Thursday, December 29, 2011

Heeding Discipline

Why is it that when it comes to everyone else, we can point and say, "well, only if they would _____, then they could _____; yet, we are in the "same" mirror staring at ourselves in the face.

We seem to be so quick to criticize and give advice, yet we don't heed to what we tell others, nor do we apply the knowledge of God's Word. We must know God's ways and keep His laws. In Proverbs 29:19 God's word says, "For a servant, mere words are not enough--discipline is needed. For the words may be understood, but they are not heeded." God is telling us that he can't merely tell us with His words, but that through correction and discipline we must learn the wisdom He wants us to learn.

As God sees that we need discipline, we too must discipline ourselves. It's not enough just understand, but we must apply the knowledge we have. For what good are we, if we have knowledge and don't apply it?

What good are a carpenter's skills, if he does not use them to build his own home? What good is a mathematical genius' mind when theories are never revealed; thus never making discoveries that could impact the world. What good are we to God, if we aren't setting an example to our future generations?

Learn from God's discipline. Stopping being foolish as if you were a child. For "folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him." (Proverbs 22:15) Heed discipline, you might be amazed what God can do through your obedience. Perhaps you need a career change? Discipline yourself to go back to school. Perhaps you need a car? a house? Discipline yourself to be a good steward of your finances. Take a course in money management. Maybe you need new friends, ask God to help you change yourself in ways that would reflect to type of friendships you need.

We must all learn to heed to God's discipline to truly be His servant.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Final Say

Everything in life has a place and a purpose. We can create and generate our elaborate, drawn out plans, but God has the final say.
These past two and a half weeks, I have made several plans to attend events and parties; on that I was particularly looking forward to. I invited several friends to attend. I followed up with them by texting, emailing, and calling them, making sure they knew the time, date, and place; however, God seemed to have different plans.

My health hadn’t been quite up to par that week and I felt like I had depleted all the ways that I knew I could help rejuvenate and energize my body. I rested most days and literally did almost nothing, but to perform my basic daily needs. My wonderful husband took on the responsibilities of our household and three year-old. I asked God for His daily strength and continued to pray over our upcoming event that I had so anxiously awaited to attend.

Even though I knew was tired and not feeling 100% I changed into my evening casual attire and got into the car and headed out the driveway, but at the last moment Aaron forgot an item inside the house and asked for Katie and I to wait in the car. With the engine still running, and our car halfway in the street and the driveway, both of our doors ajar and Katie still in the car; I too ran into the house because everything in me screamed, “No, you’re body isn’t ready for this! You aren’t well rested.” So I too ran into the house as Aaron graciously upheld my tired body and I told him that I just couldn’t make it. He walked me to the couch and told me to do “nothing and just rest!,” until he arrived home from dropping off materials at the event.

Needless to say I was quite disappointed; however, I learned what Proverbs 16:33 speaks of, “We may throw the dice, but the Lord determines how they fall.”

Even though I was unable to attend I saw how the Lord impacted many women through that event. It brought together a community of believers and non-believers for God’s greater good. It helped build stronger relationships amongst friends. It helped others serve and pour out God’s generosity and love. Most of all, it allowed me to believe in the impact of prayer and regardless of my physical attendance, my spirit was there and God had the final say.

Remember “we can gather our thoughts, but the Lord gives the right answer.” (Proverbs 16:1) Whatever plans and decisions you make whether it be the mundane daily activities of life, conceiving a child, building a home, or making a career change; know that the Lord has the last say, but allow Him to guide you in your plans, for when you give them to Him, they will surely prosper.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Transient Shadows

We are but that. Humans that come and go in our undramatic dailiness. Our lives pass by like an eagle swooping down on its prey, it passes more swiftly than a runner (Job 9:25). There are days that we are joyful looking down from the highest mountain top and others where we have plummeted to the bottom of the valley and are in despair.

Over these past few years, during my times in the valley, I have learned to look higher past the peak of that mountaintop into God’s country. I have learned that I cannot do life in my own strength. I know I was formed by My creator’s hands to serve and honor Him despite my circumstances. Having breathed the breath of life in me—He has a purpose.

Our lives are transient shadows—here on moment and gone the next. Although we were born but yesterday and know so little in this life we must not let our shadow go unnoticed for the latter generations need to learn from their former ancestors.

My days here are like a transient shadow, as were Job’s, but his wisdom, strength, faithfulness, and integrity to God have had an everlasting shadow that I use to support me in the days that I am broken in spirit and in the days that I shine with joy; for God uses all things for His good and His glory!

I pray that in the days you feel like Job and say, “My days are over. My hopes have disappeared. My heart’s desires are broken” (Job 17:11) that you may look up God’s country and find the strength that I have found in my valley. Encourage others to do the same; allow your transient shadow to teach others to look to God for He is always faithful on the mountain top and in the valley. Make your “shadow” count in this life, for you may be the next Job to the upcoming generation.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Try, Try Again

Last week my independent three-year old put on her pajama bottoms quickly and easily; only to find that her button down top was a bit more challenging.

I have taught her to start buttoning from the bottom up—to avoid the notorious mismatched buttoning. She began with the bottom button, struggling a bit along the way up to the top button. When she reached the top button she tried and tried only to find herself in a very frustrated situation; the button wouldn’t pull through the top hole. See began crying and fussing saying she couldn’t do it, but then I brought her attention the other buttons and the progress she had already made. Not really sure what she was thinking, but I encouraged her, “You can do it, you can do it Katie—try, try again! Ask God to help you, you can do it.” She immediately asked God for help and within about thirty seconds she finally conquered her last and final button. She looked up at me with a sigh of relief, smiled, and said “I did it mommy!”

A couple of days later we were running late for school. I was in a hurry when we arrived, at the school, jumped into the back seat to unbuckle her car seat and for the life of me, it wouldn’t unbuckle. I pulled and pulled, each time getting more and more stressed and frustrated---then I heard my little girl’s voice saying, “Mommy, mommy you can do it. Try, try again.” I looked up at her and smiled and prayed Lord help me. Immediately I changed the position of my hand on the buckle, pushed it and it released. I smiled at her and thanked her for her encouragement, thanked God and told Katie see, “God can help you—you just have to try, try again.”
This last week has been a challenging week to say the least. I battled seizure after seizure and dodged the war against the enemies’ devious and fiery arrows and spearing self-defeating thoughts in my mind.

There have been moments where I have told myself, “I’m just tired of this—I don’t want to do it anymore.” But “the Lord answered [me] when [I] was in distress” (Psalm 20:1) I asked for His strength and joy. He granted my heart’s desire and held back nothing I requested. (Psalm 21:2) He also reminded me of my little girls’ words, “Mommy, mommy you can do it. Try, try again.”

In the moments you feel you can no longer move forward, allow God to give you His strength that you may be victorious in your battles. Encourage others to try, try again. I will leave you with this one final thought, “You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.” (Hebrews 10:36)

Thursday, December 8, 2011

A Mere Whisper

But where oh where will I find it?

I look to the oceans—it’s not there.

I look to the sea---nor is it there.

The miners have gone to the deepest darkest regions of the earth—it’s not here they say.

The falcons nor other birds of prey have observed it.

But where oh where will I find it?

The people overturn roots of mountains to discover precious stones—but its whereabouts are unknown.

Where oh where? I ask as I run faster and search wider and deeper to the ends of this earth.

This running and searching has exhausted me. With exhaustion and disappointment my breath says—“But where oh where will I find it?”

A mere whisper, I hear—“Only I know the way—I know the exact place to find it. I see everything. I hear everything. I command everything. The fear of ME—that’s true wisdom. “

As I sat from my exhaustive journey, with a great sigh, followed by a mere whisper, I said, “I finally found you."

---Inspired by Job 28

Friday, December 2, 2011

Weakest Link

We all have them. Whether it is the temptation of yummy food that lures us, the yearning of power or greed, saying “no” to compromises, allowing our anger to hurt others, pride, or like King Solomon, lustful desires.
All these weaknesses, if we are not careful and guarded, can lead us into temptation; that temptation can eventually lead to our downfall. No matter how strong our faith, our weak spots are where temptations usually come.
Solomon asked of God, “Give me an understanding heart so that I can govern your people well and know the difference between right and wrong. For who by himself is able to govern this great people of yours?” (1 Kings 1:9) God granted Solomon’s request and replied “…Because you have asked for wisdom in governing my people with justice and have not asked for a long life or wealth or the death of your enemies— I will give you what you asked for! I will give you a wise and understanding heart such as no one else has had or ever will have!” (1 Kings 1:11-12)

Solomon was the wisest man on earth and remained that way for the remainder of his life; however, he didn’t always display his wisdom.

The Lord instructed him to never intermarry with foreign women because “they [would] turn [his] heart to their gods.’ Yet Solomon insisted on loving them anyway.” (1 Kings 11:2) God’s instructions were for Solomon’s good; ignoring God’s commands resulted in his downfall. As with us, God too knows our weakest link. No matter how long we have been following Christ, we all face temptations. We must rely on Him to guide us that we may grow stronger and smarter in our struggle against our weak spots.

Don’t think that you are immune to falling into the temptations of your sin. For even the wisest of kings did not protect himself against his weakest link. However, there is hope, for God’s words says in 1 Corinthians 10:13, “But remember that the temptations that come into your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will keep the temptation from becoming so strong that you can’t stand up against it. When you are tempted, He will show you a way out so that you will not give in to it.”

