechariah 2:8 says, Whoever touches you touches the apple of his eye. 

I love this scripture. Think about your own eye for a moment. If anything tries to harm it, you will close your eyelid to protect it from getting hurt. When God says that you are the apple of His eye, He is really saying that He treasures you so much that He will go to great lengths to protect you. 

Psalms 139 says, O Eternal One, You have explored my heart and know exactly who I am; You even know the small details like when I take a seat and when I stand up again. Even when I am far away, You know what I’m thinking. You observe my wanderings and my sleeping, my waking and my dreaming, and You know everything I do in more detail than even I know. You know what I’m going to say long before I say it. It is true, Eternal One, that You know everything and everyone. You have surrounded me on every side, behind me and before me, and You have placed Your hand gently on my shoulder. It is the most amazing feeling to know how deeply You know me, inside and out; the realization of it is so great that I cannot comprehend it. Every detail of my life was already written in Your book; You established the length of my life before I ever tasted the sweetness of it. Your thoughts and plans are treasures to me, O God! I cherish each and every one of them! How grand in scope! How many in number! If I could count each one of them, they would be more than all the grains of sand on earth. Their number is inconceivable! Even when I wake up, I am still near to You.

There is not one moment that God is not thinking about you and how valuable you are to Him. You are always on His mind. He knows every single detail about you. He has you memorized. He is crazy about you!! He is madly in love with you!! You Are His Treasure!!! 

If I wanted you to walk away with anything after you are finished reading this blog, I would want you to walk away with not just the knowledge, but the revelation in your heart that you are God’s treasure and you are important to Him. He loves you so much!! I can try to convey this to you the best that I can in words but words can only go so far.

So my prayer is that you will experience His love if you haven’t experienced it before. And if you have experienced his love, my prayer is that you will have an even greater experience of His love. His love is beyond measure and it is all for you, His valuable treasure!!

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The Fault Finder Part 2

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I would like to give just a little side note.  If you have not gotten a chance to read my blog entry from last week, I would like to encourage you to do so as this blog entry is a continuation from the blog entry that I posted last week. I want you to be able to get the full story.

In my blog entry last week, I shared with you how Satan is the fault finder. If we are not careful we can begin to play his game called fault finding. In the midst of seeing all that Satan tries to pull over on us concerning fault finding, Jesus is His graciousness shows us how to deal with it the right way.

Take a look at this little clip. 

Here you see the story of the woman caught in adultery. There are three things going on here. First, you see the woman. She is the one who has been found with fault. She knew that she had been found with fault and was sure that she was about to die.

Then, you see the Pharisees her accusers pointing out her fault. They were ready to bring a death sentence on her because of it. Then, you see Jesus who was without fault. He had every right to not only condemn the woman but also to condemn the Pharisees. Why? Because every single one of them were with fault. 

But then, Jesus who had the right to punish all of them surprised everyone of them by saying, “Anyone here who has never sinned should throw the first stone at her.” Now, if you look up the word sin in a thesaurus you will see that a synonym of the word sin is fault. So let me say it this way. He who is without fault should throw the first stone. Jesus was without fault. He had every right to be the ultimate fault finder. He could have given everyone of them the sentence of death. But, He chose to forgive them and give them grace instead of judgment.

This says a lot about how we should live. I am sure that we can all relate to the fault finding game. Whether it be from the position of being the one found with fault. Or the position of finding fault with yourself or others. Jesus’ response to fault finding was the response of love and grace toward each person. This is His response to you and me. This is the response that we should have toward ourselves and others. 

John 15 says, This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. 

You may ask the questions, but what about those who are doing wrong and hurting a lot of people? Shouldn’t they be confronted? 

In John 21:21-23 it says, Turning his head, Peter noticed the disciple Jesus loved following right behind. When Peter noticed him, he asked Jesus, “Master, what’s going to happen to him?” Jesus said, “If I want him to live until I come again, what’s that to you? You—follow me.”

This scripture is so important. We can get so caught up in other people’s faults and play the blame game. We can play it in our friendships, families, relationships and even at church. As a result, many relationships become broken and Satan has won the game of causing division among us. Jesus is asking us to leave that all behind and just follow Him, keep our eyes on Him and do what He is asking  us to do.

Are there times that we need to confront issues? Yes there are. But before we would ever choose to confront someone it is important that we go to God about it first. Bring that person to Him in our prayer time with Him.

If it turns out that He does want us to confront that person, I think that we all know what the answer will be from Jesus. He will ask us to respond in His Grace and in His Love toward that person just as He has responded that way to us.

We have the right to choose to not participate in Satan’s game called fault finding. Together let’s choose to not live the life of a Fault Finder but let’s live a life of a Christ Follower! 

 

 

The Fault Finder

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I would like to share something with you that is very close to my heart. I thought that the best way to tell this would be to start with a familiar story that happened a long time ago. The story is found in the Bible in the book of Genesis chapter 3. This is the story of Adam and Eve.

Genesis 3 says, The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the Lord God had made. One day he asked the woman, “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?”  “Of course we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,” the woman replied.  “It’s only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said, ‘You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.’”  

“You won’t die!” the serpent replied to the woman. “God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.” The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too. At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness.

So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves. When the cool evening breezes were blowing, the man and his wife heard the Lord God walking about in the garden. So they hid from the Lord God among the trees. Then the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” 

He replied, “I heard you walking in the garden, so I hid. I was afraid because I was naked.”  “Who told you that you were naked?” the Lord God asked. “Have you eaten from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat?” The man replied, “It was the woman you gave me who gave me the fruit, and I ate it.” Then the Lord God asked the woman, “What have you done?” “The serpent deceived me,” she replied. “That’s why I ate it.”

You see what Eve didn’t realize was that the serpent had tricked her “BIG TIME” by getting her to believe that God was keeping her from living a better life. But he didn’t stop there. After Adam and Eve ate the fruit, the serpent made them feel ashamed for doing something that he had suggested. Then, after they felt ashamed rather than admitting that they both had disobeyed God, they began blaming it on someone else. They took on a characteristic of the serpent himself by pointing out what was wrong with someone else rather, than taking responsibility for their own actions. Here you see the beginning of the game created by the serpent also known as Satan. What a horrible game that was. But, if you look a little closer you can see that he (Satan) is still playing the same game today.

Although, this is hard for me to admit I too, have fallen into the trap of taking on this particular characteristic of The Fault Finder. I am the type of person who loves to do things the right way. And I prefer to do it the right way the first time. Not the second time or the third time around but the first time. This is where I can become my own fault finder. If I do something right, then God must be pleased with me. If I do something wrong, then God must be upset with me and I blame myself. Then, I react by saying, I need to work harder by praying and doing more of the right things. The result is that I am trying to be righteous in my own strength.

This can be a very dangerous place to be in and let me tell you why. There is another side of fault finding. Let me give you an example of it in my own life. There have been times in my life where I have done something wrong and I have made the effort to correct it. But even after I have corrected it, I still find myself feeling condemned. Then when someone comes along and they decide to point out my faults, or what they believe I am doing wrong I start to react.

At first, I start to feel embarrassed. Then, I go from feeling embarrassed to getting upset with that person for pointing out my faults. I then start to find fault with them. But, the reality of the situation is whether their judgment of me is wrong or right I need to go to the Lord and deal with it. If I don’t that offense with myself and with that person can start to seep into every situation. Then, I find myself beginning to find fault in everything and everyone around me.

Now, there is one more thing that I would like to share with you about the fault finding game that Satan tries to pull over on us. This one is a lot more obvious. I am sure that more than likely you have experienced this at one time or another in your life. The number one place that this game can be found is in the church. There has been an unspoken rule placed in the church. The rule is that the church (people who are a part of Christ’s body or who want to be a part Christ’s body) should consist of people who are perfect. There is no room for mistakes. There is the feeling that whether you are a sinner or a saint you must do everything right. If you don’t measure up, then you’re out!

But then Jesus in His graciousness gave me a revelation. Which I will have to share with you next week in part 2 of the Fault Finder. So Stay Tuned! 

 

The Could’ve Should’ve Would’ve Syndrome

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Wouldn’t it be awesome to be able to jump into a time machine and go back to whatever time and place that you wanted to? You could relive the amazing moments of your life and change all of the moments that you had never wanted to happen. Any horrible mistakes that you had made could be erased and turned into something great. That would be a dream come true right? A perfect life with no regrets. Yes, I have imagined this many times but, life on this planet doesn’t work that way. 

No matter how many times I hit the replay button in my mind of a bad situation that has happened in my life, it will always have the same ending.  I have spent many hours going over situations that I have regretted and had wished that they would have turned out differently.

I have spent a lot of years trying in my own strength to make amends for my mistakes, thinking if I just do enough of the right things it will all change. The result was very little change, if any change at all. I have even played the could’ve game where I am saying to myself if I could’ve been like this instead the result may have been different.

Then there’s the should’ve game where I am saying to myself I should’ve said this or I should’ve done that instead. Then I wouldn’t have gotten that reaction from them.

And yes, I have also played the would’ve game. Where I am saying to myself if I knew what I know now, I would’ve been able to save the situation from going the wrong way. Today that situation would be much different than it is now.

For some silly reason, I had hoped deep down inside of me that going over and over the situation again and again would somehow make it all be different. Until I finally realized that what I was doing wasn’t fixing the situation at all. It was just keeping me on the carousel of guilt, condemnation and unforgiveness towards myself. It was hindering me from moving forward. I was stuck in the could’ve should’ve would’ve syndrome. 

Recently, I began to realize that what I was doing to myself was not healthy. I am the type of person who has a tendency to have a hard time with letting go of situations that have resulted in brokenness, pain, and wounds. Why? Because, I want to fix it. I don’t want the situation be broken anymore.

Then, I had the revelation that I can only do what I can do. Which is to do what God has asked me to do in the situation whether it be to apologize, humble myself before the other person, bless them or pray for them. Sometimes, I find out that I have done nothing wrong in the situation and that I have been trying to carry a weight that God never asked me to carry. I was taking it on as my own responsibility and trying in my own strength to fix it and make it all better. But, I came to point where I suddenly knew that I had done all that I was supposed to do in the situation and that in order to move forward I had to hand over the situation to God. Even though, it has been difficult for me to do, I trust that it will be worth it in the end because I know Whose hands it’s in.  

The next thing that I realized was found in Hebrews 12 it says, Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.  We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. 

Once I had done everything that God had asked me to do concerning a situation, I saw that not only did I need to let go of it but I needed to release the weight of guilt that I had been carrying. I needed to stop allowing myself to come under condemnation. I needed to let God heal my heart and make it whole again. Most importantly if it was needed in that situation, I needed forgive myself.  I needed to believe that God could perfect this situation that concerns me. I needed to keep my eyes on Jesus the one who can fix the fix that I am in and make it whole.

Romans 8:28 says, We are confident that God is able to orchestrate everything to work toward something good and beautiful when we love Him and accept His invitation to live according to His plan…

Even though the situation is still there, I know that as I trust Him with the situation He will work it out for my good. It may not even be in the way that I expect it to turn out. But, I know that He will make the ending that was so awful turn into a beautiful one.

Maybe you’re a lot like me and you realize that you are under the Could’ve Would’ve Should’ve Syndrome. Know that God never intended for you to live that way. He wants lift from you the guilt, condemnation and that which is weighing you down. My prayer for you is that you will go to Jesus with the situation. Ask Him what He wants you to do and trust Him to work out what only He can work out. Then you can live a life where you are no longer under the Could’ve Should’ve Would’ve Syndrome.

Hit The Reset Button!!!!

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I am a huge fan of playing Nintendo!! I especially love to play the game Zelda. I love the adventure, finding treasures, the sword fighting, defeating the enemy and saving the world. But I must admit, there is something that I really don’t like about playing Nintendo. And that is when I am playing the game and all of the sudden it freezes. I stop and I’m like WHAT?!? I sit there stunned hoping that it will go back to normal and then when it doesn’t I have to push the reset button so that it will be fixed and go back to normal.  

One time, I had been playing the game Zelda and I was near the end of the game and I had just defeated the last enemy. The only thing left to do was to walk in the room where Princess Zelda was and save her. As I went into the room where the princess was, I moved my game controller to go toward the princess. What I didn’t realize was that the princess was surrounded by fire and that you needed to shoot the fire with an arrow. The result was that I ran into the fire and being as I only had a half of a heart left in my video game life I died. UGH!!! Then because I hadn’t stopped and saved the game, I had to reset the game and I had to beat the last enemy all over again.  

This can be a lot like life. You wake up in the morning and you find that your brain is filled with all the cares, worries, fears, doubts and the struggles of yesterday and what the present day will bring. There are times when I have felt stuck. I couldn’t seem to shake these thoughts that have invaded my brain. I like to call it a brain freeze. When I realize that this is happening, I know that there is only one thing that I can do to stop it. I must hit the RESET button. This is the only way that my mind can be brought back to the original state that it should be in which is peace, joy, rest and love. 

You know it’s really easy in this world to fall into a rut of negativity. At times when I look around me, there can be such an underlying feeling of negativity that I can pick up on. What do I mean by that? When I happen to hear the news on the television, it seems that there is a lot of bad things are highlighted and not very many good things are highlighted. I hear negative phrases coming out of people’s mouths such as “my life sucks!” Or “Nothing good ever happens to me!”

Now, I am not trying to criticize anyone if they choose to live that way that is their choice. But I know in my heart of hearts, that I don’t want to live that way. If I do I become depressed and lethargic. I feel my life is purposeless and it makes me feel physically sick. I could go on and on about how it would be of no benefit to me but I know that God never meant for us to live in the realm of negativity. 

Romans 12:1-2 in the Message Bible says this, So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for Him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what He wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

Romans 12:2 in the Living Bible says this,  Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but be a new and different person with a fresh newness in all you do and think. Then you will learn from your own experience how His ways will really satisfy you.

Isaiah 55 says, Say there! Is anyone thirsty? Come and drink—even if you have no money! Come, take your choice of wine and milk—it’s all free!  Why spend your money on food that doesn’t give you strength? Why pay for groceries that do you no good? Listen and I’ll tell you where to get good food that fattens up the soul! Come to me with your ears wide open. Listen, for the life of your soul is at stake. I am ready to make an everlasting covenant with you, to give you all the unfailing mercies and love that I had for King David. This plan of mine is not what you would work out, neither are my thoughts the same as yours! For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than yours, and my thoughts than yours.  As the rain and snow come down from heaven and stay upon the ground to water the earth, and cause the grain to grow and to produce seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry, so also is my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It shall accomplish all I want it to and prosper everywhere I send it.  You will live in joy and peace. The mountains and hills, the trees of the field—all the world around you—will rejoice.  Where once were thorns, fir trees will grow; where briars grew, the myrtle trees will sprout up. This miracle will make the Lord’s name very great and be an everlasting sign of God’s power and love.

I love this scripture because, God makes such a great point. Why would you spend your money on food that doesn’t give you strength? 

I like to put it like this why would you want to invest, put your time and energy on things such as, negative thoughts that suck the life out of you? God says it so clear here in this specific scripture. His ways and His thoughts are higher than ours. His word ALWAYS produces fruit. In this passage, He is inviting us into a new way of living. His way of living. When we listen to His voice, follow His ways and think like He does the result will be that we will live in joy and peace. I love how it says, where once there were thorns, fir trees will grow; where  briars grew, the myrtle trees will sprout up. When you choose His way, everywhere you look where there was negativity will be new life and great fruit that will come. 

In order to renew your mind and think like God, you must know that it is a life long process. But, when you begin to see the results it is worth it. So, how do you start getting rid of negative thoughts? 

Philippians 4:8 From now on, brothers and sisters, if anything is excellent and if anything is admirable, focus your thoughts on these things: all that is true, all that is holy, all that is just, all that is pure, all that is lovely, and all that is worthy of praise.

Hebrews 3:1 So, my dear Christian friends, companions in following this call to the heights, take a good hard look at Jesus. He’s the centerpiece of everything we believe, faithful in everything God gave him to do.

Look to Jesus, think about His word and replace those negative thoughts with what He says about the situation that you are going through. If it is fear, then replace it with the scripture God has not given me a spirit of fear but of power, love and a sound mind. In the times where I have struggled with negative thoughts, I have found that it works best when I say the Word Of God out loud to myself. Why? Because faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. Your ears hear what you say and when you say it and say it and say it again, it will begin to build faith on the inside of you and your mind will begin to think the way God does. 

This is how we Hit The Reset Button and begin to live the way God wants us to. As we do this, we can watch our lives fill up with His peace and His joy!

God’s Got Your Back!!

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Have you ever had a situation where you were not sure what to do? A situation where you had a plan and someone promised you that they would support you and help you? Then, all of the sudden they leave you with no help and no solution. You have been left to do it all on your own and have to come up quickly with another solution. It’s not necessarily the best feeling in the world is it?

There have been times in my life that I have experienced this. Yes, I must say that it isn’t fun. Especially, when you go through a time of frustration and hurt as a result. I have had to deal with feelings of abandonment, hurt, insecurity and the infamous feeling that creeps in and says that I am not valued.

But, even in the midst of all of that, I have seen something good come out of it.   During those situations where I have felt abandoned and like there was no hope God in His faithfulness, would step in and work those things out. As I chose to trust Him, He would always take that situation and turn it around for good. This is just another great example of how God loves to take care of us. You can trust God when people walk out on you, act like they don’t care or value you. He will make it clear that He will take care of you, show you that He will never leave you, remind you that He values you and most of all He will reveal to you that He’s got your back.

You see along the way, I have discovered that because people are human there is a tendency inside of them to not always come through for you. There are times when they peter out, say hurtful things, don’t show up when they say that they will and even at times yes, they can be unreliable. But, God knew this from the beginning even from the fall of man.

In John 2:24-25 it says, But Jesus didn’t trust them, because he knew human nature.  No one needed to tell him what mankind is really like.

Even Jesus didn’t trust people because he knows what human nature is like. So, am I saying that we blame people and hold it against them when they hurt us, walk out on us and don’t treat us the way that we should be treated?

My answer is no. Because at one time or another, we have done the same thing. We have hurt others, said wrong things, have not shown up when we said we would, and yes we have even been unreliable. What I am saying is that we should not make people the source of our provision. In other words, you should not let yourself depend on people for everything that you need. When you put yourself in that position, you are setting yourself up for disappointment. Why? They will end up failing you, because of their human nature.  

But, God isn’t that way. Many times He makes it clear in the Bible that He will never leave you and He will never forsake you. When you find yourself in a situation where someone has let you down, remember that God will not let you down. He will turn it around for your good. He will show Himself faithful on your behalf. Why? Because that’s who He is.

