When fear comes knocking….

  

….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. 

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

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. 

“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

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. 

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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 

How To Make Faith A Natural Part of Everyday Life {Part three}

My final tip in my three part series on how to make faith a natural part of everyday life for your family. This is by no means all that you can do. These are just 3 easy tips for you to start with now. See previous posts for the other tips. 

3. Third, have fun! Nothing makes faith seem more out-of-place and awkward than when it feels forced, contrived, or boring. After over 25 years in ministry, we’ve learned that uncomfortable, scripted sermons or trite, cheeseball lessons are a drag for everyone. 

When you make faith interactive, interesting and imaginative, however, the truths from the Bible really stick. Kids who have fun with faith when they’re young experience rich relationships with Jesus as they get older.

So brainstorm creative ways to retell Bible stories, look for inspiration in the natural world around you, tap into your child’s interests, and have fun!

#Faith #Family #Children #EverydayFaith 

How To Make Faith A Natural Part Of Your Everyday Life {Part Two}

I’ve gotten a lot of questions lately on faith and family. Here is my second post in a three part series of a few tips on how to make faith a natural part of everyday life with your family. 

2. Second, readjust your expectations of what “making faith a natural part of your everyday” looks like. In other words, you don’t have to be perfect. Faith does not eliminate questions, but faith knows where to take them. 

Your kids don’t need the appearance of perfection. What they need is real authenticity, and a genuine desire to chase after God – especially from you. 

We all make parenting mistakes. You’re going to make several and so am I. But listen, you don’t drown by falling into the water. You drown by staying there. When you mess up, apologize and grow from it together as a family. If you stumble and fall, fall forward, get back up, and keep running the race God has set before you. Let them see you do this with a genuine love for God and a desire to run after Him. 

God didn’t mean for parenting to reflect perfection from us. He meant it to be a clear reflection of His love. Our job as parents is not to put on a perfect show. It’s to point them to the Perfect Savior. 

As always, feel free to share away. You never know who is on the other side of the screen waiting on a word of encouragement. 

#God #Faith #Family #Parenting #EverydayFaith

How To Make Faith A Natural Part of Everyday Life {Part One}

I’ve gotten a lot of questions lately on faith and family. I’m going to post a tip a day for the next three days on how to make faith a natural part of everyday life with your family.

Here’s the first one:

1. First, as parents we have to model faith. If you’re suddenly picturing someone who can quote the Bible from memory, who prays constantly, and sings in the hills wearing a nun’s habit (a la The Sound of Music), RELAX–faith isn’t always easy, but it can be simple.

You don’t necessarily need to come off like a pastor to your kids. You just need to show them the simple ways you’re practicing your faith. For example, let them see you pray. Let them see you read the Bible. Talk about Jesus. Talk to Jesus, out loud, around them. 

Even if your faith hasn’t been a natural part of your family life, start now. No matter how old your kids are. Just start.

As always, feel free to share away. Sharing is caring. You never know who is waiting for a word. 

#Faith #Family #EverdayFaith 

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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More Than Conquerors

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…In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to seperate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:37-39)

We are more than conquerors

God isn’t sending you out on a suicide mission – He’s inviting you to witness His surpassing power. God is on our side. Let your confidence in Him give birth to optimism.

In all these things we are MORE than conquerors. Don’t give up and don’t give in to the fear of defeat or failure. The solution is life on God’s terms.

It’s time for those of us who follow Jesus to occupy the promises of God – in spite of the bleak reports.

I’m optimistic.

Are you?

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Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda Versus Me

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My unresolved guilt festered for nearly a decade. When we began attending a church populated by a number of adoptive and foster families, I wondered if God had hit the family reset button for us. The finances required for adoption were daunting, to say the least, but we thought we could try foster parenting and see where it took us. Our kids were excited at the prospect of having a little baby come to live with us for a while. The social worker that evaluated our family and home prior to granting us a foster license told us we were a perfect family for the task.