I pray today that you act upon the wisdom God has given you. Recognize your tendency toward sin, run away from the temptation, resist and strengthen your weakest link with God’s Word. Develop a Christian friendship, so you may call them when you feel you are being tempted. Also, help others in the areas of their struggles [unless, it too is your weak spot], then you should consider finding someone else. Keep them accountable for their actions or inactions.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Empty Me

As I read my bible this morning, I was posed with the question, “Are you willing to be controlled by God?” My immediate response was yes, absolutely! Upon further evaluation, I began to pick apart every area of my life, to see how it measured up with the answer I so willingly gave. I found many areas that I hadn’t quite fully given control over to God.

“If any of you wants to be my follower, you must put aside your selfish ambition, shoulder your cross daily, and follow me.” (Luke 9:23) God tells us that we must set aside our selfishness in order to fully follow Him. This is an inordinate task that we can only carry through to completion by being fully dependent upon Him. By following Him, we are to serve Him and others “…not for what you [we] will get out of it, but because you [we] are eager to serve.” (1 Peter 5:2).

Here is an excerpt of a song by Chris Sligh entitled “Empty Me.” This chorus truly captures the heart of what I want my life to reflect.

“Empty me of the selfishness inside
Every vain ambition and the poison of my pride
And any foolish thing my heart holds to
Lord empty me of me so I can be filled with you.”

I must confess to God that I have sinned against Him by placing “selfishness inside” of me, over His will, and by centering my life on my “vain ambition[s]” and by allowing my self-conceit to believe that I can be independent of Him.

Lord empty me of all selfishness and help me serve you and others with humility. Allow me to regard others as better than myself (Philippians 2:3). Help mark my life as serving you, by surrendering myself and being “filled with you.” Help me be successful and victorious by your own strength, not mine.

I pray that we can renounce our prideful spirits and allow God to guide us, so that we can humbly say we are willing to be controlled by Him.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Humble Retaliation

God has called us to respond to others’ sins by blessing them. This sounds counter intuitive to our fleshly selves; however, the Lord wants us to learn tenderness and humility in our hearts.

“Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate when people say unkind things about you. Instead pay them back with a blessing. That is what God wants you to do and He will bless you for it.” (I Peter 3:9)

Some moments I think to myself, how did Jesus do it? I am sure there were moments were it may have taken every ounce of His being to keep Him from thinking and repaying others for the terrible wrong they committed against Him.

As difficult as it may be, we too must submit to God’s calling upon our lives. However, we are not called to do this alone, in our own strength. God provides the Holy Spirit to give us the strength and power to humbly retaliate.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Faithful Service

Thank you, Grandpa and all other veterans for faithfully serving our country. You committed yourself to fighting for our freedom. We celebrate and applaud you for your willingness to endure a task that is only chosen for a few.

Jeremiah was much like each of you. The Lord told Jeremiah, "See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant." (Jeremiah 1:10) Jeremiah faithfully served the LORD for 40 years. He was called to prophesy to God's people. Many times his audiences weren't thrilled to hear God's truth. His life was endangered many times and he was severely persecuted, but he depended upon God to give him the endurance to continue faithfully serving.

I am sure many of you may have come to those desperate moments, asking God to faithfully protect and watch over you as you served your country. It was for those desperate moments that you willingly committed your service.

Thank you for all you have done for God and your country. May Jesus continue to bless in all that you do. If you have a family member or friend, take the time to call, email, text or talk to them in person and thank them for their service.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Rotting Fish

Have you heard the phrase, “A fish rots from the head down.” It basically means when an organization or state fails, it is the leadership that is the root cause.

Our lives can be exactly that! Christ requires us to have Him first place in everything. Our lives should revolve around Him and all He has called us to do. We must acknowledge Him as the head of our lives, for He is our crown!

We must place Him as the leader of our household, lives, and world. “Christ is the head of the church, which is His body…”(Colossians 1:18). It is when we don’t position Christ as the head, our lives begin to “rot;” for “He existed before everything else began, and He holds all creation together.” (Colossians 1:17) Christ is the one who came first. He is the one who sustains life. In Him everything is held together. He is our protector, provider, and caregiver.

When we trust in Him to lead our lives, we acknowledge His Lordship. We believe that He will give us the strength and endurance we need in this life to flourish and spread His Good News.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Resource Management

In college I made some very poor financial decisions. I accumulated several thousand dollars worth of credit card debt. The "extra" money I had, left over from paying my tuition and books was used to buy unnecessary items. I look back now and think what a waste! I don't have anything to show for it nor am I really sure what I bought with the money, and on top of that I came into our marriage with tons of debt.

Like I always say, BUT GOD!! Even though I came into our marriage with debt, I began tithing before Aaron and I married. Tithing gave me the freedom to not allow my heart to be attached to money. Many times before, I hesitated to give because I was worried about not having enough to pay my bills and meet my own needs or because I wasn't sure that the church would be using "my" money appropriately. However, it later became a non-issue when I gave it to God. I told Him, I am giving this unto you and if it is misappropriated let that man answer to you!

God calls us to give ten percent of our income (Leviticus 27:30), which is our tithe, to Him. He says, "Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test!" (Malachi 3:10)

Well I have to say, God's faithfulness has prevailed. Over the years, as we have honored God with our tithes and offerings, and as we have been faithful to manage our resources which include our time, money, talents, and gifts, the Lord has poured out many blessings upon us. We have been blessed with life-long friends, people with financial wisdom, others that have helped connect us with resources to further our ministries. He blessed us with a faithful friend that began helping us through the financial ministry at our previous church. Our friend blessed us with his financial expertise to create a realistic spending plan for both short and long term goals. This plan provided us with the guidance and direction we needed to begin a debt free life.

Over the years, we have learned how to manage our resources wisely. We are not perfect by any means, but we continue to strive in our endeavors.
Be being wise with our resources, God has allowed us to be “cheerful givers” (2 Corinthians 9:7). We have given more freely and generously as the years have gone by. We want our time, talents, gifts, and money to be invested in God’s kingdom, not in our own.

“Try it! Put me to the test!” This is one of the only times God challenges you to test Him. He says, “If you give, you will receive” (Luke 6:38) Just know that God’s promises are not always material possessions and we may not completely experience them on earth, but know that He is faithful and always keeps His promises.

God has allowed us to be managers of His resources, not owners. Use what God has given you to bless others that you may invest not only in their earthly needs, but most importantly to their spiritual and eternal needs. Give of yourself, manage your resources wisely, and invest in others. Those around you may need your wisdom in resource management or may need you to invest in them. Maybe it is you that needs investing in? Whatever the case, our Heavenly Father will generously provide for yours and their every need.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Dearest Lord,

Thank you for your gift of today. A gift of new adventures, treasures, and beauty that is seen everywhere. Thank you for the crisp, clean fall air, the warm sun shining down amongst the Christmas roses.

I stand in awe and wonder of how you orchestrate our lives, even in the unseen times. I know that you are always behind the scenes moving in ways that are unimaginable. Thank you Father for never giving up on me and always walking with me—for if it hadn’t been for you by my side where would I be? I thank you Lord for the gifts and treasures that lie inside of me that are yet to be discovered, for they will come in your perfect timing.

I thank you for my wonderful and gracious family and friends that are by my side from day to day. As I learn more and more about you O Lord, it is in those precious moments that my eyes and heart begin to see how much you truly love me.

“I give you thanks, O LORD, with all my heart…I praise your name for your unfailing love and faithfulness; for your promises are backed by all the honor of your name.” (Psalm 138:1-2)


Your Beloved Daughter

What about you? What are you thankful for? Share your thanks to God and to those who you are thankful for. Maybe it will encourage them and help them to be thankful for their lives as well. If you are in need of a “thanks” today, give one first and see what God does in return for you.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Strong and Courageous

Over the past 2 ½ years God has cultivated my soil, precisely planted His seeds, watched me through my growth processes, as He provided everything I needed, and harvested His crops to bring forth His fruit. I love to look back and see the awesome miracles He performed in my life; it all seemed surreal and exciting. Don’t get me wrong there were moments in time during my growing season that I wanted to turn around, stomp my feet, and walk away, but I reminded myself of God’s promises to Joshua,”…I will not fail you or abandon you.” (Joshua 1:5) “I command you—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9) Throughout the first chapter of Joshua, God continues to remind Joshua to be strong and courageous and that he must obey His law and all of His commandments; it is only then he will succeed.

God has now begun a new season in my life. I can actually say at 32 years-old I am officially retired! I am a stay at home mommy and wife; the two true desires of my heart. I am truly grateful that God designed my life’s blueprints, for if they were up to me, they would have been quite a mess, and definitely not the way the way God would have wanted them orchestrated. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9)

I love what King David said to the Lord in Psalm 139, you “know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, LORD. You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand!” (vs. 1-6) God is omniscient and omnipresent. He knows the plans He has for my future. I am excited to move to the next level of my journey for God already knew before the foundations of the earth what I would be doing in this very moment and the plans He had for my future.