Isaiah 52:12 says, Go in confidence and grace—no rushing, no frantic escape.
There’s no need to be anxious—the Eternal One goes before and behind you.
The God of Israel paves the way with assurance and strength. He watches your back. 

You can trust that no matter what happens in life God’s got your back!!!

Beauty

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I have always been a lover of beautiful things! I especially love to travel to places filled with beauty. I never get bored at looking at the ocean, or being in a plane and looking at the clouds forming in their fluffy little way. I love standing on a mountain top taking in the spectacular view, hearing the roar of a waterfall, walking through the woods. Seeing the sunlight illuminate the trees making them look even more majestic. Looking at the flowers in full bloom with their vibrant colors, making the world a brighter place. I even love staring at the stars in the sky at night.

Beauty is just one of those things that I never tire of. 

Isaiah 40:26 says, Look at the myriad of stars and constellations above you.
Who set them to burning, each in its place? Who knows those countless lights each by name? They obediently shine, each in its place, because God has the great strength and strong power to make it so.

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What truly amazes me about beauty is that it was created for a purpose. When God created the heavens and the earth, he had us in mind.  I can’t help but find myself in awe when I see all the beauty that he created for us. What makes it even more wonderful is that he created it because he loves us so much and wants us to enjoy it. It makes me feel so valued by Him and humbled that the Creator of all things would go to so much detail for the purpose of winning the hearts of the ones He loves. 

Yes, when I see beauty I am reminded of His love for me. He went to such lengths to create beauty with such intricacy to speak to us of how much more He would do to take care of us. Every day the sun rises and sets it speaks of His faithfulness.

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Hosea 6 says,  As sure as dawn breaks, so sure is His daily arrival.

Even the rain speaks of His goodness to us. 

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In Hosea 6 it continues on and says, He comes as rain comes, as spring rain refreshing the ground.”

He refreshes us in our times of dryness.

He even speaks to us through the beauty of a meadow surrounded by quiet waters.

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Psalms 23 says, God, my shepherd! I don’t need a thing. You have bedded me down in lush meadows, you find me quiet pools to drink from. True to your word, you let me catch my breath and send me in the right direction. 

The rainbow that appears in the sky speaks of His covenant of love, forgiveness and grace toward us.

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He does not hold our sins against us. We are forgiven because of the blood He shed for us.

Isaiah 54:9-10 says, “Just as I swore in the time of Noah that I would never again let a flood cover the earth, so now I swear that I will never again be angry and punish you. For the mountains may move and the hills disappear,
but even then my faithful love for you will remain. My covenant of blessing will never be broken,” says the Lord, who has mercy on you. 

Psalms 136 says, The God whose skill formed the cosmos, His love never quits. The God who laid out earth on ocean foundations, His love never quits. The God who filled the skies with light, His love never quits. The sun to watch over the day, His love never quits. Moon and stars as guardians of the night, His love never quits. 

My prayer is that every time you see beauty around you that you are gently reminded of how much God truly loves you and wants to take care of you! Before I go I would like to leave you with some pictures of beautiful places. This is just a glimpse of the beauty of our Creator. All of the beauty you see has been created for you and me. May you experience God’s love in a greater measure than you ever have before!

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Looking Outside From The Inside

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Storms can come so quickly in life. Sometimes, you have a sense that something is brewing. Other times you are unaware of the storm until the clouds have already formed, the storm is in full force and it completely overwhelms you.

There are two type of responses that you can have when storms come. One of them goes like this: The sun is shining and although you have heard rumors that a terrible storm is coming you choose to ignore the signs and go outside anyway. Before you even realize it, the sun has been covered by dark clouds that have rapidly formed and the water starts to downpour on you. As the water swiftly rises, your feet that were once standing on solid ground are quickly swept out from under you. The feeling of defeat and hopelessness are sure to come and visit you in the bleakness of this hour. Thoughts like ‘will I ever come out of this?’ start to invade your mind. Your situation looks very grim. There’s not even a ray of light that you can see shining through the darkness. You wonder if you should give into your surroundings. 

I like to think of the second scenario like this: you know the storm is coming but you choose to stay inside of the shelter. When the rain starts pouring down, the lightning is flashing, and the thunder is crashing, you have no worries. Because, you are on the inside looking out at the storm. You sit peacefully by the nice warm fire while drinking hot cocoa. There is no need for concern. This second scenario is the way that God wants us to go through storms. 

I would like to share with you a story that I read recently from National Geographic.

It said this, “after a forest fire in Yellowstone National Park [in 1989], forest rangers began to trek up a mountain to assess the inferno’s damage. One ranger found a bird literally petrified in the ashes, perched statuesquely on the ground at the base of the tree. Somewhat sickened by the eerie sight, he knocked over the bird with a stick. When he struck it, three tiny chicks scurried from under their dead mother’s wings. The loving mother, keenly aware of the impending disaster, had carried her offspring to the base of the tree and had gathered them under her wings, instinctively knowing that the toxic smoke would rise. She could have flown to safety, but had refused to abandon her babies. When the blaze had arrived and the heat had scorched her small body, the mother had remained steadfast. Because she had been willing to die, so those under the cover of her wings would live.   

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How amazing is that? A mother bird who will give up her own life to save her own babies from danger. You may be wondering why I brought this story up. You may be like, sure Shelly that’s a great story about birds but what does that story have to do with my life when danger comes? Well, I am glad you asked.

Psalms 91:1-4 says, Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; He is my God, and I trust Him.  For He will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease. He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection.

I find it so cool that God will use His own creation to show us what He is like and how He wants to take care of us. Just like the example of the mother bird who covered her babies to protect them from harm, God will cover you with His wings with His feathers and protect you from all harm as you choose to live in His shelter. 

And He doesn’t stop there. 

Psalms 91:5-8 says, Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night, nor the arrow that flies in the day. Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness, nor the disaster that strikes at midday. Though a thousand fall at your side, though ten thousand are dying around you, these evils will not touch you. Just open your eyes, and see how the wicked are punished.

When you are hidden underneath the shadow of His wings and you see the terrors of the night looming up before you and the arrow that flies by day coming at you. You will not be harmed. Why? Because you are looking outside at the circumstances from the inside. You are looking out from underneath His wings and His protection. 

Psalms 91:9-13 says, If you make the Lord your refuge, if you make the Most High your shelter,  no evil will conquer you; no plague will come near your home.  For he will order his angels to protect you wherever you go. They will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.
You will trample upon lions and cobras; you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet!

This is the promise that the Lord gives to you as you choose to make Him your refuge. No evil will conquer you; no plague will come near your home. He orders His angels to protect you wherever you go. There are so many promises He gives to those who make Him their refuge. But, we must choose to make Him our refuge. How?

Psalms 91:14-16 says, The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name.  When they call on me, I will answer;
I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honor them.  I will reward them with a long life and give them my salvation.”

He protects those who trust in His name. Trust Him, He is faithful. Don’t wait until the storm is in full force to trust Him. Yes, He will still help you even if you do wait until the storm is in full force. But, that is not His first choice for you.  He doesn’t want you to go through all of the struggle when you can simply trust Him and He can hide you under His wings and protect you. 

Psalms 32:7 says, You are my hiding place from every storm of life; you even keep me from getting into trouble! You surround me with songs of victory.

Rest underneath the shadow of His wings and let Him protect you in the midst of the storm. Let Him surround you with songs of victory. As you choose to trust in him and choose to not do it in your own strength, He will bring you through the storm unharmed. You will find tremendous peace when you are looking outside from the inside. 

 

Lies!

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Have you ever been lied to? Or have you ever believed something and later you found out it wasn’t true at all? It’s interesting to me that as humans we can spend our lives believing something that isn’t the truth. I would like to share a story with you that I found in an article. This is just an example of someone who believed a lie and it cost him his life. 

“Many years ago, a man was traveling across the country by sneaking from one freight train to the next. One night, he climbed into what he thought was a boxcar. He closed the door, which automatically locked shut and trapped him inside. When his eyes adjusted to the light, he realized he was inside a refrigerated boxcar, and he became aware of the intense, freezing cold. He called for help and pounded on the door, but all the noise he made from the inside the car failed to attract anyone’s attention. After many hours of struggle, he lay down on the floor of the railroad car.

As he tried to fight against the freezing cold, he scratched a message on the floor explaining his unfortunate, imminent death. Later the next day, repairmen from the railroad opened the door and found the dead man inside. Though the man had all the appearance of having frozen to death, the truth was the repairmen had come to fix the broken refrigerator unit in that car. Most likely the temperature of the railroad car had never fallen below fifty degrees during the night. The man had died because he thought he was freezing to death.”

Though this man did not realize it all along, he was believing a lie. Had he chosen to believe that everything would be okay, I really think that he would have come out of the situation alive. Thoughts are powerful and what we believe can affect how we live. 

When you first clicked on this blog, you saw a picture of a T.V. screen with the words Lies blinking on it. When I had first looked at this picture, I begin to think about our minds. They can be quite like a television. Our thoughts project on our minds (in our mind’s eye) how we see things and it affects our lives. We have the ability to either change the channel or continue to focus on what is before us. The more we focus on it, the more it can become reality to us.

It is so important to keep our minds on the truth. So, how do we know what is the truth? In John 14 Jesus says this,  “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”

John 8 says,  “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.  And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

As you read and continually think about the Word of God it gets into your heart, and  anytime a lie comes into your mind you will begin to recognize it. Why? Because, it will not line up with what God says. God has given you this precious tool to use against the devil anytime he tries to creep in and lie to you. 

John 10:10 says,  The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

You don’t have to let the devil steal from you. 

Philippians 8 says, Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

As you choose to think about what God says, His truth will begin to remove every lie of the enemy and lead you into a life of freedom. Become a lover of His word and see His blessings unfold in your life!  

Love

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Love!! I don’t think that there is one person on this planet that doesn’t want to be loved. You see it even from the moment a baby is born. They want to be held and comforted. Even, as one grows up there is the desire. Desiring to be loved by your parents and knowing that they are proud of you is important to everyone. Even, the desire to know that your friends and people care about you is a sign of a need for love. Then of course, the most obvious one is when a man and woman fall in love and there is the desire to have a life long companion. 

The fact is, that we all were made with a desire for love whether we would admit it or not. It’s a real issue in the world today. You see it when a child is neglected by their parents because their parents are caught up in their own issues. Or they are shunned by parents who want nothing to do with them. These kids grow up feeling unwanted, not valued and unloved. This results in them looking for any form of acceptance so that they can feel the love that they were never given. In severe cases, some will even give themselves to things that only bring more pain in their lives in order to fill the void of love that they so long for.  

We have all experienced at different times where we have felt unloved, unwanted and unvalued. The question is where can we find a love that never stops. A love that fills the need of being acceptable, wanted and valued. We find it by asking what is the definition of love?

1 Corinthians 13 says, 

So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.

Love never gives up.

Love cares more for others than for self.

Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.

Love doesn’t strut,

Doesn’t have a swelled head,

Doesn’t force itself on others,

Isn’t always “me first,”

Doesn’t fly off the handle,

Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,

Doesn’t revel when others grovel,

Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,

Puts up with anything,

Trusts God always,

Always looks for the best,

Never looks back,

But keeps going to the end.

 Love never dies.

So where can we find a love like this? 1 John 4 says, God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. 

God is love and we can rest in His love for us!!!

Psalms 36 says, God’s love is meteoric,
 his loyalty astronomic, 
his purpose titanic,
 his verdicts oceanic. 
Yet in his largeness
 nothing gets lost; 
Not a man, not a mouse,
 slips through the cracks.

For every time that you have felt unwanted, unvalued and unloved let Him who is love come in and heal you. You are valuable to Him, you are wanted by Him and You Are Loved By Him!! His Love for you will never run out!! His Love is not conditional and based on what you do or do not do. His Love is unconditional and He wants to lavish it all on you!! 

I have spent most of my life in awe of the love of God and how wonderful He truly is. I know that I will spend the rest of my life amazed that He could love me the way that He does. My prayer for you today is that the love of God would saturate you in every area of your life. That you will experience how valued you are by Him and how much he wants to be in a love relationship with you. That you will know beyond a shadow of a doubt that You Are Loved!! 

What I Can’t Live Without

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I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what really matters to me. I have come to realize that in some ways it could be a little hard to live without out certain things. But, if I had to there are things that I could live without. Some things would be easier to live without than others. For me, if I could no longer drink coffee, I may at first have a huge headache but, as time goes on my headaches would eventually pass and I could live without it. 

There are some things that are harder to live without such as friendships. We have been designed for relationships. We all go through different seasons of life where friendships can come and go. At times, our paths meet with others and the journey with them can be sweet. Then, as life happens sometimes those people move away or end up going a different direction. 

I am the type of person that can be very sentimental. I can easily get attached to people. I have a tendency to see the treasure on the inside of them. I love encouraging them and seeing them fulfill all that God has for them. People have been in and out of my life often. I have had to say a lot of goodbyes. For me goodbyes are not very easy. I realize it’s a part of life but, I would prefer to say, “see you later.” (It seems somewhat easier that way.) 

Even though I still care about those people and still would love to hang out with them and know how they’re doing, it doesn’t always work out that way. I have come to the conclusion that if I had to I could live without those relationships regardless, of whether or not it was my choice . 

However, there is one relationship that I have become so involved with that if I were asked to give that relationship up I would say, absolutely not! This relationship has exceeded all relationships that I have had. In all of my life this person has never left me, has always been with me through thick and thin and has walked with me through the good, the bad and the ugly. Although I have been one who is prone to make mistakes, this person has never once made me feel like the scum of the earth. This person has only shown me love and encouraged me, especially when I felt bad about myself. This person makes me want to be a better person in every way. This person has laid down his whole life for me. This person is Jesus! 

The more I get to know Him; the more I want to be with Him. The one thing that I can’t live without is His Presence. This life on earth is not as easy as some people make it out to be. Pain is inevitable. People try to deal with it in so many ways. The most common ways are usually through drugs and alcohol. Some ways are more subtle. Such as, overeating, obsessions with buying things, drowning yourself in watching T.V., and shutting out life all around  you. There are so many things that people will use to try to fill the void that is within them. But, I have discovered that one moment in God’s Presence can change everything.

Have you ever felt dissatisfied? How about agitated? I have felt these emotions many times. I used to fluff it off and think “oh I just need to read a book, watch a good movie or listen to a good song. Then, I will feel better.” Although, at times those things will distract momentarily when the T.V. is turned off, when the movie is over the dissatisfaction would creep right back in.   

There is only one thing that will bring you calm in the midst of agitation, in the midst of dissatisfaction and that is the presence of Jesus. David a man after God’s own heart wrote this so beautifully in Psalms 27 it says this, ” I’m asking God for one thing, only one thing: to live with him in his house my whole life long. I’ll contemplate his beauty; I’ll study at his feet. That’s the only quiet, secure place in a noisy world, the perfect getaway, far from the buzz of traffic.”

He is the light that I need in this dark world. He is the bread (the provision) that fills and satisfies my hungry soul. He is the peace that calms my weary mind. He is the love that mends my broken heart. He is the breath of my life. 

Yes, it is true!!! I CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT HIM!!! Jesus Is My Vital Necessity!!!

Before I go, I would like to leave you with something that I wrote about Jesus as I had been discovering how truly amazing He is. I know that it will take my whole life to begin to know him and even after that I know that it wouldn’t even scratch the surface of fully knowing who He is. My prayer for you is that you would allow Him to be your true satisfaction and when you do, you will never be the same again.

Words can never encompass the facets of who He is. They barely scratch the surface of enlightening Him by far. He who knows time without boundaries. He who has no end. He’s captivating, invigorating! What more could be said. I can’t convey what I have seen and my attempts aren’t adequate. Because who He is, is so intricate, to know Him would take eternity. All things pale in comparison with my Lord, the one my heart loves!  

Trust

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Trust is such a small word and yet it is a word we all know well. Trust is something that we all have had ever since we were born. As a little child I had no problem trusting that my parents would feed me, buy me clothes and take me to where I needed to go. I didn’t have to worry about whether or not they would come through for me because, I trusted that they would. Life should always be that way shouldn’t it? Unfortunately, it isn’t always that way. Why? Well, it’s because we’re people. Sometimes, people forget the promises they’ve made, the things they have said that they would do and don’t.  They can get caught up in the busyness of life. 

Broken trust can be a painful thing. Once trust is broken we tend to build up walls within our hearts and vow to never let our hearts be vulnerable to anyone again.  The only issue with this is that you may eventually shut everyone out. Because, people no matter how wonderful they are, they will fail you and hurt you. People make mistakes. 

So what can you do if you know that people will fail you and hurt you? We must trust the one who has never failed us and will never hurt us. We must trust Jesus. In life, we will always encounter people. The question is how do we relate to them in a healthy way? God created relationships.

There have been so many times in my life that I have asked God to help me in the area of relating to people and He has been so faithful to help me. I have found that as I ask Him to help me in encouraging them, listening to them and conversing with them that He will step in and give me the words to say. 

What about the fear of getting hurt? That’s where trusting Jesus comes in. When we trust Him with our heart, He will be faithful to protect it. Do we use wisdom? Yes. But we can’t let fear keep us from stepping out and building a relationship that could turn into an amazing one. 

What about the area of hurting others? I can’t tell you how many times I have found that I have hurt people but I had done it unintentionally. If I find that I have hurt someone, I try to make it right by apologizing to them. Then, I pray that God will heal their hearts. I know that I cannot heal their hearts for them but I do know the one who created their heart and can make it whole again. 

Proverbs 3 says, Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track.

When we trust Jesus, He will lead us to the place that we need to be, show us what to say, how to act, how to live and how to show love to those around us. 

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Flawed

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Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be perfect? You do all the right things, say the words that you are supposed to just at the right moment. You are perfect in every way. Then, you come back to reality where you find that you say the wrong things at the wrong time. You hurt people’s feelings. You get angry and yell instead of calmly working something out while exhibiting peace, love and kindness. You get up in the morning and your hair is a mess. You try to fix it and your hair doesn’t want to do what you want it to do, it would rather stick up and be crazy. You easily get frustrated to no end when you should be one who is carefree and takes it all in stride every single time. 

This is what it means to be human. I must admit that if I could have my way and I could be perfect, I would most likely choose to be so in a heartbeat. Sigh! I know that I don’t have that privilege, at least not here on earth, in my own strength. There have been times when I have been disappointed in my imperfections. Wishing I would have said something different than what I had said. Regretting the attitude that I had that was just plain ugly or when I do something foolish. In those times, I stop and wonder if God would still want to use someone who messes up so much. I can remember a time when I was in my room and I had sat down at my keyboard and was singing to the Lord. I could feel His presence more and more. Suddenly, I started to feel afraid. I came face to face with the realization that I felt so dirty and I thought that God was coming to condemn me because of all the things that I had done wrong.  

