Creation: A Love Story

Creation-ALoveStory

 

The book of Genesis begins with “God created the heavens and the earth” The world—and you—are not products of blind chance and probability; God created it and us. They are here. We are here. God created all that we see and experience. Here we begin the most exciting and fulfilling journey imaginable.

God did not NEED to create the universe. He CHOSE to create it. Why? Love. God is love and love is best expressed toward something or someone else. So, God created the world and people as an expression of His love.

We can know in a very personal way this God who created the universe. God’s deepest desire is to relate to you. To have fellowship with you, His creation. He took the ultimate first step in this relationship with us through His visit to this planet in the person of His Son, Jesus. Now, it’s your turn. It’s your move.

How do you grow closer to understanding and hearing from God? By giving heed to His gentle checks, His delicate restraints and constraints. His voice is still and small and must be felt.

God is love and His voice is for the ear of love. And, your love should be intent on hearing even the smallest of whispers.

You know…those times in conversation when you’re just about to say a word, and you feel that gentle nudge. And, those moments when you’re about to pursue something that seems clear and right and there comes a quiet suggestion that another way is better.

It’s a voice quietly spoken in your heart at first but the more you listen and obey, it grows louder and clearer.

If you want to know Him better take heed to His voice even when is seems contradictory from a human standpoint. Obey even when He asks you to move in the dark. When you do, you will experience a fellowship with God that is wildly overpowering, wonderfully overwhelming, and more than you could ever imagine. A relationship that will hold you and He closely together even in the most severe testings and pressures.

 

Remember: You are part of creation, and He is pleased with how He made you. If at times you feel worthless, remember that God made you for a good reason. You.Are.Valuable.To.Him.

 

See: Genesis 1: 1- 2:3; Isaiah 30:21; Ephesians 2:10; Ephesians 3:20

 

Advertisements

Public Relations 101: the spiritual battle

20130926-073131.jpg

As we look at Luke 20:1-8, we see Jesus rocking it out at public relations as He always did. It’s Passion week at this point. Jesus has already made His triumphal entry at the end of Chapter 19. The air is thick with praise. The universe seemed ready to burst any minute with praise and worship over King Jesus.

Ever felt that way in worship? Like you’re just going to explode right on the spot with worship and you’ve just got to get it out? Jesus said if the people stopped their worship, the very stones would cry out! He is worthy and He will be praised, but, a rock isn’t going to have to take my place at worship. I love Him, and my praise will be done by me, amen and thank you very much. Lord Jesus, may I never miss and opportunity to tell You just how beautiful You are…

As He approached and saw the city of Jerusalem, He wept for her. I know something of the deep sadness that comes over you when you see someone who just can’t see what’s there as they reject what GOD has for their life; choosing a destructive way of life instead. Heartbreaking. I want everyone to know my Jesus and how it feels to be close to Him. It’s breathtaking.

Jesus went right to work. He was there for a reason, and He stayed on the planned path. First things first. He cleaned house. Ever felt like that? I know I have come home and seen a hot mess going on and had enough and I “cleaned house” like a banche….saying, I.have.had.enough.of.this. This party is o v e r. Jesus went into the temple and saw these people desecrating it by using it to make a profit. He threw them out! He is not playing around with this glory stuff. It’s Daddy’s house, and His glory. Done and done.

Lord, I pray there has never been (and never will be) a time that I have perverted your call on my life by profiting from it. I never want to be thrown out from Your presence. There are so many ways to do that. Ever seen GOD do something powerful and took the credit? Ever wanted to make a name for yourself, all in the name of working for The Lord? Ever tried to manipulate things so that someone sees you do what you did for The Lord and His people? And get mad when you think someone is doing a better job than you, or getting more attention than you…..all in the name of “serving The Lord”? Ever tried to manipulate a situation to make your life easier….on that committee?

Ever been led by fear that someone is trying to take your place and begin trying to discredit them?

That’s what the chief priests, the scribes, and the leaders (a.k.a. the Sanhedrin) were trying to do. Jesus caught them sleeping on the job by allowing those things to take place in the temple. They were embarrassed and angry. They wanted to destroy Him. So, they did what any good committee would do: they marched themselves in and disrupted things. They made a scene. You know they were puffed up thinking they had Him right where they wanted Him because of the way they busted right in on that crowd and questioned His authority to throw the merchants out of the temple. They didn’t really care about the answer, they just wanted to arrogantly debate. Ever known someone like that…..who doesn’t really care one way or the other, they just want to fight?

As He often did, Jesus turned the attention back on them. Finding themselves in a no-win situation, they said they didn’t know the answer. Having caught His opponents in a trap made by their own hands, Jesus also refused to answer their question. What a genius!

What is our response to criticism and opposition? Do we anticipate it as the Bible says we should? Do we act as Jesus did? He remained calm and always addressed what was at the heart of the opposition instead of the behavior itself. He remained on the task of completing the mission here on earth.

When we are truly following Jesus, people will question our motives, attack our character, and ridicule the authority we have been given by GOD to serve Him and change lives here on earth. We need to do what Jesus did. We need to mimic Him through our patience, professing the Word of GOD, and stay committed to the task GOD gave us. We don’t need to get caught up and distracted by the emotions. I mean, that’s the real plan anyway….to get us distracted from what GOD has for us. It’s all a spiritual battle. All of it.


Let’s all just stay on task. Let’s live, lead, and love like Jesus, ok?

#1 Productivity Killer

Clock

 

Spending time alone with God can be a difficult discipline, because it goes against the activity addiction of this age. But it’s the most productive thing you could ever do.

I am rarely doing two things at once. I’m usually multitasking 4-7 (or more) things at a time whether anyone knows it or not. I can tick more boxes off in a morning than some people do in a day. Some days there is so much activity going on in so many different directions that I’m sure it’s going to create a vortex that will devour the universe as we know it. Just suck it right in.

Activity. We are addicted to it. There’s lots to get done. And it all needed to get done 10 minutes ago.

Never before in the history of mankind have we had more access to scripture but less time to absorb it. You can’t microwave spiritual transformation.

My most productive days are the ones that started out sitting on God’s knee, or rocking on His Heavenly front porch and immersing myself in Him. Our time talking to and listening (don’t forget about the listening part!) to God, and reading God’s Word is about encountering God–Not ticking off another box.

 

My most unproductive days are the ones that I rush through time with Him. It’s the #1 killer. Bar none. Quietness and trust accomplish far more than we can imagine: not only in us, but also in earth and in heaven.

Whether or not we choose to acknowledge it, there’s a war going on. You may feel like you’re doing nothing, but time alone with God allows you to use heavenly weapons which have divine power to demolish strongholds and break every chain. Every. One. Did you get that? Go back and read that again. Living close to God is a sure-fire defense. And, He’s already won the battle. Let’s stay on the winning side.

If your life feels like chaos, pull up a chair….or better yet, sit on Daddy’s knee a while….

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27

This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.” Isaiah 30:15

GOD in Everything

20130917-081905.jpg

He is the God: let him do whatever He thinks best. – 1 Sam 3:18

See God in everything, and God will calm and color all that you see. It may be that the circumstances of our sorrows will not be removed, their condition will remain unchanged, things aren’t going as planned, things happening that we don’t remember signing up for; but if Christ, as Lord and Master of our life, is brought into it, ”HE will surround me with songs of deliverance.“ To see HIM, and to be sure that His wisdom cannot err, His power cannot fail, His love can never change; to know that even His direst dealings with us are for our deepest spiritual gain, is to be able to say, in the midst of bereavement, sorrow, pain, and loss, ”The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” He is God: Let Him do whatever He thinks is best

Do you acknowledge that God is everything but struggle to see God’s hand in everything that is happening right now, in your daily life?

Charles Finney said, ” A state of mind that sees God in everything is evidence of growth in grace and a thankful heart.”

Nothing else but seeing God in everything will make us loving and patient with those who [and those things that] annoy and trouble us. They will be to us then only instruments for accomplishing His tender and wise purposes toward us, and we shall even find ourselves at last inwardly thanking them for the blessings they bring us. Nothing else will completely put an end to all murmuring or rebelling thoughts.—H. W. Smith.