God has already begun to speak to me little by little preparing me for what lies ahead. At moments I feel like maybe what Joshua might have felt like in the moment after Moses’ death when the LORD told him, “…you must lead my people across the Jordan River into the land I am giving them.”(Joshua 1:2) I don’t think that it was a shocking surprise to him, given he was Moses’ assistant for forty years, but the sheer thought that he must finish what his predecessor began, must have been overwhelming for a moment or two, but God’s promises gave him the faith and confidence he needed to lead the people of Israel. As He will give me the confidence and faith to take the steps that He has ordered for me.

He too makes those promises to us as we allow him to till our soil, plant our seeds, and harvest His crops. We are able to choose whether our crop will thrive and be plentiful, sparse and scarce, or lifeless and dying. God continues to remind us, despite what is ahead of us to “be strong and courageous!” I pray that whatever God is preparing you for, step forward and walk in faith as Joshua did! As you walk out your faith, it will inspire others to do the same. Encourage others today to have confidence and allow God to direct their future.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


About a week and a half ago we met with my neuro-oncologist to review the results of my MRI scans. I was elated to hear him tell us that they were stable, looked good, and he even saw improvement from the last scans! This truly made my heart overjoyed. I remember thinking how God has always been faithful in His promises and has always walked by our side.

God created us to witness to others by showing and telling them what He has done for us. The Holy Spirit gives us the confidence, courage, boldness and authority to minister to them through His works in us. As Jesus taught His inner circle of disciples, He instilled in them God’s love, His word, and His forgiving nature. Before He completed His mission on earth, Jesus prayed for Himself, His disciples, and future believers.
In His prayer for His disciples, Jesus said, “I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them.” (John 17:9-10) I love that Jesus has commissioned us to spread His Good News to those around us. He has given us our families, coworkers, friends, and neighbors to guard and take care of, so that none of them are lost in this world. He wants us to follow Him so that we may become one with Him and the Father. He wants us to be of one accord. (John 17:20) Jesus came to this earth to show us how to live as faithful servants in His kingdom. For those that live by God’s standards in this life will be made great in God’s kingdom.

Matthew speaks of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Jesus began his teaching by describing the characteristics that He was looking for in His followers. These are called the beatitudes; they taught the heartfelt obedience to God. The beatitudes stated how to be blessed by God. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven; blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted; blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth; blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled; blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy; blessed are the pure in heart, for the will see God; blessed are the peace makers, for they will be called sons of God, Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3-12) Each of these beatitudes describes traits that are a contradiction to worldly ways of life. We must learn to exemplify those traits if our objective is to become more like Him.
Many think that being “blessed” by God means that we will have financial prosperity and always have laughter and pleasure; however, being “blessed” by God means experiencing His profound joy and hope regardless of our external circumstances. To have His joy we must follow Him no matter what the cost.

As we become the salt and light of this world, we must remember to be “like a city on a hill that cannot be hidden” and “in the same way, let [our] good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise our heavenly Father” (Matthew 5:13-16). We must fulfill what we were commissioned to complete. I pray that you keep shining your light, like a beacon in the night. Share with others your testimony so they too may understand and feel the hope and joy of Christ.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Restless Desire

Daily I experience a longing that has such an intense and profound grip on my heart. This insatiable desire, like the one of the psalmist (whom some believe was King David) who wrote, “As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God. I thirst for God, the living God. When can I go and stand before him?” (Psalm 42:1-2). It is in this inconsolable longing that I have come to understand my very purpose; the purpose for which my very soul was created.

“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it (Matthew 16:24-25). Committing my life to Christ has allowed me to have a taste of what it is to fill my restless desire. By following Jesus I risk: the possibility of losing friendships, being marked by the title “holy roller” (in a bad sense), losing face with co-workers and friends when I choose to have integrity over dishonesty, and never acquiring what this world calls “wealth.” My benefits far outweigh the risks I take, even if it involves losing my physical life. In my life, whether I live or die, I want Jesus to be glorified.

My desire is to be part of the bigger story—taking up my cross daily. I want to exhibit the light Christ’s Kingdom brings to this world. I yearn to bring people to know our Father God in a real way. All the hidden choices I make, set-up God’s story. As I whole-heartedly turn from my selfish ways, I discover what it is to “find” my restless desire.
Give your Father God all that you have and He will give you all you need. Share with others what it meant for you to risk your life for Him and you begin to see your greater purpose. If you are struggling and need help making this choice, seek a strong Christian friend or pastor in your community that can guide you in the right direction.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Eyes of Faith

When we first gathered to talk about starting Thrive, the amount of work seemed insurmountable. How would we know where to begin? Would we have sufficient resources and how could we acquire them? Where would we store equipment? How would Tom and Jackie manage the cost of their living expenses given there was hardly any money for a salary?

I knew in my heart of hearts that this vision and dream was from God. He prepared every intricate detail, but I couldn’t see through my eyes of faith how it would come to pass. In 2 Kings 7, Elisha prophesied that by the next day the people of Samaria, who were in the midst of a famine, would see that “five quarts of fine flour [would] cost only an ounce of silver, and ten quarts of barley grain [would] cost only half an ounce of silver” (vs.1) The king’s officer said, “that couldn’t ever happen even if the Lord opened up the windows of heaven!” (vs.2)

It was difficult for me to envision how this vision would come to pass. Now looking back, I discovered how my eyes of faith were clouded by not allowing our Father God to reveal and present His resources.

I was astounded as God blessed Thrive with $25,000 worth of audio equipment from a local church that believed in our vision. Then there was a couple, who owned their own marketing business, and donated about $10,000 worth of fliers toward our first mailer into the community. I was truly astonished as God took care of every component and detail. Like Noah when he built the ark (Genesis 6), we obeyed as God commanded.

Yes there were moments of uncertainty and momentary panic. We were elated that God opened the window of opportunity for relocating Thrive in a prime area of Katy. We were confident after “securing” the location, that it was God’s will. Out of necessity, we established teams to bring about more structure and organization to various processes that were essential to our future success as a church.

Soon after the announcement of our new location, the prearrangement of our “secured” location fell through. We were perplexed and a bit disheartened. But God! At the midnight hour, He provided a more suitable arrangement (our current location) which afforded us the opportunity for storing our equipment in the facility and more flexibility in event planning and usage of space. His faithful promises opened more windows of opportunity we couldn’t have foreseen.

My eyes of faith no longer seem to be clouded, but are instead now clear. When we keep our eyes on Him, He will “generously provide all [we] need. Then [we] will always have everything [we] need and plenty left over to share with others.” (2 Corinthians 9:8)

Keep your eyes on Him and He will open windows of opportunity that will amaze you. Share with others today the lessons that you have learned and continue to learn. They may need to hear your story and it may come at their “midnight hour.”

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Flame of 35...

The vision of our church plant and others across America is to reach the lost and to bring strayed Christians’ focus back toward God. I have seen what Isaiah 10:17 speaks of, “The Lord, the Light of Israel, will be a fire; the Holy One will be a flame. He will devour the thorns and briers with fire, burning up the enemy …” I have seen the great rewards of watching families grow stronger in the Lord. I have seen marriages being rebuilt, non-believers being baptized for the first time and seeing how their changed life brought their family and extended relatives to know Christ and be on-fire for Him. I have seen “the Holy One be a flame” that has run rampant through the lives of a new generation of believers. It has devoured “the thorns and briers with fire” and caused the enemies of darkness to come into light.

Being a part of the foundation of a church plant has been like tending to a flame. It requires much patience, attention to detail, diligence and wisdom to know that the stronger the flame the more perseverance it takes to keep it going in the right direction.

I have seen how attention to detail at our Grand Opening in 2009 created an atmosphere of friendliness, great worship and a passion for Christ and our salvation. Gathering donations of tickets to baseball games, movies, Starbuck’s gift cards, candy, etc. to provide for visiting children and parents, was a great way we gave back to our community.

On the other hand, our first day with the children’s ministry allowed us to see that we weren’t quite equipped or prepared to go from zero to sixty in the few minutes before our first service began. However, we quickly gained an understanding as to the types of changes that needed to be executed. Two and a half years later, our children’s ministry is thriving and a wonderful, fun, and safe place for our children to be.

It has been amazing to see where God has brought us from to where we are now. Our leadership team has changed a few times in the past couple of years; however, the direction in which our “flame” was being blown has always been the establish a hospital for the spiritually sick and to reach lost souls for Christ. Even though there have been disappointments and discouragements along the way, I know we have been successful because we have “obey[ed] the commands of the Lord [our] God and walk[ed] in His ways, [and] the Lord [has] establish[ed][us] as His holy people as He swore he would do.” (Deuteronomy 8:6)

Setting priorities and accomplishing goals has allowed us to grow as a church body, but striving not to lose our character for the sake of a goal has been challenging. I have learned that it is important to have volunteers in a church who are knowledgeable in finances, law, government, business, etc...but more importantly to have people serving who display integrity and character above reproach. A person whose heart is intertwined with God’s and is without knowledge or skill, is better than someone who is very skilled in all of those areas, but lacks in their daily walk with the Lord.

Finally, making sure that all members of ministry teams are being consistently encouraged and supported is essential to ensure that the “fire you are tending to” doesn’t die out. It is important to remember that the coals constantly need stirring up while still seeking out and fanning the new sparks within the church who are ready to ignite and shine brightly for God.

The flame that God has begun in Thrive Church is one that will reap eternal rewards. Watching the fire grow bigger and stronger has humbled me and I feel honored for being asked to be part of this journey. I pray that whatever journey God has placed in your heart that you would allow Him to stir it up to a blazing flame that would burn gloriously.