Then, Jesus did something unexpected. I saw a picture of him in my mind and when I looked into His eyes, I expected to find anger, instead I found love. When I expected condemnation, He reached out his hand and lifted my face and with one look in His eyes I knew that He was not looking at me that way. I remember tears streaming down my face and being overwhelmed by His unconditional love. Even now, as I am typing this, tears are streaming down my face. Once you realize His love for you, you are never the same. Although, I have to be reminded of it often, every time I encounter His love, I am changed a little more. 

Ephesians 1 says, Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.  God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.  So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins.  He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.

We are without fault in His eyes. His blood has covered every fault that we have. Hard to believe? Yes, it can be, but it is the truth. He wants to take you and shine His perfection through you. He wants to shine His light, love, peace and joy through you to those around you who need it. 

God is not bothered by the fact that you have made mistakes and still make them. Why? He has covered them with His blood when He died for you. He remembers them no more. 

In 2 Corinthians 4 it says, “God commanded light to shine in the dark.” Now God is shining in our hearts to let you know that his glory is seen in Jesus Christ. We are like clay jars in which this treasure is stored. The real power comes from God and not from us.

Know this, Jesus loves you unconditionally. He does not condemn you for what you have done wrong and will not condemn you if you do something wrong in the future. Come to Him, let Him love you and wash away the feelings of shame, guilt and condemnation. Let His love and glory be seen through you. Let Him touch others through your life. Giving them Hope where they have none. Giving them Peace when all they have is turmoil. Let Him take your little clay jar and use you for His purpose. 

Guilt-Ridden

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Have you ever felt guilty about something? You know you messed up and you have that knot in your stomach that just won’t go away. What about the feeling of guilt that you haven’t been able to shake for a long time due to one mistake that has bothered you for years? 

Believe me, I know the feeling. In fact, I know it too well. When I’ve done something wrong even after I have asked forgiveness for that very thing there is the haunting thought that comes, “You’ve messed up too much this time. Now, you must spend the rest of your life in misery thinking that you will never be able to ever be used by God. You will never fully receive all the desires of your heart and you must watch everyone else enjoy life and get whatever their heart desires because they have done things the right way.” 

This is one of the biggest lies that someone can believe. God never intended for us to live in guilt and shame. There are so many wonderful examples in the Bible of people who have messed up. When they encountered Jesus, the only person who had not sinned and lived life perfectly they knew he could have condemned them. Instead, He did the opposite by showing them love and forgiveness. For example, the woman who was caught in the act of adultery.

While He was teaching, the scribes and Pharisees brought in a woman who was caught in the act of adultery; and they stood her before Jesus. Pharisees:  Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. Moses says in the law that we are to kill such women by stoning. What do You say about it? This was all set up as a test for Jesus; His answers would give them grounds to accuse Him of crimes against Moses’ law. Jesus bent over and wrote something in the dirt with His finger. They persisted in badgering Jesus, so He stood up straight. Jesus: Let the first stone be thrown by the one among you who has not sinned.  Once again Jesus bent down to the ground and resumed writing with His finger. The Pharisees who heard Him stood still for a few moments and then began to leave slowly, one by one, beginning with the older men. Eventually only Jesus and the woman remained, and Jesus looked up. Jesus: Dear woman, where is everyone? Are we alone? Did no one step forward to condemn you? Woman Caught in Adultery: Lord, no one has condemned meJesus: Well, I do not condemn you either; all I ask is that you go and from now on avoid the sins that plague you.] -John 8:3-11

John 3:16-17 says, For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son. Whoever puts his trust in God’s Son will not be lost but will have life that lasts forever. For God did not send His Son into the world to say it is guilty. He sent His Son so the world might be saved from the punishment of sin by Him.

God knew even from the beginning of time that we would mess up. He also knew that no matter how hard we might try that we would never be able to reach perfection in our own strength. With that in mind He did the unthinkable by sending His son Jesus to stand in our place and take the punishment that we deserved upon Himself. He paid for our lives with His very own blood to show us how much He loves us and to release us from having to walk in guilt and shame for the rest of our lives because of our own sin. 

There is a book that I have been reading that I would like to share with you it’s called the Power Of Right Believing by Joseph Prince. As I have been reading it, there have been some great little nuggets that have been helpful in the area of guilt and condemnation.

1. “Guilt and condemnation stop where the blood of Jesus has been shed.”-Joseph Prince

It is so easy to let the burden of guilt take over our lives when we sin. It’s hard to believe at times that when Jesus says, “you are forgiven”, you are truly forgiven. It’s easy to think well if I just work hard at being good long enough maybe God will look down from heaven and say okay you paid your dues now I will let you be forgiven. Even then, you find yourself failing again and getting back on the vicious carousel called “works”. His blood is enough!! You don’t have to pay anything; Jesus paid the price for you. All He requires of you is that you believe that you are forgiven. Receive His love, forgiveness and grace and watch your life transform into His image.

2. “When you allow God’s love to saturate your mind, it doesn’t matter what wrong believing, fears, or addictions are keeping you bound. His grace will begin to break them down. That is what happens when you have an encounter with your loving Savior. Everyone who encounters Jesus never leaves the same.”-Joseph Prince

When you spend time in the presence of Jesus, little by little the guilt, shame and condemnation will disappear. Because, you will begin to see Jesus for who He really is. He came to save you from destruction not to show you how horrible you are and how you don’t deserve to live. 

Micah 7 says, You will throw away all our sins into the deepest part of the sea.

Isaiah 43:25 says, I—yes, I alone—will blot out your sins for my own sake
and will never think of them again.

And finally Psalms 103:12 says, He has removed our sins as far from us
as the east is from the west.

Whenever you feel guilt and condemnation try to rear it’s ugly head and lie to you. Focus on God’s love for you, His blood covenant that “you are forgiven”. Let Him change you and rest in His promise that you are His beloved and that He does not hold your sins against you! 

Originality

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Who inspires you? If you were to stop and think about someone who you admire for who they are and for what they do. Who would it be and why? I tend to be a big fan of people who have hero-like qualities. As far as fictional characters go, I like Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games. 

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I love how she would do anything to save her sister from facing death and in the midst of doing so finding that she has the opportunity of saving others. She stepped up to the challenge with courage and as a result was apart of seeing Panem (her homeland) saved.

Or how about “most famousest of hobbitses” Mr. Frodo Baggins in The Lord Of The Rings one of my all time favorite stories. 

FrodoHe chose to risk his own life by taking the “one ring” that the evil Lord Sauron created to unleash his wicked desires upon Middle Earth. Frodo took the ring and travelled to the land of Mordor to destroy the ring so that Sauron would lose his power and no longer be able to rule Middle Earth. Because Frodo chose to do this, it caused a chain reaction in others motivating them to step up to the plate and fulfill their own destiny. They worked together with Frodo and saw evil defeated. 

Then there is Link.

Link-and-Zelda-the-legend-of-zelda-characters-19669708-634-419Link thought that he was just an ordinary guy. Until, one day when he discovered that Princess Zelda had been captured by Ganondorf. He set out on a quest to save her and in turn saved the whole land of Hyrule. 

Last, but not least of my favorite fictional characters is Luke Skywalker. 

skywalkerLuke had thought there was more to life than just working on his uncle’s farm. He was right. He went looking for his droid R2D2 and ran into an old friend Obi Wan Kenobi. Who began to teach him about the ways of “The Force.”

imagesHe then learned about Princess Leia who had been captured by Darth Vader and set out to rescue her. During his journey he met up with Chewbacca and the reluctant Han Solo who in the end realized that there was more to life then smuggling.

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They saved Princess Leia and continue to help Luke fight the dark side of the force.

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Luke continued to grow strong in the force by being a student of Master Yoda. 

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In the end with the help of many….

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Luke defeated the dark side of the force, saved His father Darth Vader and the galaxy. 

images-2Yes, these are some of my favorite fictional heroes and they inspire me when I see and read the story of how they accomplish the goal with the greatness that they didn’t know that was there inside of them all along. 

How about some real life inspirations? 

C.S. Lewis.

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One of my most favorite authors. He wrote the Chronicles Of Narnia. His inspiration came during World War 2. London was being attacked and so they would send away the children who lived there to stay in people’s homes until it was safe to return. C.S. Lewis had 4 children come and stay with him. C.S. Lewis would write little stories for them and then would read them to the children for entertainment. Thus, began the wonderful stories of Narnia. If you would like to learn more about C.S. Lewis’ life I strongly recommend watching the movie Shadowlands it will touch your heart. 

George Friedreck Handel

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One of my favorite composers. He wrote the famous Handel’s Messiah that we all hear at Christmas time. He became inspired to compose music and for 24 days he rarely ate and hardly came out of his room. During those days he wrote 260 manuscript pages of music. “42 of the verses come from the Old Testament, including many passages from the Psalms and Isaiah. Thirty-one come from the New Testament.” When he had just finished writing the “Hallelujah Chorus” his servant came into the room and Handel turned to him with tears streaming down his face and said,  “I did think I did see all Heaven before me, and the great God Himself.” Handel’s Messiah has touched people for over 200 years.

William Wilberforce

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William was deeply involved with politics and social justice. His friend William Pitt challenged him by telling him, “Wilberforce, why don’t you give notice of a motion on the subject of the Slave Trade? You have already taken great pains to collect evidence, and are therefore fully entitled to the credit which doing so will ensure you. Do not lose time, or the ground will be occupied by another.” William Wilberforce hesitated as he was trying to decide if he should be in ministry or pursue the subject of the Slave Trade he wanted to be sure that he would do what was pleasing to God.

So, Wilberforce went and sought the advice of an old friend named John Newton. John Newton had once been a Slave Trade Master. Over time came John came to know the Lord and wrote the well loved hymn “Amazing Grace.” When Wilberforce asked John what he should do John said to Wilberforce, “God has already placed you right where He needs you. God needs people in all sorts of occupations to do His work. Just think of all the government officials who will listen to you but would scoff at a preacher like me! God has a great work for you. The road will be long, but He will use you.” Wilberforce began to fight against the Slave Trade and after many long grueling years and being brought to illness because of his quest, Wilberforce saw the Slave Trade abolished.

If you have not seen the movie Amazing Grace about the life of William Wilberforce and John Newton I strongly recommend this movie it is truly inspiring.

Those are just a few of the people that inspire me. As I have thought about what it is that inspires me about these people. I discovered that it was that they were original. Each one being themselves and using the gifts that God gave them to the best of their ability. This is what I love about them. I have found at times it could be so easy to wish I was like a certain person or wish if I just had their talent I would be a better person. But, God showed me that He purposefully made each one of us different. Even to the point of showing me that no person has the same fingerprints. Each one is unique. He made me just the way He wanted me to be. 

Jeremiah 29:11 says, For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

God has a specific plan for you that only you can fulfill. Ask Him to show you what He has in mind for you. Be the person that He has created you to be. It will be quite the adventure!! 

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Simplicity

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I am the type of person that thinks a lot. In fact, when I am faced with a problem or question I have a tendency to think about it until I figure it out and come up with a solution. At times, I have thought to myself that I should have been an FBI agent or maybe a detective like Sherlock Holmes who solves the mysteries. Why? Because, I like to know the why behind the what. 

For example, if I watch a movie and it leaves me with an unresolved situation  I try to figure it out. For instance, I watched the movie Inception. This movie bugged me for a long time especially, the end of the movie. Was he (Cobb the main character) in a dream? Or was he in real life? If he was in a dream whose dream was it? His wife’s? His own dream? Then, I would try to come up with my own conclusion about it. 

Until recently, when I found an article that was an interview with the guy who wrote the movie. Every theory that I had for what I thought the answer was turned out to be wrong. 

If you happened to be one who would like to know what the answer really was I will gladly tell you. But, if you are one who has not seen this movie yet and plan to see it in the near future. You are welcome to skip this part of the blog. 

The whole point of the movie was not the fact of whether he was in a dream or not. The point of the movie was that Cobb (the main character) would do whatever it took just to be with his family. 

Now I know this example of me wanting figure out what the movie’s point was is really not a big deal. But, I want to take it a step further particularly in the area of life. In life, there are times when situations arise that can be quite baffling. It’s in these moments that your mind can revolve around a situation over and over until you find yourself completely worn out. You may not realize it, but you have begun to worry and anxiety has started to take over your thoughts and the peace that you once had has suddenly disappeared.  

The word worry means to give way to anxiety or unease; allow one’s mind to dwell on difficulty or troubles. 

The word anxiety means a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome. 

My mom told me that there was a time when our family was struggling financially. At that time, I was around 2 yrs. old. My mom said that one day when she was having a hard time I came into the room and was running around with a boot on my head laughing. I was so carefree that it cheered her up in a time where she could have allowed depression to overtake her. 

It has been said before that when we grow up we should put away childish things but, I think in the midst of putting away childish things that sometimes we put away the things that we should keep with us when we get older. 

There are so many wonderful characteristics that we have as a child such as:

1. Innocence

2. Contagious Laughter

3.Total Trust

4. Simplicity

5. Honesty

6. Being Carefree

One of the characteristics that we were given by God as a child  that I would like to point out is to be carefree. 

As we grow older, we are taught that we need to be independent and make sure that we are working out everything on our own. While it is good to be responsible, you will soon discover that worrying doesn’t change anything except your health. You also become miserable because you are so concerned about the issue at hand. God never intended for us to be miserable in life but he intended for us to enjoy life to the fullest.

He said in Matthew 6, “I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing?  Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?  “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing,  yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you.

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Don't Worry Pray

Jesus loves children. Why? Because of their simplicity of heart, they are filled with laughter, they are enjoying every moment of life, they have complete trust in Him and they believe that what He says He will do, He Will Do! 

I have found that as I have grown up there are things that I have to unlearn. One of them is to let go of worry. I have been finding at times as I pray about the things that concern me, give them to God and continue to enjoy life the very thing I was concerned about either disappears or God works it out.

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I think one of the things that we miss the most when we grow up is to just have fun. Believe it or not God wants us to have fun. I would like to encourage you, if you haven’t done this already, to start doing things that you enjoy. Whether it be going on a walk, reading a book, swimming, shopping or playing sports etc. Whatever it may be, take time to enjoy life and leave your worries with God. Go out and have some fun and watch as He perfects that which concerns you! 

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The Pale Blue Dot

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I would like to show you a picture. When you look at it see if there is anything you notice about it. 

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Notice anything? No? It doesn’t look like much of anything does it? Okay, how about a closer look? 

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Looks just like a speck right? Well believe it or not that little dot right there is more than just a speck. It is no ordinary speck. In fact, this speck is where  you have lived your whole life. You are looking at planet earth. That’s right, the tiny little speck you see in this photo is where you and I live. 

This is a photograph of planet Earth taken in 1990 by the Voyager 1 spaceprobe from a record distance of about 6 billion kilometers (3.7 billion miles) from Earth, as part of the solar system Family Portrait series of images. The Voyager 1 spacecraft, which had completed its primary mission and was leaving the Solar System, was commanded by NASA to turn its camera around and to take a photograph of Earth across a great expanse of space.

Pretty amazing huh? There have been studies done on how big the universe is. So far no one has been able to find the end of it. You know when I saw that picture, I suddenly felt so small in such a vast universe.  It got me thinking about the One Who created it all. I have realized that I have put God in a very small box when He has no limitations. 

Isaiah 40 says, Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand or marked off the heavens with the span of his hand? Who has gathered the dust of the earth in a measure or weighed the mountains in a balance and the hills in the scales? Don’t you know, haven’t you heard or even been told from your earliest memories how the earth came to be?  Who else could have done it except God, enthroned high above the earth? From such a vantage people seem like grasshoppers to Him. Who else but God could stretch out the skies as if they were a curtain, draw them tight, suspend them over our heads like the roof of a tent? Look at the myriad of stars and constellations above you.
Who set them to burning, each in its place? Who knows those countless lights each by name? They obediently shine, each in its place, because God has the great strength and strong power to make it so.

I am sure all of us would agree that it’s easy to get caught up in the cares of this world that seems “So Big.” I found myself stopping in my tracks when I began to realize that here I am focused on problems, worrying, struggling with fears, doubts, and insecurities. Forgetting about the fact that I had invited the Creator Of The Universe into my life to have His way in me. The One who spoke it all into existence. Who marked off the heavens with the span of His hand.  Yet in all of His glory, majesty, power and might He wants to be in relationship with me, pour out His provision, give me His Love in place of my fears, peace instead of insecurity and make a way where there seems to be no way. He knows our every concern and wants to perfect that which concerns us. He wants to come in and do what we cannot do in our own strength.

Luke 12 says,  Yes, God even knows how many hairs you have on your head. 

Psalms 139 says, Every detail of my life was already written in Your book; You established the length of my life before I ever tasted the sweetness of it. Your thoughts and plans are treasures to me, O God! I cherish each and every one of them! How grand in scope! How many in number!  If I could count each one of them, they would be more than all the grains of sand on earth. Their number is inconceivable! Even when I wake up, I am still near to You.

Psalms 8 says, When I look up at your skies, at what your fingers made—the moon and the stars that you set firmly in place—what are human beings that you think about them; what are human beings that you pay attention to them?

It’s hard to wrap my brain around why the God Of The Universe wants to reach out in love towards us when He could do anything He wants. Yet He takes the time to write every detail about each of our individual lives in His book. His thoughts are consumed with each one of us. He knows the number of hairs on each person’s head. He watches over us every moment of our lives and protects us from harm.

I can’t help but be in awe of how amazing He is. What need do I have to worry about? Struggles? Fears? Doubts? Here He is the Creator of Heaven and Earth who wants to take care of me. He desires to take care of me and be in relationship with me, give me His life. He wants to exchange the nothingness that I have for everything that He has to give me. How can I not yield to Him? 

My prayer is that we would be constantly reminded of Who He is. That we would know how to rest in the One who created us and all that we see. 

Isaiah 40 says, God doesn’t come and go. God lasts. He’s Creator of all you can see or imagine. He doesn’t get tired out, doesn’t pause to catch his breath. And he knows everything, inside and out. He energizes those who get tired, gives fresh strength to dropouts. For even young people tire and drop out, young folk in their prime stumble and fall. But those who wait upon God get fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles, they run and don’t get tired, they walk and don’t lag behind.

May we be ones who don’t try to do it in our own strength but let Him who has no limitations take care of us. May we remember that the cares that seem so big to us are not big to Him at all. We can trust Him!! He is faithful!! 