“Give me a new idea,” I said,
While musing on a sleepless bed;
“A new idea that’ll bring to earth
A balm for souls of priceless worth;
That’ll give men thoughts of things above,

And teach them how to serve and love,
That’ll banish every selfish thought,
And rid men of the sins they’ve fought.”

The new thought came, just how, I’ll tell:
’Twas when on bended knee I fell,
And sought from HIM who knows full well
The way our sorrow to expel.
SEE GOD IN ALL THINGS, great and small,
And give HIM praise whate’er befall,
In life or death, in pain or woe,
See God, and overcome thy foe.

I saw HIM in the morning light,
HE made the day shine clear and bright;
I saw HIM in the noontide hour,
And gained from HIM refreshing shower.
At eventide, when worn and sad,
HE gave me help, and made me glad.
At midnight, when on tossing bed
My weary soul to sleep HE led.

I saw HIM when great losses came,
And found HE loved me just the same.
When heavy loads I had to bear,
I found HE lightened every care.
By sickness, sorrow, sore distress,
HE calmed my mind and gave me rest.
HE’S filled my heart with gladsome praise
Since I gave HIM the upward gaze.

’Twas new to me, yet old to some,
This thought that to me has become
A revelation of the way
We all should live throughout the day;
For as each day unfolds its light,
We’ll walk by faith and not by sight.
Life will, indeed, a blessing bring,
If we SEE GOD IN EVERYTHING.”
—A. E. Finn

He is God: Let Him do whatever He thinks is best

The Game of Life: Follow the Leader

 

followleader

 

As we headed through the hall, she wanted to lead. She didn’t know where I was going, but she felt she knew and wanted to lead anyway. For a little while she was going where I was headed but as soon as we were at a crossroad, she went the wrong way.

Aren’t we all like that with God? We walk with Him a while, and then we think we know what’s best and begin to take over the lead. That inevitable moment comes when it is obvious we were wrong. Ouch.

We all want God on our side. God wants to be. He wants a growing, thriving, active relationship with us. We don’t have to struggle and beg for it. He wanted to be with us so badly that He sent His Son to die to make that happen. We definitely don’t have to wonder if God is for us. He’s made that obvious.

WWJD

We can learn a lot from Jesus’ life. He lived intentionally. Remember WWJD? We can lean in and learn what He did, to know what we should do:

Jesus only did what God was doing (John 5:19). Jesus never did anything that He didn’t see the Father doing. We follow Jesus who follows God. But we get caught up in wanting to know “what is going to happen if” (fear). We think we know, and that’s when we start taking over.

One family night my hubby dropped my daughter and me off at the door to the movies. On the way out, we didn’t know where our vehicle was. She asked several times, “Where are we parked, Daddy?”. I used the opportunity to teach. Daddy knows where the car is. We can trust Daddy. If we follow Daddy, we will get to the car. Jesus knows what He’s doing too. We can trust Him. If we follow Him, we will always be going the right way. 

Hey, I get it. I really do. Life is scary. There are a lot of unknowns to us. We. Don’t. Know. Where. We. Are. Going. But, Jesus does. Where He is, the Father is. Are you in Christ? Are you doing what He is doing? There shouldn’t be a big disconnect between the stuff Jesus does and the stuff that we do because we should be looking at Jesus, doing what He is doing as Jesus is looking at the Father, doing what He is doing. You know, follow the leader, Simon says game. Only, life isn’t a game, and we aren’t kids. 

We spend so much time trying to get Jesus to turn around and follow us…..and we don’t even know where we are going. If we lead, it is rarely good for anyone that we influence or who follows us.

If our passion–if our focus is on Jesus–then we are headed right where God wants us. And, wherever God is….that’s for sure where I want to be.

What about those neutral things? Those things that aren’t right or wrong? What about when I mess up? David messed up. Big. Yet, He was called the man after God’s own heart. David’s secret? Humility. He knew that a truly humbled heart is the way to please God (Psalm 51:17).

In contrast, being proud is a sure-fire way to guarantee that God is NOT with you. God resists the proud (James Ch 4).

The idea that God is on our side can lead us two ways:

  • Thinking that it means now we can get done all we want to do because He’s with me. He’s on my side.
  • Worship. Know myself truly, that apart from God there isn’t one thing in me good. I don’t want to be on my own side. It stinks! I want to be on God’s side. I join in with Psalm 124 and say, “If the Lord had not been on my side.” I say in all humility, BUT GOD. By His grace go I.

Identity Crisis

I saw this a while back and saved it. I do that a lot when I run across things on the World Wide Web. The problem is, often times, I can’t remember where I get them.

I wanted to share it here with you to bless you and help you all to remember your identity in Christ. The true and powerful identity we have after we accept Him as Lord and Savior.

This, my friends, is who you are in Christ. There is no identity crisis here! Name it and proclaim it!! Don’t forget it. Brothers and Sisters, don’t you dare believe anything less than who your Creator says you are!

Thank You Jesus!!

20130910-083416.jpg

Now, join me in a Jesus jig! Praise You, Lord! There’s no way we can read a list like that and not worship and glorify Your name! Hallelujah!

No Ordinary Conversation

prayernoordinaryconvo1

Our Father In Heaven

Hallowed be Your name Matthew 6:9

My favorite way name for God is Daddy. I love to crawl up in His lap, snuggle in and chat a while with Him. He is so warm and inviting. So loving, and comforting. My favorite place to be is in Daddy’s lap. It’s because of my relationship with Jesus that I am able to call Him Daddy.

Although He and I are very familiar with one another, I also know that talking with Him is no ordinary conversation. We come to God as Father, but we need to also know who we’re talking to. Daddy has a name to revere and respect. He indeed is our Father but His name is Hallowed.

Our Daddy God is holy and just and mighty and should be revered. 

In Exodus 19:16-20, we see God coming. The people of Israel hear thunder and lightning. They see a thick cloud, smoke. The earth was trembling; there’s fire, and a trumpet sound. A loud trumpet sound. They. Are. Shuddering.

Not many of us are storm chasers. When there is a storm we usually go in the opposite direction. These people are shuddering as they move closer. And, we see Moses talking to God, and God answering Him in the thunder. How cool is that?! God. Answered. Moses. In. The. Thunder. Wow! What would you think if as you were praying God suddenly started talking to you through thunder? My face would hit the ground, I’m sure.

But, I want you to notice what we see in verse 20: God invited Moses up.

God invites us all into that holiness. Prayer is God inviting you into His space.

Prayer is THE Holy One and His holy ones speaking together. He isn’t content to be holy from a distance. He invites us in. But, we aren’t invited in as a trembling slave to a lord that owns us and is a tyrannical leader. No, we are invited in as holy. Not as sinners, but as saints:

By this will of God, we have been sanctified (made holy) through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once and for all. Hebrews 10:10

We are invited in as holy sons and daughters. Beautiful. Thank you, Jesus.

We go to God as sons and daughters, but not like we are the brains and He is the braun. He knows what to do. Trust Him. Leave the plan and solution behind and just bring faith. 

You won’t blow His mind with an awesome solution that He didn’t think of. EVERYTHING GOD DOES IS A SOLUTION. Just. Bring. Faith. He is God, He is Holy. He’s got this.

Remember: prayer is the Holy One and His holy ones speaking together. Because of this, prayer is no ordinary conversation

Our Father in heaven, we know exactly who You are. And, You are holy. Thank You that You don’t just have us standing at the bottom of the mountain looking up. You invite us up….

Satisfied

20130802-070028.jpg

It’s going on 6:30am and I’ve been sitting for over an hour and half holding a sweet sick child as she struggles with a cold. She’s finally sleeping. Due to her severe neglect she has a lot of sensory processing disorder issues and developmental delays that GOD is healing. Amen! This causes some confusing feelings in her especially when she doesn’t feel well. She and I are very close and when anything goes on, happy or sad, she wants Mama! She and I spend a lot of time together. She trusts me. We have a kind of “short hand” between us. I know what she needs faster than anyone just by a look, or a sigh. I can read her quicker than she can read herself. I know her. I’ve spent a lot of time studying and listening to her. My voice brings her confidence when she is confused by the messages her little world is sending her. Just the sight if me makes her relax. She often says, “I need you, Mama.”