She knew this was going to be a part of our family’s ministry but had no idea that foster care was both penance and prayer for me. My unvoiced hope was that maybe one of the foster babies would be left with us—things like that happened once in a while, I knew—and it would be a sign that God really had forgiven me and that I was worthy to mother another child in spite of my decision to have a tubal ligation a decade earlier.

My grief in the restaurant the day Rhiannon left us was sadness at letting her go, but also a revelatory moment when I began to come to terms with the fact that I could not go back to fix the past. My regret had long anchored me to that single disobedient moment in time. My response to the remorse I felt was to beat myself up with my failure in my own wrongheaded attempt to somehow make myself right with God. I wanted so much to be able to right my wrong, to turn my “if only” into a do-over.

I felt a new wave of sorrow as I accepted the fact that there were not going to be any do-overs in this area of my life. Jesus had been waiting and working through all of this to free me from my self-punishment habit. That fresh sorrow marked the reality that I’d finally begun to surrender to God by allowing remorse to do its work in me. The Message paraphrase of 2 Corinthians 7:10 ex- plains the work of this kind of godly sorrow: “Distress that drives us to God does that. It turns us around. It gets us back in the way of salvation. We never regret that kind of pain. But those who let distress drive them away from God are full of regrets, end up on a deathbed of regrets.”

I also began to discover that day how our loving God can redeem our regrets.

The Past on “Repeat”

Regret serves a training purpose in our lives. One of the first things newborns discover is that their cry creates a response from the world: warm milk, comforting arms, a dry diaper. This cause-and-effect interaction with the world teaches babies how the world works.

It doesn’t take long before we graduate to some version of the old “the dog ate my homework” dodge to avoid uncomfortable short-term consequences. As we move toward adulthood, one of our greatest strengths is our idealism. The passion that fuels our idealism also feeds idealism’s trigger-happy pal—impulsiveness. When we’re young, we’re prone to making quick decisions without considering long-term consequences. As a result, we’re also prone to accumulating a nice collection of unprocessed regrets that we may not fully realize until we approach midlife.

I wonder how many times Adam and Eve replayed the moment they bit into the forbidden fruit throughout the rest of their long lives (Gen. 3:1-7) or how many times Esau cursed himself for his impatience at trading his inheritance and his father’s blessing for a bowl of lentils (Gen. 25:24-34). Judas’s regret at betraying his friend Jesus drove him to suicide (Matt. 27:1-5).

In the weeks after my lunchtime meltdown, I took a small first step in facing my regrets by intentionally choosing not to keep hitting the “repeat” button on my decision. I wanted to be intentional about reflecting on the good God had brought into my life despite my bad choices, something I really hadn’t done very often. The exercise offered me a new appreciation for the sovereignty of God. If it is true that God weaves all things together for both our good and his glory (Rom. 8:28), then it follows that he is able to redeem our sinful decisions in order to serve his purposes. I realized that while my life may have been less fruitful as a result of the consequences of my choice, it hadn’t been exactly barren. Mothering three beautiful children, helping my husband as he finished college while working full time, caring for friends, doing the work God had given me, learning, serving in a couple of meaningful ministry roles—each one bore the imprint of eternity. The exercise didn’t instantly erase every regret, but it did serve to interrupt the unhealthy cycle of self-recrimination in which I’d been trapped with some spiritually nourishing, God-glorifying thanksgiving.

Pausing my endless loop of “if only” opened my ears to the lyrics of that tired song to which I’d been dancing and dancing and dancing. It was time to learn some new steps.

Reflection Questions:

1. What are some of your longest-standing regrets?

2. In what ways can you see how your past regrets have affect- ed your present life? How do they shape the way you think about your future?

3. What is one positive thing that has happened in your life as a result of a past regret?

4. If you were going to write a letter to a younger version of you just before you made a decision you now know would lead to regret, what would you say to yourself? What do you think God might say to that younger version of you?

Taken from If Only by Michelle Van Loon, ©2014 by Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City, Kansas City, MO. Used and reprinted by permission of Publisher. All rights reserved. Visit our website at http://www.beaconhillbooks.com to purchase this title.