How Strange Can It Get?

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I have said this once before but I will say it again. Sometimes we need a little bit of laughter in our lives. The goal of my little blog today is to tell you some stories that will most likely make you laugh. This story is about one of my many strange but funny experiences that I have had. I hope that this makes you laugh a little and helps you to not take life too seriously. I know that if I were to take myself way too seriously I would be in a lot of trouble. So Here We Go… you are now about to see my quirkiness in all of its glory. 

What seemed to be an ordinary family vacation turned out to be not so ordinary after all. We were spending our Christmas Vacation in Hawaii on the “Big Island.” It was pretty exciting. My grandparents had a house over there and they wanted us to come over, stay and spend Christmas with them. Now Hawaii is known for having a volcano and although we weren’t able to see the volcano, we had the opportunity to see the crater. Pretty exciting. Right? Maybe Not. So, we went to the crater, and while we were there, I read this sign that gave details about it. In the midst of the details, they had a story. The story was that they would throw humans into the volcano as a sacrifice. (Keep this in mind.) 

We went on about our day and then went back to my grandparents’ house. That night once everyone was asleep and the lights were out I laid awake in bed. Suddenly, I began to hear what sounded like someone hitting a big bass drum. The sound went BOOM………BOOM…..BOOOOM!!!!! I sat straight up in bed. My heart started racing; I rushed over to the window to see if I could see anything. There was only an empty street. I immediately began praying. The thoughts in my head were that the natives were coming for a lady to sacrifice her to the volcano. (Yes, I have quite an imagination.  It’s definitely one of a kind!)

I spent the next few hours praying for this lady who I didn’t know nor did I know if she existed or not. Finally, after I had exhausted myself I fell asleep. I woke up the next morning and got up still quite tired. I turned on the light and again heard what sounded like someone beating a drum. BOOM…BOOM…..BOOOOM!!!! I suddenly realized where the sound was coming from. I looked up at the ceiling and there right before me was….the ceiling fan. Yep, I was praying for a non-existent lady and found that I had been praying for a ceiling fan. Talk about embarrassing!!! Okay, I give you permission you may now laugh at my silly imagination.

Afterwards, I was sure that God was up in heaven laughing hysterically at me.  I know you may think this is the end of my “strange adventures” But wait!! My family vacation in Hawaii only gets better. I will now share with you the story that will top the one that I have just told you. 

My family and I got into the car to drive to church. I was sitting by the window and staring out at the scenery. I looked up at the sky and I saw a strange circular cloud. As I continued to watch the cloud, it began to strangely form into what looked like a stack of pancakes. No Joke. I said to my dad, “hey dad look at that cloud.” He looked at it and thought it quite strange as well. He stopped the car and took a picture of it. We then drove on to church. After the service, was over we came out of the building. I looked up at the sky and it was completely filled with strange clouds. The only way I can describe them is that they looked like huge spaceships. They kept getting bigger and bigger. I began to panic saying, “Dad what is that?” I was convinced that at that moment Jesus was coming back. The rapture was now at hand. I did what anyone would do in my situation. I started repenting of every single sin I could remember. I wanted to be sure that I was going to heaven. I also wanted to be sure I had repented before Jesus appeared. The clouds continued to strangely form. Obviously, the rapture did not come.

Would you like to know what it really was? Okay I won’t keep you in suspense. Later a newspaper article came out about the particular cloud. It turned out that although the island had not had this happen in a very long time the cloud was called a lenticular cloud which happens when the wind blows from opposite directions of both sides of the island. It creates a circular cloud that sometimes look like spaceships. I was pretty relieved that the rapture was not coming.  I am sure that God was up there most likely laughing at me and saying, just teasing you a bit.

Well, that is the end of my adventures in Hawaii. I hope you enjoyed it and may have laughed a little. But before I go, I thought that I would leave you with some pictures of lenticular clouds so you can see what they look like. Here you go and have a great rest of the day!

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All Who Are Weary Come And Find Rest!!

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Have you ever gone on a walk or a hike? You start out so energetic, excited, your pace is quick, your legs are strong, you feel great. As you continue to walk, you come upon a part of the trail where the terrain starts to becomes rocky. You notice that the trail begins to turn into an upward incline. It becomes harder to breathe. You realize that you must focus more on where you place your feet so that you do not slip. Tiredness and thirst begins to take over. Then, you start to get a pain in your side, your legs begin to hurt and you feel as if you don’t want to take another step. You want to quit instead of continuing on to where the view is clear and the air is fresh. The destination you have so longed to reach suddenly seems unrealistic. Questions start to rise in your mind. Do you give up and choose to walk away from what you know would bring you fulfillment? Or do you finish what you have started? 

This is what is called weariness. The meaning of the word weary is to be exhausted in strength, endurance, vigor, or freshness.

I would like to talk to you today about the weariness of life. Have you ever heard the phrase “life is a bed of roses?” It means that life is always easy and pleasant. But the truth is, that the path of life isn’t always easy. There are times when you think that you have it all figured out and suddenly there is an unexpected twist in the road. It’s in those times that discouragement can easily settle in. 

For instance, have you ever been waiting on a promise from God? He tells you something that He wants to do in your life and doesn’t always tell you how you will get there. He leads you one step at a time. You have it all planned out in your mind on how He is going to do it and then He doesn’t do it the way that you thought that He would. At times, it looks as if nothing is happening at all and you begin to doubt if God is really going to come through.     

This is a season that I have been walking through. It hasn’t been easy. I have been challenged with being faithful even when it gets lonely, highly uncomfortable, confusing and feels like nothing is happening. I have had times where I have felt worn out by it all, times where my heart felt crushed, battered, bruised, and even weary. I don’t think that I can even begin to tell you how many times I have had the temptation to give up, throw in the towel and walk away. In the moments when I have felt at my wits end and didn’t know what to do. I would come to God and He would fill me with His comfort, love, reassurance and most of all His rest. I don’t have to know all the answers I just have to be in the presence of the One who does know all the answers.

Recently, God showed me something that was so encouraging. In the book of Genesis it talks about Joseph who had some dreams that one day he would rule over his family. Little did he know that he would be betrayed by his own brothers and sold into slavery. He didn’t know that Potipher’s wife would accuse him and have him thrown into prison for what could seem to be the rest of his life. Joseph had every reason to believe that he would not fulfill what God said he would. He also had every reason to quit, no longer serve God, deny Him and die. But, he chose to continue to honor God, to obey him and to do the things asked of him. He did them with the utmost excellence by being a servant to those over him and helping those in need. How did he do it? In Genesis 39:2 it says, But the Lord was with Joseph, and he [though a slave] was a successful and prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. Then in Genesis 39:21 it says, But the Lord was with Joseph, and showed him mercy and loving-kindness and gave him favor in the sight of the warden of the prison. 

Even when Joseph went through hard times the Lord was with him. He saw all that was happening and was watching over him and taking care of him while he was moving toward the destination that God had for him. He gave him the strength to walk through it. You will see Joseph’s end result found in Genesis 50:18-20 it says this, Then his brothers went and fell down before him, saying, See, we are your servants (your slaves)! And Joseph said to them, Fear not; for am I in the place of God? [Vengeance is His, not mine.] As for you, you thought evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring about that many people should be kept alive, as they are this day.

As Joseph yielded to God and surrendered himself to God, even to the point of pain, God not only kept his promise but, He also saved many other lives because of Joseph’s choice. When you look at the rest of Joseph’s life, you will see that he had more than enough finances, food, land, blessing and favor on his life all because he yielded himself to the plan of God and obeyed Him no matter what it cost him.

Has this season of my life been difficult? Yes. But, even in the midst of it there has been a sweetness. God has brought me closer to Him. His presence, love, grace, hope and strength is what has been sustaining me. I know that as I trust Him, He will take me to the place of fulfillment.

You may be going through a difficult season right now. A season where you may feel like God has forgotten you. Isaiah 49:15-16 says, But the Lord says,
“Can a woman forget her baby? Can she forget the child who came from her body? Even if she can forget her children, I cannot forget you.  I drew a picture of you on my hand. You are always before my eyes.

I am here to say that God has not forgotten you. God is watching over every moment of your life. Allow Him to continue His work in you, lead you and guide you as you obey Him and recognize that He is with you during this season. It won’t be long and you will be in the place that He has so longed to take you. It will not only be a blessing to you but it will also be a blessing and a testimony to those around you of His faithfulness and goodness toward those He loves. When you feel yourself becoming weary and want to give up, go to Him and let Him give you the rest and strength that you need.

Isaiah 40 says, God doesn’t come and go. God lasts. He’s Creator of all you can see or imagine He doesn’t get tired out, doesn’t pause to catch his breath. And he knows everything, inside and out. He energizes those who get tired, gives fresh strength to dropouts. For even young people tire and drop out, young folk in their prime stumble and fall. But those who wait upon God get fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles, they run and don’t get tired, they walk and don’t lag behind.

Let Him help you in the times that it gets difficult. Draw from His strength and let Him carry you through to the end. How? By resting in Him. Fixing your eyes on Him alone. Worshipping Him and waiting on Him even in the difficult seasons. James 4 says, Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. As you do, His presence will fill you to overflowing and you will have the strength to walk through it. 

I would like to leave you with one final verse. It’s one of my favorites especially when I am going through a rough time. It’s found in Matthew 11:28-30 it says,  “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Know that you are not alone. God is with you. You can trust and rest in Him while you are on the journey of life. 

Perfect Love Casts Out Fear

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Fear n. – A distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain,  whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid. A specific instance of propensity for such a feeling; concern or anxiety; 

Have you ever turned the lights out at night in your room and then just when you are about to fall asleep you see something? You lay there and look at it trying to think of what it might be. Then you hear a noise. As you keep looking at the object you think, “did that just move? I am pretty sure that just moved!”

Your heart starts to beat faster, your breathing becomes shallow as you think, “There is something in my room!!!!” 

You pull your covers up higher and you don’t even want to reach out to the lamp that is only 2 inches away from you to turn the light on. Then, finally you get the courage to turn on the lamp and when you do you look at the object only to find that it was the piece of clothing that you hung on the door. You then have a good hearty laugh, feel a rush of relief and you are so thankful that it wasn’t someone out to get you. You come to realize that there was nothing to be afraid of. After that embarrassment, it suddenly sinks in and you promise yourself not to tell anyone what just happened.

How do I know this scenario so well? The person that was convinced there was something in their room was me. Fear has been something that I have dealt with on many occasions. Although, I think I can safely say that I am not the only one who has had a run in with fear now and then. 

I grew up as a pretty shy person. I was more of a one-on-one person. When I was with one person, it was easier for me to relax and talk. But when I would be with a group of people I didn’t like to speak up. I don’t like to be the center of attention. So, I really didn’t like answering questions about myself. In fact, I am still somewhat that way. I was not one to stand up in front of crowds. When I did stand, I had moments of freaking out and feelings of panic. Sometimes, it even ended with me leaving the stage in tears.

I remember in 8th grade; I had a piano recital. As I waited for my turn, I watched as each student went before me. I became more and more nervous. In fact, I got so freaked out that by the time it was my turn to speak into the microphone and share my name and what music piece I would be playing, I walked straight past the microphone because I felt I couldn’t even speak. I sat down at the piano started playing my piece and then I messed up. I started crying but finished the piece as quickly as I could and left mortified.

That is just one little example of my dealings with fear. There were times when I felt completely paralyzed by it. But, Thank God For Jesus!!!!! He has helped me so much. He has walked me through so many things. I remember a time when fear tried to overwhelm me and stop me from moving forward. Then, the Lord gave me a scripture.

It was Habakkuk 3:19, “The Lord God is my Strength, my personal bravery, and my invincible army; He makes my feet like hinds’ feet and will make me to walk [not to stand still in terror, but to walk]and make [spiritual] progress upon my high places [of trouble, suffering, or responsibility]!”

This has been one of my life scriptures that I have held on to. It brings me such comfort knowing that I am not alone and that God is my personal bravery, and my invincible army. He is the one who walks me through the times when fear tries to rear its ugly head and defeat me. It has been a process but each day the Lord helps me to be stronger and stronger. Do I still deal with fear? Yes, I deal with it when I talk to people and at times when I go to different places. I especially deal with it when I lead worship at church. 

There are still times when fear attacks so strongly that I feel like I can’t breathe. I usually pray at that time and say God if I have to be in front of these people then I ask that you would use my words, my actions and that you would touch them in a personal way. He then steps in with His tremendous peace and gives me the strength that I need in the midst of my weakness. 

Recently, God showed me something. He has been teaching me about what to do when fear comes. He gave me the scripture 1 John 4:18-19 it says, No fear exists where his love is. Rather, perfect love gets rid of fear, because fear involves punishment. The person who lives in fear doesn’t have perfect love. We love because God loved us first.

God makes it so clear that He Is Love and when we focus on Him and allow the person of Love to come in and pour Himself (Love) into us, fear will have no place in us.  It is not anything that we have to work out on our own but as we let Him love us, we will be able to conquer the fear that tries to drag us down and defeat us. 

I have been finding that as I look to Him and put my focus on Him the thing that I was afraid of disappears. It’s truly the coolest thing ever!!! Then, His love, His peace, His boldness, washes over me and I feel so free to be who He has truly called me to be. There is no greater way to live! If you are one who deals with fear, I want to encourage you to allow Love Himself to come in and pour Himself into you. As you do, fear will have no choice but to leave!

2 Timothy 1:7 says, For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

You don’t have to live in fear anymore!

Receive His Love!!!! 

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The Sand Castle

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Have you ever found yourself so busy that the day goes by very quickly? Before you know it a week has past, only to turn around and realize that a whole month flew by before you barely noticed it. When you think about what you have been doing all that time, it seems like a blur.

Sometimes, I wish that I could stop time. But I realize that stopping time is not an option regardless, of whether I want it to stop or not. I’ve come to recognize how important it is to live in the here and now. Tomorrow will come when it comes and yesterday is gone forever. But the here and now is all I have, so I know that I must make the best of every moment. 

Just recently, I went with my family on a mini vacation. We needed to stop because we had been busy and working a lot. On this trip, we were going to meet up with my older sister Jen, her husband Parker, and their daughter Isabella. 

I found myself wanting to enjoy every moment while I was there.  I really wanted to have fun with my niece Isabella because I hadn’t seen her in a while. Although, it was a bit of a struggle to relax, at first, I was glad when I was finally able to unwind. 

Isabella and I had the best time together. I filmed her as she would do a little show she called “Newsly News.” She would talk about the day and different things that had happened. She was So Cute!

Later, we all went to the beach.  Isabella wanted to build a sand castle so I agreed to help her with it.  Isabella’s job was to  run towards the ocean grab a handfuls of sand and bring it back to me. She called the damp sand “moosh” and the extremely wet sand she liked to call “Super Moosh.”

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After we built the castle we made sure that it had a flag. Then it needed a bridge. So we built one. Of course, it needed people so the sticks that we placed in the middle of the bridge became our people.

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If we must end the day at the beach we must end it with the most fun of all. One should get covered in the sand. How? You may ask…by making a SAND ANGEL!!!!!! I must admit that I did not participate in this but I probably should have. Isabella laid down on the sand with eyes closed soaking in the sun rays. Then she went to work on making her Sand Angel. Now here’s a little girl who knows how to enjoy herself.
 
She made the Best Sand Angel Ever!!! The time we spent together was So Precious. I wouldn’t trade those moments for all the money in the world. As I reflect back on these memories, I can’t help but think how important it is to not let those moments slip beyond my notice due to the busyness of life. The people in my life are important to me. I want to deliberately Stop and  Enjoy being with them and make memories that count. I don’t want to live my life with regret.  I want to value those that I am in relationship with and appreciate the treasure they really are.
Romans 12:10 says, Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.
I have realized that when I take the time to show the people in my life how much I value them, it brings them honor and shows them the love of God in a fresh new way. This causes our relationship to grow in a deeper way and the result is that we enjoy being with one another the way God intended us to. 
I want to encourage you to take the time and show those that you care about how much you value them, by encouraging them, doing things with them that they will enjoy and most importantly by letting them know how important they are to you and to God.  I believe as you do that your relationships will flourish the way that God wants them to. You will find true joy as you invest in their lives and have precious moments that are worth more than money. 
 

The Passion Of Christ…..Oh How He Loves You!!!!

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1e205f7dd7a5227fa8a8944ab845b1b5 41f2efbd7f51f5b890b2074e6296f60a Do you remember this song? When I was growing up in church this is the song I would sing. It’s interesting when looking back how I would sing it but I would never really think about what it really meant. In my head I knew the story of Jesus and how he died for me but I didn’t know it in my heart. One day it dawned on me how really powerful this simple song was. It wasn’t just a bunch of frivolous words, He (Jesus) Loved Me!!! He didn’t base His love for me on whether or not I performed perfectly, did everything absolutely right all the time, that I never wavered in my doubts of who He was, or that I was strong in the midst of the most fiery trials. He loved me for me in all of my failings, weaknesses, fears, doubts, insecurities, and imperfections. Thus,  my journey began of discovering His Love and how amazing His Love truly is. 

When I lived in Washington I worked at The City Church and my job was to clean the sanctuary. I would pick up the trash, straighten things out, and  make the sanctuary look really nice for the services. I would be in the sanctuary for hours cleaning, so I always would bring my headphones with me. Sometimes, I would listen to music and if no one was around I would sing at the top of my lungs. Other times I would listen to teachings. I also had times where I would pray and talk to God. One time I was having a conversation with Him and it went like this:

Me: I love you!!!

God: I love you more!!!!

Me: WELL….I LOVE YOU FIRST!!!!

God: No, you don’t!

Me: Yes, I do!

God: No, You Don’t!!

Me: YES, I DO!!!

God: 1 John 4:19, We love Him because He loved us first.

Me:……………….

Me: AAAH!!! YOU WIN!!!!

Obviously He made the point very clear I was loving Him in return because of Him loving me first. So many times it’s easy to forget that He just wants to love on us. I remember the first time that I saw the movie “The Passion Of The Christ.” The movie is based on the last 12 hours of Jesus’ life. The movie depicts what He might have experienced. In reality though, what He went through was much worse. I want to show you a little clip of the movie to give you a glimpse of what I am talking about.

Jesus: “See, I am making all things new!” – Revelations 21:5

“He never sinned, nor ever deceived anyone. He did not retaliate when he was insulted, nor threaten revenge when he suffered. He left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly. He personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By his wounds you are healed.” – 1 Peter 2

As, I watched Him be beaten, spit upon, whipped with leather straps that had shards of metal and glass attached to it, I couldn’t help but cry as these scriptures began to flood my mind.