I am blessed.

As I studied and reflected this week on Psalm 63 and the deep satisfaction GOD brings into our lives….His love, mercy, faithfulness and provision moved me. As soon as David woke he was aware of his need, his deep thirst for GOD. Even more so than the need for a drink. David was in the wilderness and knew thirst.

Because he had spent time with GOD in his life before the wilderness came, he knew GOD. Really knew Him. Our GOD is faithful. He knew GOD could quench his thirst, satisfy his hunger, fulfill his every longing. And, when GOD satisfies it isn’t with a quick snack. No, it’s a satisfaction from rich, solid foods that fills you up full and gets you through this thing. GOD knows David better than David knows David; knows what he needs better than he does. He holds David steady no matter how shaky the ground feels beneath his feet. One glance in the eyes of Daddy relaxes David. David has strength and confidence in a mighty, loving GOD Who is passionate about him. Who pursues HIM. Who is consumed with HIS love for him.

GOD is that crazy about each one of us. As I sit here holding a sleeping child and know how deeply I love her. How much I gladly do for her. How I am passionate about the love I have for her; how much I want to fulfill every need, every hurt, every longing that she has, I am blessed and confident. Confident in knowing my GOD can and will do all of that and so much more than I can think of or imagine for each of us.

HE is here in each of our lives sweet sisters! THIS is our Daddy! HIS love is perfect and pure. HE knows us better than we know ourselves. And, HE is there. Right there in front of you. Behind you. Beside you. Rest in HIM. Drink HIM in. Dine with HIM. HIS love never fails, never gives up, never runs out on you.

Blessings and love to you all xoxo.

In His Peace,
Christy

*I’ve been away from you dear friends and I’ve missed you. I’ve been away writing. I’ve written over one hundred daily devotionals that I will begin to share with you here soon. GOD is GOOD!

I’ve also been busy helping and organizing our growing ministry. GOD has truly blessed and we know HE will bring more to us. Things have also been very busy at home. We have children moving into full time ministry across the world from us, and traveling around busy with ministry here, and training up our newly adopted little one in the way she should go so that when she too is older, she won’t depart from it (Proverbs 22:6) . When you give your kids to GOD HE says ok, and we submit!

Come Home, Runaway

20130509-035536.jpg

“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate. (Luke 15:17-24 NIV)

I deeply love this parable. The father seeing his son come from a long way off indicates that he habitually looked for his return, scanning the distant road daily hoping to see him. The father put feet to his feelings by RUNNING out to meet his son. The father displayed compassion, love (threw his arms around his neck and kissed him), celebration, joyful restoration of status for his son (a robe of distinction, a signet ring of family authority, sandals worn by a son in contrast to a barefoot slave). The father initiated restoration of fellowship before the son could articulate his confession because he knew what was in his heart.

Everything the younger son had hoped to find in the far country, he discovered back home: clothes, jewelry, friends, joyful celebration, love, and assurance for the future.

The difference: instead of saying, ‘Father, give me!’ (as he did before he left) he said, ‘Father, make me!’ He was willing to be a servant!

God’s compassion for a wandering sinner returning home far outweighs any sin we have committed. His love for us is deep, and His grace and mercy are long. God is not waiting for his shamed child to slink home, nor is He standing on His dignity when He comes, but RUNNING out to gather us, shamed and ragged and muddied as we are, to His welcoming arms. The name “Father” will at once fade the color of sin and heighten the splendid glory of forgiveness.

In Phillip Yancey’s book “What’s so Amazing about Grace,” Yancy retells the story of the Prodigal Son from a modern day view point. It is a powerful story and it’s definitely worth sharing. Here’s the story …

THE RUNAWAY

A young girl grows up on a cherry orchard just above Traverse City, Michigan. Her parents, a bit old-fashioned, tend to overreact to her nose ring, the music she listens to, and the length of her skirts. They ground her a few times, and she seethes inside. “I hate you!” she screams at her father when he knocks on the door of her room after an argument, and that night she acts on a plan she has mentally rehearsed scores of times. She runs away.

She has visited Detroit only once before, on a bus trip with her church youth group to watch the Tigers play. Because newspapers in Traverse City report in lurid detail the gangs, drugs, and violence in downtown Detroit, she concludes that is probably the last place her parents will look for her. California, maybe, or Florida, but not Detroit.

Her second day there she meets a man who drives the biggest car she’s ever seen. He offers her a ride, buys her lunch, arranges a place for her to stay. He gives her some pills that make her feel better than she’s ever felt before. She was right all along, she decides: Her parents were keeping her from all the fun.

The good life continues for a month, two months, a year. The man with the big car—she calls him “Boss”–teaches her a few things that men like. Since she’s underage, men pay a premium for her. She lives in a penthouse and orders room service whenever she wants. Occasionally she thinks about the folks back home, but their lives now seem so boring that she can hardly believe she grew up there. She has a brief scare when she sees her picture printed on the back of a milk carton with the headline, “Have you seen this child?” But by now she has blond hair, and with all the makeup and body-piercing jewelry she wears, nobody would mistake her for a child. Besides, most of her friends are runaways, and nobody squeals in Detroit.

After a year, the first sallow signs of illness appear, and it amazes her how fast the boss turns mean. “These days, we can’t mess around,” he growls, and before she knows it she’s out on the street without a penny to her name. She still turns a couple of tricks a night, but they don’t pay much, and all the money goes to support her drug habit. When winter blows in she finds herself sleeping on metal grates outside the big department stores. “Sleeping” is the wrong word—a teenage girl at night in downtown Detroit can never relax her guard. Dark bands circle her eyes. Her cough worsens.

One night, as she lies awake listening for footsteps, all of a sudden everything about her life looks different. She no longer feels like a woman of the world. She feels like a little girl, lost in a cold and frightening city. She begins to whimper. Her pockets are empty and she’s hungry. She needs a fix. She pulls her legs tight underneath her and shivers under the newspapers she’s piled atop her coat. Something jolts a synapse of memory and a single image fills her mind: of May in Traverse City, when a million cherry trees bloom at once, with her golden retriever dashing through the rows and rows of blossomy trees in chase of a tennis ball.

God, why did I leave? she says to herself, and pain stabs at her heart. My dog back home eats better than I do now. She’s sobbing, and she knows in a flash that more than anything else in the world she wants to go home.

Three straight phone calls, three straight connections with the answering machine. She hangs up without leaving a message the first two times, but the third time she says, “Dad, Mom, it’s me. I was wondering about maybe coming home. I’m catching a bus up your way, and it’ll get there about midnight tomorrow. If you’re not there, well, I guess I’ll just stay on the bus until it hits Canada.”

It takes about seven hours for a bus to make all the stops between Detroit and Traverse City, and during that time she realizes the flaws in her plan. What if her parents are out of town and miss the message? Shouldn’t she have waited another day or so until she could talk to them? Even if they are home, they probably wrote her off as dead long ago. She should have given them some time to overcome the shock.

Her thoughts bounce back and forth between those worries and the speech she is preparing for her father. “Dad, I’m sorry. I know I was wrong. It’s not your fault, it’s all mine. Dad, can you forgive me?” She says the words over and over, her throat tightening even as she rehearses them. She hasn’t apologized to anyone in years.

The bus has been driving with lights on since Bay City. Tiny snowflakes hit the road, and the asphalt steams. She’s forgotten how dark it gets at night out here. A deer darts across the road and the bus swerves. Every so often, a billboard. A sign posting the mileage to Traverse City. Oh, God.

When the bus finally rolls into the station, its air brakes hissing in protest, the driver announces in a crackly voice over the microphone, “Fifteen minutes, folks. That’s all we have here.” Fifteen minutes to decide her life. She checks herself in a compact mirror, smooths her hair, and licks the lipstick off her teeth. She looks at the tobacco stains on her fingertips and wonders if her parents will notice. If they’re there.