#IfOnlyBook #IfOnlyTour

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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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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

Waiting For My One True Love

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I  am not a patient person. I want to know it all. And, I want to know it NOW! I am the girl who flips to the end of the romance book to see if they end up together. A die hard romantic. I just can’t wait long enough to find out their ending or should I say their beginning with their one true love.

In high school, I decided not to date. To just cool my jets and fall in love with my God. It was a time to focus my attention on God. He said that He would bring the man he had for me in HIS timing, not mine. So that’s what I did. 

I waited.

That time of wait was not always easy. However, I have a best friend who had the same commitment, so the waiting wasn’t nearly as hard as it could have been. During those years, we laughed so hard our sides hurt. Pulled pranks. We went on adventures that would make you cry from laughing so hard. We were (and still are) inseparable! We decided to dance our way through this time of waiting.

In the meantime, she had an older brother who I thought was the bee’s knees! He was everything I was looking for in a guy. When I say everything, I mean e v e r y t h i n g: a Jesus loving musician with a heart for people, level headed, calm, cool, collected, an amazing servant leader. The list goes on and on and on! Except there was one problem: He was my best friend’s older brother! 

So I kept it a secret.

I didn’t tell my best friend. I didn’t want her to get mad. And I didn’t want her to think I used her to see her brother, which wouldn’t be anywhere close to the truth.

This went on for years.

And years.
 
In the spring of 2012, I finally told her at a stop light in our small town. It was rather comical. As it turns out, she knew and had been waiting for me to tell her. She wasn’t mad, and it didn’t go as I feared it would. I was so relieved! 

I had brought my feelings to God numerous times. With graduation looming, I felt my time of no dating was coming to an end and this guy was no stranger in my prayers! During that Spring, the situation looked bleak. He was interested in someone else! I was devastated to say the least. I prayed and asked God what I should do. I loved Brandon and wanted only the best for him. No matter what or with whom that would be. 

The only response I got from God was, “Wait.” 

What?

Wait?

Again?? 

Really????

That was not the answer I was wanting. I wanted an immediate answer to the problem! But, I knew God loved me deeply and had a purpose, so I decided to trust him and wait……but this wait was for God to bring someone else. I planned to squash my feelings for Brandon and just see him as a friend. That’s all. I tried. Honestly, I did. I almost believed the lies I told myself too. 

Later that fall, I got a text from HIM. Brandon only asked me a simple question. No big deal. But to my amazement, we kept talking. And talking.

This went on for 7 MONTHS people! I was so impatient! He never gave me any clue if he liked me or not. Not a single one! Ugh! I was just getting down right mad at this point. I didn’t care anymore. I just wanted a definite answer! Either ask me to be your girl or stop texting me! 

I decided to take matters into my own hands (never a good idea). A couple of people had tried to set me up with their friends and I had always turned them down. This time I decided to just meet them. Why not? Brandon wasn’t going to do anything anyways. I got to know them a little bit. Before I could even finish asking God what he thought, I got a resounding NO! I thought I had heard wrong. Surely, I had. But no. I had not. So I dropped it. Never to be picked up again. 

A bunch of us ended up going to a birthday party at the zoo. On April 20th 2013, at the Nashville Zoo by the tiger exhibit, Brandon asked me to be his girl. FINALLY! I was completely surprised. I honestly had no clue if he was interested in me or not. As it turns out, he had had his eye on me for years! He had been praying about me late into the nights and told no one. 
 