Isaiah 53:5, But he was hurt because of us; he suffered so. Our wrongdoing wounded and crushed him. He endured the breaking that made us whole. The injuries he suffered became our healing.

Hebrews 12, Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame.

Then it hit me so clearly the joy awaiting him was me. He endured all the pain, all the suffering, all the accusations of the enemy for me so that I would no longer be separated from Him because of sin. 

You are His Joy. You are the reason that He went through a tremendous amount of pain. The joy of being with you was greater than the pain that He endured.  

“What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else?  Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself.  Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.  Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.  And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.”-Romans 8

He is standing before you not condemning you, but He is standing with His arms open wide waiting for you to let Him love you. Open up your heart to Him and receive it! He’s not concerned with what you may have done wrong. He died and took those things upon Himself so that you might be free. So that you would be able to have a relationship with Him, and receive all that He has to give you. His Love Is Unconditional And It Is For You Take Hold Of It!!!

A Storm Trooper, A Rainbow, And A Turtle

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It all started when I was going on a two day trip with my sister Abi to Disneyland. I was really excited. One of my favorite things about Disneyland is they have this Star Wars Jedi Training Academy show for the kids. In the show, they pick some kids and have them wear Jedi robes and train them on how to fight with lightsabers. After that Darth Vader, Darth Maul, and the Storm Troopers come out and the kids fight with them and defeat them. Way Cool!!! Right!?!

Well, ever since I was a little girl I loved Star Wars. I thought it would be fun to get a picture with a Storm Trooper. I was pretty sure that they were inaccessible though because they spent most of their time on stage and would rarely come out into the crowd. Earlier that day as Abi and I were praying together before I realized it, the words that came out of my mouth were “Lord I would like to get a picture with a Storm Trooper.” I immediately felt embarrassed because I said it out loud in front of Abi and I thought that it was a silly request. But Abi said, “Why Not? It’s okay to ask.” So I left it at that. 

Later that day, Abi and I had just gotten off the ride Space Mountain and we were trying to decide what to do next. All of the sudden Abi said to me, “Shelly there’s a Storm Trooper.” Sure enough, he was standing there just a few steps away. All of the sudden I felt like a little girl. I got So Excited. I can’t even believe that I did this. I started tiptoeing over to where he was. (Keep in mind this is out of the ordinary for me.) Then, I said can I take a picture with you? He let me take a picture with him. IT MADE MY DAY!!!!!!! Here’s the picture:

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I was so surprised that God had answered my prayer but I was so thankful to Him for it. 

A few months went by and my family and I had taken some days off for a vacation in Maui. While we were there, I had been talking to God about some things I had been discouraged about and blurted out, “God I would like to see a rainbow while we’re here.” Later that day, I was with my sister Abi in our hotel room and I looked out the sliding glass door and I saw the tiniest little hint of what looked a rainbow. I said to Abi, “There’s My Rainbow!!” I went outside. I tried to take a picture of it but it would not show up very well on my phone. So I said, “God it would be cool if the rainbow was brighter so that I can take a picture of it with my phone.” Then the rainbow started to get brighter. After that it turned into a full blown rainbow. Followed by what looked like an almost complete double rainbow. I was blown away. I said, Thanks God!! Here’s a glimpse of what it looked like. 

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The next day I was still So Excited about the rainbow. I thought, I want to test this out. I love sea turtles. They are my favorite animal. So this time I said to God, “God I would like to see a turtle while we’re here.”  Throughout that day I added to my request saying to God “you know what would be cool is if I was swimming in the water and the turtle was in the water too and we were kind of swimming together. What a cool Facebook status that would be. (of course, Facebook has to know these things right? Haha!) We went to the beach that day and I was ready. I was keeping an eye out for my turtle. I walked the beach but didn’t see anything. When I came back my Brother-In-Law’s mom said, “Shelly, you are not going to believe what just happened to me. I was out snorkeling and as I was swimming I felt something behind me and thought it was my husband and when I turned to look and it was a turtle. I screamed and then swam away.”

After she said that I thought, “Oh man, I missed my turtle.” I was a little disappointed. Then later my dad said to me, “Hey Shelly, there was a turtle spotted over in that area.” So we ended up snorkeling out there to see if we could find it. All of the sudden there he was. He Was HUGE!!!! He was just floating there. I just floated in the water watching him. It Was The Coolest Thing Ever!!!!!!!!!! IT MADE MY DAY!!! Again I was amazed at what God did. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to take a picture as I didn’t have a underwater camera with me. But here’s one that looked like what I saw, except the turtle was bigger and closer to me. 

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So you may be wondering why I am sharing all of this with you? It’s because I want you to know that I am God’s favorite. Just Kidding!!! The truth is God is no respecter of persons. (Acts 10:34) He doesn’t favor one person more than another. And although my requests of Him may have been considered “silly” He still knew that it was something that I would enjoy. He wanted to bless me. He wants us to ask Him no matter how small or silly the request may be. He cares about even the smallest details of our lives. So, feel free to ask Him and see what happens!!! He may just surprise you!! 

The Matter Of The Heart

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I wanted to take a moment and talk about something very important, the heart. Ever since I was little, I have always had a sensitive heart. For example, if I was sitting and watching a movie and something bad happened to someone in the movie I would be so sad for them and the pain that they were going through, that I would cry for two hours. One time, I was watching a Hallmark Card commercial and believe it or not, by the end of the commercial I was in tears. (It was about a lonely puppy that no one wanted and in the end someone picked him.) Although, those things weren’t real it still affected my heart.

Even with the things that did actually happen to me, I never really acknowledged the sensitivity of my heart. I didn’t realize how much things really affected me. I thought that I was immune to them. 

It wasn’t until recently that I discovered that my heart was overwhelmed, even hurting. This time though it wasn’t due to watching a movie or a commercial it was due to people. My heart had been collecting hurtful words that were spoken to me and recording the painful actions that others had done to me. I was feeling like I was not valued, not respected, rejected, taken advantage of, not good enough, and not worth the time or effort to be with. My heart was even taking other people’s hurts upon it.  My heart was holding it all in, allowing hurt upon hurt, wound upon wound, to build up on the inside. Pretty soon, I began to notice that I was starting to feel angry at what people had done. Sometimes, I even felt bitter. Thus, the struggle had begun. I knew that it wasn’t right to be feeling this way. I was supposed to be loving people and I didn’t want to. I thought if I don’t deal with this I am going to be in a world of hurt.

I began to pray. I was asking Jesus how he did it. If anyone experienced pain, rejection, people saying one thing and yet doing another, it was Him. He was spit upon, ridiculed, loved one minute and hated the next and betrayed. He experienced such hatred from people, even some of them wanting to kill him. Yet in the midst of all of this, He never lashed out in anger toward them with vengeance. He responded to them with love and kindness.  Instead, He went to His Father and said, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.”  

I knew that it was right to forgive those who hurt me. God makes it clear in His Word that when you do not forgive others He can not forgive you. I had prayed and forgave them and thought that it was taken care of. But lying there in my heart was still a gamut (range) of emotions of pain. The pain would become really noticeable when I was around these people that had hurt me. 

And so I waited to hear what God would say. He began to show me that walking in forgiveness toward them was not for their benefit but for mine. That as I forgave them and looked to Him, it would open the door of my heart so that He could come in and heal the wounds that were there. So I sat down in my room and I brought each person to Him and said I forgive them. Then I spoke of what they had done that had hurt me and I released them. As I did this, little by little a weight began to lift. 

Then God gave me a verse in Jeremiah 30. It says, For I will heal you. I will heal you where you have been hurt, says the Lord. He also gave me the scripture Psalms 56:8 it says, You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book. He wanted me to know that He saw the pain and He wanted to heal it completely.

Since that time the Lord has begun the healing process in my life. There is still pain, but it’s a process. It’s like when we get a physical wound and it starts to heal, it’s still painful as the healing process is taking place. I believe it is the same with our hearts.  Another scripture He gave me is found in Ezekiel 11. It says, and I will give them one heart [a new heart] and I will put a new spirit within them; and I will take the stony [unnaturally hardened] heart out of their flesh, and will give them a heart of flesh [sensitive and responsive to the touch of their God], that they may walk in My statutes and keep My ordinances, and do them. And they shall be My people, and I will be their God.

In Luke 17 it says, “offenses will certainly come.” (Whether I like it or not.) I knew that the Lord was saying when they do come what really matters is what I do with them. He wanted me to come to Him, give Him the hurts and then allow Him to come in and heal my heart. Letting Him remove the stony hardened heart due to offense resulting in wanting to draw back and choose bitterness and unforgiveness. He wanted replace my heart of stone with a heart of flesh, one that is soft and sensitive toward Him. He is the one who created my heart, He knows how to protect it, heal it and make it whole. 

I don’t know if you have experienced offenses before and have been hurt badly by them. If you have, I know that the Lord wants to heal you and make you whole. He does not want you to live in torment any longer. You can talk to Him. He understands the hurts and the wounds in your heart more than anyone. He is the only one who can heal your heart and make it whole. Look to Him, open your heart to Him and let Him heal you. It’s Worth It!!  

 

 

Greater Than Your Heart

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Heart noun: One’s mood or feeling. Courage or enthusiasm. The central or innermost part of something. The vital part or essence.

Whether we realize it or not our heart, is a vital part of our life. I think in some ways that is why we go to such great lengths to protect it. We can even allow it to become calloused when we don’t want to feel anything. We try to protect it from hurt, fear, rejection, hopelessness and pain. Our hearts can get caught up in the troubles and burdens that life brings. A lost job, a broken relationship, a huge mistake that we made a long time ago and we are still carrying the weight of it. We can allow our current mistakes to pile on the huge mistake we made long ago and let our heart sink into despair.

But, there is good news in all of this, our heart can be a part of seeing our greatest triumphs. If we allow it to function in the way that it was created and what it was designed for. Our heart was created by the One who is love. He came to show us how valuable we are to Him by giving up His life and dying for us. His Name Is Jesus. God created our hearts to love and be loved. He also knows the circumstances that have tried to hinder us from receiving His love. He knows that there is an enemy in this world that would seek to steal, kill and destroy us. Even in the midst of knowing these things, Jesus said this in John 16, I’ve told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world. Take Heart! As you trust Him, He will be with you in those difficulties and help you come through it victoriously.

Sometimes, we may feel that we are deserving of bad things coming into our lives because we think that God is punishing us for the wrong that we have done. Probably one of the biggest things that can hinder one from receiving His love is condemnation. But, if we have asked forgiveness for what we have done, the scripture says that He (God) will remember our sins no more. It says in Romans 3 It is is God’s righteousness made visible through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ. And now all who believe in Him receive that gift. For there is really no difference between us for we all have sinned and are in need of the glory of God. Yet through His powerful declaration of acquittal, God freely gives away His righteousness. His gift of love and favor now cascades over us, all because Jesus, the Anointed One, has liberated us from guilt, punishment, and power of sin. Colossians 1:20-23 says, And by the blood of His cross, everything in heaven and earth is restored brought back to Himself–back to it’s original intent, restored to innocence again! Even though you were distant from Him, living in the shadows of your evil thoughts and actions, he reconnected you back to Himself. He released His supernatural peace to you through the sacrifice of His own body as the sin-payment on your behalf so that you would dwell in His presence. And now there is nothing between you and Father God, for He sees you as holy, flawless and restored! Continue to advance in faith, assured of a firm foundation to grow upon. Never be shaken from the hope of the gospel you have believed in.

I would like to share with you one last scripture. It is found in 1 John 3 it says this,

My dear children, let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love. This is the only way we’ll know we’re living truly, living in God’s reality. It’s also the way to shut down debilitating self-criticism, even when there is something to it. For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves.  And friends, once that’s taken care of and we’re no longer accusing or condemning ourselves, we’re bold and free before God! We’re able to stretch our hands out and receive what we asked for because we’re doing what he said, doing what pleases him. Again, this is God’s command: to believe in his personally named Son, Jesus Christ.

In this scripture it is clear that all God is asking of us is to believe in Him. I love how these verses address that we can shut down the debilitating self-criticism toward ourselves. Despite the mistakes we have made, He is greater and the amazing thing is that you no longer have to let your heart condemn you for those mistakes. He has made your heart pure and as you trust and believe in Him He will work all things together for good. He is faithful to His word. He has a future and a hope for you.

My prayer for you today is that you will put your faith in the One who created you and your heart. I pray that you would no longer allow your heart to condemn you in knowing that God does not condemn you. I pray that you would be free from condemnation and that you would know that He loves you and is for you. He is not holding your mistakes against you. He will turn around what the enemy has meant for harm for your good.

 

He loves me…He loves me not?!?

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Love True Love is what brings us together today. Yes, that is what I am here to talk about today. In the movie the Princess Bride you see the story of Westley and Buttercup, who realize that their love for one another is not just a passing whim, but it is true love. The story then goes on to show what the power of true love can do in the midst of danger, of seemingly impenetrable obstacles and even death. No matter what happened true love always prevailed. True love even triumphed when Buttercup thought all was lost as the king had Westley taken away from her. She thought that she would never see him ever again. Westley said to her, I will always come for you. Buttercup replied, How can you be sure?  Westley then said, This is true love. Do you think this happens everyday?

In the end, true love won and Westley and Buttercup lived happily ever after. Sigh, although it was only a movie, the question is does true love really exist in real life?

How would you respond if you had someone who loved you with a love that was true? What kind of person would you be if every time you interacted with them they always encouraged you and never put you down? Someone who always accepted you for who you are even on the days that you have a terrible attitude and are just plain mean to them? Someone who never got mad at you but every time you turned around all they did was show you how much they loved you and how valuable you are to them? How would you respond if there was someone who was so in love with you that it did not matter to them what obstacle stood in the way they would come and find you? This person would always go to such great lengths even to the point of death just because they loved you and wanted to be with you. They would overcome any danger, fight any foe and be willing to look death in the face. It certainly would change your perspective in many ways. Certainly in how you view yourself.

Is it just a fairy tale?

Who in the world would be like that?

Believe it or not there is someone who is like this.

His name is Jesus.

When you were a kid did you ever go to Sunday School? Usually the song everyone would sing was Jesus Loves Me. The words are so simplistic but if you really think about those words, you will find that they are quite profound. It’s one thing to sing those words but it’s another to believe them.

Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so. Too often we can feel like we are not good enough to be loved by Jesus. It’s easy to do especially if you are one who always feels like you don’t do everything right. Or that you always make some sort of mistake. Or how about this one? You’ve made way too many mistakes to ever have anyone love you. Especially, God since He is perfect and sees everything, there is no way that He could love someone when He sees all the mistakes they made.

But God is not like that at all. In fact you are so valuable to Him that He sent His only Son to die on the cross for you just so that He could be in a relationship with you.  When we come to Him, He takes our mistakes, He takes our mess and removes it and remembers it no more.

In the Bible, in Micah 7:18, it says this He will tread our sins beneath His feet; He will throw them into the depths of the sea.

In Isaiah 38:17 it says’ He took our sins and threw them away.

In Psalms 103 it says, As high as the sky is above the earth, so great is His love for those who honor Him.

In Hebrews 8, God says I will remember their sins no more.  He casts our sins into the bottom of the sea and remembers them no more.

How beautiful is that? God loves you for you. I want to give you one more example that I once heard before. Have you ever had a crush on someone and you didn’t know if they loved you or not? So you decided to pick a daisy and then proceeded to tell yourself in picking the petals of this daisy I will know the outcome as to whether they love me or not. You then pick the petals off one by one saying they love me, they love me not. You pick every petal and when you come to the last one you either have a sigh of relief because they love you or you want to start over by picking another daisy to see if you get a different outcome other than they love you not.

Imagine this with me when Jesus died you were given a daisy. Except this daisy doesn’t have petals that say He loves me not. This daisy only has petals that say He loves me. He loves me. He loves me. He loves me and the daisy that you have been given never runs out of petals.

Jesus loves you and always will. It does not matter what you’ve done in the past. It does not matter if you made a mistake even a moment ago. His answer will always remain the same to you. Jesus loves you. My prayer for you today is that if you walk away with anything from this blog post it would be this. That you have a revelation of the love of Jesus. That you experience for yourself the length, the height, the width and the depths of His love for you. You are His most prized possession. Open up your heart today and let Him love you with a love that never runs out. A love that is not conditional but unconditional.

Restoration Will Come

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Pain. Brokenness. A Shattered Heart. Everyone has experienced this at least once in their lives. No one is exempt from these things. Maybe even at this very moment I might be describing what you are experiencing in this time of life.

There’s no need to be embarrassed about it. I get it. I’ve experienced what has been called “a rush of a thousand heartbreaks.” It’s a pain that doesn’t seem to go away. At times, the pain may ease up a little but there is still that dull ache that seems to always remain.

So what do you do about it? I mean it’s not like you can put a bandaid on your heart like you would on a skin wound. You can’t even ask a doctor to do surgery on your emotions let alone your heart so that the pain you are experiencing will heal properly and go away.

The only thing that you can do is go to the One who created your heart. You must go to the one who knows how your heart functions. He is the only one who can make it whole again. You may think that it doesn’t matter to Him that your heart has been shattered into a million pieces. You may think that He doesn’t have time for that. You may think He doesn’t even care about the details of your life. You may think that He wouldn’t even care if you had a bad day. Well, I am here to say that He does care.

In the Bible, in the book of Hebrews in chapter 4 it says, Now that we know what we have—Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God—let’s not let it slip through our fingers. We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.

He understands exactly what you are experiencing and He wants to help you and is ready to do so from the moment you ask Him. This includes healing your broken heart.

In Psalms 34 it says, The Lord is so close to all whose hearts are crushed by pain and He is always ready to restore….even when bad things happen to the good and godly ones, the Lord will save them and not let them be defeated by what they face.

In another Bible translation the verse says this, If your heart is broken, you’ll find God right there; if you’re kicked in the gut, he’ll help you catch your breath.

When you are going through a hard and painful time, know that the Lord is right there to restore what has been broken and turn it into something beautiful once again. It may not happen over night, it may take a little time but know that He is there to help you through it. As you trust Him, you will experience the wholeness and freedom from pain that He wants to give you.

In Psalms 147 it says, He heals the wounds of every shattered heart…God supports and strengthens the humble…He’s the One who brings peace to your borders…

You know it’s okay to tell God that you’re hurting. You don’t have to mask your pain when you get around Him. The truth is He already knows that you’re hurting because He’s God and He knows everything. He wants you to give Him your pain so that He can give you His healing.