She walks into the terminal not knowing what to expect, and not one of the thousand scenes that have played out in her mind prepare her for what she sees. There, in the concrete-walls-and-plastic-chairs bus terminal in Traverse City, Michigan, stands a group of 40 family members—brothers and sisters and great-aunts and uncles and cousins and a grandmother and great-grandmother to boot. They are all wearing ridiculous-looking party hats and blowing noisemakers, and taped across the entire wall of the terminal is a computer-generated banner that reads “Welcome home!”

Out of the crowd of well-wishers breaks her dad. She looks through tears and begins the memorized speech, “Dad, I’m sorry. I know … “

He interrupts her. “Hush, child. We’ve got no time for that. No time for apologies. You’ll be late for the party. A banquet’s waiting for you at home.”

And so it is with God’s amazing grace. But what’s so amazing about it, anyway?

Ask people what they must do to get to return to God and most reply, “Be good.” Jesus’ stories contradict that answer.

All we must do is cry, “Help!” God welcomes home anyone who will have Him and, in fact, has made the first move already.

That’s what’s so amazing about grace.

20130509-035148.jpg

20130509-034619.jpg

My Choice: My love Supremely (or how to mess up crap)

20130503-061734.jpg

In Luke 14:25-35, Jesus is saying that if we do not love Him supremely, more than our family and more than our own lives, we cannot be His disciple. There is no half-way measure. Not all believers bear the Cross. It is possible by living a nominal Christian life. This is called the lukewarm Christian life.

But, if we determine to be all out for Christ we must live the type of life that Christ lived when He was here on earth–a life of self-renunciation, reproach, persecution, temptation, in opposition of others, humiliation.

He wants us to understand that this living and leading like Jesus isn’t for wimps. We need to count the cost. To take up our cross daily is to expect painful situations everyday because of our allegiance to Christ.

I can certainly choose to live a nominal, lukewarm Christian life and avoid all that…..but, it would cost me so much more.

I would miss the miracles, the power, the blessings of seeing God move first-hand. I would miss this deep love affair that sweeps me off my feet. I would miss the dance and gazing into eyes of my Savior; that skin to skin closeness that leaves me speechless.

Who wants to miss that? Not me. Nothing I suffer here on earth could ever be more than what He did for me. Before I knew Him….when He was a stranger to me….He suffered and died for me. Most of us would give our lives for our spouses, or our children because we know and love them but not for a stranger that didn’t even know our names. We get goosebumps when a stranger in the car in front of us buys our coffee for us (I’m not knocking that show of kindness. I think it’s great). BUT this Jesus DIED for me BEFORE I EVEN KNEW HIS NAME. THAT deserves my life. My love supremely. My worship. Everything. No. Holding. Back.

Please allow me to speak bluntly with you:
I have heard many people say, “I feel like crap” or, “I look like crap”. I’ve probably said it myself. In Luke 14:34-35, Jesus is talking about the lukewarm Christian being useless and even messing up crap. Wow. If we stepped in crap, He would have to tell us to move out because we would be messing it up. How bad is THAT?! That is funny, but it’s not funny.

How about making Him throw up?? Take a look at Rev 3:14-22. I don’t want Him to vomit me out of His mouth! He urges us to cleanse, repent, shake off, open our eyes, to be committed. This. Is. Your. Call. Listen! He is standing at the door knocking. Hear His voice and open that door and dine with Him. Besides, the victor will get to sit with Jesus at the dinner table! I get excited about having the opportunity to sit and talk with brilliant people, but THIS! Whew, glory!

You’ve been feeling empty and seeking out your purpose. Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened (Matthew 7:7-8).

When we give up everything to follow Christ, guess what we find? We find everything right there in Christ. Just like salt, we have a useful purpose. We are here for more than to breath oxygen, and collect treasures of this world. I know money is important and that living life here takes money. Breathing oxygen is important to life, but we are here for more reasons than to breath. We have a purpose to live out, and that purpose is to follow Christ. Christian, its time to live a purpose driven life that lives and leads your family like Jesus. Step out from the crowd, be committed, repent and let’s do this. Together.

20130503-061640.jpg

Go All In {Bible Study: Living and Leading Like Jesus}

20130328-205238.jpg

Read Luke 10:25-37

Focus: Luke 10: 27, 37

27) He answered: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind”; and, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 37) The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus tole him, “Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10:27,37)

The ‘expert in the law’ was testing Jesus. He was quoting Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18. I had to giggle a little about Him quoting scripture to JESUS. Ha! He had no idea that he was talking to the Word made flesh and quoting the Word to the “Word”! Ha! The purpose of the law is not to save from sin, but to produce knowledge of sin…the function of the law is to show man what a guilty sinner we are. Jesus was trying to make a point with this man about following the letter of the law versus following the heart and Spirit of the law, but he didn’t get it. We know this by the way he says, ‘the one’ instead of saying the Samaritan. He knew the answer in his head but not in his heart.

Love God and Love people. That’s it.

Makes sense to me that these verses are in this order…. Love God with all of you and love His people. The closer we grow in our walk with God the more we can understand His love and be filled with love for others. All the more reason to be sure I am spending time with Him every day. Jesus is telling us to live as He lived and love as He loves. And, that is loving God supremely with the TOTAL person…go ALL in.…allowing nothing to come between us and God….and then go and love His people like THAT.

The question started out: Who is my neighbor? but it ended by posing the question: To whom do you prove yourself a neighbor? My neighbor is anyone of any race, creed or social background. The real test of love is action, not just profession. Loving God with all of me and see people as He sees them. ALL are worthy.

 

God wants us to understand that people are always more important than our schedules, our things, our money, and our time. Helping people means personal sacrifice, but that’s how we show God’s love to them. And we let God love them through us!

 

I love the picture of Christ here: The Samaritans were despised by the Jews because of their mixed Gentile blood. It was a despised and hated Samaritan that stopped to care for the Jew. Jesus came to this world, despised, rejected, and hated….for us. He saw us in our desperate need, had compassion on us. There is nothing….no debt of ours….that He leaves unpaid by the sacrifice…..payment for my soul….for all eternity. His blood paid my sin debt. Woo!!!! THANK YOU JESUS!!! (also note that this is a picture of how Jesus extended His hand of love to His own people….the Jews….in spite of how they reject and despise Him)

 

No Unemployment Lines Here {Living and Leading Like Jesus Study}

So glad to see you back here with us for week two: Luke Chapter 10 of our Bible Study, Living and Leading Like Jesus! Come on in with us!

20130328-205238.jpg

{Read: Luke 10: 1-7}

2) He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. 3) Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. (Luke 10:2-3)

 

In the beginning of Chapter 10 we see Jesus sending them ahead of Him to prepare the people for the coming Messiah. You and I are also sent out ahead to proclaim the coming of the Messiah.

Christian service has no unemployment!

The workers are few because of lack of participation of believers in the Gospel mission. It’s time for believers to take their stand out among their fellow believers and bring the Gospel of the coming Messiah! He sends us all ahead to the people with whom He wants to dwell.. Jesus is coming, and we are commanded to GO AND TELL! What prepared them for this mission is that they had been equipped with Jesus’ power and vision to reach people.  It is important to dedicate our skill to God’s Kingdom, and WE too must be equipped with His power and have clear vision of what He wants us to do….and that comes by asking.

Jesus’ first instructions were to pray for a gathering of believers in Jesus out from among the mass of unbelievers. He wanted full participation of believers. Begin by prayer and mobilizing people to pray. Mission is based on prayer. How much time will you devote to praying for God for missionaries? Missions are for humble people not for self-assured. Sound like you?

He doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called. We must stop believing the lie that we aren’t qualified. It’s true that in our own strength we aren’t qualified. His qualifications surpass any situation. He is highly qualified for whatever may come. A little police officer holding a badge up and saying, “Stop in the name of the law!” would have most of us freeze in our tracks. Not because of the officer’s stature, but because of who he represents and who qualifies him in his position (our laws). There is absolutely nothing that surpasses Jesus’ qualifications. These are the same qualifications we are sent with. How could we hold back?? Will you join God on a mission? Your mission field is right now. Right where you are. Take this lesson as your call to live and lead like Jesus on the mission field wherever you are.  Go! Now!