Pressured Washed

Everyday at my job I walked past a band hall that was made of white stone. At the beginning of each school year, I noticed how tidy and clean the stone walls looked after being pressure washed. . It was commonplace for me to pass the band hall several times a day.

I know this sounds silly, but it was somehow refreshing to me. Every year as the semester proceeded, the wall slowly formed a layer of mold and mildew making for a drab and dreary appearance. After awhile it wasn’t refreshing. Maybe once or twice a semester, they were pressure washed again.

I think our lives are a bit like that. We start out white, pure, and innocent, but over time we become jaded by our fallen world. We grow layers of unforgiveness, insensitivity, bitterness and hate. We walk around like a strong stench of mold and mildew. We can live in bondage to these filthy layers for days, months, years, and for some, a lifetime. These bondages become commonplace for us, thus creating an atmosphere of oppression. Isaiah 64:6 says, “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment.” This sin makes us unclean so that we are unable to approach God.

Our layers of sin separate us from God, but we can choose to accept Him into our hearts and be reconciled “through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought [us] into his own presence, and [we] are holy and blameless as [we] stand before him without a single fault.” (Colossians 1:21-22).

Isn’t that just refreshing to hear! Even though we live in a fallen world, become jaded and think sinful thoughts and conduct sinful actions, Christ made us blameless and beyond reproach. Through His actions, we are no longer a mold and mildew covered wall. We are “pressure washed” and made clean through Him.

However difficult your life may be at this moment, allowing God to peel off your layers and make you new will set you free from the chains of bondage that are holding you down. If you’ve already experienced the awesomeness of being washed, share your testimony with others; God delights in you sharing His glory.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

From 43,000 to 35...

About two and a half years ago, Aaron and I were asked to go on a six-month journey with our current Pastor, Tom. Tom asked us (along with 33) others to help bring to life, his and Jackie's vision of building refuge of hope. This hope was to be called Thrive Church.

Aaron and I were forced to make a difficult decision; like Orpah and Ruth, we were called to choose between going back to our comfortable and familiar environment (our home church of 43,000) or step out in faith to a new and foreign land (a church of 35). Fortunately for us we listened to the Holy Spirit as did Ruth (Ruth 1:6-17). We accepted the path God led us to, and as Ruth, we said "...I will go wherever you go and live wherever you live..." (Ruth 1:16). Ruth acted selflessly and considered her mother-in-law, Naomi's, need as a widow and she was willing to give up her homeland for a new territory that awaited her. Unlike Orpah who chose to return to her familiar homeland.

This walk of faith has helped me see what a big God we serve. From a humble beginning of 35 people to now 580 in regular attendance at Thrive. I am humbled at how God used us to help further His kingdom. For if it weren't for Tom and Jackie laying their faith, trust, and hope in the Lord, we wouldn't have had the opportunity nor the resources to share the hope and healing of Jesus Christ with so many broken and hurting sinners in the Katy/Richmond area.

Our journey of faith has also taught us to rely on God to provide for our family in everyway. It has given us a hope that when we thought we were leaving the best behind, God was just adding to our cup so that it overflows with blessings. (Psalm 23:5) We want our commitment to God and His people to be woven together so closely that they are almost inseparable.

As for Naomi and Ruth, their relationship is a beautiful example of how God can turn difficult circumstances and decisions to one of blessings. (Ruth 4). As God has used us and Naomi, he can use you too bring others to Him if you are willing to step out in faith and leave the comfortable behind.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Beloved Gem

Husband's and wive's love is like a king's signet ring. Both sign important documents with their rings. For spouses, they sign their marriage license as a declaration of their love and exchange rings. A love that should be self-less, sacrifical, unconditional, patient, and persevering--just as God's love is toward us. God promised that, we, like Him, should promise our spouses that "neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us..."(Romans 8:39) from His love, nor the love we have for each other.

I once heard someone say: "don't marry someone you can live with--marry someone you cannot live without!" Well I have to say God perfectly aligned that for Aaron and me. I do have to say that I think I got the better end of the deal. Aaron is a gem, my diamond in the rough. I couldn't have asked for a better husband. He has loved me through our ups and downs, through the calm and the storms, even the days that I have been impatient, unkind, proud, irritable, and rude. He has strived to love me as God has loved me. "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16) God gave His son out of love, so He wouldn't have to live without you! Read the last sentence again and ponder on what a sacrificial and loving Father we have!

"I am my beloved's, and my beloved is mine." (Song of Songs 6:3) I pray today Solomon's words are etched and sealed on your heart. Honor and love your spouse as God would have you love them. I pray that your "love flashes like fire" and shines out "the brightest kind of flame" (Song of Songs 8:6) for your spouse. May you bless others with this message and inscribe it on your own heart. For as Christ's love changed the world, so can yours.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Parenting God's Way

God's guide to parenting is His word. It is an instruction manual and a road map to guide us through unfamiliar terrain. As parents or parents to be, we need to equip ourselves by consistently studying and applying His principles. When we acquire wisdom from the Lord, we can impart it to our children. "Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching." (Proverbs 1:8)

Children learn by example; therefore, not only should we learn, but we must "teach" and be a model of faith that is alive and real to them. When parents worship and revere God with their words, actions, and teaching they are instilling biblical truth into their children's belief system. The bible says, "train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it." (Proverbs 22:6)

None of us are perfect, nor were our parents, but we live and learn. If we learn from God's instruction manual and teach our children to be rooted in Christ's word then we as parents, have instilled the morals and values that will guide our children to live and face this life.

Whether you are a future parent, a parent of a three-year old, a teenager, or an adult child, seek God's guidance on how to instruct them in the "way" they "should go." Maybe you are a grandparent who has gained wisdom throughout the years, you can help guide your grandchildren in the right path. Perhaps you're a youth pastor and are in need of helpful advice or the right words to reach out to a teen; seek scripture and use GOD's words to minister to them.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Sincere Love in Your Sweet Spot

For the past few years I have really struggled with feelings of not knowing where my role in ministry was and why it is that I haven't really found a place that was, as my pastor has said, "my sweet spot."

Before the foundations of the earth, God had a plan, one that involved His son. He sent His son to this earth, to live out a plan of salvation. One that involved Him sacrificing His one and only son to die for the forgiveness of our sins. "It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. (I Peter 1:19)" that was given as a ransom for you. "You were cleansed from your sins when you obeyed the truth, so now you must show sincere love to each other as brothers and sisters. Love each other deeply with all your heart. (I Peter 1:22)" Now that's a "sweet spot!" It wasn't an easy one, but that is the one that God chose for Jesus.

Previously I have given of my time, effort, finances, and resources to help with the needs of others; however, many times it seems I have always walked away with a sense of dissatisfaction, needing something else, as if I continued to have a void that need to be filled. In my own mind, I felt as if I was giving of myself, my time, and my efforts, but it always felt like something was missing. I wasn't fulfilled in the places that I felt I was serving.

As of lately, God has truly been working in my heart to give of my time, effort, finances, and resources, but in a new way. The exact way that He gave of His son. One that is self-sacrificial, with a sincere and "deep" love that Peter speaks about. In essence, I feel like He is saying to me "stop going through the motions" and truly put your heart and soul into anything that I set before is then that you will come upon to know the sincere love that I speak about in my Word.

Although, I am still in process of "finding" my sweet spot, I have a new found freedom that God has shown me; loving deeply and sincerely. The Lord continues to melt away the dross to refine me each day, so as to reflect His image.

I pray that the Lord works in your heart and your life. For I know that He has great and mighty plans for your life and the sacrifice of His son has shown His sincere love for you. Love others today and give of your whole self. Whether it be that you spend more quality time with your family, give a listening ear to your dear friend that is hurting, devoting time to lead a bible study, or giving of your financial resources. If it is you that is in need, give to others and see what God gives back to you in return.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Writing Our Own Story

All of us have a difficult time letting go of the reigns in our lives. We want to sit in the director's chair or be the puppet master moving our own strings in the direction we want them to go. We struggle with the command that Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us we should follow:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do,
and he will show you which path to take.

We fool ourselves into thinking we know what is best. When we feel things should go one way our another and they fail to meet our timelines or expectations, we don't allow ourselves to trust our Father God completely and we "turn from right ways to walk down dark and evil paths" (Proverbs 2:12). We try to write our own stories.

We must learn to honor God by allowing him to "direct our paths." We must learn to be patient and have confidence in His wisdom. For "wisdom is a tree of life to those who embrace her" (Proverbs 3:18).

Start today by trusting Him to write your story and allow your confidence in Him to encourage others. Let him pull the strings and sit in the director's chair. If you allow Him, He will bless you beyond what you could ever fathom.

Friday, September 16, 2011

God's Redeeming Grace

Our lives were created for a purpose and God wrote our story before the foundations of the earth were created. He knew from the beginning what paths our feet would take and what sins we would commit against Him. Take Saul (later called Paul) for example, he was so zealous for his Jewish beliefs that he set out to destroy Christianity. He was so intent on “opposing the name of Jesus of Nazareth” (Acts 26:9) that in “raging fury,” he breathed “threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord.” (Acts 26:1) Here was a man who truly hated Christ and all who were associated with Him, yet while traveling on the road to Damascus, pursuing Christians, he was confronted by Christ and brought face to face with the Good News. His encounter with Christ transformed him from being a persecutor of Christians to a believer and preacher in and for Christ. Paul went on to become a great missionary that wrote 13 (maybe 14 if he wrote Hebrews) books of the new testament.

