Come out, come out wherever you are….

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord….”‭‭

Colossians‬ ‭3:23‬ ‭

We are all in missions. Some are called to foreign lands. Some are called to the jungles of the workplace. Wherever you are called, serve the Lord in that place. Let God demonstrate His power through your life so that others might experience Him through you today. View your vocation as means to worship Him right where He has you. 

Don’t play hide n’ seek any more. 

Stand up. 

Step out. 

#MarketplaceMinistry #StandUp #StepOut

Why Is This Friday So Good? 

  

For so many reasons, I love having a little one in the house again. I love teaching her all about my Lord. Seeing Him come alive for her is beautiful. I love her sweet questions and her awe in Him. I love the way her eyes shine when she tells me things He is teaching her, and the way she runs to Him in prayer about anything is especially good for my heart. That’s my job….pointing her to Him. 

One question she asked is, “Why is this Friday so good when it’s a day Jesus died? We love Him so much, why do we call it good that He died?

Friends, this is why we commemorate Jesus’ death on the cross by calling it Good Friday: 

Without His death, we don’t have the Resurrection. And without His Resurrection, we don’t have a Savior. Without our Savior, we don’t have salvation

Because Jesus died and rose again, we have victory, forgiveness, mercy, grace. We have a home in eternity with Him. 

If the Resurrection didn’t happen, then nothing about Jesus is true. Since the Resurrection did happen, everything about Jesus is true. Jesus Christ is our risen Savior, conceived of the Holy Spirit, born on this earth, died on the cross for our sins, rose again, and is alive. He’s alive!

It all —all of this. Here. Now. You. Us. Our purpose. Our reasons. Our why’s, how’s and when’s. Our eternity— hangs on the death and the resurrection of the Son of God. 

What appeared at first to be a tragedy was in fact a triumph, because by His death on the cross, Jesus purchased our salvation. We are separated from God because of our sin, and because we are sinners, we have no hope of eternal life. 

You see, God is pure and Holy, and even one sin —just one— would be enough to keep us out of Heaven. But Jesus, my dear, sweet Jesus. By His death on the cross He became the perfect and final Sacrifice for our sins. And because of that, Heaven’s door is now flung wide open to all who put their faith and trust in Him. 

That’s why we can call the day on which Jesus, the Love of my life, died “Good Friday”. In fact, it was the greatest Friday in the history of the human race because on that day, Jesus won our salvation. 

At one time, the Bible says we were “without hope and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12). But, now we have hope because Christ died for us. 

The nails didn’t hold Him to that cross, love did. 

Take a moment and relish in this one fact: death could not hold Him. 

They will mock Him, spit on Him, flog Him with a whip, and kill Him, but after three days He will rise again. Mark 10:34 NLT

I am the Resurrection and the Life. Anyone who believes in Me, even if he dies, will still have life ~Jesus, John 11:25

It. Is. Finished.

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Being thankful in the good and the bad times (because we really don’t know which is which)

 Every difficulty that presents itself to us, if we receive it in the right way, is God’s opportunity.


“….there came a lion…” (1 Sam. 17:34.)

Through faith in God David conquered a lion and a bear, and afterwards overthrew the mighty Goliah. When that lion came to despoil that flock, it came as a wondrous opportunity to David. If he had failed or faltered he would have missed God’s opportunity for him and probably would never have come to be God’s chosen king of Israel. This was David’s training ground, and a way for GOD to receive glory in the victory.

We wouldn’t think of a lion being a special blessing. I know there have been lions in my own life that I didn’t think were a blessing at the beginning. Normally, we would only think it a cause for alarm. These “lions” are God’s blessings in disguise.

Every difficulty that presents itself to us, if we receive it in the right way, is God’s opportunity.

When the “lion” comes, recognize it as God’s opportunity no matter how rough the exterior.

I love this quote:

Remember….

just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly 

What Is Palm Sunday? 


Image source: Guideposts

It’s Palm Sunday! 

So, what is Palm Sunday?

Palm Sunday is the day Christians remember and celebrate the triumphal entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem, the week before his death and resurrection. Today is also referred to as “Passion Sunday,” and marks the beginning of Holy Week, which concludes on Easter Sunday.

Today, we remember that Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem, riding on a donkey, knowing full well that this trip would end in His sacrificial death for the sin of all humanity – that’s you and me. 

In His path, people threw their cloaks on the ground and put palm branches on the road before him. Others waved palm branches in the air. Large Passover crowds surrounded Jesus, shouting “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” (Matthew 21:9, ESV). 

WE WIN!

We remember and celebrate His triumphal entry as His beautiful triumph over sin and death. The gift of mercy and grace gifted to us by our sweet, and oh so loving Savior. WE WIN! All because of Jesus. All because of Jesus, sin lost its hold and death lost its sting. 

Hosanna means “save now”. Jesus can save you right now by becoming your Savior and Lord. Won’t you ask Him now? Don’t worry, He’ll say yes. But, you have to first accept this gift. 

There are two parts in gift giving: the giving, and the accepting.

Jesus has already given His gift of Salvation by the giving of His life for yours, and now it’s your turn to accept His gift of Salvation. It’s free. No strings attached. No way to earn it. No way to lose it. 

Thank you Sweet, Sweet Jesus! 

Feel free to message me with any questions. 

(The Biblical account of Palm Sunday can be found in Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-11; Luke 19:28-44; and John 12:12-19)

  

Growing Into It

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So as David stood there among his brothers, Samuel took the flask of olive oil he had brought and anointed David with the oil. And the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David from that day on. Then Samuel returned to Ramah.” -1 Samuel 16:13

We were sitting down at a very nice restaurant and had just ordered when my young daughter grew impatient, asking when her food was going to arrive. She couldn’t understand why her food wasn’t coming immediately after ordering at this restaurant as it does at fast food drive-thru windows.

We live in a very microwave culture. If we want something, we want it right now! But, even though we can go through a drive-thru to get fast food immediately, this microwave mentality often doesn’t apply to our calling and life with God.

We tend to think of David in the Bible as the great shepherd king, the worshipper after God’s own heart. But I wonder when we think of him, if we truly consider all the processing David endured after he was anointed to be king? Yes he won the fight against Goliath; but after he was anointed, he went back to tending sheep! He spent many years running from Saul. It was only after he was tested and he did not kill his enemy Saul that God allowed David to be king. This was years after Samuel had anointed the little shepherd boy in the field before his brothers. Years.

Often we can be impatient with God’s processing. We may want God’s promises – all right now! But God has His reasons for timing that may not make sense to us in the moment. We may not be ready. We may not be able to handle what He wants to give us until He puts us in a place of character building. We have to learn to trust God when we have yet to see the manifestation of the dream that’s on our hearts. This is how God knows we can be trusted with it. This is how we grow to be able to have the capacity to carry God-sized dreams. We grow through experience. This is how character is built.

The journey there brings the growth we need to rightfully handle the “thing” we’re dreaming about now.

Are you letting God grow you through experience? Even if you feel the place you are at right now is not your ultimate destination, decide to treat it with respect. It will provide the training ground we’ll need to be able to withstand God’s promises in our lives and our ultimate calling. Bloom where you’re planted.

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With God on our side like this, how can we lose?

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So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us?

And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us.

Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture: They kill us in cold blood because they hate you. We’re sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one. None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us.

I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.

(Romans 8:37 MSG)

Whatever you’re going through – whatever you’re facing today – embrace this written for you. You are dearly, dearly loved. Dearly wanted. God sees you. He’s here. He can’t forget someone He died for:

If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us?

So look that problem in the eye and say: My God is bigger than you. No thanks!

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Just drop it already…..

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I knew I was carrying too much. Trying to save a few steps, I loaded my arms up with too much – and the crash to the ground confirmed it. 