 

Missions is not a program in the church, it’s the purpose of the Church. It’ s a way of life right where we are. 

 

Don’t just go to church. BE the church. 

 

{Also note a cross reference in verse 3b to Matthew 10:16 to be wise as serpents and gentle as doves, meaning to be wise about what is good and innocent about what is evil…and to Matthew 7:15, Wolves: false prophets, people who have not been sent by God but who claim they have. Be vigilant to these false prophets}

 This stirs such a passion within me for His people. For the workers in that we here in this office are passionate about Encouraging, Equipping, and Empowering people to be all that God created them to be. For the harvest in telling the Good News of our coming Messiah!

 

Digging In: We are all laborers in the field- no matter where we are. What does your personal mission field look like? Who are you reaching out to?

 

It’s Not Always Easy But It’s Always Worth It {Live and Lead Like Jesus Bible Study}

Week one of our Bible Study: Living and Leading Like Jesus is complete. What a great study this week!! We’ve gone through all of Chapter 9 in 5 days! We are having a great time with my two online groups that I’m leading. GOD is answering prayers and speaking loudly to us. Pray for us, will you?

Let’s lean in to the last verses for this week. We’ll pick back up next week. See you then?

20130328-205238.jpg

58) Jesus replied, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”60) Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”62) Jesus replied, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:58,60,62)<

Jesus did not rebuke, but clarified for him what following Him would involve so he could count the cost. Perhaps he was looking at the followers and daydreaming a life that wasn’t reality. He would need to accept homelessness, physical discomfort, and rejection. Life is urgent and announcing God’s Kingdom is urgent—spreading the Gospel is urgent! No procrastination and putting off things with God. Seize the day for Him. Jesus was totally dedicated in every way and in every moment. Looking back keeps us from looking ahead at following Him and His command and is a distraction. We need to leave our past behind. This isn’t a question of entrance into the Kingdom—but effective service in the Kingdom after entering it.

Discipleship involves hard work and sacrifice. It’s not all pretty and glam (as some people think!). Jesus wonders: Are we ready to rough it? A life lived for and lead by Jesus is a life abandoned….no half hearted commitment. We can’t pick and choose among Jesus’ ideas and follow Him selectively–this isn’t a Burger King, have it your way menu for you to choose from–we accept the cross along with the crown and abandon what we place our security in without looking back (not only at things, people, or behaviors that distract, but also the past life that the enemy would have you focused on instead of walking clothed in His righteousness and in the power and authority given to you by Jesus Himself). We have to loosen our grip on things that normally provide emotional security: Are you ready to surrender control of your life and follow Him? Christ followers aren’t made of half-hearted stuff or dreamy sentimentality. Kingdom work is the hardest, most gut wrenching, most exhausting, most heart breaking, most judged job that is by far THE most rewarding, most joyous, most satisfying job that I wouldn’t trade for anything this world has to offer. Following Christ isn’t always easy, but it’s always worth it!

Heart chat:
People have a hard time when it comes to denying themselves to follow Christ. Did you battle something you would have to give up to follow Christ? Is there anything above Jesus for you?

Prayer:
Lord, thank You for all You gave up for me. Thank You for living a life of such discomfort, and suffering the cross……all for me! May we answer the call to follow You with sincerity and whole-heartedly without looking back. You are worthy. In Jesus name, Amen.

Our Greatness Is Measured By Surrender {Live and Lead Like Jesus Bible Study}

20130327-225917.jpg

Jesus, knowing their thoughts, took a little child and had him stand beside him. Then he said to them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For he who is least among you all—he is the greatest.” (Luke 9:47-48)

The Twelve were thinking about rank in the kingdom. They wondered which of them would have the highest position and the most prestige. Jesus knows us intimately. He knew the competitive pride that fostered the argument and was quick to point out that spiritually whoever was least was great.

By standing the child beside Him, Jesus gave the child honor. Acceptable service involves caring about people, even insignificant people A child was the least significant person in Jewish and in Greco-Roman culture. It reflects His interest in neglected people.

To live and lead like Jesus is to know that greatness in the Kingdom has nothing to do with greatness in this world.

Jesus meant that instead of seeking status for ourselves, His disciples should give their attention to the needs of people who have no status. The disciple who ministers to a person with no status, as though he or she was ministering to Jesus, does in fact minister to Jesus and to God the Father. Our care for others is a measure of our greatness. The principle here is that: the disciple who is willing to sacrifice personal advancement, in order to serve insignificant people, as the world evaluates people, is truly “great” in God’s estimation. Our greatness is measured by surrender and acceptance of God and His will.

We are free-ist when we obey, tallest when we are kneeling, and most alive when we die. A great leader is a servant leader—that’s who Jesus was, and that’s who we need to be if we want to live and lead like Jesus.

In short:

Being “important” isn’t important. What is important is serving others in the name of Jesus

~ I also think this is talking about more than just actions. It’s easy enough to “do” good things to help others and to serve those around you. It’s an attitude of saying that others are important and that Jesus loves them. That in itself is enough reason to give that person value. And because they have value, I’m willing to do whatever I can to help them! Sometimes the heart attitude comes after the actions of our hands, so we should be willing to work even when we don’t feel like it. -Amanda GMG

Prayer:
Lord, thank You for Your grace. We try to make things about us. Forgive us! May our focus be ever on decreasing so that You may increase in our lives. May we be spiritually sensitive and accepting of Your will and Word, and be found faithful. In Jesus name, Amen

Note To Self: You’ve Gotta Go

20130326-233841.jpg

Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. (Luke 9:23-26 NIV)

Having outlined His own future in verse 22, the Lord invited the disciples to follow Him. This would mean denying themselves and taking up their cross daily. Anyone who intends to come along side Jesus has to let Him lead. Nothing material can compensate for the loss of a walk with Jesus—Jesus’ disciples are not to use their lives on earth merely to please themselves; they should spend their lives serving God and others. In efforts to focus on acquiring all the worldly things, the true purpose of life is missed. What good would that do when we would only have it for a short while, then leave it forever. It would be an insane bargain! Serve Him with boldness!! And, don’t miss the excitement of His coming back….how could that compare with anything this world could possibly say to us to cause us embarrassment?!

To follow Him we must lay down our devotions to this world and live for Christ and His mission. The fact that He mentioned that we need to take up our cross tells us that we can expect painful situations every day because of our allegiance to Christ. To take up the cross means to deliberately choose the kind of life that He lived. The life He lived involved this and more:

  • Opposition of loved ones
  • The reproach of the world
  • Complete dependence on God
  • Obedience to the leading of the Holy Spirit
  • Proclamation of an unpopular message
  • A pathway of loneliness
  • Organized attacks from established religious leaders
  • Suffering for righteousness sake
  • Slander and shame
  • Pouring out one’s life for others
  • Death to self and to the world<
  • But, it also involves laying hold of life that is life indeed! It means finding at last the reason for our existence. And it means eternal reward. Do we think of our relationship with God primarily in terms of, what’s in it for us, or in terms of what we can do for Him? Am I willing to deny myself, take up my cross daily and follow Him? Willingly renounce any so called right to plan or choose and to recognize His Lordship in every area of life? Surrendering to God’s will does not mean you lose. It means you win. God’s will is always best, even when we cannot imagine how!

    This life of abandonment is genuine living and brings profound spiritual pleasure. It has a joy, a holy carefreeness, and a deep inward satisfaction that defies description.

    It is possible for believers to temporarily cower in fear around unbelievers and act “ashamed” of Jesus as Peter did in his denials of Christ. Hurt people hurt people and will often try to embarrass someone for the stand they take in an attempt to make themselves feel better.

    “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose” -Jim Elliot

    Prayer:
    Deny myself… oh what a challenge for us at times, Lord, but even moreso when we take our eyes off of Jesus and what He’s done for us. This I know Lord… when I keep my eyes fixed on Jesus and lose my life for His sake, I am filled with such peace and contentment that can only come from Christ! God, help us to be “all in” in our relationship with You – we can’t have one foot in the world and still fully follow You. Help us to boldly live for You, knowing that it may cost us temporary comfort, but oh what joy for such an eternal reward! In Jesus name, Amen.