Regardless of Paul's past persecution and murder of Christians, God used Paul to spread His Word. Not only did Paul preach God's word, but more convincing were his actions of a changed life. I love this poem by Heinrich Kopka that captures the essence of who Paul had become with Christ by his side:

"I'd Rather See a Sermon" by Heinrich Kopka

I'd rather see a sermon than hear one any day.
I'd rather you walk with me than merely point the way.
The eye is a more ready pupil than ever was the ear.
Good advice is often confusing, but example is always clear.

Paul says,"You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody" (2 Corinthians 2:3). The Lord already knew what your "letter" would look like, for it was written long ago.

It seems that our life is a written "letter" and a testimony seen by other believers. It doesn't matter what was written down in the past, but change your ways so that God's redeeming grace may write your present and future "letters." Bring others to know Christ by the power of your testimony that led you to Him. Walk the walk instead of "merely pointing the way."

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Our Greatest Common Enemy

Pride. In his essay, "Pride, Humility, and God," John Stott wrote, "Pride is more than the first of the seven deadly sins; it is itself the essence of all sin.” Satan fell from heaven because of pride. In Isaiah 14:12-14 and Ezekiel 28:12-18 it references the kings of Babylon and Tyre; however, it seems that the kings that the scripture is referring to are too powerful to be human; therefore, they may have been describing the motivating spiritual force of Satan behind these kings. Common to these viewpoints is the truth that pride, "For you said to yourself, ‘I will ascend to heaven and set my throne above God’s stars. I will preside on the mountain of the gods far away in the north. I will climb to the highest heavens and be like the Most High.’" (Isaiah 14:13-14) was what exposed Satan and led God to severely punish him, for he desired to be God, to essentially “kick God off His throne” and take over the rule of the universe.

Unfortunately all of us have been prideful. I have heard one too many stories, including some of my own, that say, "I wouldn't do that" or "It will not happen to me, I won't put myself in that position" or "I know I can do this myself, I don't need help." Ouch! I know the sting of those statements and it isn't pretty. I look back at myself and think, "how arrogant of me to think that I could that on my own."

Mary Cassian in her book, "Girls Gone Wise, in a world gone wild" talks about a couple who both graduated from bible college, secured staff positions at a church and after a few years got burnt out by the grind of church life and politics. They eventually decided they needed a break, they both resigned, found secular jobs and moved away from friends and family. They soon found themselves not going to church, reading their bible, nor fellowshipping with Christian believers. Eventually they found friends that were unbelievers they knew from work and the community. One night a new couple in the neighborhood invited them to have some drinks and play cards. Eventually the card nights of poker, turned into strip poker, sexual favors and dares, and later orgies.

Mary Cassian posed the question, "if a friend in Bible College had asked Judy if she would ever participate in a sexual orgy, Judy would have scoffed at the question. It was preposterous! Of course she would never
do that! She wouldn't compromise her morals. How could she? She was a Christian. She loved Jesus." I thought to myself as I read this story, what a sad path of life this lady and her husband chose.

Well don't be so prideful into thinking that this couldn't have been you in the same or similar situation in which you never thought you'd find yourself in. Don't think that you are above our common enemy of pride and you can control your actions.

At times our actions and thoughts can be clouded by the mere circumstances in which we find ourselves and it is then that we must ask God for His guidance and strength to resist our enemy, pride. For we must avoid the temptation of becoming prideful, for "Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall" (Proverbs 16:18)." If you find yourself stumbling over and over in areas of your life, humble yourself and ask someone you trust to evaluate whether you are blinded to the warning signs that are making you stumble.

Pride takes many forms, but ultimately it ends with self-glorification. If you or someone you know struggles in this area, ask yourself/them, "is my motive to glorify myself and not God?" Help yourself and others today by helping them unmask their pride and introduce them to humility by sharing the story of Jesus with them, the author of humility.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Can I borrow your smile for today?

There are days that each of us have, where we are truly exhausted and feel like we are beat down and defeated before we even begin our day. We are overwhelmed by all of the trials at work and home, the negative thoughts that bombard our minds, the grief and suffering of losing someone, or the idea that we will be defeated yet again. Some days we probably feel as Job felt, "Why is life given to those with no future, those God has surrounded with difficulties? I cannot eat for sighing; my groans pour out like water. What I always feared has happened to me. What I dreaded has come true. I have no peace, no quietness. I have no rest; only trouble comes.(Job 3:23-26)" It is then that we should ask the Lord, "please, may I borrow your smile for the day?"

Once we decide to get up, we must ask for His strength to carry us forward and to prepare us for battle. Psalm 18:32-34 says, "God arms me with strength, and he makes my way perfect. He makes me as surefooted as a deer, enabling me to stand on mountain heights. He trains my hands for battle; he strengthens my arm to draw a bronze bow." Our Father God promises to give us strength to meet the challenges of the day. He prepares us to climb mountains and fight battles by teaching us, strengthening us, and standing beside us. Through our sufferings He prepares us for the future things that we are not aware of.

Our God is a God of intention and purpose. He doesn't always eliminate the trials of life, but He intends to use them for our good. We can rest assured that "He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint." (Isaiah 40:29-31)

Remember that God's strength never diminishes. He is always there to listen and to call upon Him; Trust in Him for He will cause you to rise above life's trials. Allow Him to be your strength and help in your time of need! If you, a loved one, a co-worker, a friend, or even a stranger that you may see in the street, are struggling to make it to tomorrow, rest assured and be encouraged that the Lord will strengthen you, just ask Him if you can borrow His smile today. :)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Faithful Promises

When Aaron and I visit friends that we haven't seen in a while, whether it be a month, two months, or even a year. We typically hear about how Katherine has changed (physically) so much and how she looks like both Aaron and me or one or the other of us.

As I see her from day to day it is sometimes difficult to see how much she has truly changed, but when I go back and look through pictures or videos, I am amazed at how she has changed over the past few years. Not only do I see physical changes, but I also have seen the external influences that surround her. Whether those be from mommy and daddy, friends and family, or the things that she is exposed to in this world. I will hear her say things, like, "oh mommy, you're a silly goose" (hmmm...don't know where she got that from LOL) or I will hear her sing Christian songs off of KSBJ or talk about the stories of the bible that were taught to her; even sometimes the not so nice things, like pushing or being mean to her friends or us.

I love the fact that the God of the bible created her and us perfectly in His image. He created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1). He created everything that we see and everything that we are; even though we may change over time, whether that be in body or spirit, our God is always the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). We can always trust that He will never change. The promises that He made to Sarah that she would give birth to a son at 90 years-old (Genesis 17:17), David "that his descendants would continue to rule, shining like a lamp forever" (2 Chronicles 21:7), the Israelites returning to their promised land (Ezra 1)and to Hannah that she would have a son after being barren (I Samuel 1:20); were all fulfilled.

Even though our lives, our circumstances, and the world around us changes, we must continue to believe that those things that were promised to us whether they were yesterday or ten years ago that we must have hope, never give up, and keep our eyes focused on the God of the bible that gave us the promises in His word.

I am not sure the promises that you are longing to be fulfilled; whether they be that you have that perfect spouse that comes along, that your family comes to know our Father God or comes back to Him, that you get that perfect job, or that you find a loved one that was lost. I pray that you never stop hoping and that you don't allow yourself to grow cold towards the Lord because you haven't yet seen what you have been hoping for.

Read God's word today to know the promises that He has for you. Remind yourself and others of them. Look back at all the promises that He has fulfilled for you, remind yourself of how faithful God has been in your life. Always providing for your every need, even at the midnight hour. Encourage a friend or co-worker that is struggling with how their world is changing, yet nothing they had hoped for was going the way they had planned.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Turning Point

Because of sin, God used King Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon to destroy Jerusalem and to hold captive the Jews and carry them away to Babylon. After 70 years in exile, the captives from Judah were allowed to return to their homeland (Jerusalem) by Cyrus, the king of Persia. This was a fulfillment of prophesy by the prophet Jeremiah, "This entire land will become a desolate wasteland. Israel and her neighboring lands will serve the king of Babylon for seventy years. 'Then, after the seventy years of captivity are over, I will punish the king of Babylon and his people for their sins,' says the Lord. “I will make the country of the Babylonians a wasteland forever (Jeremiah 25:11-12)." In Jeremiah 29:10, he says, "This is what the Lord says: “You will be in Babylon for seventy years. But then I will come and do for you all the good things I have promised, and I will bring you home again." The prophet Isaiah also prophesied the same in Isaiah 44:28–45:3, "When I say of Cyrus, ‘He is my shepherd,’he will certainly do as I say. He will command, ‘Rebuild Jerusalem’; he will say, ‘Restore the Temple.’” and "this is what the Lord says to Cyrus, his anointed one, whose right hand he will empower. Before him, mighty kings will be paralyzed with fear. Their fortress gates will be opened, never to shut again. This is what the Lord says: “I will go before you, Cyrus, and level the mountains. I will smash down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron. And I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness-secret riches. I will do this so you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, the one who calls you by name."

Zerrubabel led the first captives of Judah to their homeland to rebuild the temple. The Jews worked together to accomplish the task of rebuilding the temple that was first built by King Solomon. Despite years of opposition and accusations against them, they were able to complete the temple. This was a turning point for the nation of Israel and it brought hope to the people who had returned.