In life, too, we carry too much – things not meant for us to carry – taking on things too heavy for us – holding on to things we need to let go of.

It holds us back, holds us down and keeps us from soaring new heights with God. 

God wants to take us where we’ve never been before, and in ways we’ve never dreamed of.

But, we have to drop some things: guilt, shame, worry, stress from things we should have handed over long ago, lack of trust that God can and that He knows what He’s doing. Carrying it around keeps us from freely comforting others, sharing in their burdens, and serving Him fully. 

And besides…

How can we lift someone else’s load if our arms are full of our own?

And, what about our loved ones – our first mission field? How do those things affect our love and care for them? 

Enough.
 

Hand them over.

For your family and friends, hand them over.

For God, hand them over.

For you, hand them over. 

Hand them over and trust Him. These are things you were never meant to carry. 

God is looking out for you, so hand it all over. Let it go. He’ll carry your load. He is more than able. Live carefree before God and soar! See: Psalm 55:2, 1Peter 5:7. 

Go on…have a little talk with Jesus and just drop it already…

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God is NOT Dead

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Tonight my family and I went to see the movie God’s Not Dead. I don’t want to give a run down about the movie because a quick Google search can tell you tons.

If you love God, go see it.

If you hate God, go see it.

If you loved Him once and have faded away from this passionate, fire-breathing love affair, go see it.

You will hear from both sides: the Christian and the Atheistic points of view on God.

You will see people risk everything.

You will see people risk nothing.

Your heart will break and your heart will soar.

Most of all – this movie is all about the heart.

This movie is all about your heart.

GO SEE IT

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Gaining Intimacy With GOD

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I love the sermon we had at church this Sunday. I was so inspired because I passionately crave closeness with my Lord. I love slow dancing through my life with Him. I deeply long for intimacy with Him. It’s more valuable to me than anything else. More than everything else. 

We’re talking about less being more when it comes to gaining intimacy with GOD:

There’s a lie we’ve bought into that says: I’ll grow if I go. We believe that just going to church is all we need to do to grow. It’s great to go to church, but the point is transformation. The point is growing in Spiritual maturity. We need a crisis of transformation. Are we changing? Are we experiencing transformation? 

What we need is intimacy with GOD. This should be our goal. This is more than just going to church. We’re talking about change. You can’t come away from an up close, intimate relationship with God and be the same. Are we changing? Growing more spiritually mature? 

One way to gain intimacy with GOD is through fasting. We traditionally think of fasting as doing without something in order to pray and ask GOD for something we want. 

Fasting is where less is more. 

Fasting is voluntarily denying yourself of something in order to increase time and intimacy with GOD.

It’s denying yourself to provide yourself with this encounter with God.

We sometimes think GOD as a genie in a bottle where we ask Him for something we want and it stops there. But no. GOD wants a relationship with us. The goal of fasting should always be intimacy.

Jesus Himself fasted:

The Spirit then led Jesus into the desert to be tempted by the devil. Jesus fasted for 40 days and 40 nights. After this fast, He was, as you can imagine, hungry. But He was also curiously stronger when the tempter came to Jesus. Matthew 4:1-3

We grow and become transformed by fasting. We gain power and strength from this intimate time spent with Daddy. It’s digging in deeper with Him. It’s what our motive should be when we fast – to gain intimacy with God. This strength helps us in dealing with the enemy’s prowling around in our lives. 

Jesus has a fundamental expectation that we are going to fast. It’s expected of us:

And WHEN you fast…. Matthew 6: 6-18 (Emphesis mine)

See that? Jesus didn’t say IF. He said WHEN. It’s expected. 

Fasting also reveals a few things for us:

1. What really controls us.

Do not allow this world to mold you in its own image. Instead, be transformed from the inside out by renewing your mind. Romans 12:2

Beware of the way that culture shapes you. It’s difficult to see the ramifications of our own culture while we are in the midst of it. Think about the trends of our culure and how they are impacting you. Disengage so you can properly see how much. Once we let go of something, we become more aware of the hold we let it have on us. Skeptical? Try stepping away from Facebook or that online game you play and you’ll truly see it’s grip on you. 

Fasting is paradoxical. In fasting, we embrace emptiness in order to experience fullness.  When we get quiet and still, we get fullness in Him. 

2. My abuse of time. 

We’ll discover how much more time we have to seek intimacy with GOD when we disengage in order to grow more intimate with GOD. There are things we’ve allowed to use up massive amounts of time that is meant for us to spend with Him. We are wasting time. Period. 

What helps you feel close to GOD? Whatever it is, when fasting, do that because the goal in fasting is more intimacy with GOD. 

Human beings have an undeniable propensity toward become obsessed with things that ultimately have little meaning or value. We become obsessed or addicted to something that has little value. Don’t know of anything affecting you this way? Again—try doing without it to get perspective on it.

3. That more is not always better. 

We think that more is always better.  

Our biggest temptation is not the ridiculously evil–but the deceptively good. We get ourselves busy, busy, busy with more, more, more of all sorts of things that replace time of gaining more intimacy with Daddy GOD. We need less of something in order to have more of what’s most important. 

You, GOD, are my GOD, earnestly I seek for you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water. Psalm 63:1

You know you’re missing something. You know there is a void in your life. Did you know that’s your soul thirsting for GOD? This world – this life IS a dry and weary land. It can’t ever quench your thirst because it’s just shifting sand. It’s dry and weary. Why? There’s nothing here that your soul is longing for. It can’t satisfy that emptiness within you. You try to fill it with many things but it doesn’t help because you live in a dry and weary land and your soul thirsts for GOD. How much sand would it take to quench your thirst? More sand just compounds thirst and you’re never satisfied. You try and quench that thirst by relationships, sex, drugs, activity, people, and working. GOD is the only thing that quenches that thirst. 

As you’ve read this, GOD has brought some things up in your heart that you need to do. Whatever GOD is speaking to you about right now, go and do it and don’t delay. If the enemy can’t get you to deny what GOD wants you to do, he will get you to delay what GOD wants you to do. 

GOD, help us to embrace emptiness in order to embrace fullness. In You. 

My pastor said it best. I love to take notes during church, but you can click here to hear this sermon directly from him with more detail. You’ll want to be sure and watch until the end because you will be so blessed by what’s there.

You can also subscribe to the feed from our church at this link, but if you’re in the area of any of the locations, drop by. You’ll be blessed. 

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Reclaiming Eve: The Identity and Calling of Women in the Kingdom of God

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I had the privilege of reading Reclaiming Eve:The Identity and Calling of Women in the Kingdom of God. Visit HERE to get your copy, today!

To be invited in the blog tour was a blessing, but it was only the beginning. Reading this book blessed me on so many levels. My electronic version has so many highlights in it that the whole book is nearly yellow. It unlocked so many things I already knew and encouraged me to continue searching out true freedom in becoming the woman God intended me to be when He created me: a strong power and agent of rescue. An ezer

The following is an excerpt from Reclaiming Eve Chapter 5

God of Community

The spirit of our times could be described with one word: “alienation.” Garage doors go down, people sit entranced in front of computers and televisions, while the solitary lives we lead are crushing our souls. There isn’t a person God will put in your path today who doesn’t long to be known and loved. The bank teller, the boss, the mail carrier, the child, the client, the sister, the old college roommate who just asked to be your Facebook friend.

If it’s true that God calls to us in our pain, then he calls to the isolated businesswoman who has no friend to call when she needs to visit the emergency room. With arms outstretched, he beckons the teenager who was just rejected by her boyfriend after being used. He patiently longs to comfort the fifty-year-old woman whose father abandoned her at birth, leaving a gaping emotional wound that paralyzes her in relationships.