    Miracles Come From Broken Things {Live and Lead Like Jesus Bible Study}

    20130326-005329.jpg

    Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke them. Then he gave them to the disciples to set before the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over (Luke9:16-17)

    The child gave what he had even though he knew it wasn’t enough to feed everyone. He didn’t know how it would work out; He just gave it to the planner. The disciples wanted to send the crowd away, but God had something big in mind. Jesus gave THANKS to God because He already had faith that God would provide for these people before it ever happened. Jesus kept on giving to the disciples as they kept giving to the people. Everyone ate (an estimated 15,000 including women and children!), were satisfied, and they had 12 basketfuls of leftovers! One for each disciple! God is concerned with feeding us the spiritual bread of life as well as the physical bread of life. What they thought of as meager at best, God used to multiply and bless to the thousands. A little of something in the hands of God is always more than enough.

    The tasks ahead of you may seem overwhelming. What you have may seem really small too, but great things happen in the hands of Jesus and that includes us! Don’t give up! If we give to Jesus what we have…..no matter how small and helpless it may seem…..we will see God do marvelous things. God provides immeasurably more than we can imagine! Oh, to trust in His power and plan even though we can’t always see how it will work out! Time and time again, He will take what we have to offer and use it in miraculous ways. When He calls you to something He will carry you through it. Go to God as the source and provider of all things physical as well as spiritual.

    And, if you think you’re too broken to live and lead like Jesus, throw that lie back to the pit where it came from and remember: Jesus broke the bread and it multiplied…..broken things in the hands of Jesus MULTIPLIES…RUNS…CLIMBS MOUNTAINS…GLORIFIES…BLESSES….AND BLOWS OUR MINDS!! God’s economy: Feeding 5,000 with one small basket of food. HE still multiplies today! Put GOD first and everything else follows.

    Basic Concepts: God provides for all our needs. We are to share with those in need. Be humble to be big for God’s glory.

    Prayer:
    Father I thank You that, in Your hands, we have all we need and more! As we move deeper into this study, I thank You for the awesome ways You are going to put skin on these lessons for us! I thank You that You are the same God yesterday, today, and tomorrow and will always be performing miracles in us. Help us to remember that when we place ANYTHING into Your hands, miracles happen! May we trust that in Your power and Your plan even though we can’t always see how it will work out. You are more than enough! In Jesus name, Amen!

    {Note: We are on day 2 of our online Bible Study: Living and Leading Like Jesus. The group is sharing what GOD has laid on each of their hearts with this study, and things are hopping! If you want to join in on the excitement leave a comment telling me so and I’ll add you to my private Facebook group. There’s also an email study group. It’s not too late now to join, but it soon will be. Click on the Good Morning Girls button and check out the awesome ministry I am leading this Bible Study with}

    YOU are the equipment {Live and Lead Like Jesus Bible Study}

    20130325-051140.jpg

    He told them: “Take nothing for the journey—no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra tunic. Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that town. If people do not welcome you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave their town, as a testimony against them.” Luke 9:3-5

    Jesus, our Master Leader was giving them detailed, specific instructions so they would know what to do. Up until now they watched Jesus do it, but now He sends them out to proclaim the Gospel. They weren’t to load themselves up with equipment but were to keep it simple….THEY were the equipment. Staying in one place taught them about being content where they are. No trading around homes for better ones. It was customary that when people would leave a town they had no relationship with, they would dust their feet when they left as a sign to them. Having them do the same was a testimony of their lack of relationship with Jesus. If they weren’t welcomed, they were to just leave town without making a scene.

    To live and lead like Jesus, I need to understand the power and authority I have in HIM. Power means strength; authority means the right to use it. GOD will provide all we need in Word, and materials. This is our call to a life of total faith. We all have the Holy Spirit that speaks constantly to us, instructing us on what to do, what to say, where to go. WE are the equipment. HE equips the called. If HE calls you to it, HE will get you through it. To be an effective leader, we need to communicate the details of what is expected to others (it’s our responsibility). We need to be content with what we have, and teach that along too. We aren’t to exert pressure on those who reject the message. We are not responsible for how people respond to the message, GOD is.

    Prayer:
    Gracious, Heavenly Father, thank You so much for being our loving Father…the ultimate, loving Teacher. Bless us as we study together to live and lead as You would if You were in our place or in our shoes. Thank You that You are our everything, every time, to everyone, and in every situation. May we walk more intimately with You in each moment. In Jesus name, Amen

    When fear comes knocking…

    rooted

    ….for you are with me… Psalm 23:4

    Your peace is a weapon. There are many opportunities created in this world to rob us of our peace. Your confidence in the God of peace declares that you are not falling for the lies of the devil. The first step in authority is to have peace in spite of our circumstances. When Jesus confronted the enemy, He didn’t confront him with His emotions. Knowing he was a liar, He simply refused to be influenced by any other voice than God’s. His peace overwhelmed the enemy; His authority shattered the lie and sent the enemy fleeing.

    This week, that trickster tried to stake a claim. The peace of God overwhelmed and he fled. Praise You Jesus! God is always so very close. mmmm……yes, He is.

    There is a place of walking with God where you simply fear no evil. David faced a lion, a bear, and a giant. In this Psalm he stood in the shadow of death itself, yet he feared no evil. Our trust in the Lord is what brings peace, not trusting in our abilities. Because God is with you, every adversity you face will unfold in victory and become a meal for you, an experience that will nourish and build you up spiritually:

    “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies…” Psalm 23:5a

    The source of God’s peace is God Himself. If fear has been knocking at your door, begin to face that fear with God’s peace. It’s God’s secret weapon to destroy fear:

    “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.” I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27

    New Online Bible Study: Living and Leading Like Jesus

    20130307-072521.jpg

    Ladies, I am leading this online Bible Study. It’s FREE with no materials to buy, and is called Living and Leading Like Jesus. Luke 9-16.

    I am really excited about this study and I’d love to have you join me. Official enrollment opens THIS Monday (March 11) but go ahead and let me know now on this post if you’re joining us. The actual study begins March 25. It’s all done completely online through Facebook, Twitter, Email, or texting. It’s GREAT! I will create a private Facebook page for our group. No one but our members will see the group or our posts and comments. It’s been my favorite so far, E V E R.

    Invite your buddies and join us! We always have a great time and grow so much:) >Let me know if you’re interested in joining (and if you have any questions) by <strongcommenting here on this post.

    **GENTLEMEN: please pass this on to the ladies in your life, in your church, etc**

    For more details on the study itself, click this link. *PLEASE NOTE THE SITE WILL BE DOWN THIS WEEKEND FOR SOME UPDATES BUT WILL BE BACK ONLINE MONDAY (March 11)*:
    Online Bible Study with Christy Rawls at Good Morning Girls

    New Future With A Past

      20130302-102337.jpg

    “Agreed,” she replied. ” Let it be as you say.” Joshua 2:21

    It wasn’t unusual for strange men to appear at her door. She was, after all, a prostitute. The Israelite spies came to Rahab looking for a place to hide, and they put their lives in her hands.

    Who could have failed to hear about the Israelites? They had been in the desert for 40 years and now were headed straight toward Jerico. But Rahab told the spies she had heard of the God of Israel and the deeds He had done on behalf of His people. It was as if she was waiting for evidence of Him in her own life. When she saw her chance, she did not hesitate. She joined the cause of this God whom she believed to be greater than the gods worshipped by her people: “for the LORD your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below” (Joshua 2:11).

    What if these men betrayed her? What if their God failed her? There could be no turning back. Risking her own death, she was obedient to the conviction of truth within her–no debate, no consultation, no wavering.

    Within minutes if her decision, Rahab revealed her extraordinary heart. Rahab interceded for her family’s safety as well as her own. Her family heeded her, for when the walls of Jerico came down, her relatives were with her.