God was faithful to keep His promises to His chosen people. Even after being discouraged and frightened by their enemies, they continued to rely on God to give them strength. They stood strong in the Lord and trusted in His power to help them overcome the powerful forces of opposition. We too must stand strong and lean on God. No matter if it is days, weeks, months, or 70 years, we must never give up hope that God will fulfill His promises to us. For you'll never know if the turning point of your life is just ahead.

As God used Cyrus to bring His people back to their homeland, be encouraged and encourage others to continue on, for God can use others to do the same for you. It is important to recognize and help others recognize the obstacles, such as fear or discouragement, that may hinder their motivation to overcome the stumbling blocks that come their way.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


While Saul was still on the throne, David was annointed to be the next king of Israel. Later, David was invited to the palace and he comforted Saul by playing the harp for him when he was depressed, became best friends with his son, Jonathan, and was made commander of Saul's army. After being made commander of the army, David killed Goliath, the Philistine, and as he and the Israelite army returned home, the women from many towns came to celebrate and cheer for King Saul and they sang and danced. "This was their song: 'Saul has killed thousands, and David his ten thousands!'(I Samuel 18:7)". Saul became angry and jealous of David after that time; for he seemed to have won the hearts of the people. Saul put David in harms way, tried to have him killed many times, and he pursued after David to kill him. David was warned by both Jonathan (Saul's son) and Michal (Saul's daughter, David's wife) to leave before he was killed by their father.

Do you ever feel like when you are doing something good at work, through ministry, or just trying to help those around you, that the enemy tries to send others that may say "just the right thing or do the right thing" to mess up your good plans or upset you; those "things" may build up and allow anger and hatred to rise up in you and ruin the good you were trying to conduct. Or do you ever feel like when you are trying to do noble and righteous acts for God's kingdom the enemy sets up road blocks, whether it be that someone tries to sabotage you or that things aren't properly prepared as they should have been due to someone else's lack of doing their part, or it could be that you are running late to a very important meeting that will move you to the next level in life. Whatever those adversaries are in your life, remember to not allow hatred or anger to get the best of you.

For many years David fled, from Saul, in caves and the wilderness. Each time Saul was close, David continued to flee to another spot. One day "at the place where the road passes some sheepfolds, Saul went into a cave to relieve himself. But as it happened, David and his men were hiding farther back in that very cave! (I Samuel 24:3)" David's men whispered to him "Now's your opportunity. Today is the day the LORD was talking about when he said, 'I will certainly put Saul into your power, to do with as you wish.' (I Samuel 24:4)" Instead of killing him, David chose to cut off a piece of Saul's robe. For David said to his men, “The Lord forbid that I should do this to my lord the king and attack the Lord’s anointed one, for the Lord himself has chosen him. (I Samuel 24:6)” After Saul left the cave David shouted to Saul, "...My lord the king! (I Samuel 24:8)" “Why do you listen to the people who say I am trying to harm you? This very day you can see with your own eyes it isn’t true. For the Lord placed you at my mercy back there in the cave. Some of my men told me to kill you, but I spared you. For I said, ‘I will never harm the king—he is the Lord’s anointed one.’ Look, my father, at what I have in my hand. It is a piece of the hem of your robe! I cut it off, but I didn’t kill you. This proves that I am not trying to harm you and that I have not sinned against you, even though you have been hunting for me to kill me. (I Samuel 24:9-11)"

Another instance in I Samuel 26 happens where Saul chases after David once again. David and Abishai slipped into Saul's camp where they found Saul and his warriors sleeping. David once again spared him by telling Abishai not to kill him for Saul was God's annointed one.

David could have killed Saul in both of those instances out of pure hatred for Saul having tried to kill him; however, David showed his respect for the appointed king and demonstrated to God how much he loved him by being obedient to him. When our enemies come our way to destroy us, we too should allow love, generosity, and respect to reign in our lives. Hatred is a very powerful emotion that can cause us to sin and only makes us bitter if we hold onto it. Give the "Saul's" in your life grace and shower them with kindness.

I pray that the things the enemy tries to put in your way to make you stumble, be removed and that you allow those times to let God's light shine through you. Give all things to God and He shall set you free!

In the end, it seems that David continued to love and respect Saul and love his son, Absolom regardless of their plots against him.

Thursday, September 1, 2011


During our lifetime many of us face verbal attacks, gossiping, lies being told of us, and others out to ruin our reputations. All of these circumstances can leave us feeling despondent, hurt, angry, as if we have no control, and maybe feel like giving up on life, feel like life is overwhelming and out of control and maybe eventually bitter at people and/or life.

I recently met a young woman (now 31 years-old) who was diagnosed with epilepsy (later to find out it was a brain tumor) during high school. She had seizures at school and many of the students would make fun of her, mock her, point to her, and say many hurtful words. When speaking to the young lady about school, it seemed obvious that bitterness had set in about her previous experiences. Talking about them invoked vulgar words, a heightened volume in her voice, and angry feelings.

This young lady experienced a very hurtful situation in which she felt attacked from many sides. Throughout the past thirteen years, she held onto the devastation she felt in high school and appeared to continue to struggle with it.

Lions are predatory animals that are at the top of the food chain. They are armed with curved and elongated teeth; sharp claws; camouflaged coloring; incredible power, strength, and agility. One of the only flaws of the lion is their lack of stamina in chasing prey; therefore, in order to have foraging success they must hide and intently watch their prey. As their prey look away or down to eat, the lion creeps closer, for this is vital to its success in catching its prey. Once it is at a striking distance (between 65-100 feet), it pounces and ends its chase quickly.

There have been times in my life where I felt like Daniel. Because of Daniel’s faithfulness to the Lord and his honesty and integrity, he was second in command of the kingdom. The other government officials were very jealous of Daniel and set a trap for him. They knew that Daniel went into his room three times a day to pray, so they persuaded King Darius to enact a law forbidding worship of anyone but the king. The government officials had been waiting and watching Daniel praying. Then they told the king, "That man Daniel, one of the captives from Judah, is ignoring you and your law. He still prays to his God three times a day.” (Daniel 6:13). The king was then legally required to punish Daniel for continuing to pray to his God. So he reluctantly threw Daniel into the lion’s den. The next day the king found Daniel alive and unharmed for God had "sent his angel to shut the lions' mouth so that they would not hurt me...(Daniel 6:22).

It seemed because I was a Christian and very vocal about my faith, many of the people around me seemed to be watching me intently, like a lion does before pouncing on its prey, to see when I was going to make a mistake to give them an excuse to say that I was no different as a Christian because my choices were not perfect and I made the same mistakes they had or had seemingly made poorer choices than they. Have you ever felt like that? It's like a camouflaged lion waiting for you, in the tall grassland, to use his strength, power, sharp claws and teeth to get a hold of you and then pounce on you, so that they can gossip about you, point fingers at you, ruin your reputation, yell angry words or spread rumors about you. During those times it may seem that everything is beyond your control, your world is falling apart, and the foundation that you once stood on is falling from under you, but then you stand your ground, be faithful and consistent, love others regardless of their faults. Most of all remember that God is always in control and with His help we can gain a victory over our "roaring lions" as Daniel did when...the next day the king found Daniel alive and unharmed for God had "sent his angel to shut the lions' mouth so that they would not hurt me...(Daniel 6:22).

As the young woman in the story above, many of us have or will have experienced a similar situation in which it is difficult to allow God to heals us; however, we must choose to give the "roaring lions" of hurt, bitterness, and anger inside of us, to God. As David said in Psalm 22 when he felt like the enemy was surrounding him like a heard of bulls and "like roaring lions attacking their prey, they come at me roaring and tearing into their prey" (vs. 13), we must "then declare the wonder of your name to my brothers and sisters. I will praise you among all your people" (vs. 22). Because David cried out to God, God delivered David, and then he publicly praised the Lord for his deliverance. As Daniel trusted in God so must we, for our God is a God who will help us gain the victory!

Put your trust in the Lord today, for He can deliver you in any situation. Remind yourself that you must put your confidence in him for He is in control of all things.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Stepping Stones

God parted the Red sea to allow Moses to lead the Israelites to leave Egypt (Exodus 14). Later, Joshua was given the privilege to lead Israel into the promised land by parting the Jordan River.

When Joshua led the nation of Israel across the Jordan river it was harvest time (spring time) and the waters were at flood-level. When the priests touched their feet at the river's edge the water upstream piled up and the water downstream was cut off. By a miracle of God, when the priests walked into the river, they walked on dry ground and the nation of Israel crossed the Jordan.(Joshua 3: 8-17)

When everyone was safely across, God commanded that one person from each of the twelve tribes of Israel take a stone from the middle of the Jordan river and make a memorial from the stones. This was done to help remind the future generations of how God showed His great power to the Israelites. (Joshua 4: 1-8)

All of us have "stepping stones" in our lives that have allowed us to prepare for the next stage of our life. Think about all of the stages of life you went through in the first year of your life. You went from being a newborn, to sitting up, crawling, pulling up on things, and eventually to walking. Since then you went to kindergarten, learned to read, a few things in between, and now you are here today.