I would like to end with one of my favorite scriptures. This one has helped me a lot when I have been going through a tough time. I have definitely found comfort when reading it.

It’s found in Psalms 56 it says, You’ve kept track of all my wandering and my weeping. You’ve stored my many tears in your bottle-not one will be lost. You care about me every time I’ve cried. For it is all recorded in your book of remembrance. The very moment I call to you  for a Father’s help the tide of battle turns and my enemies flee! This one thing I know: God is on my side!!!

Let the Creator of your heart fix what has been broken and make it whole again!

What Truly Matters

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Have you ever wanted to make a good impression on people?  Especially, when you think to yourself, “wow they are so cool.” It seems like everything about them is so amazing. They dress with great style. You both like the same movies. Talented is their first name and Adventurous is their last name. There’s only one problem. No matter what you do to become their friend it doesn’t work. In fact, quite the opposite happens. They talk and hang out with everyone else but you. It doesn’t matter how kind you are to them or how many times you go out of your way to help them out; having a friendship with them never seems to work out.

What do you do? You may think to yourself. I know. Maybe if I change my hair color that will work? Nope. Maybe if I dress cooler that will change their mind? Nope. How about if I bend over backwards to help them any time they need it? Nope.

There is only one thing you can do. Let it go. If you have to jump through that many hoops to try to get someone to be your friend, you will have to continue doing so just to keep the friendship alive. Trust me, I have been there before and believe me it’s not fun nor is it worth it.

I love this quote by C.S. Lewis, who is one of my favorite authors, he says this, “I would rather be what God chose to make me than the most glorious creature that I could think of. For to have been born in God’s thought and then made by God is the dearest and most precious thing in all thinking.”

You don’t have to be someone else to be acceptable by others. You just have to be you. Just be the person that God has created you to be and He will draw the right friends into your life.

Sometimes it can be tough you know. I am a pastor’s daughter and my life is filled with many opportunities to help people. I have a very big heart and I love to help them. I hate watching them go through hard times. I don’t like watching them experiencing painful things. I love to encourage them when I can and pray for them. But you know, sometimes I just want to be a friend to them, hang out with them and just plain have fun. It doesn’t always work out that way though.

I have had some experiences where I will see someone come up to me and in my heart I am really excited to see them.  I think oh how nice they just want to say hi and ask me how things are going. They want to be friends. Then the excitement begins to turn to sadness as I see on their facial expression that, that is not their intention. They then proceed to ask me if I will help them with something. Although, it makes me a little sad as I was hoping that we could just enjoy one another’s company and get to know each other more I agree to help them.

Please don’t misunderstand me it’s not that I don’t want to help people. But, sometimes I just would like to be with people, hang out with them, instead of being someone they only come to when they need something. At times, it makes me hesitate in being around certain people. It definitely makes it harder to be myself around them. I suppose that is why we need God. He helps us to know how to get past all that and be who we are created to be regardless of how some people may act toward us. We can trust that He will bring those people who are there just to be a friend especially when you need one. Where it’s a relationship of give and take. You will encourage them and they will encourage you. Your friendship will become all the more richer and have more meaning as you are valuing one another and are learning from one another.

I would like to paraphrase a story with you that I recently heard.  It’s a book called Just The Way You Are by Max Lucado. If you ever get a chance to read the actual book I would highly recommend it because of how powerful it is.

The story begins in a little village where a family of five orphans lived. One day the king heard about their plight. So he decided to adopt them. Soon, he would come to visit them. When the children and the villagers heard about what the king had done, they were all excited. The villagers told the children that in order to live with the king that they had to impress the king. The villagers said this because they assumed that, that was the way that all kings were even though that had never personally met one themselves.

 

So some of the children set about working hard on their talents in order to impress the king. But there was one orphan, a little girl who believed that she had no gift or talent in order to impress the king. The only thing that she did have was a good heart. She was scared that she would be a disappointment to the king. She thought that maybe one of her brothers or sisters would be willing to help her develop a talent. She too would be able to impress him when he came and she could live with the king. But as she asked each one of her siblings for help, they only replied that they were too busy getting ready for the coming of the king. The girl became very sad and she returned to the front gate of the village. This was the place where she would always go to feed the animals in order to make enough money for food for her brothers and sisters. She loved feeding the animals and talking with the villagers. She had a big heart and really cared about people. She loved to ask them about their families and the adventures that they had just returned from. It didn’t matter to her if they were rich or poor she loved them all the same. She had a very good heart.

One day a man who was dressed in merchant clothes, came to the front gate of the village and asked the little girl if she would help feed his donkey. She looked up at the man and saw that he had a kind face and smile. She readily agreed to feeding his donkey. She then asked him why he had come to the village. He responded by saying that he was looking for someone. She could tell that he was weary from his journey and invited him to rest on a nearby bench. The man sat down and fell asleep for a little while. When he woke up, he noticed that the little girl was sitting by his feet looking up at him. The little girl quickly became embarrassed and looked away. The man asked her if she had been there long? She replied that she had. He asked if there was something that she wanted? She said, no. She just liked being around him because his was so kind and had a peaceful heart. The man then told her that she was a smart little girl and that when he came back that he would like to spend more time with her.

It wasn’t too long after that, that the man had returned. The little girl asked the man if he had found who he was looking for? He said, yes. But each one that he was looking for was too busy to spend time with him. The little girl came to realize that the man was the king. She told the king that he did not look like a king at all. The king replied that he purposefully would try not to look like a king because people would treat him strangely. They would ask for favors or complain to him. The little girl asked the king, but isn’t that what kings are for? The king replied yes, but some times I just want to be with my people. I want to laugh with them, to cry with them and sometimes I just want to be their father. The girl then asked the king if that was why he had adopted the children? The king said yes. Adults think that I need to be impressed, children don’t. They know that I will love them just the way they are. The girl said, but my brothers and sisters were too busy. The king replied, yes but I will come again another time maybe they will have time for me then. The girl mustered up all the courage she could and said to the king, Sir I have no gift or talent can I be your child? The king smiled at the little girl and said, you have given me the best gift of all, your kindness your heart, your time, your love. Of course you will be my child. So it was that the children of the king missed the time of their visitation but the girl who had no gift but a good heart became a child of the king. The End

I know that I have been talking a lot about relationship today. But, in life it truly is one of the main things that we all have. I believe that the treasure found in a relationship is when there is a heart connection. It’s not about impressing one another but about being with one another, encouraging one another to be the best that God wants us to be. What I love about the story “Just The Way You Are” is that all the king, who represented God, wanted from the orphans was a relationship with them. Where they could enjoy being with one another. It is the same with our relationship with God. He doesn’t need us to impress Him in order to have a relationship with Him and be accepted by Him. He loves us just the way He created us to be. He wants a heart relationship with us. Where we can come together and just enjoy one another’s company. It isn’t all about us trying to impress Him, or complaining about our lives or even coming just to get things from Him. Although, because He knows we’re human He will help us, comfort us and be there when we need it. But just like the story said sometimes He just wants to laugh with us, have fun with us and just enjoy each other’s company.

He also wants us to have those kinds of relationships in our lives. So this is my encouragement to you today. Don’t stop being who God created you to be in order to have a relationship that may only be temporary and not very life giving to you. Ask and trust God to bring people into your life who will help you grow more into who He has called you to be. A relationship that is life giving for the both of you. Watch as He brings them into your life.

God Remembers You Even In The Night Season

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I have heard it said that it is always the darkest before the dawn. There are seasons in life that I would call the Night Season. This is the season where everything is so pitch black you could not see your hand in front of your face even if you wanted to. All you can do in this time, is wait for the dawn to come in order to move forward without stumbling over obstacles and possibly hurting yourself in the process.

When it’s dark, you can wonder if there is anyone out there that could help. You want to yell out does anyone have a flashlight? Candle? Anything? Darkness can also distort images. You sometimes find out that what you think may be one thing, when the light is turned on you find out that it wasn’t what you thought it was at all. In fact, it was something totally different.

Darkness can be frightening sometimes. You can find yourself wondering if the light will ever come or if it will be this way forever.

You can often feel alone or even forgotten. If you are in a season like this, I would like to encourage you to not lose heart. Your dawn is coming.

I would like to share some scriptures with you that may be a great help. Just this last week, I was feeling pretty discouraged and alone. That day I was praying and the phrase came to my mind “He remembers you in the night season.” The Lord began to remind me that He had not forgotten me.

He reminded me of a story in the Bible. It is found in the book of Esther. This story is about a man named Mordecai who was Esther’s cousin. It is found in Esther chapter 2 and it goes like this.

One day while Mordecai was at the gate, Bigthan and Teresh, two of the king’s eunuchs who guarded the door, were plotting to kill King Ahasuerus. They were angry over some matter. But Mordecai learned of their plan and reported it to Queen Esther who told the king about the plot, giving credit to her cousin.  After a thorough investigation, the report was proven true. So the two officers were killed and displayed on a pole. All of this information was chronicled in the presence of the king, in the public record.

A little while later, according to King Ahasuerus’ wishes, Haman (son of Hammedatha, an Agagite) was promoted to a rank above all his fellow nobles in the kingdom. The officials at the king’s gate all bowed down before Haman and paid him homage because the king commanded this. But Mordecai, the Jew, refused to kneel and refused to honor him. 

Mordecai’s actions came to the attention of the king’s officials standing at the gate. Officials (looking at Mordecai): Why are you disobeying the king’s command? The officers questioned him daily about his disobedience to the king, but Mordecai refused to listen and bow down. The officers reported this to Haman to learn whether or not Mordecai’s excuse would be tolerated, for Mordecai had told them he was a Jew. Haman was furious when he saw that Mordecai refused to bow and pay him the respect he was due. But Haman wasn’t to be satisfied with killing only Mordecai, so he began to think of ways to destroy all of Mordecai’s people, the Jews, throughout the kingdom of Ahasuerus.  

As time went on, although Haman got permission from the king to destroy Mordecai and the Jews, he still was not satisfied. Haman said  to his wife and friends, But I must be honest; seeing that Jew, Mordecai, as I pass through the gate makes it difficult to celebrate any of my good fortuneThen his wife Zeresh and all of his friends came up with an idea. Zeresh and His Friends: You should make a wood pole 75 feet high! Tomorrow morning, have the king sentence Mordecai to be executed on it. Then you’ll be able to have a good time at the banquet with the king. Haman thought the idea was brilliant. So he had the pole made.

That same night the king was unable to sleep, so he ordered the official records of his reign to be brought and read before him. As the record was read, the king was reminded of the time when Mordecai saved his life. Mordecai had been the one who reported that Bigthana and Teresh, two of the royal eunuchs who guarded the doors, were plotting to assassinate the king. 

King Ahasuerus(to his servants): Did Mordecai receive any recognition for this action? Was he honored in any way? Servants: He received no recognition for this. King Ahasuerus: Is anyone out in the court now? Haman had just arrived at the outer court of King Ahasuerus’ palace. He hoped to speak with the king about executing Mordecai and hanging him on the pole he had prepared. Servants:  Haman is here waiting in the court to see youKing Ahasuerus: Allow him to come in. So Haman entered the king’s chambers. He waited for the king to speak first. 

King Ahasuerus: Haman, I want to ask you something. What do you believe is the proper manner in which to honor a man who has pleased me? Then Haman thought to himself, “There is no one the king wishes to honor more than me.” 

Haman: If you desire to honor a man, I believe you should do this: First, have your servants bring one of the robes you have worn and one of the horses you have ridden that has worn the royal crown on its head. Then, you should give the robe and horse to one of your most noble officials. Have him robe the man whom you want to honor and then lead the man on horseback throughout the center of the city. It should be announced that this is what happens for the man whom the king wants to honor. 

King Ahasuerus: Your idea is perfect, Haman. I want you to go and do this immediately. Take one of my robes and one of my horses and do exactly what you have suggested to Mordecai, the Jewish man who sits at my gate. Do everything you have said, and don’t leave out one single detail. Not one!  Haman was mortified. He took the robe and horse; he dressed Mordecai in the king’s robe and led him throughout the square of the city.

Haman (shouting): This is what happens for the man whom the king desires to honor! When it was done, Mordecai returned to the king’s gate. But Haman fled to his home, mourning and covering his head in humiliation

In the end, Haman’s plan to destroy Mordecai and the Jews was revealed to the king. The king became so angry and had Haman hung on the pole that Haman built for Mordecai. Mordecai and the Jews’ lives were saved that day. Talk about a turn of events.

Have you ever felt like you were trying to do your best to be pleasing to God by obeying Him but, as you have chosen to do so the circumstances in your life turn for the worse?

Mordecai never stopped obeying the Lord even though the circumstances were grim. Not only did the Lord in turn remember him, but He honored him in front of his enemies. Then his enemies were destroyed.

Psalms 23 says,  Even in the unending shadows of death’s darkness, I am not overcome by fear. Because You are with me in those dark moments, near with Your protection and guidance, I am comforted. You spread out a table before me, provisions in the midst of attack from my enemies; You care for all my needs, anointing my head with soothing, fragrant oil, filling my cup again and again with Your grace.

Isaiah 49 says,  The Lord has abandoned me. God has walked out the door; my Lord left me alone. He has forgotten all about me. The Lord says, Is it possible for a mother, however disappointed, however hurt, to forget her nursing child? Can she feel nothing for the baby she carried and birthed?  Even if she could, I, God, will never forget you. Look here. I have made you a part of Me, written you on the palms of My hands…always on My mind, always My concern…

 Know this you are always on God’s mind. He has not forgotten you. He will spread out a table before you, provisions in the midst of attack from your enemies.

Esther 8:16 says, For the Jews, it was a time of celebration. Darkness had turned to light. Sadness to joy. Shame to honor.

Keep trusting the Lord and watch as He turns your situation around for good. I leave you with this last scripture found in Psalms 30:11 it says, You did it: You turned my deepest pains into joyful dancing; You stripped off my dark clothing and covered me with joyful light.

Let God break through the darkness for you. I know He will because you matter to Him!

 

Oh To Linger Just A Little Longer

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Have you ever been in a place where all you wanted to do was stay there forever? See the picture above? That is a picture I took of one of my most favorite places. I love to linger there. Everything about this place is so beautiful and peaceful. For me, it is a place that is hard to leave. I could see why there were people who built a house near here. I am sure they loved the place so much that they decided to stay.

I love to go on little adventures and see a lot of beautiful places. I can’t help but think of the one who created it. I truly find myself in awe.

Psalms 111:2-4 says, The works of the Lord are many and wondrous! They are examined by all who delight in them. His work is marked with beauty and majesty; His justice has no end. His wonders are reminders that the Lord is gracious and compassionate to all.

Psalms 115:16 says, The heavens above belong to the Lord, and yet earth in all of its beauty has been given to humanity by Him.

These scriptures say it all so eloquently. His wonders are reminders that the Lord is gracious and compassionate to all. Yet earth in all of its beauty has been given to humanity by Him.

When I see the beauty of God’s creation, I am reminded of so many things about who He is. I believe that is why He created such beauty. So that we would be reminded of His greatness. I believe that He wanted to show us that there are so many intricate details to His beautiful creations. Yet, in every detail He is saying that He cares about us and loves us.

How could one not come to love the Creator who went to such lengths in creating a universe for us to live in? It reminds me of the scripture Psalms chapter 8 where it says this, When I gaze to the skies and meditate on Your creation—on the moon, stars, and all You have made, I can’t help but wonder why You care about mortals—sons and daughters of men…But You placed the son of man just beneath God and honored him like royalty, crowning him with glory and honor.

I often find myself in awe when it comes to thinking of how God created so much beauty around us to enjoy. But it’s more than that. It is so that we would see how much we matter to Him and be drawn into having a relationship with Him.

Psalms 65 says, You leave us breathless when Your awesome works answer us by putting everything right. God of our liberation—You are the hope of all creation, from the far corners of the earth to distant life-giving oceans. With immense power, You erected mountains. Wrapped in strength, You compelled choppy seas, crashing waves, and crowds of people to sit in astonished silence. Those who inhabit the boundaries of the earth are awed by Your signs, strong and subtle hints of Your indelible presenceEven the dawn and dusk respond to You with joy.

Psalms 65 rings so true to my heart. Every time I go on little adventures and see His beauty I am reminded of His Presence. When that moment happens, it makes me want to linger in that place a little longer. At times, I will find myself talking to God or just thanking Him for His beauty. These are sweet moments I wouldn’t trade for the world. These have become moments that I will treasure in my heart forever.

Psalms 139 says, I will offer You my grateful heart, for I am Your unique creation, filled with wonder and awe. You have approached even the smallest details with excellence; Your works are wonderful; I carry this knowledge deep within my soul…Your thoughts and plans are treasures to me, O God! I cherish each and every one of them! How grand in scope! How many in number! If I could count each one of them, they would be more than all the grains of sand on earth. Their number is inconceivable!

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Many times we can get caught up in the busyness of life. We can even get caught up in the cares in our lives. We can have a tendency to forget how big God is and how much He truly cares for us, love us and wants to shows us His goodness. But, if we would stop for a moment to notice the beauty that He placed all around us and linger we will find a refreshing that will come to our lives that is irreplaceable.

In Luke 12 it says, If worry can’t change anything, why do you do it so much? Think about those beautiful wild lilies growing over there. They don’t work up a sweat toiling for needs or wants—they don’t worry about clothing. Yet the great King Solomon never had an outfit that was half as glorious as theirs! Look at the grass growing over there. One day it’s thriving in the fields. The next day it’s being used as fuel. If God takes such good care of such transient things, how much more you can depend on God to care for you…Don’t reduce your life to the pursuit of food and drink; don’t let your mind be filled with anxiety. People of the world who don’t know God pursue these things, but you have a Father caring for you, a Father who knows all your needs.

 Before I go I would like to share a little bit of a poem a friend of mine wrote. It goes like this…

Stop and smell Life’s flowers.

Let them be a red light for you.

Let true Love’s fragrance fill your senses

and it’s beauty imbue.

Go forward through pure green meadows.

Follow God’s Riverbed.

Let Joy’s sound of birds and bubbling streams

quiet thoughts in your head.

Listen to falling yellow leaves

as they carpet the ground

speaking Hope’s language of answered prayer

and changes all around.

When the Light’s red, it’s time to rest;

when green, it’s time to go;

when yellow, proceed with caution, for

it’s time to take it slow.

There are different seasons and times

in God’s Garden of Grace.

But the greatest of all is when we’ll

see Jesus face to Face.

by Laurel Marquardt

My prayer for you today is that you will make time to go to a place filled with God’s beauty and you would stop for a moment and linger. Your life will never be the same as you will discover more about who God is and how much He truly loves you!!