We all long for connection. The ezers and the adams. The single and the married. Those with power and money and those with nothing. In fact, a study from the University of Chicago showed that as you age, loneliness actually raises your blood pressure just as much as obesity or a lack of exercise. The message: healing is a group activity. It’s not only unfulfilling but also physically dangerous to go it alone.

We were hardwired for community. And while you may not have thought about it in this way, you’ve known it all along. You knew it when your mother or father laid you down as an infant and you longed to be held. You may remember moments of friendship that made your heart soar, along with your confidence. And if you’re anything like me, you remember a time when your body physically ached from the ending of a relationship you held dear.

How amazing that in a world of isolated individuals, God the Creator provides the answer to our longings by pointing us back to his original plan. Remember? A God of community, dancing around in a three-in-one relationship, creates Adam. Immediately afterward, he recognizes Adam’s loneliness, highlighting Adam’s complete lack of any suitable companion. Then God dispenses a prescription with only glorious side effects: to end the loneliness of the single human, I will make an ezer who is suitable for him.

The Creator who made his ezers designed them as agents of rescue to destroy isolation. Think of it: simply by being born female, you are a dazzling testament to the beauty of community. You see, it is not good for Adam, or for anyone, to be alone. It violates God’s design and leaves us empty, depressed, and even hopeless. God created his ezers to remind us over and over again that we cannot, must not, go it alone.

How ironic that the very place in which Adam and Eve violated God’s love is the place in which he wants to restore each of us. His community. The place in which each of us are hurt the most, through our relationships, happens to be the same avenue in which God wants to bring unimaginable healing. Whether or not you like it, you are dependent on other men and women to fully experience Christ’s love for you.

There is so much more packed into this book! You must go and grab a copy for yourself and grab hold of your powerful calling in the Kingdom of God for your good and His glory. You are created in God’s image to be an ezera strong power and agent of rescue!

Unlock that power today!

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When Things Don’t Go As Planned

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Sometimes things don’t go as planned. T’s crossed. I’s dotted. You even prayed about it and was sure things were going your way. There was peace. There was joy. And then the door slammed shut. Hard. 

I had this happen to me a few weeks ago. To say I was disappointed would be an understatement. I prayed. I lamented. I asked GOD to show me the lesson. What did I miss? What did I need to learn from this?

Maybe you had a dream vanish, a relationship suddenly go south, a friendship ran its course, a deal went sour, and big plans fell through. Maybe you were in the middle of something great and God called you to move out of it. Or maybe for you it was bunch of little things that together, became seemingly unbearable. 

God moves in ways we seldom understand. We must let go of judging the situation as failure. Couldn’t it actually a blessing? 

What??

Yes.

GOD has an awesome way of redeeming the broken situations and the hurting people and creating something beautiful from it.

 

Here’s a few examples: 

He took a team conflict between Paul and Barnabas and created two successful ministries instead of one. 

He used Joseph’s forced exit from his home to deliver two nations from starvation. 

After Peter publicly rejected Jesus three times, God made him the founder of the modern church.

When Jesus’ earthly father Joseph relocated out of concern for their lives, a prophecy was fulfilled that verified Jesus as God’s Son.

Don’t misjudge the situation as loss. We are super conquerors in Christ. Once we let go of judgment, we find freedom from grief, anger, and disappointment.

There’s nothing like change to reveal how we truly handle change. How many times do we kick and scream against it? With our carefully marked itinerary in hand, we get mad and try and take back control. 

There’s a popular saying, “If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.” I don’t think God would ever maliciously laugh at us, but I do think He wonders why we thought we had the right to determine our course in the first place. 

Who’s plan do we operate by? 

“In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps” Proverbs 16:9

Dealing with a change in plans requires us to have God’s thoughts as our focus. Jesus says in Matthew 16:24 that if we want to follow Him we must deny ourselves. Following Jesus requires a change in our plans. We must relinquish our desire to plan, scheme, and insist our way through daily surrendering our lives to Jesus. 

While salvation is secure through our Savior Jesus, the struggle to make Jesus Lord is a constant giving up of our plans for God’s plans. 

When your plans change, look for something unexpected. Look for something amazing that changes your course and gives way to God’s life-giving plans. Look for something that came about because of those changed plans.

Surrender. 

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Overcoming

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It happened. We got “the call” about our daughter serving overseas. She got sick. And not just sick. The go-to-the-hospital-kind-of-sick.

There’s one thing you’ll notice about our family: When something goes down, we get quiet. We collectively, as if we are one body, click into a mode where we talk very little, listen, hear from all sides, get information, take in information, pray, get others to pray, go to scripture, take in more information, hear from all sides, and pray. Wash. Rinse. Repeat. It’s our form of running. Except we don’t run away…. we run into Daddy’s arms. This is how we overcome and conquer…in Him. All Him.

Everyday is filled with the ups and downs in life – the excitements, the disappointments, the scary unexpected, the adventures, and the times that aren’t so exciting. What we choose to do, and how we respond to these situations, indicates the type of people we are on the inside.

Jesus said, “In this life, you will have trouble. But take heart! For I have overcome the world” John 16:33

Jesus knew we would encounter disappointments. He knew we would encounter troubles, fears, and doubts. To that He says, “Take heart!” because He’s already overcome this life. If we choose to take Him at His word, we choose to live in the place He’s called us to. A place not devoid of sorrow, but where we know and live in victory.

GOD has a plan for each of us, and we are defined by His intentions not our present circumstances


In spite of trouble, in spite of doubt, GOD is there with us.

Here’s the thing: we will encounter sorrow. We will encounter disappointments. But GOD didn’t create us to live there. He created us to overcome, to rise above those circumstances, and to let His light shine through us, in spite of it all.

But those who wait on The Lord will find new strength. They will fly on wings like eagle. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31

This is the place where we are called to live. A place of overcomers and conquerors. Choose to let GOD’s light shine through your circumstances – in spite of your circumstances. Choose to be a person who overcomes – in spite of everything. And rest in the fact that GOD is right there, in the midst of it all.

You, dear children, are from GOD and have overcome them, because the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 1 John 4:4

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors, through Him who loved us. Romans 8:37

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The Day We Fight Back {Unleashing the Warrior Chic}

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As I held out my hands to her, I could see the grip of fear in her eyes. I was asking her to do something she’d never done before. To go to a place she’d never been. To leave her safe place that ironically was a hard place. But it was all she knew.

Until now.

She’s fighting backShe’s unleashing her warrior chic.