The "things in between" are the memorial stones that we have left behind to remind us of where we have come from. Many times we don't allow ourselves to leave these stones as rememberances, for many can be painful and difficult, but it should allow us to be reminded of God's faithfulness in our journey as we trusted in Him when we took our next step in life.

When you allow yourself to leave those stepping stones as the Israelites did, then you allow yourself a way to track the legacy that you leave behind. It also permits you to encourage others when they don't see the light at the end of the tunnel. If you are discouraged today by the promises you have yet to see pass, then I encourage you to look back at the "Jordan crossings" in your journey. Allow God to fill the places in your heart that seem void.

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Never Ending Story

Many of us are intimidated by the leaders in our church, our pastors, the Billy Grahams and Mother Teresa's of the world; many times we feel as if "I can't touch lives like those people do, I don't have the ability to speak like him or her, I don't know the scriptures by heart, etc. We feel as if we can't make an impact on others' lives.

We all have things in our lives that we can improve on; however, we must not make the mistake of making excuses. Many times we don't think of ourselves as servants in Christ, but our everyday lives speak volumes to who we are in Christ. When we lead our lives with integrity, humbleness, wisdom, love, and joy, we are reflecting God's image. The bible says in
I Peter 2:12 "Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world." It is your actions and behavior that serve God and these things portray your story.

Many times we do not realize that others are watching our behaviors and it is in those moments that we can give God the glory and unbeknownst to us we have served Him! We have left footprints that contribute to our life story and those will touch others' lives, and others' lives to ultimately leave a "Never Ending Story" of Christ's image. Last night as we had Worship Night at our church, I had the privilege of helping fill the little cups with grape juice (that symbolize the blood of Christ). As I stood in the room, I watched over Katherine and a little friend of hers. I was trying to make sure they didn't get into anything they could break or hurt themselves. At one point they found the battery operated tea lights that we use to light up the communion station and for a moment I almost told them to stop and put them away so as not to break them; however, I stopped myself and realized that they were serving Christ by their actions, unknowlingly, but their actions spoke volumes to many who were there last night. Someone had to turn those tealights on for service and why not them?

For our actions speak louder than our words. It may not seem that we are touching the lives of hundreds, thousands, or even millions of people, but our words and actions speak to those around us. When we touch one person with our joyful attitude, our loving kindness, and our humility; those virtues can be passed on to the "next" Billy Graham, the "next" pastor, the "next" president and that is where your "Never Ending Story" begins. Be sure today that you display Christ's reflection in your life. Pass your story on to the next generation, to those around you, and trust that the little things in your life are making a difference.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Saving the Best for Last

The past couple weeks have been a bit rough for me us. I hadn't been feeling well until this week. Katherine was sick the first week that I wasn't feeling well. During that time, I noticed that I had become quite the irritable parent when Katherine was not obeying or listening. Instead of my usual verbal warning, time-out, and spanking sequence. It seemed that there were little or no verbal warnings, time-outs seemed to be a lot more frequent, and a couple of times it seemed that spanking went first. Raising my voice at her was also in the repetoire. Bath time seemed to be the most frustrating due to the nature of it being right before bedtime and of course, "No!(as she throws something out of frustration)...and my tummy hurts...I'm thirsty...and I'm not tired (as her eyes are drooping, and she is whining and crying about seemingly pretty much everything)...or we're going to go to bed later" interrupted the flow of the evening and made my stress levels even higher because I was exhausted, tired, and wanted to go to bed.

Instead of asking God for guidance on how to deal with the situations at the moment, I went straight to my own ways by raising my voice (which only seemed to make things worse), being demanding with her (which didn't make things any easier), and getting angrier by the second. By choosing my own ways at first, many of the encounters with Katherine felt like I was struggling more (e.g. the more I raised my voice, the more obstinate she became). At one point, I finally asked myself and God, "What do I do, how do I handle this?" and God said, "How would Aaron handle this situation?" I thought for a few moments and then trusted in the example that Aaron had previously illustrated. I began to tone down my voice to a loving one, relax, be more patient, more kind, and even made games out of some of the tense moments. After asking God for guidance, He showed me His ways. In Isaiah it says, "For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts. (55:9)"

Mary, Jesus' mother, was a guest at a wedding celebration and during the festivities of the wedding the wine supply ran out. Mary spoke with Jesus about the problem. He turned six stone water pots (back in those days the pots were used for ceremonial washing and held between 20 to 30 gallons) into wine and when the master of ceremonies tasted it he said, “A host always serves the best wine first,” he said. “Then, when everyone has had a lot to drink, he brings out the less expensive wine. But you have kept the best until now!”

Just as Mary turned to Jesus first about her problem, so must we. For if we "save the best for last" many times we end up more frustrated, angry, left in bad situations, we become bitter, hurt, depressed, and upset. However, when we allow Him to work in our situations, He will give us His grace and mercy.

We thank you Father God for your mercy and grace; forgive us when we don't come to you first. Give us the wisdom and understanding to do your will in our lives. We love you! Share this message with others, encourage them to trust in the Lord. Let them know when they put Him first, He will honor and guide their requests.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


It's interesting to me how perspective on life changes when someone you love is gravely ill or when you attend someone's funeral regardless if you knew them as a close friend or just an acquaintance. In times like these, it allows you to truly appreciate life and praise the Lord for everything that He has given to you in life. Many times, it allows you to reflect upon your ownself and it permits you to let go of all of the petty small things that are insignificant to the bigger picture in life.

Recently a friend of ours told us a story about a colonel that was interviewed after surviving a P.O.W. for seven or eight years. He asked the colonel, "How did you survive?" Was it the optimists that survived?" The colonel said, "No, it was the realists." For it seemed that the optimists would set a date, by Easter they come and rescue us, by Christmas, by such and such time, etc. and when those dates came and went; they became more and more discouraged and despondent and those are the ones that died. As for the realists, they continued to persevere. As for the colonel, he said, "It did not really matter whether or not He would be rescued because he would see his wife either way (on earth or in heaven). Praise the Lord! This colonel had his realist point of view, knowing that either way, he definitively knew that he would one day see his wife.

Each day God leaves us little reminders of Himself whether it be beautiful flowers, the dew on the morning grass, a home, friends, family, a joyful heart, a child's laughter (oh how I love to hear children laughing, it is such a beautiful song to my heart), or in the case of Houston, the seemingly long and lasting beautiful HOT and sunshiny days! Paul says this in Romans 14:17 about how the Lord always leaves us reminders of himself, "but he never left them without evidence of himself and his goodness. For instance, he sends you rain and good crops and gives you food and joyful hearts.”

My favorite part of this is when it says, "joyful hearts." I love that because despite our circumstances in life, adversity or prosperity, God wants us to say, "Praise the Lord, for He has provided and given us His joy." I know at times, it is difficult to see the ray of sunshine in the midst of a life or death situation, but I pray that the Lord gives you His peace dear one. Allow yourself to reflect on the great and glorious times that you have in this life. Reflect on the bigger things of life and allow the petty things to be let go. Open your eyes to all the things that you have to be thankful for. Those are the things to set your eyes upon. It is God saying, "I Love You," "I am always here in the midst of you, just look at all I have done and yet to do."

David rejoiced in the Lord and said, "Praise the Lord, who is my rock. He trains my hands for war and gives my fingers skill for battle...For we are like a breath of air; our days are like a passing shadow." (Psalm 144:1,4).
David reminds us that the Lord gives us His strength and prepares us for this life that is short. We must make the most of the time we have, appreciate the things God provides for us, make our lives meaningful, worthwhile, and purposeful. For we are "like the morning fog--it's here a little while, then it's gone." (James 4:14)

Look for the Lord today in all the "little" things around you and will will see His work around you. Share those things with your family, friends, co-workers, and all those around you. For maybe your words can be an encouragement to them today!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Want a Promotion?

If you want a promotion in your job, typically the expectation is that you listen to your bosse's instructions and follow them, perform above and beyond reproach, your expected duties without having to be told, and be willing to accept criticism without getting defensive. All of the above mentioned requires patience and obedience.

Just as your job has expectations, God also has an expectant nature of you. He says, "Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.(Malachi 3:10)" You are not guaranteed your promotion at your job, even after all of your hard work, but God says bring ten percent of your earnings to help advance my kingdom and see if I won't give you more blessings that you can possibly contain. When we are not obedient to the Lord's commands we are robbing Him.

I know in my own life, when I began tithing to my church (I was still single then), the Lord blessed me much more than I could have imagined. It seemed that the times that it looked like I wouldn't have enough money to pay my bills, I always had enough. Or the times I needed gas in my car and I just prayed that I would make it to my next destination even though the gas tank was already on empty...God always came through.

Another time, God out did himself, was when Aaron and I got engaged. We didn't know how we were going to be able to afford to pay for our wedding, given that we were paying for it on our own. The cost of the wedding far outweighed the actual money that we had. About that time, Aaron began tithing to the church and was obedient to God's commands. A couple weeks later Aaron had an accident that caused his jeep to flip over about four or five times; his jeep was totaled, but Aaron only came out of the accident with some bruises, a slight concussion, and four or five staples to close up a small cut on his head. I told him, his guardian angels were watching over him that day; given that they had to get the jaws of life to get him out of the vehicle. If you were to have seen the pictures of the accident, you would have thought someone would have died. Anyhow, enough of that, the awesome part of that whole story was that Aaron was okay, even though he was upside down on the jeep (he owed more than the vehicle was worth), the insurance company paid the vehicle off and gave us $20,000. That allowed us to put a down payment on a car for him and it paid for the wedding, honeymoon, and some of our bills!