There Is Beauty In The Valley

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Valley – a low point or condition. 

We all go through different seasons in life. Some seasons are better than others. In fact, there are some seasons that I’m sure everyone wishes would stay around in their lives forever. Other seasons we can often wonder, if they will ever come to an end or stay that way forever.

Today, I thought that I would talk about the seasons that can bring discouragement, hopelessness, depression and disappointment. Seasons where you are hurting and feel unloved, unimportant, unvalued, overlooked and even at times forgotten. You feel forgotten not only by those around you but even forgotten by God Himself.

I am talking about being in a season of the valley. I want you to know that no one is exempt from this season. You are not the only one. Even as I type these words, I must admit that I have been going through a valley season.

When you’re in a valley, it’s easy to think that you will never get out of that place. You can feel lonely. Even when you see others around you who aren’t in a valley season and it can appear that they are always on the mountaintop. You can begin to wonder what is wrong with you. When you’re going through it, you don’t always have people around you encouraging you by saying to you, you will make it through this. You will not be there forever. You may even feel like God is against you and doesn’t even want to help you. It then can become real easy to give up and throw in the towel.

Well, today I am here to hopefully bring you some encouragement, if you are in a valley season.  

Recently, I went exploring. it has become one of my favorite things to do. There was a place I had discovered awhile back that I fell in love with. This time I was going back because the flowers that I love were there and they were in full bloom. I was pretty excited about it. The place is called Callalily Valley.

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 The little valley is filled with callalilies that are watered by a stream that is flowing down through the valley into the ocean. It is one of the most beautiful places that I have seen. It is somewhat hard to find because it is so hidden, but once you do find it you don’t want to leave.

There is a couple of stairways that you can go down to get into the valley. I went down there and just wanted to be immersed in the beauty of all of it. I walked around and went to where the source of the flowers were by the stream. In the process because it was so muddy, I got thick mud all over my shoes and was covered in mud up to my ankles. I was able to wash my shoes off in the little stream and found the water quite cold but refreshing. 

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As I left that day, the Lord reminded me of a scripture found in Song of Solomon chapter two. It says this, I am the lily of the valley. It then began to hit me in the middle of the valley in my life, He is there. He brings me joy in the midst of pain. He brings me comfort in the midst of the circumstances that are uncomfortable. Then, I was reminded just as I had washed the mud off of my shoes in the stream of the scripture Psalms 23 where it says, He provides me rest in rich, green fields beside streams of refreshing water. He soothes my fears; He makes me whole again…Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil. Because You are with me in those dark moments, near with Your protection and guidance, I am comforted…You care for all my needs, anointing my head with soothing, fragrant oil, filling my cup again and again with Your graceCertainly Your faithful protection and loving provision will pursue me where I go, always, everywhere. 

The Lord began to show me that even when I am covered with “mud”from walking through the valley, He is there with me. He is the one who brings me to a place of rest where I can be refreshed and made whole by Him. He is the one who takes away the fear of evil by letting me know that He will lead and guide me through every step of the way in the valley.

The result is that I began to discover who He really is. He is the one I can trust to bring me through the good times and the bad times. He is the one who will take care of me in every situation I walk through. He then, will lead me out of the valley into a better place and I will not be able to help but praise Him all the more for His goodness to me. 

You may be going through a valley too. I want to encourage you don’t give up. The Lord is right there in the valley with you and He is not going to leave you. He is going to take care of you, refresh you, make you whole and even stronger than you are now. You can trust Him. He is for you and not against you. Let Him be the one to walk you through this valley. The valley you are in now will not be where you will stay. You will come out but let Him help you. Let Him comfort you and see you through. I promise you that you will not regret it!! 

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Perfectly Imperfect

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Flawed. Frail. Broken. Blemished. Imperfect. Inadequate. Worthless.

These are words that you do not want to hear when someone is describing you. In fact, hearing the opposite words such as Exceptional, Whole, Undamaged, Defect-less, Unmarred, Untainted, Faultless. Now that is something to be proud of. 

Well, if you must know I am one of those people who if she could have her way, she would be perfect. I mean the thought of how awesome it would be to always say the right thing to someone would be amazing.  You wouldn’t ever hurt anyone’s feelings because something harmful, mean and spiteful wouldn’t even dare to come out of your mouth. Why? Because you don’t say those crude things.

Or how about this? You always excel at everything you do!

Math would never be a bother. Why? Because you are so smart. In fact, you are a Genius. You could out do Einstein any day, at any time.

Sports would never be an issue because, you would always out maneuver anyone in the game.

Cooking? Not a problem. You know exactly how to put just the right ingredients together and cook it at the right temperature. You never burn your food and everyone who eats it says that it tastes like heavenly angel food. And of course, you never gain any weight because you know just the right amount of calories you would need in each portion of food that you make. Thus, giving you the ability to never have to exercise. Hallelujah!!!

Then there is your personality. You are always kind, gracious, understanding, compassionate, sweet and loving. You are never angry, frazzled, worried or frustrated.

You are extremely funny. Every time you make a joke people laugh so hard that they can’t even breathe. As a matter of fact, they laugh for days and days about your jokes. People love to be around you because, you…are…awesome!!!

You know how to hold a conversation easily with people. You never experience that awkward silence that can often happen when talking with someone because you never say anything awkward. Awkward silence is non-existent when you are around. 

You never get any weird looks from anyone because, you are not strange.

You always look perfect. You are highly photogenic. You never a hair out of place. Your clothing is always in style. You should be in a Fashion Magazine you are so stylin’. Every time your picture is taken you never have a weird facial expression or look awkward or fat. No, you look like the epitome of perfection itself. 

What a life!!!!!

Although I hate to say it. What I have just described is but an alternate reality.

There is one word that hinders this alternate reality of taking place in mine or anyone else’s life and that is the word human. That’s right human. It’s what we all are and cannot get away from. Because we are human, we have what is called human nature. In the dictionary human nature is defined as this:

  1. the qualities common to humanity
  2. ordinary human behavior, especially considered as less than perfect

 

There you have it right there as black and white as it can be “ordinary human behavior especially considered as less than perfect.” As much as I have tried again and again to obtain complete perfection, I have only found that imperfection seems to trip me up and remind me that I am human.

 

For example, when I take a selfie. (Actually I prefer to call it a “Shellfie” because my name is Shelly and since I am taking a picture of myself, I call it a Shellfie. There you have it a random fact about me.)  So the goal of a selfie or in my case a “Shellfie” is to take a picture of something cool or beautiful in the background while you smile an amazing smile and look awesome. But in reality, this is what happens to me. Here you have it some behind the scenes moments of my very own “Shellfies”.  Keep in mind that my purpose was to show everyone how I was having a great time enjoying the ocean and a coffee from Starbucks. (Because in a Shellfie that is what you do. You show what you enjoy to do.) 

 

 

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Sigh…..not exactly what I was hoping for. I must inform you that now I have resorted to wearing hoodies when taking a “Shellfie.” It sometimes helps the untamed fiery red mane on my head. It takes a lot for me to say this when I do say it…But….Oh Well!!! I have times where I am meaning to say something nice to someone and it comes out the wrong way and they get hurt. I have the awkward silence moments that occur in conversations that I have with people. I admit those are the times that I would rather be off somewhere by myself because the feeling can be too much to handle.

 

I am not the most amazing cook. I have been known to burn food (particularly rice I don’t know why). When something that I have made turns out well, well then it is a time to celebrate!!!  

 

I have been on diets and would work really hard to lose weight and when I would have my weekly weigh in it would be discovered that I only lost 8 ounces. Not even a pound!!!! 

 

I am not particularly fond of running because I have been known to trip and fall flat on my face which can be quite embarrassing when you’re in front of a bunch of people. I have also been known to fall down a large hill and when I finally was able to stand up the lower half of me was covered in mud. 

 

Math well, that is not open for discussion. Especially when talking about adding letters together with numbers. 

 

I think you are starting to get the picture. Obviously, I am as human as one gets. I have been coming to the realization that it’s okay to be one. Do I still make an effort to do the right thing and say the right things? Yes. Do I make an effort to choose to be kind, sweet, loving, encouraging toward others, not given to anger, fear etc.? Yes. Do I always achieve it? No. Sometimes, I have some pretty messy days. I do things and say words that I wish I didn’t. I have been through times where it has really bothered me that I make mistakes. I would often wonder (and still do at times) if I am always making mistakes how can anything good come out of my life?  I grew up in the church most of my life. I would always hear about how God wants to use you. I grew up thinking well, He wants to use the people who have it altogether. I would watch different people and see God use them mightily and think well it’s because they have hardly done anything wrong in their life. So, naturally God would use them to make such a great impact on the world. Then little by little, God has been showing me how wrong that thinking is. 

 

I read this story the other day in an article Joyce Meyer wrote. It goes like this:

 

A water bearer in India had two large pots hanging at the ends of a pole that he carried across his neck. One of the pots was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water at the end of the long walk from the stream to the master’s house. The other pot had a crack in it, and by the time it reached its destination, it was only half full. Every day for two years the water bearer delivered only one and one-half pots of water to the master’s house. Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments—perfect to the end for which it was made. The poor little cracked pot was ashamed of its imperfections and miserable that it could accomplish only half of what it had been designed to do. After two years of what the imperfect pot perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer and said, “I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you.”

“Why?” asked the bearer, “What are you ashamed of?” 

“Well, for these past two years, I have been able to deliver only half a load of water each day because this crack in my side allows water to leak out all the way back to the master’s house. Because of my flaws, you have to do all this work without getting the full value of your efforts,” the pot said.

The water bearer felt sorry for the old cracked pot, and in his compassion he said, “As we return to the master’s house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path.” Indeed, as they went up the hill, the old cracked pot noticed the beautiful wild flowers on the side of the path. But at the end of the trail, it still felt bad because half of its load had leaked out once again.

Then the bearer said to the pot, “Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of the path and not on the other pot’s side? That’s because I’ve always known about your flaw and took advantage of it by planting flower seeds on your side of the path. Every day as we walked back from the stream, you watered those seeds, and for two years I have picked these beautiful flowers to decorate my master’s table. Without you being just what you are, he would not have had this beauty to grace his house.”

God uses even our brokenness to His fullest purpose for our lives.

I would like to share one last story with you. It is found in Luke 7:36-50 it says this, “One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to come to his home for lunch and Jesus accepted the invitation. As they sat down to eat, a woman of the streets—a prostitute—heard he was there and brought an exquisite flask filled with expensive perfume.  Going in, she knelt behind him at his feet, weeping, with her tears falling down upon his feet; and she wiped them off with her hair and kissed them and poured the perfume on them. When Jesus’ host, a Pharisee, saw what was happening and who the woman was, he said to himself, “This proves that Jesus is no prophet, for if God had really sent him, he would know what kind of woman this one is!” Then Jesus spoke up and answered his thoughts. “Simon,” he said to the Pharisee, “I have something to say to you.” “All right, Teacher,” Simon replied, “go ahead.” Then Jesus told him this story: “A man loaned money to two people—$5,000 to one and $500 to the other. But neither of them could pay him back, so he kindly forgave them both, letting them keep the money! Which do you suppose loved him most after that?” “I suppose the one who had owed him the most,” Simon answered. “Correct,” Jesus agreed. Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Look! See this woman kneeling here! When I entered your home, you didn’t bother to offer me water to wash the dust from my feet, but she has washed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair.  You refused me the customary kiss of greeting, but she has kissed my feet again and again from the time I first came in. You neglected the usual courtesy of olive oil to anoint my head, but she has covered my feet with rare perfume. Therefore her sins—and they are many—are forgiven, for she loved me much; but one who is forgiven little, shows little love.” And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven…Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

 

Here we see a woman who one could say has ruined her life and that God would never use her for His glory and for His purpose. Yet here she comes and she is holding a jar in which she has bought with the wages she received from her job. She breaks the jar open and spends it all on Jesus. Then it says in a similar scripture that recounts this story that when she broke open the jar the fragrance filled the room. Jesus knowing who she was didn’t turn her away because He saw that she was bringing all of her brokenness to Him. She recognized that He came to heal her brokenness and make her whole. When she broke open the jar, she was not only bringing her past before Him but she was giving Him her future. She knew that He could heal her, give her a great future, free her from the guilt and shame that she had. He in turn gave her hope. He restored her to the person that He had created her to be. He gave her a new life. He gave her beauty for her ashes. In Isaiah 61, it talks about what Jesus came to do for us. He says this:

 

The Spirit of God, the Master, is on me because God anointed me. He sent me to preach good news to the poor, heal the heartbroken, announce freedom to all captives, pardon all prisoners. God sent me to announce the year of his grace—a celebration of God’s destruction of our enemies—and to comfort all who mourn, to care for the needs of all who mourn…give them bouquets of roses instead of ashes, messages of joy instead of news of doom, a praising heart instead of a languid spirit. Rename them “Oaks of Righteousness” planted by God to display his glory.

You may feel like you are way too broken to be used by God. But, when you bring Him your brokenness He takes it and creates something beautiful out of it. I want to encourage you today to bring Him your imperfection and  in return He will give you His perfection. As you lean on Him, He will help you and give you a life that is unimaginable.  Bring all of you to Him and watch as He begins to restore you and give you a life filled with hope!! 

Forever With Me

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There’s nothing like going out on a great adventure. It’s filled with excitement, wonder, surprises and at times pure delight. Lately, I have had the desire to go out and explore around the area where I live. I must say it has been so refreshing and quite enjoyable. I never knew that I could be surrounded by such beauty that was practically in my backyard.

Sometimes, it is so easy to get caught up in the busyness of life. It’s easy to get caught up in things that we feel we really need to be somber about and make sure that we take care of them. But, sometimes in those things that we feel we need to take care of, we find there is nothing we can do to fix it.

It’s in these moments, that we must take a step back and allow someone who has the means to do so to take care of it. It’s in these moments, we must let go and relax in knowing that the only one who can take care of our need is Jesus. This is what I have been learning. I have a tendency to worry and always want to fix things that are broken. But then, after struggling time after time, hoping that each time I try to fix it that it will work, I only end up feeling exhausted from stressing out about the situation with no result. 

So finally, I thought to myself why do I do this? If I would just give it to God and enjoy my life like He wants me to, I will have not only enjoyed the journey but in the end I will see that He is always faithful to take care of me and any situation that I may face.

Thus, began my adventures of going out on my day off from work and exploring, enjoying Jesus’ presence, relaxing and letting Him do what I cannot. Oh, the fun and joy it has brought. Jesus began to show me that He has so many beautiful things that He wants to show me and give to me if I would only yield to Him, relax, and go on an adventure with Him. And not just any old adventure but one the brings joy, excitement and great delight. This is what I have begun to discover as I have taken the time to go to these different places. I can’t explain it but I felt such peace, joy and a sense that He is with me all the time everywhere I go. Luke 12:22-32 says this, 

“Don’t worry about whether you have enough food to eat or clothes to wear. For life consists of far more than food and clothes. Look at the ravens—they don’t plant or harvest or have barns to store away their food, and yet they get along all right—for God feeds them. And you are far more valuable to him than any birds!  And besides, what’s the use of worrying? What good does it do? Will it add a single day to your life? Of course not! And if worry can’t even do such little things as that, what’s the use of worrying over bigger things?  Look at the lilies! They don’t toil and spin, and yet Solomon in all his glory was not robed as well as they are. And if God provides clothing for the flowers that are here today and gone tomorrow, don’t you suppose that he will provide clothing for you, you doubters? And don’t worry about food—what to eat and drink; don’t worry at all that God will provide it for you. All mankind scratches for its daily bread, but your heavenly Father knows your needs. He will always give you all you need from day to day if you will make the Kingdom of God your primary concern. So don’t be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom.”

 My prayer for you is that if you are one who tends to worry that you too, will begin to experience the beautiful things that the Lord wants to give you as you rest in Him and watch Him do what you cannot. Below are some pictures of some of the adventures that I have had. (You are free to click on the pictures to see a larger view)

May you too enter into the rest that Jesus has for you and take Him up on His desire to go on an adventure with you. You will never be the same! You will never regret it!

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Hold To The Truth

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Sometimes everyone needs a little encouragement in life. Especially, when one is going through a hard time. My hope for you is that when you read this blog, that by the end of it you feel encouraged. In the world that we live in today, it can be easy to think that  you may be the only one that seems to be having a hard time. For example, you could go on Facebook or it may even be when you get around people in general, they seem to have the perfect life. Nothing ever goes wrong for them. Everyone always likes them. They can do no wrong. They seem to be the perfect human. If you have experienced that, I want you to know that you are not alone. I too, have experienced this as well. I have been around people who don’t have a hair out of place. It wouldn’t matter if it was an extremely windy day, their hair is still perfect, even after its been wind blown. Me, I wake up in the morning and my hair is sticking out everywhere. At times, my hair seems to have a mind of its own, it does not want to do what I am trying to get it to do. Then, there are the people who seem to always say the right thing. Me, well my words can get jumbled and at times don’t even make sense to me. I have said things that I shouldn’t have said. Well, it can sometimes be a disaster. Or, how about those people who, they always are so happy, they never ever have a bad attitude or a bad day ever. And I mean Ever!! Me, well at times I have to work hard at having a good attitude and being happy. Especially, on the days I feel down and discouraged. Then, there are the people who have such great poise. They walk with such grace. Me, well I trip over my own feet. I don’t even need to have anything there in front of me to trip over. At times, I just trip for no apparent reason. Last week, I had a day where I went to go get the mail and on the way back I discovered that I stepped in doggie Doodoo. Talk about disgusting. Guess who had to clean it? Yeah, that would be me. It wasn’t long after that on the same day that I realized I had been walking around with my jacket on inside out. Then later, I discovered a piece of hair in my drinking water. Yep, I was totally winning on that day.

So do you feel any better yet? Even a little more encouraged? Now you know that there is someone else out there that goes through rough spots at times. She knows that she is by all means in no way perfect and the harder she would try the more she would find out that she still is imperfect. I have come to realize something though. It’s okay to be me. You know, I have had those moments where I have compared my life to others. I have felt that because I wasn’t like them in personality, in looks or I didn’t interact the way they would with people. I felt that I did not measure up in the area of what a person should be like in order to be acceptable. 