“What if I fall?”
“What if you don’t?”
“I might get hurt”
“You might not”
“You sure?”
“No, but either way, I’m here”
And with that, our eyes locked. And off she went.
We are God’s workmanship, not a workmanship of any other circumstances (Eph 2:10). We aren’t a product of time, we’re a product of eternity. The most potent force on earth is the blood of Christ – and.it.sets.us.free.
Now, draw a blood line in the sand and don’t go back.
Because TODAY.
Today we’re fighting back. We’re unleashing our warrior chic
I can hear those war drums beating now. Hear it? I like that beat.
You can start bad but finish free. Don’t be a woman defined by your issue – be a brand new woman….created in Christ Jesus….defined by the freedom that Christ set you free.
You can’t set anyone else free if you aren’t’ free and it’s not too late. How do I know? Because you’re still here.
What’s holding you back? Or, what things are you allowing to hold you back? We don’t know about tomorrow because life is but a vapor (James 4) so don’t live your life as if you’re supposed to enter death safely.
God has created us to be untamed, undomesticated and to be a force to be reckoned with.
Jesus died and rose again to make us dangerous to the forces of darkness.
This isn’t a dress rehearsal.
We are agents of change.
We are salt to this world (Matthew 5:13-16).
Go.
Salt the world around you.
We are light to this world (Matt 5:13-16)
Light is created to dispel darkness. The only way a room gets dark is to switch the light off.
Go.
Light the world around you.
Don’t stand in the crowd when you’re supposed to stand out.
Normal never did anything significant in the Scriptures. Here’s the thing: that’s not normal – normal is warrior chic! God calls us to go against the grain when the grain is going against God.
Feel like you’re insignificant and meager?
Jesus began in a simple maiden town no one wanted to live in (John 1:46), and worked with simple, blue collar people. What you’re looking at now doesn’t represent the future (Mark 4:30-32).
Jacob was a cheater. Peter had a temper. David had an affair. Noah got drunk. Jonah ran from God. Paul was a murder. Gideon was insecure. Miriam was a gossip. Martha was a worrier. Thomas was a doubter. Sara was impatient. Elijah was moody. Moses stuttered. Zaccheus was short. Abraham was old. Lazarus was dead.
Every weakness you have is an opportunity for God to show His strength in your life. The magic happens out of your comfort zone.
My grace is sufficient for you. For my power is made perfect in your weakness. 2 Corinthians 12:9
Are you afraid? Everyone is afraid. The questions isn’t – are you going to be afraid. The question is: Who do we believe in more?
What can man do to you? We fear man so much because we fear God so little. Decide that you want it more than you’re afraid of it. God will give you peace as you follow Him faithfully. Faith is like a muscle, the more you use it, the bigger it gets. Don’t be afraid to go out on a limb. That’s where the fruit is.
Now, lock eyes with Jesus, and JUMP because this is the day we fight back!
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Waiting to Exhale: Forgiveness = Freedom

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Hurt people hurt people

We’ve all heard it said a million times. I’ve said it a million times. It’s true, hurt people do hurt people. However, not all hurt people hurt people. The cycle can be broken. How? One word: forgiveness

Forgiveness brings freedom. Yes, hurt people hurt people but free people free people. Forgiveness isn’t always for their sake, it’s for your own freedom

As free, forgiven people we should free people. 

Therefore, the Kingdom of Heaven can be compared to a king who decided to bring his accounts up to date with servants who had borrowed money from him. In the process, one of his debtors was brought in who owed him MILLIONS OF DOLLARS He couldn’t pay, so his master ordered that he be sold – along with his wife, his children, and everything he owned – to pay the debt. But the man fell down before his master and begged him, ‘Please be patient with me, and I will pay it all.’ Then his master was filled with pity for him, and released him and forgave his debt. (Matt 18:23-27, emphasis mine)

Authentic forgiveness is never cheap. When the owner forgives the debt, the debt didn’t just disappear. Just like us with Jesus, the master had to absorb it.  

Our moral debt was paid on the cross. 

How does this servant love differently after receiving such grace? 

But when the man left the king, he went to a fellow servant who owed him A FEW THOUSAND DOLLARS. He grabbed him by the throat and demanded instant payment. His fellow servant fell down before him and begged for a little more time. ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it,’ he pleaded. But his creditor wouldn’t wait. He had the man arrested and put in prison until the debt could be paid in full. (Matt 18:28-30, emphasis mine)

Human nature is to retaliate

Three common obstacles to forgiveness:

1) Forgiveness is not condoning. To forgive someone isn’t condoning or excusing what they did. Because Christ has forgiven me, I’m going to forgive you

2) Forgivenss is not always reconciling. There are people you need to forgive, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you will reconcile with them. There are some people you don’t need to reconcile with if they can’t be honest with what they did to you. Without truth there can’t be trust. 

3) Forgiveness is not forgetting. Just because you can’t forget doesn’t mean you aren’t forgiving. Time doesn’t heal all wounds but GOD does. When you forgive someone it doesn’t erase what they’ve done but it does erase the hurt from what they’ve done.  Forgiveness is expensive. Sometimes we don’t have the power to forgive people the way they need to be forgiven. It’s not in you on your own. You’re able to offer it because you have received it. 

Christ forgave this massive debt you had. Go and do likewise:

Be kind and compassionate to one another, FORGIVING EACH OTHER, just as in Christ God FORGAVE YOU (Ephesians 4:32, emphasis mine)

But, you cannot exhale what you haven’t inhaled. Go ahead, take a good deep breath and then let it out. Until you have inhaled that magnificent Grace and Goodness of GOD, you cannot exhale or extend that to others. Don’t hold on…just breathe and let go.

The letters of the name of God in Hebrew… are infrequently pronounced Yahweh. But in truth they are inutterable….

This word {YHWH} is the sound of breathing. In Hebrew “Yah” is an action word that means to breathe in and “Weh” means to breathe out. So God’s very name means our very inhales and exhales of our life, His name is and gives life

The holiest name in the world, the Name of Creator, is the sound of your own breathing. That these letters are unpronounceable is no accident. Just as it is no accident that they are also the root letters of the Hebrew verb ‘to be’… God’s name is name of Being itself.

Some of us have breathed in GOD, but aren’t exhaling Him into our lives.

Some of us are waiting to exhale….

Don’t hold on… Just breathe and let go.

You are the most influential person in your life and you have the power to say: “This is not how my life is going to be. I’m going to inhale the Goodness and Grace GOD has given me and exhale it to others”. 

Breathe — and call the name of Being Himself. Keep breathing — and pray without ceasing.

Don’t let the hard things in life silence you. Put it down or it will bring you down. Break the cycle and let freedom reign in your life.

Say to yourself: “GOD loves me NOW” 

“Through us, he brings knowledge of Christ. Everywhere we go, people breathe in the exquisite fragrance. Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God, which is recognized by those on the way of salvation—an aroma redolent with life. ~2 Corinthians 2:14 (MSG)

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#forgiveness #freedom #choice #Yahweh #influence #hurt #hurtpeoplehurtpeople #freepeoplefreepeople #free #life #pain

Obedience With A Cost

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Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in Your name, he has brought trouble upon this people, and You have not rescued Your people at all. – Exodus 5:23

Have you ever felt like you have been obedient to the Lord for something He called you to do and all you get are more roadblocks?

Yeah?

This is the way Moses felt. When Moses went to tell Pharaoh to release the people because God said so, Pharaoh simply got angry and made the people make bricks without straw. Moses caught the blame for this from the people. Moses was just learning what obedience really means in God’s Kingdom. You see Moses had not even begun to release plagues upon Egypt. He hadn’t even gotten started yet in his calling, and he was complaining about his circumstances. There were many more encounters with Pharaoh to come, and many more plagues with no deliverances in sight.

Why would God tell Moses that He is going to deliver them and not do it?

It was all in timing. God never said when He was going to deliver. He just said He would. In the next chapter, we find Moses arguing with God about not being capable of the job God had called him to:

But Moses said to the Lord, “If the Israelites will not listen to me, why would Pharaoh listen to me, since I speak with faltering lips?” Now the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron about the Israelites and Pharaoh king of Egypt, and He commanded them to bring the Israelites out of Egypt Exodus 6:12-13. (Emphasis mine)

Do you get the feeling God was losing His patience?

God had a good reason for His delays. He said, “And the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord when I stretch out My hand against Egypt and bring the Israelites out of it” (Ex. 7:5). God not only wanted the people of Israel but also the Egyptians to know Him. It would be the greatest show of God’s power on earth.

God often causes delays in our lives that we cannot understand. Sometimes it seems our obedience is not getting rewarded. Jesus said He learned obedience through the things He suffered (see Heb. 5:8). Imagine that – Jesus having to learn obedience. What does that say for you and me?

Sometimes God’s delays are simply because He wants more glory in the situation, more recognition, more Christ-likeness in you and me through greater patience and obedience. Faint not, for the promise may yet come.