Even though that blessing wasn't exactly how we pictured it, it was more than what we could ever imagined. How about that for a promotion! LOL.

When we are faithful to God and what He asks of us, we then allow Him to be faithful to His promises. We must work diligently and obey God's commands. Have you heard this scripture from Luke, "From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be required.(Luke 12:48)" When God sees that He can trust us with what He has given to us, He is more likely to give us a promotionby allowing opportunities and responsiblities to come our way because He knows that we can be trusted to follow through with His commands; whether that be that He entrusts us with His children, people to minister to, finances, leadership responsibilities, gifts, talents, etc.

Do you want a promotion? How are you using the resources, gifts, and talents with which God has given to you? Listen to what Jesus says: “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” (Matthew 16:24-25) God is telling us that if we are truly willing to commit our whole selves to Him, we will discover the real purpose for our lives. God doesn't always show us our real purpose of our lives nor give us our "promotions" in the way we think. For us (Aaron and I), this cancer thing, has given us so many opportunities to minister to others, it has also allowed me more time to spend with Katie, and has helped me to have a deeper and more meaningful relationship with God, that I am able to share with others like you! If you find yourself in a place where things seem to be going down instead of up, remember God has not forgotten you! Sometimes like Joseph (in Genesis 37) we have to go through "demotion" experiences to be able to prepare for our promotion.

If you or a friend are experiencing rough times in your life, begin to ask God how you can use the resources that He has given you to further His kingdom. Maybe this is the question that you have been needing to ask? Or if you already know the answer to that question, then act on it, be obedient to God's commands.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Getting Caught Up

My friend, Diana, and I were talking on Monday (she's from Guatemala)and she asked me, "Do you suppose life is this fast-paced in Europe and other countries of the world?" I replied, "I'm not sure about all countries, but most of them aren't as busy as the United States." She answered, "Everyone here is always in a rush to do this or that and are too busy."

I pondered over that conversation yesterday and thought, "Yes, we are way too busy...(I should just moved to Costa Rica! That's definitely the answer to that problem...LOL); then reality set in, we really are too busy (as sadness enters my heart and tears come into my eyes) because there have been many a days that I have told God, "I'll get to you later and later became tomorrow, and tomorrow became a week, etc)." I wonder how we would react if we sacrificed our one and only son for someone that they may have life and then they put us off, day after day, week after week. I'm not so sure that I could say that I wouldn't be angry or bitter at that person.

All God wants is our time and attention. He wants to give us His guidance and wants us to focus on Him. Joshua was a man that was a faithful servant of the Lord. He helped the Israelites cross the Jordan river to conquer their promised land. Before leaving to cross the Jordan, the Lord instructed Joshua to tell the Israelites, “Come and listen to what the Lord your God says. Today you will know that the living God is among you. He will surely drive out the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites, and Jebusites ahead of you. Look, the Ark of the Covenant, which belongs to the Lord of the whole earth, will lead you across the Jordan River!"(Joshua 3:9-11) and he obeyed. God prepared and instructed the Israelites along the way and they conquered their promised land.

In our fast-paced society we can get "caught up" into our business before taking time to focus on God. God does not want us to plunge into our day without consulting with Him on our activities for today. It's like saying, "Would you go into a battle without your armor and weapons?" The likely answer to that question is "no." Be sure today that you don't get "caught up" into your own mission, so that your focus will stay on God and He can get you "caught up."

Monday, August 15, 2011

Receiving God's Guidance

Many times when we have important decisions in life, it can be difficult. We have to learn to lean on God's wisdom and His truth. We must also carefully think for ourselves, and at the same time, be willing to listen to the wise counselors that God has provided to speak truth into our lives. We must, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil." (Proverbs 3:5-7)

Asking God for His guidance and trusting Him in all of our decisions can be an arduous process; however, you must be patient and make Him a vital part of your decisions. Whether or not you want to hear what He has to say, you should listen, but ultimately you must determine which path you want to follow, God's or yours. God's word says, "Happy is the person who finds wisdom and gains understanding. For wisdom is more profitable than silver,and her wages are better than gold. Wisdom is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her. She offers you long life in her right hand,and riches and honor in her left. She will guide you down delightful paths; all her ways are satisfying. Wisdom is a tree of life to those who embrace her; happy are those who hold her tightly." (Proverbs 13-18).

Using "Wisdom will save you from evil people, from those whose words are twisted. These men turn from the right way to walk down dark paths." (Proverbs 2:12-13) Allowing God to permeate into every area of your life, whether it finances, work, or relationships, shows God that we are working to accomplish His purpose for our lives.

God knows your situations, the decisions you must make, and the knowledge you need to follow His path for your life. Allow wisdom to guide you and have faith and patience, knowing that God will provide all your needs. His word says, "No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you." (Joshua 1:5)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

My Spirit Within You...

As Christians, we often times forget, because we live in a fallen and broken world, that we aren't in this life alone. God gives us the resources we need to cope with our day to day, week to week, and even lifetime problems. We often times are overwhelmed by the fiery darts that the enemy sends against us. There have been many days that I have felt helpless and in need of the "right" words to pray ;this scripture is one that I truly love, " And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words." (Romans 8:26) I love that I can be sure that the Holy Spirit will intercede on my behalf and I can trust that God will always do what is best.

I pray that today you can trust the Holy Spirit to speak to the Lord on your behalf when you don't have the words to say to the Lord. There are times in life when we are truly distressed, heart broken, and even seemingly lost in this world and we don't know where to go. Choose to lay your life at the feet of Jesus and allow the Holy Spirit to speak to God on your behalf. I pray that if you are going through difficult times today or a friend is, that you remember these words and/or encourage your friend with the Lord's word. Have a wonderful day!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Horton Hears a Who

Have you seen this cute movie? If not, here's a basic summary. Horton, who is an elephant in the Jungle of Nool, is splashing in a pool and finds a flower with a small speck on it. He figures out that there is a place called "whoville" that exists on this tiny speck. Horton makes it his mission to place this speck in the safest place (on the top of Mount Nool); therefore, keeping the citizens of Whoville safe. During the course of his journey up this hill, he encounters setbacks, but he promises the citizens of Whoville that he would place them safely on top of Mt. Nool. Horton tells the mayor of whoville, "I meant what I said, and I said what I meant
An elephant's faithful, One hundred percent."

Those words made my eyes tear up, as I sat and thought about how faithful our Daddy is to us. Moses tells us, "The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged" (Deuteronomy 31:8). He tells these words to the new generation of Israelites that are about to enter into their promised land (like the citizens of Whoville who were about to be in their promised land at the top of Mount Nool). The Israelites were about to encounter battles to encounter and overtake the land that was promised to them. I am sure like the citizens of Whoville, they were afraid of not being able to make it through all the encounters that they would face. Like Horton the elephant, God goes before us in all situations and reminds us that He will never leave us. He will always be in our midst.

And as Horton promised, he delivered the citizens of Whoville to the top of Mount Nool safe and sound (oops, sorry for those who hadn't seen the movie and didn't want to know the ending...I think I just ruined it for you...LOL). Our God is the same way, the promises that makes us are never empty promises. Our Daddy cannot fail toward us and will continue to always help us in our time of need.

I pray that as you read these words, please remember that no matter what your path in this journey we call life, leads you down, God is always there, ready and will to give succor to those in need. He loves you so dearly. Share His love with others today! Let them know of God's promises to them. Let them know that He is an omnipotent and omniscient and can supply all of the needs, heal their hurts, and give them peace in the midst of their storms.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Broken Jar

As a child I remember both my paternal grandmother (who was from Mexico) and my father (until recently when his was accidently broken) both used clay jars to store money. I am sure that way back in the day that was one of the places that many stored their money, given that it was a common ordinary "staple" in a household. We are just like that fragile jar; we can all seem quite ordinary, but once broken (on many levels) we are able to see the treasure that lies within. We can see the "jar's" priceless contents. In the next scripture we are compared to the clay jar (meaning that we are fragile, weak, earthly vessels); however the focus of this next scripture isn't about the earthly vessel, but about how He uses us the power to do His work and uses us to spread His word. 2 Corinthians 4:7 says, "But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us."

These next few verses Paul reminds us that at times we may feel as though we are in such deep despair, that our world has fallen in on us, and that we are at the end of our rope; however, we always, always have hope in Jesus. Christ has won the victory over any trial, tribulation, or distress that we are going through. As difficult as it may seem, during these times, we must focus on using these troubles as opportunities to minister to others. For when we do this we allow the "riches" of our clay jars shine through our "brokeness" for Jesus. "We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you. Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." (2 Corinthians 4:7-18)

Just as my father's ordinary clay jar was easily broken and crushed; you may be feeling that same way in your life. It may seem like there is no light at the end of your tunnel. It seems like those around you like family or friends that you felt would always be there for you have turned their backs on you or maybe your co-workers began gossiping about you and it seems as though your reputation has been destroyed. Maybe it is that you or a loved one are having earth-shattering health issues that seem devastating in the moment. Know that even though darkness comes through the light, know that joy comes in the morning!

Share with other believers, that you know will help speak into your life, your struggles, heartaches, and true and honest feelings. Or be that listening ear to a friend that may need your compassion and uplift them with God's life giving words.