    Over the ensuing years, Rahab surely needed to learn a new way of relating to men. Perhaps her restoration required the greatest faith of all–everyday choices, without drama or spotlight, to be chaste, to forgive, to trust again. Scripture reveals that she continued to hold on to the God who gave her a new beginning. Matthew 1:5 lists Rahab among the forebears of Jesus. But she is not called “the prostitute,” for the stigma of her past is overshadowed by the honor given her by God. And by choosing her–a Gentile sinner–God confirms that He is the Savior of all peoples, for all time and in all circumstances.

    Is there a hope for a woman with a past, someone who has made bad decisions and given herself to a life of sin? Our enemy wants us to believe that nothing good can come of such wreckage. But Rahab’s life demonstrates the benefits of believing God instead.
    When Rahab chose Him, He gave her a completely new life. And He set no limits on her potential as His child. NONE.

    Read about Rahab in Joshua Ch 2

    {the picture above is of a scarlet cord that hangs in my office window as a reminder of Rahab and of the great God of redemption I love and serve.}

    Promises, Promises

      20130225-081658.jpg

    I promise you what I promised Moses: ‘Wherever you set your foot, you will be on land I have given you’ Joshua 1:3 NLT


    Joshua and the people of Israel had promises to go, measure out, and claim. This was a literal ground unoccupied for them. God’s grace had a plan to bless and prosper them. All they needed to do was walk it out in faith.

    Friend, there are divine, new and precious promises waiting for you to claim. We serve a God who is alive and actively working and pursuing you. He’s absolutely crazy about you and wants to give you so much more of Himself. His love isn’t a selfish love, but a love that wants to give and give and give and give. And give. To you.

    Step out and claim your ground in Christ. There is a magnificent territory to march through the length, and breadth of and lay hold of. There is a land of promises opened up to you, child of God. It is God’s will that we “measure it off” by the feet of obedient faith and claim it as our own! Take possession of the promises of God in the name of Christ!

    All the promises of God are yes, in Christ Jesus

    Today, Nothing is Impossible

      20130221-164052.jpg

    “………..Nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matt. 17:20.)


    Today…..it is completely possible to lead a life that stands on the power of the Lord for keeping the victory and takes God at His promises.

    Today…..it is completely possible to cast all our care upon Him daily and to enjoy deep peace in doing it.

    Today…..it is completely possible to have the thoughts and imaginations of our hearts purified, in the deepest meaning of the word.

    Today…..it is completely possible to see the will of God in everything, and to receive it, not with sighing, but with singing.

    Today…..it is completely possible by taking complete refuge in Divine power to become strong through and through; and, where previously our greatest weakness lay, to find that things which formerly upset all our resolves to be patient, or pure, or humble, furnish today an opportunity-through Him who loved us, and works in us an agreement with His will and a blessed sense of His presence and His power-to make sin powerless over us.

    These things are DIVINE POSSIBILITIES, and because they are His work, the true experience of them will always cause us to bow lower at His feet and to learn to thirst and long for more.
    We cannot possibly be satisfied with anything less-each day, each hour, each moment, in Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit-than to WALK WITH GOD.

    “We may have as much of God as we will. Christ puts the key of the treasure-chamber into our hand, and bids us take all that we want. If a man is admitted into the bullion vault of a bank, and told to help himself, and comes out with one cent, whose fault is it that he is poor? Whose fault is it that Christian people generally have such scanty portions of the free riches of God?”*

    *McLaren

    Pack Light

      20130221-152949.jpg

    In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:33).


    The early disciples of Christ packed nothing as they went out two by two preaching the good news of the kingdom of God. Leaving the comforts of home behind, Jesus specifically told them, “Do not take a purse or bag or sandals…” (Luke 10:4a). Freed from the weight of personal baggage, they came and went quickly as they preached and healed others in the name of Jesus. Their ministry was much more effective without the burden of lugging stuff around, and they discovered a total reliance on the Lord for everything they needed.

    Wow…to literally depend on Christ to provide our needs every second of the day would speak volumes about our trust in God wouldn’t it?

    We can often carry extra baggage, both physically and in our hearts, that weigh down our efforts. Instead of trusting the Lord for what we need, we compare ourselves to others. We see what they have, and what they are doing, and we complicate our lives by trying to do what they do, and have what they have. We allow that comparison to paralyze us in using our own specific giftings for His Kingdom work. There is great freedom and joy that comes when we confidently ask God what HE has specifically for us, and then depend on Him to provide and equip us.

    God is crazy about us! Remember, He loves us enough to send His only Son to die for us, so we certainly can trust Him to equip us to accomplish His will in our lives. The victory is His. Take a load off….cast your burdens….peel off that bad attitude and bitterness that is merely a tool of distraction. If He calls you to it, He will bring you through it. Pack light.

    Miraculous Faith: Part 2

      20130221-170725.jpg

    We often feel like we have nothing to offer, “Your servant has nothing there at all….except a little oil (2 Kings 4:2) ”

    The widow’s little bit of oil was already dismissed as being useless for the cause. GOD took this little left over and rocked their world with it! He provision was both for today, AND it overflowed into the future. God wants to make a message out of our mess. That message? Nothing is impossible with God…absolutely NOTHING. His power is available for your life both today, and all you need in the future.

    That’s how just God works. He takes what we, in our finite minds, consider useless and hopeless and uses it to radically change lives. In our weakness He is made strong. Feeling weak? Good! Feeling useless? Good! Really messed something up? Good! You’re ready to pray that seemingly impossible prayer. When is the last time you asked GOD for something only HE can do? That’s the kind of faith HE’s looking for. That’s the kind of GOD we serve…..that is miraculous faith. A faith that believes for a miracle.

    I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)

    Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us (Ephesians 3:20)

    photo credit:Crosschurch TV

    Exciting Days In The Wilderness

      20130204-101701.jpg

    Immediately the Spirit drove Him into the wilderness. Mark 1:12


    It seemed a strange proof of God’s favor. Immediately after what? Immediately after the heavens opened up and the Spirit descended to Him like a dove, and God said, “You are my beloved Son; in whom I am well pleased.”

    The same spirit who descended on Jesus at His baptism now drove Him into the wilderness where He was tempted by satan for 40 days. It is no abnormal experience.

    We, too, have passed through times of desert after a mountain top experience with God. God shines on us to make us fit for life’s desert-places……for its Gethsemanes, for its Calvaries. Testing that marks and mightily enriches a soul’s spiritual life is anything but ordinary. Although it can be a time when it seems all hell has broken loose, it ends in certain triumph for those who have committed themselves to Him. We become a greater “help to the helpless” and come away with a fire. Jesus’ ministry on earth began just after His days in the wilderness. How exciting to know….and if we would just keep that in mind during our own “sending out” times.

    God has not left you. In fact, anointed one, He strengthened you for such a time as this.

    Freedom: We hold the keys

      20130202-111313.jpg

    I was visiting with someone this week that was severely fenced in with bitterness. As I watched and listened, I saw how her life, those around her, and those on the potential other side of her choice to live this way are effected. Not only the relationships now, but the ones that “could be” are in the balance. I wonder how many divine appointments have been overlooked….will be overlooked. I wonder how many great people and opportunities have slipped by. Three words away from breaking through those chains into freedom.

    Free is such a beautiful word.

    “The Lord is the Spirit, and where the Lord’s Spirit is, there is freedom” 2 Corinthians 3:17


    We are often one liberating act away from opening a huge door to enter into a beautiful new world.

    “I can’t tell you how much I long for you to enter this wide-open, spacious life. We didn’t fence you in. The smallness you feel comes from within you. Your lives aren’t small, but you’re living them in a small way. I am speaking as plainly as I can and with great affection. Open up your lives. Live openly and expansively!” 2 Corinthians 6:11-13


    Are there areas of your life right now where you may feel trapped, not experiencing the freedom your heart longs for? Are you three words away from freedom? “I forgive you….He forgives me”

  • Is there someone you need to forgive? Bitterness is the spawn of unforgiveness. It’s bothering you way more than that other person. It’s like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.
  • Is there something you need to forgive yourself for?
  • Is there something in your life where you feel shame and the need to hide?
  • Hebrews 12:1-2 beckons us into a life of freedom and victory: “Let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance this race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.”