I was walking in the clouds that day. And I haven’t come down since. God had a plan and a purpose. Of course He did. One greater than I could have imagined. Those years (and YEARS!) of waiting were worth every second. I wouldn’t trade them. They make our love story especially sweet. God prepared us for each other in HIS timing and not ours. Never have I been so grateful for the word wait

If you are in a waiting season, take heart! God has not forgotten you, just like he never forgot me. God stretches us the most when we can’t clearly see the way ahead. We may not always understand His ways, but God is God. We have to trust Him to make known to us the paths of life. In my lifetime, God has made me wait. He has taught me so much more in the times of waiting than when I have had everything I wanted. You may be waiting for something different. It may be a job. Or a home. Or maybe it’s your one true love as well. But the waiting is the same. Enjoy the ride! Roll down your windows. Drink in deeply the sweet presence of God. Dance through your times of waiting. You can learn a lesson from my story: Don’t push it. Don’t rush it. Just let God bring it to you in His timing. It works out better that way.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)

 
Love,
Morgan

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Let God Overwhelm You Today

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I am your all-seeing, all-knowing, all-powerful, and everywhere present Father.

You may feel lonely, but don’t believe it. You’re never far from Me.

I Am is always here – delighting in you, watching you, adoring you.

I know you better than you know yourself, and it brings Me great joy to show you My love. I pleasure in caring for you.

Come.

Let My love overwhelm you today….

O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I am far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, LORD. You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand! Psalm 139:1-6

These are my notes from my devotion time today. His loving presence is wonderfully, fantastically, overwhelmingly, almost too much to handle. It makes you feel like you’re going to spontaneously combust! It’s miraculous. It’s where I crave to be all the days of my life.

Let God overwhelm you today.

Go ahead….invite Him in right now

Clout: Discover and Unleash Your God-Given Influence – Jenni Catron

Clout.

We all have it.

Your clout is your God-given power and influence. You are uniquely made by God. When we discover and unleash our God-given influence – our clout – we position ourselves to lead with passion and purpose that DEFY our personal limitations. Defies it. Goes beyond. Soars way past anything we could ever imagine in our finite minds! Whew! That’s exciting!

I’m thrilled about a book that came out this week called Clout by Jenni Catron:

 

 

Clout: Discover Your God-Given Influence

 

Jenni’s leadership is outstanding. She is the Executive Director at Cross Point Church in Nashville, Tennessee where she leads the staff and ministries of 5 churches that has grown exponentially under her leadership. Her writing is full of heart and shows her desire to help us all grow exponentially! I was deeply encouraged. My book is covered in highlights.

I love what Jenni said here: “One of the most important lessons we have to learn about unleashing our God-given influence is that it is not simply for our benefit. It is for God’s plan and purpose to be accomplished through us for the blessing of others.”

 

Right. On.

Each of us has the ability to change the world around us.

We all are capable in influencing others.

We all want to matter. We all want to know that our lives are making a positive impact on the world around us.

 

There are some common traps which short-circuit our clout. Jenni discusses seven clout killers and teaches us through scripture how to avoid these traps:

  • Confronting Fear
  • Understanding the Impact of Jealousy
  • Squeezing Out Scarcity
  • Identifying Insecurity
  • Purging Pride
  • Relinquishing Control

She doesn’t stop there. She goes on to share how we can cultivate our clout, making the most impact in our area of influence:

  • Discovering Your Identity
  • Developing Your Confidence
  • Defining Your Mission
  • Determining Your Passion

 

Thomas Nelson Books has graciously offered me a copy to give to one of you! And trust me, you will want to get in on this. The offer will end on Tuesday, January 28. The winner will be randomly chosen and announced on Wednesday, January 29. Enter to win by leaving a comment below. The book will be shipped directly from Thomas Nelson.

The Thomas Nelson Books team are amazing and they are giving away an iPad mini in celebration of Clout’s release! Here’s the link to the offer on the Clout website: go here

Don’t forget to leave a comment to win the book!

 

#discoverCLOUT #JenniCatron #Influence

 

 

 

 

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.) 

Sticks and Stones

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Words.

Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never harm me.

Lies.

Big.Lies.

Great.Big.Fat.Lies.

Ever said something in the heat of the moment and then instantly regretted it? Yeah, me too. You know exactly what I’m talking about. That crazy moment when you’ve lost all good senses and out it comes. And there it sits….looking just as ugly as it felt coming out. We’ve all done it.

*sigh*

Or, have you ever said something carelessly and had no idea the impact your words had?

Yep.