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Today God Is First (TGIF) devotional message, Copyright by Os Hillman, with added emphasis by Christy

#Hebrews #Exodus #BibleStudy #Devotion #amwriting #Faith #LifeWithChrist #Moses #Jesus #christyrawlsDOTcom

Speak.

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No subject is unsuitable for discussion with GOD. Our tendency is to avoid certain subjects with GOD even though this not taught to us in scripture. 

It doesn’t take long when reading in the book of Psalms to discover a writer that went to GOD about everything. The good, the bad, the ugly. Even anger and vengeance. The anger expressed is intense and graphic – directed at GOD because they are intimately aware of GOD’s justice. Vengeance – or action taken as a result of something they have done – is to be carried out by God (Proverbs 20:22, Romans 12:19).

In Psalm 59, we see David’s angry outburst against Saul’s pursuit. The Man After GOD’s Own Heart never took personal revenge on Saul. He always freely spoke His mind to GOD, having confidence that He could sort out what was meant and what was felt. Pray with that same confidence – GOD can be trusted with your heart

Some of you haven’t suffered intense cruelty on a personal level, but love someone who has. And it hurts. Bad. Your heart breaks because, through no fault of your own, you weren’t there to rescue them when it happened. And you just want to stop their pain. You want to go back in time and rescue them. Just thinking of what your loved one endured stirs up so much emotion and grief. 

I’m holding your hand and saying I know. Boy, do I know. Let’s stand strong together and pray for GOD’s intervention. 

Speak

Yell. Whisper. Scream out to God if you want to. He can handle it. He can be trusted with your heart. He knows the real you and how you feel. No subject is unsuitable for discussion with GodSpeak up for them and advocate for them now (Proverbs 31:8-9).

Some of you have suffered such intense pain and hurt inflicted by others that you can’t breath…and still….years later….you are awakened by the same frightening nightmares. Like King Saul in Psalm 59, they chase you. The scars you bear are deep and wide. Your past isn’t your past because it’s right here. Right now. In your present. You’re dying inside. Your body physically can’t handle the secret anymore. It impacts everything about you – how you relate to everything and everyone in your life. 

I’m holding your hand and saying, I know. Boy, do I know. Don’t hide anymore. 

Speak.

Don’t keep quiet. Bring it out into the Light. Drag it kicking and screaming if you have to. Speak out. Scream it out with God if you want. No subject is unsuitable for discussion with God. He’s a big boy. He can handle it. He can be trusted with your heart. I see you. More importantly, GOD sees you. You will sing songs of victory over this. I’ll be even do a Jesus jig with you. 

Do not fear the scars. Do not fear the victory. 

When GOD heals you – and He WILL if you let Him – don’t be ashamed of the scars of life that GOD healed for you. When Jesus appeared to His disciples, He showed His scars openly. No one escapes suffering in this life. Even the innocent. Jesus was innocent. He connected with the disciples…with us…through His scars. He brought redemption through His scars. 

We all need to offer our scars to the world. Not only as proof of what we’ve been through, but as tangible proof of the healing power of Christ in our life. To show not only that we are human, but that we are healed. 

Someone is waiting right now for you to speak out and speak up. We connect to others through our scars – thereby connecting them to Christ through our scars. 

Speak.

We think we have to pretend the scars don’t exist and that we have it all together. Wrong. Lies. There is something intrinsically broken inside everyone. Jesus comes as the Great Physician. Jesus is redemption. The Rescuer. Restorer.

Sometimes He heals the scar completely and it isn’t seen anymore.

Sometimes He allows the scar to be seen as a reminder.

Someone is waiting to connect with you – and Christ – right now.

Speak.

Show them your scars. 

GOD still listens. 

GOD still answers.

GOD still heals. 

GOD still forgives. 

GOD still leads.

GOD still directs.

GOD still cares.

GOD still loves.

GOD is still here.

GOD is alive!

(Some of you are the very ones inflicting pain on others. Verbally, physically, emotionally, whatever. Stop. Now. Remove yourself. And run. Run to a professional. A hospital. The first police officer you see. Get away and run for help not from your problems. Run to GOD. Grace was made for people like you (Grace was made for all of us). He knows all about it anyway, and vengeance is still His. But, I’m standing here telling you that I’m having none of it. Stop what you’re doing and step away from that precious child, that precious girl or precious boy. That precious woman. That precious man. Whoever. I love them, and what’s more…GOD loves them. They are not yours to vent on, abuse, hit, take your own hurts and frustrations out on, or whatever else you are doing to them. Seek help. Seek a professional help. Stop. S.T.O.P. GOD will forgive you. But, you need to stop.) 

Autism Speaks: A Beautiful Reminder Part 1

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All things in nature are imperfectly beautiful. And all have a purpose. What we sometimes think is a stumbling block or hurdle is often a calling – budding first in us in order to bless and grow others. A blessing in disguise. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join Him in the good work He has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which GOD prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10.

We are His poem. We are His song.

The following is a post by my new friend, Bill. I’m really enjoying getting to know him through his story. I know you will too.

I love to find new music to listen to. My favorite genre is Contemporary Christian. I love this genre because each of these songs has its own message from the artists.

Unlike 99.5% of the days in my life up until that point, I was sad and mentally drained during the first few weeks of my second year of occupational therapy school. This was an unusual feeling for me because I almost never feel sad. Moreover, I usually never let any negative feelings dwell on more than one day. This time, however, the sad and mentally drained feeling had been going on for three to four weeks.

The reason: I was diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome just a few days before I began my second year of occupational therapy school. I felt miserable whenever my classmates were happy and smiling, as I felt awkward to not be a buzzkill since I knew most of them were excited to see one another and celebrate they were one step closer to their dreams to be occupational therapists. As for school work itself, I felt like I was pulling a mountain. I knew I needed to cope with this life-changing event and prevent further complications. However, I also knew I needed to study and I wanted to get my license as soon as possible because I already accepted the fact that I would be get my occupational therapist license a few months later than my classmates with a reasonable possibility of not even achieving the goal. So, I was contemplating the idea of taking a leave of absence as the add/drop deadline was only a week away.

It was while contemplating this decision 3 1/2 years ago that I stumbled onto the song called Wake Up by Paige Armstrong. Once I listened to the full song online, I felt things beginning to make sense even though I didn’t know why. So, I researched Paige’s bio and learned that she was a childhood cancer survivor. In addition to writing music, she also writes books targeting young people. Instantly, I told myself, “She endured more than you. Yet, she is motivating others, particularly young people like her. If she can do it, you can too!

From that point on, I slowly began my path of recovery. I had some rough patches along the way before earning my occupational therapist license in late 2012. However, I also made strides to develop myself into a strong autism advocate. Since I was diagnosed I have delivered over half a dozen occupational therapy conference presentations on autism and appeared as a guest on three Internet podcasts and web shows combined. (How all that came about will be discussed in detail in another blog.)

What did God teach me from this song?

We all have something to offer to society, whether it is in our triumphs or in our struggles. What we have is valuable. The information we have needs to be passed on to others who might be experiencing similar things now or in the future. There are many ways to do that online and offline, publicly, or in the comforts of your own home. After all, our life experiences are gifts that we can share with one another, especially when we see someone in need of support. Be a difference maker too.

Bill Wong, OTD, OTR/L

#Autism #AutismSpeaks #Overcomer #craveGod #SpeakUp #Encourage #christyrawlsDOTcom #e3

{Equip} Link Up for the Best Selling 100 FREE eBooks on Faith!

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We are constantly influencing those around us. Whether our sphere of influence is a church, a Bible Study group, co-workers, our spouse, children, family, online and social media community, or a class – we owe it to those around us to equip ourselves with great tools to love and lead them well.