    I read this somewhere and made note of it. It speaks truth:
    We hold the keys to our freedom in our hands and hearts. As we keep our eyes on Jesus and allow His love and grace to flow into our lives, we become a channel of freedom for others as well. As we walk in the way of life, we become an avenue of life for others.”

    He gives it to us so that He can give it through us.

    The Ultimate Sweet Spot: Friendship With God

    20130131-082125.jpg
    Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4


    David discovered a truth and shares it with us: if he finds his life’s delight in the Lord, all his desires are fulfilled. To delight in someone is to find joy in their presence, to welcome their unique qualities and to express pleasure in their company. When we make the Lord the object of our delight, spending time in His presence and reveling in His character, our deepest heart’s desires gradually align themselves with His own. Soon, what we want is what He wants—-and how delighted He is to honor our heart’s desire by keeping us in the center of His will…..and the center of God’s will is the ultimate sweet spot.

    When we have a right-standing relationship with God we have a life of freedom, liberty, and delight….you are God’s will. And all your common sense decisions are actually His will for you, unless you sense a feeling of restraint brought on my a check in your spirit. You are then free to make decisions in the light of a perfect and delightful friendship with God, knowing that if your decisions are wrong He will lovingly produce that sense of restraint. Once He does, you must stop immediately -Oswald Chambers

    There’s nothing this world can offer that can beat what it feels like to be right in the middle of God’s presence. Moses knew that, and thats why he didn’t even want the promised land with all its glory if God wasn’t with Him.

    There’s also nothing like the feeling of being out of His will for our lives. I’ve been at a place where I knew God didn’t want me to be. The spirit rose up in me and said, let’s get out of here. The worse part about hell is being completely away from God. Being away from God in this life is hell on earth.

    Being with God is what allows us to escape the fiery furnaces of life without even the smell of smoke on our clothes! Being with God is where armies are defeated, lives are changed and victory is won…..even when it seems all is stacked against us. Being with God is where the anointed power of God rests. Being with God is indeed the ultimate sweet spot.

    No Longer At Sin’s Beck And Call

    20130129-093905.jpg
    ……”This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.” Luke 22:20


    The New Testament of the Bible literally means “The New Covenant.” The word covenant means an arrangement made by one party, which another party involved could accept or reject but could not altar. We can accept or reject Jesus, but we can’t change or altar who He is, or what He accomplished. Religions try. People try. But it doesn’t change a thing.

    The whole second half of the Bible teaches us about the new covenant given to us in Jesus. The Old Testament primarily records God’s dealings with Israel on the basis of the covenant given through Moses, while the New Testament describes the new arrangement of God with men through Christ on the basis of the New Covenant. The Old Covenant revealed the holiness of God in the righteous standard of the law and promised a coming Redeemer; the New Covenant shows the holiness of God in His righteous Son. The New Testament, then, contains those writings that reveal the content of this New Covenant

    The message of the New Testament Centers on:

  • the Person who gave Himself for the remission of sins (Matt 26:28)
  • the people (the church) who have received His salvation
  • Thus the central theme of the New Testament is salvation. The Gospels introduce the Savior. The book called Acts describes the spread of the good news about His salvation. The letters (Romans-Jude) give details of the blessings of that salvation (and the practical application of Christian doctrine to life situations) , and Revelation describes the ultimate triumph of Jesus Christ and His people in the future.

    We are now under the New Covenant of Jesus Christ who brings us from glory to glory each day through His unwavering grace. We are a chosen people belonging to God who called us out of a darkness into His wonderful light. We must declare His praises! (see 1Peter2:9) We are no longer at sin’s every beck and call. We get included in Christ’s sin conquering death and we also get included in His life-saving resurrection.

    When Jesus died, He took sin down with Him, but alive He brings God down to us

    From now on, think of it this way: Sin speaks a dead language that means nothing to you; God speaks your mother tongue, and you hang on every word. Sin doesn’t get a vote. You are dead to sin and alive to God. THAT’s what Jesus did. See Romans 6:1-23 MSG.

    What will you do then with this Jesus? Accept or reject Him?

    .

    Patterns Everywhere: Which to follow?

      20130127-134001.jpg

    I’ve been teaching a lot on patterns in school and in ministry lately. Patterns in the world, and the patterns we trace. We’re told in Romans 12:2 to break the patterns of this world in our lives. The renewing of our minds to the mind of Christ transforms our lives as we grow to know what God’s good, pleasing, and perfect will is for our lives.

    In Psalm 127:1-2 it says, Unless the Lord builds the house, it’s builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord guards the city, the watchmen stays awake in vain. It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows; for so He gives His beloved sleep. The Hebrew word for house in verse one can actually be translated family. That is one reason why the next few verses read like this:

    Behold, children are a heritage of the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth. Happy is the man who has a quiver full of them; they shall not be ashamed, but shall speak with their enemies in the gate.

    If you have sat up late, worrying about your children or your family, you need to know that God can turn things around.

    Trust Him to build and protect your family. Do your part, but look to Him for guidance and strength. And trust Him to do what you cannot do. Be their ideal; let them follow the way you teach and live. Be a pattern for them in your love, and your faith. God recently blew our minds and busted our hearts wide open by bringing a sweet little 6 year old into our family. She loves to walk around acting, talking, and teaching like I do. My husband and oldest daughter noticed it before I did. It’s so cute, but it also has me watching her closely. Just as she traces those squares and triangles while I’m teaching her shapes, she is tracing my walk. As I’m watching her closely, she is watching me even more closely! I’ve got to be sure I’m following the pattern Christ gives to us as she is following my pattern.

    He can cause your “arrows” to be effective against the enemy instead of wounding your heart. He can turn things around. My little “mini-me” came from a very abusive background. God is healing and restoring her. God can turn our lives around! He’s an expert at renewing, restoring, and resurrecting! He makes all things new, and that includes your family. Trust Him to do what you cannot do.

    “House-building” and “city-guarding” cannot succeed apart from God. You are His beloved. Allow Him to give you peace and rest now.

    May you be happy with your quiver of “arrows,” and may God be glorified in your family.

    Equip: Effective Bible Study

      20130126-093341.jpg

    I’ve had several people ask me about effective Bible study so today I want to make it available to everyone. Remember, if He can give it through you, He will give it to you. I have a blended method, but found the acronym “SOAP” through Good Morning Girls to be easy to remember so in sharing this, I use that acronym and added some things that I find to be effective. That’s what listening to God is all about. Use this, and listen to God yourself as you grow closer to Him through His word. You can tweak this however you want:

    The acronym is SOAP but as I said, I’ve added a twist:

  • Scripture: First, get yourself positioned to hear from God. Pull away from distractions into quiet, no matter where that may be for you (many, many times over the years I’ve had to do this in the car while waiting to pick up one of my children, so just wherever that is for YOU).
      Physically write out the scripture. You’ll be amazed what God will reveal just by taking the time to slow down and actually write out what you’re reading. We’re looking for quality here not quantity. Write out one verse, then a paraphrase of this verse; pulling out the major points. So, you’re paper will have one verse, your paraphrase, the next verse, your paraphrase, etc.
  • Observation: Pull put spiritual principals. Who is the audience? Is there a repetition of words? What words stand out to you? Circle those words. Is there a promise? An attribute of God to know? Something I need to learn (there ALWAYS is)? A promise? A command? Really put yourself into the story. Feel what’s going on.
  • Application: This is when God’s Word becomes personal. What is God saying to me today? How can I apply what I just read to my own personal life? What changes do I need to make? Is there an action that I need to take? What is it I am supposed to learn from this? Something I need to do…..be….do better……more of? Ask yourself: am I heeding that command, that promise in scripture? He always speaks for our obedience.
  • Prayer and Plan: Pray God’s Word back to Him. If He has revealed something to you during the time in His Word, pray about it. Confess of He has revealed sin in your life.

    Plan to do what God wants you to do. If you need to start a new habit, new walk, new anything, more of something….be strategic about it. The enemy’s attacks are strategically placed against us….be equally strategic in how you are going to do what God wants you to do.

  • Feel free to share anything you have found to be effective in your own Bible Study!