But, little by little, I am realizing that I don’t have to be like everyone else. I don’t have to try fit into their mold. Because the truth is, I wasn’t made to be exactly like them. God created me to be me and I can be who God created me to be. A couple of weeks ago, I was asked to lead a song in church. I love to sing but, sometimes I get nervous when having to sing in front of people. This particular day I felt like my voice wasn’t up to par. I was messing up and hitting wrong notes in practice. But, I wanted to please God and worship Him despite my feelings. I had hoped that when the time came to lead the people in the congregation in singing the song, that my voice would be okay by then. Well, the song started out fine but, in the middle of the song my voice cracked. I found myself hitting wrong notes. I could feel myself getting so embarrassed that I could feel my ears getting hot. They were obviously turning red because of it. I kept thinking, God I am singing this for you and kept trying to keep my focus on Him. I was able to get through the song but when I finished, I felt like I had failed in the area of pleasing God. I felt that people weren’t being ministered to by God’s Presence and love because I messed up. I apologized to God and He said to me if your voice cracks and you hit wrong notes do you think that I never want you to sing another song to me again? God then reminded me of what He once said to me. When a little child gets up and sings, do you think about whether they hit all the right notes or that they sang all the right words? My answer was no and even if they did, it didn’t matter because, my heart melts into a little puddle and is touched deeply. God said that is how I feel when my children sing to me. It is how I feel when you sing to me from your heart. I don’t sit there and say well because your voice cracked I hate it. Don’t ever sing to me again. The fact that you are singing to me because you love me and want to bless me, means more to me than whether you hit all the right notes or not. It is not based on your performance. To know that God accepts me regardless of whether I do things perfect or not, is such an amazing revelation. But, what I want to say is that He feels the same way about you. You don’t have to perform for Him. He wants you to relax and be who He created you to be. Trust in Him to help you where you feel you don’t measure up.

You know it has been a process for me and still is a process in learning what God is like and how He sees me. But, I know that as I trust Him, He will help me in every area that I need help. I have begun to realize that when I feel insecure the more I keep my eyes on Jesus and trust in Him, I will begin to receive His confidence.

2 Corinthians 3:4-5 says this, This is the confidence that we have through Christ in the presence of God. It isn’t that we ourselves are qualified to claim that anything came from us. No, our qualification is from God.

In Proverbs 14 it says this, Those who respect the Lord will have security…

The word respect means a particular way of thinking about or looking at something; an act of giving particular attention. As you put your attention on Jesus, you will find security, confidence, strength, hope and whatever it is that you need. There are so many scriptures in the Bible that show us what we have in Christ. All we have to do is put our attention on Him and receive what He has for us. This can be done by speaking out His word and believing that we have what He says that we can have.

Hebrews 10 says this, So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you!

I want to encourage you that when you are experiencing feelings of inadequacy, fear, insecurity, doubt, hopelessness, depression, discouragement or any thought that brings you down to turn your focus on Jesus. Allow Him to give you what you need. This is where you will find hope, security, confidence, joy and peace. If you don’t know where to start, start by reading the Bible. Specifically, the New Testament. Read about Jesus. Discover what He is like. I cannot even begin to tell you how much better you will begin to feel when you look to Jesus. But, I do know this you will never be the same again and you will be glad that you did!

 

 

A Promise Is A Promise!

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Promise – a declaration or assurance that one will do a particular thing or that a particular thing will happen.

I think it’s safe to say that there is not one person in this world that hasn’t been affected by promises. And by promises, I mean promises that have been personally made, or promises that others have made to you. Promises can be so significant. A broken promise can bring heartbreak, disappointment, distrust and sadness. But a fulfilled promise can bring joy, life, trust, and even strength into a relationship. I am sure that if anyone was asked the questions would you rather have a life full of broken promises? Or would you rather have a life full of promises fulfilled? The answer would be a life full of promises fulfilled.  

In this world because people are human, there is always the possibility that when they make promises, those promises may not be fulfilled. There are many reasons as to why some promises are broken. A person can forget the promise that they made.  And, some promises are broken because a person chooses not to follow through. So, if that is the case does that mean that we will always have a life where broken promises are present? Yes, that can happen but, there is a way to live a life with promises being fulfilled. 

At first I thought to live a life filled with promises that have been fulfilled was a dream that was too good to be true. Until, someone began to show me otherwise. His name is Jesus. 

I would like to share with you the things that He has shown me in being able to live a life full of His promises fulfilled. I would like to start by sharing with you a scripture in the Bible. It is found in John 10:10. These are the words spoken by Jesus Himself. He said this, “I have come in order that you might have life—life in all its fullness.”

Jesus’ main purpose for coming to the earth and dying on the cross was not only to forgive us of the sins that we had committed but, it was also that He could give us life. He wanted to give us a life that was not just an ordinary life to be lived here on the earth but, a life that is lived to the fullest. A life overflowing with His goodness, blessings, favor, health, joy, peace and wholeness. 

Isaiah 9 speaks of why Jesus came. It says this, For a child has been born—for us! the gift of a son—for us! He’ll take over the running of the world.
His names will be: Amazing Counselor, Strong God, Eternal Father, Prince of Wholeness. His ruling authority will grow, and there’ll be no limits to the wholeness He brings.

The word wholeness means this, complete or full, not lacking or leaving out any part. Free of wound or injury. Recovered from a wound or injury. When Jesus came, He came to restore our lives so that we might walk in His wholeness. So that we might walk in all of the inheritance that He has for us. His Joy, Peace, Righteousness, Health and the list goes on. It is His desire that we are whole in every area of our lives and are experiencing all of the inheritance of what He died for us to have. 

In Romans 8 it says, This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who He is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance!

He wants and desires to give us an unbelievable inheritance. I know that this can seem too much like a fairytale. I had a little bit of a hard time believing that God wanted to bless me with an unbelievable inheritance. A life that is filled with life and life more abundantly. 

A couple of weeks ago I was struggling with believing that I could receive the fullness of God’s promises. I even had thought that God was much like what is called an “Indian Giver” meaning that He would fulfill the promise based on how I behaved. If I did all of the right things then He would give me His promises to the fullest. If I didn’t do all of the right things I might get some or none of His promises. In that moment as I was expressing my concern to God, He reminded me of a scripture in the Bible. It is found in Numbers 23:19 it says, “God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?”

Then God repeated to me the phrase in this scripture. “God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man that He should repent.” Then I thought what, does the word repent mean? It means this, to change one’s mind. Then God showed me that when He promises me something He does not change His mind based on what I have done. He does not say I promise you and then take the promise back because I failed to do what is right. What He said He would do, He will do.

Why? Because it says in 1 Corinthians 1:20 Jesus says yes to all of God’s many promises. It is through Jesus that we say, “Let it be so,” when we give thanks to God.

Because I have invited Jesus into my life, I have been made in right standing with Jesus. Every promise that God has for me I can have. All I have to do is believe Him and say let it be so. It’s that simple. Wow! How amazing is that? When you invited Jesus into your life, you have been made right with Jesus and all you have to do to receive His promises is believe Him and say let it be so. Indeed this is a fairy tale that has come true!

I would like to end with this last verse in Hebrews 6. This is just another example of how much God wants to pour out His promises into our lives. 

 It says this, “When a man takes an oath, he is calling upon someone greater than himself to force him to do what he has promised or to punish him if he later refuses to do it; the oath ends all argument about it. God also bound Himself with an oath, so that those He promised to help would be perfectly sure and never need to wonder whether He might change His plans. He has given us both His promise and His oath, two things we can completely count on, for it is impossible for God to tell a lie. Now all those who flee to Him to save them can take new courage when they hear such assurances from God; now they can know without doubt that He will give them the salvation He has promised them. This certain hope of being saved is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls…

You too, may have struggled in the area of wondering if God would pour out His promises upon your life or, if He would withhold His promises from you based on your behavior. I have good news for you, all of His promises are Yes and Amen in Him and all of His promises are for you in this lifetime. Believe Him and watch as His promises unfold in your life. Know that they will exceed way beyond your highest expectations. You can trust Him!! He will never go back on His word!! He Is Forever Faithful!! 

An Untroubled Heart

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The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in Him. At first glance, this scripture is so encouraging.  I used to think this scripture was just a nice word of encouragement to make me feel a little better about life until, I began to experience the goodness of the Lord. I used to think that He was somewhat with me in times of difficulty until, I began to understand that He wanted to be my shelter and protection from danger and distress in every situation. I used to think that He stood at a distance and would at times step in to show that He cared a little about me until, I began to experience His love permeating my being making it evident that I am the object of His affection. I have been learning so much lately about the characteristics of God. I don’t say this lightly when I say that I am completely in awe of Him. One of the things that I have been learning about Him is that He is my peace (my rest) in the midst of my life’s struggles, heartaches, and concerns.

When I began to study and hear about the person of Jesus and the things He did and said in the Bible, it has become more clear to me as to what He is like. I hope that in sharing these things with you that you will begin to understand how much God really cares about you personally and that He really does love you unconditionally in a way that no human ever could. It is a love that is deeply satisfying and it is for you.

In the Bible, in the book of John in chapter 14 you see Jesus talking with His disciples. He was sharing with them that He will no longer be with them physically on earth. He was going to be crucified. Little did they know that He was choosing to die so that He could be in a deeper relationship with them and open the way for us to come to know Him as well.

In the last words that Jesus said to His disciples, He said this in John 14 verses 25-27, “I have told you this while I am still with you. The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and make you remember all that I have told you. “Peace is what I leave with you; it is my own peace that I give you. I do not give it as the world does. Do not be worried and upset; do not be afraid.

The two things that Jesus wanted His disciples to know was that even though He was leaving, He was leaving them with a precious gift. He was leaving them with His peace. He also knew what it was like to live in this world. A world that is so easily caught up in cares, fears, doubts and concerns. He knew that the human heart could so easily be overwhelmed with the cares of this world. So He gave them the Holy Spirit, to remind them in those times of what He said, “Peace is what I leave with you; it is my own peace that I give you. I do not give it as the world does. Do not be worried and upset; do not be afraid.”

How amazing is that? But what is even more amazing then that is He did not leave His peace and Holy Spirit only for the disciples. He left His Peace and His Holy Spirit for us to remind us that He is with us. He will take care of us. 

What does this mean for us? Well, let’s look at what it means to not let our hearts be troubled. As I was doing a study on the phrase “let not your heart be troubled”, I found this. It means don’t let circumstances and the things around you get you all bent out of shape. We can’t always change the things around us, but we can guard the things within us. It is not things on the outside, but things on the inside that affect us most. God has shown how we can keep our peace, even when things around us are not looking to good. Proverbs 4:23 says, ” Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. “ 

Isaiah 26:3-4 says, “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD, is the Rock eternal. ”  

Philippians 4:6-9 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” 
1 Peter 5:6-7 says, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you. ” 
How do we remain in peace in the midst of troubling circumstances? We do it by guarding our heart. We guard what is going on the inside of us. We cannot always change the circumstances around us but we can change our response in the midst of them. We do that by continually keeping before us what Jesus says to focus on during these times. We can focus on the truth of His word that He cares for us and we can trust Him to work in every detail of our lives.
Joseph Prince gave a great example of how we can deal with a troubled heart. He said this, “A troubled and fearful heart works like fingers that clamp down hard on a water hose. The supply of water is flowing from the tap, but little or nothing is coming out at the other end of the hose. God’s ever-present supply of blessings toward you is like the water flowing freely from the tap. But you don’t see the blessings when you allow your heart to be gripped by worry or fear. So when fearful, anxious thoughts come, remind yourself of Jesus’ words: “Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” Even when things appear to get worse, say, “Lord, I refuse to worry about this. In the midst of all this, I see the finished work of Christ. He said, ‘It is finished!’ When you guard your heart, God will guard everything else for you!
God wants you to know that He cares about your every need. It is His desire to see you enjoy the life He gave you. He wants you to give Him your cares so that He can turn it into a blessing. This is why Jesus left His peace with us.  He did not say let not your heart be troubled for the mere purpose of giving us another rule to live by. He said it because He cares about our well being. He gave us His peace to remind us that when we trust Him. He can and wants to take care of us. 

My prayer for you today is if you are in the midst of troubling circumstances, you will not allow your heart to be troubled. When you willingly give God your cares no matter how small or big they may be, He will step in and take care of you when you remain at peace in Him and trust Him.

Rest For Your Soul

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Beauty Creek, Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada

Have you ever had someone invite you over to their house for dinner? So you show up all excited because you really want to get to know that person more. Why? Because you like their personality. They seem to be so much fun to be around. You come in the house with the expectation of great conversation, delicious food and most importantly a time of getting to become better friends. But, then when you get there the person tells you to have a seat and says I have to do a few things in the other room. They hurry out of the room. You hear a bunch of noise coming from the other room. You ask them if you can help with anything and they say no I’ve got it under control. I can do it.

You sit and wait. Five minutes pass by. Then five minutes turns into ten, ten into fifteen. You have now been sitting there for over an hour when finally the person rushes out of the other room practically out of breath and they say to you here is dinner. They hand you a plate full of food and then say go ahead and eat I have to finish something and leave again. After you have finished eating, the person comes in and says well, did you enjoy the food? And you say yes, are you going to eat now to? They reply oh no I already ate. Well, I have to get up early tomorrow morning for work. I had a great time with you. Let’s do this again next week.

As you get into the car, you realize that you spent the majority of the night all by yourself. You never got to know the person any better than you knew them before. Not much of a relationship is it?

Surprisingly, just like the scenario I described this is how many who say that they are in a relationship with Jesus treat Him. But the scenario I described is not an example of a relationship it is an example of religion. The person who invited the other one for dinner missed the point of what the evening was about. They were so caught up in serving that they never sat down to enjoy the person’s company and get to know them more. Did they show them hospitality by making them dinner and bringing them food? Yes, but they missed the good part which was to enjoy being with the person they invited to come over.   

Many times Religion can be often confused with Relationship. We can think if I do all these things for Jesus such as, give to the poor, say all the right words, pray ten hours a day, read a whole book in the Bible (such as the whole  book of Psalms) everyday then I can say I have a relationship with Him. Is it good to give to the poor? Yes. Is it good to read our Bible and pray? Yes. Jesus loves it when we do good. But there is something that He loves more than all of that. He Loves You!! And even though He knows you inside and out He loves it when you tell Him about what is going on in your life. He loves it when you tell Him your needs. He loves to help you through the hard times and the struggles that you face. He loves to bless you with everything He has for you. He loves it when you spend time with Him. He loves it when you let Him talk with you and tell you how much He cares about every detail of your life. He loves it when you trust in Him.

I would like to share with you one of my favorite scriptures and then show you what the Lord showed me about it. Matthew 11:28-30 says, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

In this scripture, Jesus began to show me the difference between Religion and Relationship. Religion is where I would try to in my own strength make myself righteous before Jesus so that I could be in relationship with Him. This resulted in burning myself out, becoming tired and wanting to give up because I just couldn’t do enough to be right with Jesus. Relationship is that I am already righteous because I accepted Jesus as my Savior and He made me right with Him.

Then God showed me this picture of how I would be running around trying to make sure everything was in order so that Jesus would not get upset. Jesus would be sitting there and watching until finally He said to me, Are you done being tired, worn out and trying to fix yourself? Because if you are, I will show you what it means to be in relationship with me. You don’t have to do all these things to impress me. I loved you from the moment you were created. Sit here and rest. Be with me. You don’t have to do anything more to make me love you, accept you or be in relationship with you. Because I always will love you, accept you and be in relationship with you no matter what you do. Let me teach you what it means to be in relationship with me. Let’s enjoy our relationship together. I will walk you through life. 

This is what it means to be in relationship with Jesus. If you can relate to this and have been working hard to be right with Jesus and in relationship with Him, the questions I have for you are this: Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Because if you are, Jesus is waiting to show you what it means to be in a true relationship with Him. A relationship that will bring you joy, love, peace and rest. You don’t have to perform for Him. You may ask but aren’t we supposed to read our Bibles and pray? Yes, but not out of obligation. You read your Bible and pray because you want to know more about Him and discover what He thinks about you. You do it because of the overflow of love you have from your heart that comes from the realization of how truly wonderful He is. You do it out of a place of rest not out of a place of turmoil. 

I would like to end with verse it is found in Deuteronomy 33:12 it says, “Let the one the Lord loves rest safely in Him. The Lord guards him all day long. The one the Lord loves rests in His arms.”

Jesus loves it when you rest in Him. Lay aside your religious duties and let Him love you. When you do, He will show you who He is and what He is really like. He will take care of every detail that concerns you. You don’t have to do it all on your own. He is waiting to be with you. He will be your guide for life.

 

Paralyzed

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The struggles of life is something everyone goes through. No one is exempt from it. Some are better at hiding what they are truly going through more than others. I can definitely relate to the struggles of life. Today I want to share about how we can help those we care about that are going through a hard time.

I have mentioned in another blog entry that I wrote called ‘Can You See Me?’ about how people may not realize it but I observe more about them then they may think that I do. I especially pay attention when I begin to see evidence that they are struggling with something or seem to be hurting. Sometimes I see it in their demeanor, other times I hear about it from others that they are going through something. Then there are times when their pain is more obvious in their words, actions and attitudes. I have been watching as some people have and are going through some really tough things. Some that are dealing with life threatening situations. It’s hard to watch someone you care about going through a difficult time. Sometimes I feel that even speaking words of comfort to them is not enough. I have watched as they put a brave face on even though I can see that they are hurting.  

All in all, it has come to my attention that I have a problem. I have a big heart and at times do not have a way of helping someone. How do you help someone who has lost a loved one? How do you help someone who has been given a serious diagnosis by the doctor? Yes, these are questions that I have gone through in my mind. I am one who wishes to fix things, solve problems and try to make things better. But I have realized in certain situations I cannot. 

Until one day when Jesus showed me something in Mark 2 it says this,  A few days later Jesus went back to Capernaum, and the news spread that he was at home. So many people came together that there was no room left, not even out in front of the door. Jesus was preaching the message to them when four men arrived, carrying a paralyzed man to Jesus. Because of the crowd, however, they could not get the man to him. So they made a hole in the roof right above the place where Jesus was. When they had made an opening, they let the man down, lying on his mat. Seeing how much faith they had…he said to the paralyzed man,  “I tell you, get up, pick up your mat, and go home!”  While they all watched, the man got up, picked up his mat, and hurried away. They were all completely amazed and praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”

In these verses of scripture, I saw the point of what Jesus was trying to tell me. Number one the man was completely paralyzed there was nothing he could do to get better. Number two his friends recognized it and saw that he was helpless and perhaps was discouraged about it and even in pain. Number three because his friends did not wish to see their friend suffer anymore they did the one thing that they thought would help their friend. They brought him to Jesus. They knew He would help their friend. Their faith that their friend would get well through Jesus was so strong that they did not care about what they had to do in order to get their friend to the person who could make them whole. Then, you see their friend go from a state of being paralyz