Leaders are readers.

I highly recommend that you arm yourself with loads of encouraging, equipping, and empowering books on faith that inspire you to stretch yourself. To help you love and lead like Jesus.

However, we don’t need to read a bunch of books about the Bible instead of actually reading the Bible. I love a quote by Charles Spurgeon: Visit many books, but live in the Bible. There’s nothing, nothing, nothing like reading God’s Word.

There are lots of tools you need to be successful in the new year and save money doing it. Yesterday I told you here about 16 free books by one of my favorite teachers, Beth Moore. There are links in that post for iPhone, iPad, Nook, Kindle, ePub, and more. That offer is only good through January 10, 2014 so be sure and hurry over to that post for all the links to grab those jewels. Don’t forget to pass on my blog link for others to enjoy.

Today I have more goodies for you:

Amazon has posted 100 BEST SELLING books on faith for FREE on Kindle.

For those of you that do not have a Kindle, don’t fret. There is a free app for Kindle in which you can download all Kindle eBooks just as someone would do on a real Kindle device. And, just because I love you…and I want you to get these books…here’s the link to grab that app

This is 100 FREE eBooks, friends! Even better – it’s 100 FREE BEST SELLERS ON FAITH! What a great big, toe tipping kiss from Daddy! I’m not sure how long this deal will be going on, so run on over with this link and get them while you can.

Don’t worry, we’ll get back to posting devotions and Bible studies here. I just had to tell you about these delicious finds and couldn’t dare keep them for myself!

(FYI: I in no way receive any money for recommending these to you. I haven’t been solicited by Amazon to tell you about it. There are no affiliate links in this post. I just love you all and want to bless you with my finds 🙂 )

#Amazon #Free #ebooks #Kindle #Christian #faith

16 FREE Beth Moore eBooks! Nook, Kindle, Android, Tablet, or Computer! Offer Ends 1/10/14

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There are loads of tools you need to be successful in the new year and save money doing it. Here’s a dynamite one for you:

Through January 10, 2014 you can get 16 of Beth Moore’s BEST-SELLING Books on Nook, Kindle, Android, Tablet, or Computer! The link to all the downloads are in this post.

If you’re not familiar with Beth Moore and you’re looking for a great read on Christian living for women, you owe it to yourself to discover one of my favorite Christian teachers.

If you’re already a fan, you know how amazing the news of these FREE books is!

God has blessed me so much through Beth’s writing and teaching in the over 24 years of ministry He’s called me to. I still remember my very first Beth Moore study. Life changing.

Don’t forget: this is only through January 10, 2014….so don’t dawdle. Be sure and quickly spread the word about this offer with female friends and family, Bible Study groups, Sunday school groups, and your church. An easy way to pass the news along is to pass along my blog post since it contains the link for all the downloads 🙂 (Thank you!)

Here are the titles and a little information on a few of them:

Praying God’s Word Day by Day

Regularly $9.99—get it for FREE

Praying God’s Word is Beth Moore’s best-selling release to date! Now the wisdom provided in her book is available to you in a convenient devotional. Learn to pray fervently and directly from Scripture with Praying God’s Word Day by Day!

Believing God Day by Day: Growing Your Faith All Year Long

Regularly $9.99—get it for FREE

Do you take God at his word, or simply believe in him? Believing God is one of Beth Moore’s best-selling books—and this latest update offers an uncomplicated day-by-day reading plan explaining how God’s plan for his believers’ lives spreads the gospel to all. Get this thought-provoking devotional and learn to develop an understanding of God’s plan for your life.

Breaking Free Day by Day: A Year of Walking in Liberty

Regularly $9.99—get it for FREE

Throw off the chains that bind you and gain power over sin and doubt. Breaking Free Day by Day empowers you to cling to the freedom found in Christ and uses the truth of God’s Word to help you identify and overcome the enemy’s strongholds in your life. This devotional packs the most powerful content from Beth Moore’s bestseller, Breaking Free, into a daily-reading format to start your day off in God’s presence.

Check out 10 other FREE Beth Moore books:

A Heart Like His
Praying God’s Word: Breaking Free From Spiritual Strongholds
Further Still
When Godly People Do Ungodly Things: Finding Authentic Restoration in the Age of Seduction
Believing God
Breaking Free: Discover the Victory of Total Surrender
Feathers from My Nest
The Beloved Disciple
Things Pondered
To Live Is Christ
Jesus, the One and Only
And 2 more in Spanish! Be sure and pass these along to our Spanish speaking darlings

READY FOR THAT LINK? HERE IT IS:

Click here to go to download these books for Kindle, Nook, ePub, iBooks (iPad/iPhone), Android, Tablet, Vyrso, and computer!

Both Amazon and Barnes and Noble offer apps for those of you who don’t own a Kindle or Nook. So, if you don’t own an e-reader, fret no more!

Remember: This offer is only active through January 10, 2014

16 #FREE #BethMoore #eBooks! #Nook, #Kindle, #iPad, #Android, #Tablet, or #Computer! Offer Ends 1/10/14

Go Naked

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I love my office. It’s one of my favorite places to be. I’ve learned a lot of lessons in that office. Had many conversations with my Heavenly Daddy there. Met with and comforted lots of people in there. 

Love. It. 

I have a note pinned on my wall that says write naked. When my oldest daughter came in and saw that note for the first time she teased, “Uh, Mom, whatcha been doing in here?” I told her just to be sure and knock before coming in 🙂

But, seriously.

It’s a reminder for writers to be real, release inhibitions, and just let the creative juices flow. Don’t let anything get in the way of it. Including yourself. 

We need to do the same in every area of our lives – including and especially the things God has called us to do.

We are by nature comfort seekers. We like to do what feels good and comes easy. But all those heroes of the faith who blazed the way are cheering us on, and we need to get on with it. Let’s strip it down, throw it all off, get naked, start running and never quit.

Jesus began and finished this race we’re in. He never lost sight of where He was headed – that exhilarating finish in and with God – and could put up with anything along the way: the Cross, shame, whatever. And now He’s there. Right there in the place of honor, right alongside of God. 

Let go of all insecurities, all fear, all perceived (or real) judgments by others, all sins, whatever. Write like no one is reading. Dance like no one is around. Sing like no one is listening. Go. Do. Be who you were made to be! 

And, when you feel yourself flagging in your faith, go over Jesus’ story again, item by item: that long litany of hostility He plowed through, the bloodshed, the Cross. That will shoot adrenaline into your soul!

Anything holding you back is a parasite sucking all the nutrients  – the joy, peace, excitement, and closeness that comes from surrendering to Christ – at your expense

It isn’t helping you. It’s weighing you down. 

Odds are….you already know this. You feel it. 

RELEASE is a good word for 2014. Let go of everything that binds and RUN!

Go naked.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:1-3 NIV)

A Good Time of Year For Letting Go

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It’s a good time of year for letting go. Let’s not drag all our regrets into 2014. Let’s repent, make amends where we can and move on with Jesus -Beth Moore

Dare To Be

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Then He said to them all, “If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it. What is a man benefited if he gains the whole world, yet loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes into His glory and that of the Father and the holy angels.” Luke 9:23-26 HCSB

Jesus is telling us what we can expect for ourselves in a life of following Him. He’s laying it all out so that we know going in what this disciple-life is like and what we can expect so that there’s no surprise when it happens:

Anyone who intends on coming along with Him has to let Him lead. We aren’t in the driver’s seat. He is.

Oh, how we love to control things. We live in a time where everyone is all about being in charge of themselves and obeying no one. Not even God. We want all the fruits of His spirit, but choosing to obey Him is something we often ignore. We need to have complete dependence on God and be obedient to the leading of the Holy Spirit. If God is all you have, you have all you need (John 14:8)

Don’t run from suffering but embrace it. Follow Him and He’ll show you how. You may have opposition of loved ones. Some of your family and friends may oppose what you stand for. The Message we proclaim isn’t popular. We will suffer in one way or another for righteousness sake whether that means saying no to a certain movie with our friends, or taking a stand before the world for what you believe in.

Self help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, His way, to finding yourself – your true self.

Do you think of your relationship with God primarily in terms of what’s in it for you or in terms of what you can do for Him?


The tendency is to save our lives by selfish, complacent routine—basking in comfort, luxury, and ease by living for the present. Trading our finest talents in exchange for a few years of mock security. God calls us to a life of death to self and to the world.

We are called to pour out our lives for the sake of others, not to spend our lives on earth merely to please ourselves.


What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you – the real you? We may end up packing our bags and leaving everything we know behind…family, friends, house, lands, and comforts. God may call you away from all that you know but that’s ok because if God is all you have, you have all you need (John 14:8)

If anyone is embarrassed with Jesus and the way He leads us, know that He will be far more embarrassed of us when He arrives in all His splendor in company with the Father and the holy angels. Don’t back down. Stand up and stay up!

Our instinct is to recoil from a life of cross-bearing. Our minds are reluctant to believe that this could be God’s will for us.

BUT…

This life involves laying hold life that is life indeed! It means finding, at last, the reason for our existence! What joy and peace it is to be right where God wants you to be, doing exactly what He wants you to do! And, it means eternal reward. What a PROFOUND spiritual pleasure that comes! This life of abandonment has a deep inward satisfaction that defies description. Ever see someone go through things and remain in peace? This is why.

Giving this up for anything this temporary world could offer would be an insane bargain.

This is what we’re called to. This is the real you- the you that you were created to be. Anything less is said not to be a true disciple, but merely superficial lip service. True, it’s risky business following Jesus in this world, but the odds are in our favor. We win.

Joy To Your World

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Joy to the world. The Lord has come. Let earth receive her King. Let every heart prepare Him room.

You may have heard the Christmas story thousands of times before, but do you believe it? Have you embraced it as reality and truth? Or have you filed it away under Christmas fantasy along with magical bags of toys and elves?

The true Christmas story, the one that I have chosen to weave as truth into the fabric of my life, is the story of a girl who was ordinary, young and unqualified.

God chose to place Himself inside her womb so that you and I could, one day, carry His presence inside of our lives as well.

God, the Father, the Creator of the Universe, the Instigator of everything glorious and miraculous, chose you and me as the vehicle through which our generation would receive its greatest gift. It is our miracle that we have been called to demonstrate Jesus to the world in which we live.

The world will see the Light of the world when I allow my life to become a shining beacon to humanity.

Christmas was not all about Mary … or Joseph … or Elizabeth and Zacharias … or shepherds and Magi. Christmas is about you too! It is about making yourself available at this time in history – for such a time as this – to reveal the presence and love of our Savior.

You are the present that God is choosing to give to your world today. Your generation is desperate for the glory of a Savior.

As you contemplate New Year’s resolutions and plans that will encompass the 365 days to come, will you recommit yourself to be used by God?

Will you decide this Christmas day to allow God to use your life as the manger upon which the Savior of the world may be found?

Joy to YOUR World! Jesus has been born in YOU. God is looking for believers who will be bold enough and joyful enough to embrace the miracle of Christmas, not just one day a year, but every day of every season.

Merry Christmas! May you truly grasp how wide, how long, how high, and how deep the love Christ has for you.

Making A List And Checking It Twice

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Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. (1John 4:7-8)

As much as I try or even want to love on my own strength, I cannot love well and completely unless I am connected to God. Believe me, I’ve done that, and it ain’t pretty.

When we first know Who God is and experience His love, grace, and forgiveness in our own lives, we are then filled up with a supernatural love that overflows to others…..even those who are hard to love.

It’s this same supernatural love that God pursues us with. His tender passion is not found in this world, oh, no. This world is full of fragile loves–love that abandons, love that fades, love that divorces, love that is self-seeking, self-pleasing, and plain out selfish….me, me, me, it’s all about me, and right now. This isn’t love….these are “feelings”. God is not that kind of love. Real love is like God who is holy, just, giving, kind, patient, seeking others needs first, never gives up, never looses faith, always hopeful, and endures forever.

He’s personal and intimate with us in our hearts, in our prayers, and in our lives. His love is everlasting.

I just love Him so much that I have to do something about it. Who Christ is and what He’s done should cause us to act. His generous love and compassion is not to stop with us. We should find ways to show compassion to those who are suffering (even if it is at their own hands) because Christ is compassionate towards us. (Believe me when I tell you that there are days when that alone keeps me going. I could start another blog on that alone….these aren’t empty words here). His love for me is my fuel and lights me up…keeps me fired me up and overflows to others.

“You can give without loving, but you can’t love without giving….great happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved. Loved for ourselves and in spite of ourselves.” -Victor Hugo

Here’s your list….check it twice 😉:

  • Love for God can be seen only in love for other people (4:11-13,16-21,5:2)
  • Love and fear are opposites (v18)
  • Love is a gift, not a possession (v10,13,19)
  • Confession of Christ and love of others cannot be separated (vv19-21)
  • God’s love is certain. Christ showed that on the cross. (4:10,14; 5:6)
  • Because He first loved us….

    Miraculous Faith {Part 1}

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    What happens when you run out of something, like milk, at your house? Most of us put it on our grocery list, so we can buy some more at the store. But what if you had no money to buy groceries? And what if you had no hope of earning any money? This was the case for a widow woman in Elisha’s day.

    In 2 Kings 4:1-7, a woman came to Elisha. Her husband, one of the prophets, had died. Her husband owed money to someone, and she was unable to pay the debt. The person to whom she owed money to was going to take her children to be slaves in order to pay the debt. This woman was desperate. She came to man of God for help. And, she came to the right place.

    The woman told Elisha that the only thing she owned was a little bit of oil, but it was almost gone. Elisha told her to get empty jars from all of her neighbors, and to start pouring her oil into the jars. One by one, the jars would be filled with valuable oil.

    Right away, the widow woman went to her neighbors and asked for empty jars. Right away. This action proved that she believed God would perform a miracle for her.

    Sure enough, the woman began to pour her last drops of oil into an empty jar, and the oil kept right on pouring! Soon the house was filled with jars that were brimming with oil! The woman could sell the oil, pay the debt, and have money to care for her children. Can you imagine the look on her sons’ faces as the oil poured and poured? God had provided; they would not become slaves!

    Only God could do a thing like this. Only God can create something out of nothing (Genesis 1:1), or fill an empty jar with oil. The Lord loves His people, and He is happy to take care of their needs (Matthew 7:11).

    Look at the birds of the air. They don’t plant or gather crops. They don’t put away crops in storerooms. But your Father who is in heaven feeds them. Aren’t you worth much more than they are? – Matthew 6:26

    Every person is important to God. You are important to God! He delights over you, and He wants to provide everything you need (Zephaniah 3:17)

    Our God is a God of miracles! Our God is a God of abundant provisions! Our God is a God of the unimaginable!

    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 NIV84)

    Just like this woman, we had a debt that we couldn’t pay. She was powerless. We were powerless, too. Miraculous provision came from heaven down to earth in Jesus. HE is our miraculous provision.

    2 Kings 4:1-7:
    The wife of a man from the company of the prophets cried out to Elisha, “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that he revered the Lord. But now his creditor is coming to take my two boys as his slaves.”

    Elisha replied to her, “How can I help you? Tell me, what do you have in your house?” “Your servant has nothing there at all,” she said, “except a small jar of olive oil.” Elisha said, “Go around and ask all your neighbors for empty jars. Don’t ask for just a few. Then go inside and shut the door behind you and your sons. Pour oil into all the jars, and as each is filled, put it to one side.”

    She left him and shut the door behind her and her sons. They brought the jars to her and she kept pouring. When all the jars were full, she said to her son, “Bring me another one.”
    But he replied, “There is not a jar left.” Then the oil stopped flowing.

    She went and told the man of God, and he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debts. You and your sons can live on what is left.”

    Forgiving Those Who Judge You

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    “After Job had prayed for his friends, the LORD made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before” (Job 42:10)

    Have you ever been wrongly judged? Have you ever had people assume there was sin in your life because of the troubles you may have experienced? Or perhaps they judged your motives as wrong. What if the people judging you were your closest friends?

    This was exactly what happened in the life of Job. His friends did not understand how a godly person could ever go through his degree of adversity unless God was judging him for his sin. However, his friends were wrong and God intervened. “I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has,” said God to Job’s three friends.

    Nothing has really changed after thousands of years. I recall going through a seven year “Job” experience. Friends in the marketplace could not understand why I would experience such calamity unless I had made poor choices. Those in the Church often wrongly equated trouble with sin. Sometimes this can be true, but often trouble is simply a consequence of a call on one’s life such as Joseph and the apostle Paul experienced.

    Joseph was required to forgive his brothers. Jesus was required to forgive Judas and the disciples for betrayal. You and I are required to forgive those who wrongfully judge us.

    This forgiveness is often THE most important step in gaining restoration in our own lives. The scripture above reveals that it was not until Job prayed for his friends that he was restored in the things he had lost.

    Is there someone in your life you need to forgive? It may be the missing piece of your puzzle for restoration.

    (Today God Is First (TGIF) devotional message, Copyright by Os Hillman, Marketplace Leaders)

    Reflect Hope

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    Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13 NASB

    The Holy Spirit is always at work in us, making it possible for us to abound in hope.

    The achievement of all God’s purposes for the spiritual welfare of His children comes from the power given by the Spirit of God. In short, if God brings you to it, He is what (WHO) brings you through it.

    Our God provides hope for and inspires hope in His redeemed ones.

    Your choices reflect your hope, trust, and belief in GOD being who He said He is, and that He’ll do what He says He’ll do. This is where the rubber meets the road. This is where we put our proverbial money where our mouth is.

    What you fear tells you where you trust God the least.

    Stop and take a look around at what He’s done for you in the past, what He’s doing for you now, and what He promises to do for you in the future. Trust Him and let your decisions reflect the hope you have in Him.

    May your decisions reflect your HOPE not your fears.

    Two Steps To Begin Using Influence Wisely

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    Influence.

    We all have it. We are impacting those around us all the time. This is a great thing when we learn to use the influence God has given us wisely. We start by learning the art of speaking and listening with these two steps:

    1. We must listen in such a way that others love to speak to us.

    Post this at all the intersections, dear friends: Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue..(James 1:19-21 MSG


    How significant is listening? Listening is the fullness of hearing. It is possible to hear someone talk and not listen. In order to hear and listen, one must be paying attention. It’s so unnerving to talk to someone who isn’t listening. It quickly turns people off and turns them away. People love to talk to good listeners. James 1:19 in the NIV version says it this way: My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. Don’t make snap judgements. Don’t assume. First, listen well.

    The world is in need of a Savior and there is only One. We must carry the Gospel message out to the world. We must hear those who are asking for help, we must listen to them to give them what they need. You have the Source of help. Are you listening?

    2. We must speak in such a way that others love to listen to us.

    She opens her mouth with wisdom and loving instruction is on her tongue. Proverbs 31:26 HCSB

    Her words are wise, gentle, and dripping with love. Wise words (not a smart mouth), spoken and motivated by the greatest gift of all (Love) is exactly the way Christ teaches us. The best way to do that is through compassion. If we first place ourselves in their shoes for a moment and think of all the ways God is loving and patient with us, how could we be any less with others? After all, it is only by the grace of God that we aren’t struggling in their area……. or that we once were and are no more.

    God drove this truth home for me this week in a big way. Let’s word that in another way: God taught me a lesson this week. I was in the middle of several sticky situations and with some people who were dropping the ball in a big way. I was tempted to lose patience with them when I got that Holy tap on the shoulder that reminded me: God meets us ALL where we are. These people aren’t mature enough to handle this well, but they could be one day. Teach. Don’t preach. Once I walked that out, things ran more smoothly, and they walked away encouraged.

    She delights to talk of the Word of God and does so motivated by love: the greatest gift. She is careful in WHAT she says and HOW she says it. 

    How, when, what, and to whom I speak matters. Truth spoken in the wrong spirit of things can repel people AWAY from God rather than TO Him. Remember Job’s friends? This is where they went wrong. Overwhelmed and in agony with all he was suffering, Job was not comforted but rather condemned by his friends. While there were elements of truth in some of what they said, it was based on wrong assumptions. We must be careful of what we assume to be true in the lives of others. Be very careful of making snap judgments (I know I’ve made this point twice. It’s double important!)

    The influence God has gifted us with should always be one that praises God and builds up people for His Kingdom.

    POINTS TO PONDER: Influence is a gift. Am I faithful with my influence with those around me? Is my influence being used for HIS glory? Who am I being influenced by? Am I careful in what I say and how I say it…..when I say it, and to whom? Am I speaking words into people’s lives that are wise, gentle, and dripping with Love? Am I also doing this with my family?

    May we all listen in such a way that others love to speak to us, and speak in such a way that others love to listen to us. May we be an influence on all those around us as our Jesus is. Let’s make an impact for HIM. Let’s make much of Jesus.

    Advent: It Is Finished

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    Today is the first Sunday of Advent. The word “advent” means arrival. The Advent we celebrate is not just any arrival. We celebrate THE Arrival: Jesus.

    This is the Advent: the coming of hope to the hopeless, the arrival of peace to war-torn exiles, and the long-awaited freedom for generation after generation.

    It’s the elaborate yet stunningly simple plan of God to come to His children, to become like them in the most unexpected, unglamorous, fully human way: a Babe in a manger….born of a virgin.

    It’s the beginning of a great ransom story. And you’re in it.

    Our ransom story begins way back at the beginning. Way back to the fall in the Garden of Eden:

    Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’ ” “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” So the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, “Cursed are you above all livestock and all wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” (Genesis 3:1-15 NIV)

    “No sooner was the wound given than the remedy was provided and revealed” -Matthew Henry

    God’s rescue plan started right then. He couldn’t leave us there. His weapon of choice: Grace. He would use Grace to draw us back to Him in the form of His Son. A Messiah. A Savior. Emmanuel: God With Us.

    Yes, the evil one would strike His heel. Jesus would experience real suffering with real blood, sweat and tears. But, Jesus would have the last word. When He cried out, “It is finished!” the serpent’s head would receive the final, fatal blow.

    This is how He would become God With Us. Once His work is done….once you and I accept Him as Lord and Savior…..we will never be separated from Him again. God.With.Us.

    In this Holiday season, I pray you all are keeping your devotion time going. Often we put them aside when we’re busy, but that’s when we need them the most. When we’re distracted and busy we are a prime target for the enemy. And this Holiday is about Christ anyway, right? Let’s keep our focus and the flame of our love affair with Him burning brightly. Do an Advent study/Devotion this season and worship Him. Grow deeper and closer to our Savior.

    You’ll find keeping Christ in Christmas will help your busy Holiday time go much better! Also important: We see a lot of people this time of year that we don’t see regularly….as well as stores packed full of strangers. What a prime opportunity to share Christ and His Gospel. Remember why you’re here in the first place 😊