Words are important to God. God spoke all of creation into existence. God spoke. That’s all. And whatever He said, it happened.

God is serious about our words and how we use them, and we should be too. Our words have the power to influence and shape the world around us – physically and virtually- in a good and bad ways.

James talks about how our tongue is used for evil:

 

“Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue is a fire. A world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed or have been tamed by man. But no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men , who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth, come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water. (James 3:5-12 NIV) “

But in Proverbs, we get to see how our words can bring light and a future!

 

The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but violence overwhelms the mouth of the wicked. (Proverbs 10:11 NIV)

The lips of the righteous nourish many, but the fools die for lack of judgement. (Proverbs 10:21 NIV)

An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up. (Proverbs 12:25 NIV)

Pleasant words are a honeycomb: sweet to the taste and health to the body. (Proverbs 16:24 HCSB)

Before you speak – think:

Is it uplifting? Is it beneficial? Will it strengthen and encourage? Will it bring glory and honor to God? If the answer to any of these questions is no, then it’s not something that should be voiced.

Let’s taste our words before we spit them out, shall we? Me and you. Deal? Deal.

There are SO many more verses on our words and how we can use them. I would encourage you to look them up! It’s so rewarding.

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I just can’t believe the people that GOD has blessed me with. Incredible. I had so much fun writing this with our dear, sweet Morgan. I’ve had a peek at a few ideas she has. You guys, I can’t even. You will be blessed. Can’t wait for you to see what’s coming.

Our writing team is growing. There’s room for you. Contact me with what you have and let’s talk.

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)

Stay Connected

Stressed? Burned out? Tired? Need Encouragement? Mad? Sad? Busy? CRAZY BUSY? Need direction? Feeling lost? Need hope, love, and wisdom? Yes. I know. We’ve all felt these feelings and more at various times in our lives. For the most part, … Continue reading

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.

Something out of Nothing

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I read a quote this week that is said to be quoted from Beth Moore: 

Ever wonder why Jesus was a carpenter? Because God’s expertise is in reconstruction

I loved it. Regardless of whether or not Beth said it, it is so true. God loves us where we are, but He doesn’t leave us there. 

When we surrender ourselves to Christ, He shakes things up a bit. We change and become different people. What we consider our weakest traits will become anointed. 

I love what Hillman said:
Quiet people become bold. Poor speakers learn to become great communicators. Those who were never leaders before become new leaders. This is the way of God. 

When God looks at you and me, He sees our future, not our past. He sees your full potential. He sees the person He created you to become, not who you are now. And, He’s (more than) willing to help you get there. 

A prayer I’ve prayed for as long as I can remember is, “Lord, help us to become the people you had in mind for us when you created us.” 

When God speaks into your life, believe Him. 

God turns shepherds like Moses into leaders of nations. He turns farmers like Gideon into reformers. He turns impetuous and unstable personalities like Peter into leaders that can transform a culture and lead a movement. 

GOD makes something out of nothing. He takes nobodies and makes them somebodies.

The voice of GOD spoke into creation, and then it was. He’s powerful. He’s huge. He’s fantastic. And, He’s yours. You’re His. 

What about you? What has called called out for you? 

We call Abraham “father” not because he got God’s attention by living like a saint, but because God made something out of Abraham when he was a nobody. Isn’t that what we’ve always read in Scripture, God saying to Abraham, “I set you up as father of many peoples”? Abraham was first named “father” and then became a father because he dared to trust God to do what only God could do: raise the dead to life, with a word make something out of nothing. When everything was hopeless, Abraham believed anyway, deciding to live not on the basis of what he saw he couldn’t do but on what God said he would do. And so he was made father of a multitude of peoples. God himself said to him, “You’re going to have a big family, Abraham!” Romans 4:17, 18 MSG

That is what the Scriptures mean when God told him, “I have made you the father of many nations.” This happened because Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing. Romans 4:17 NLT

Hebrews: The Nearness of King Jesus

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I’m such a Bible geek. I love studying scripture. Can’t get enough. I never tire of reading the Bible; it’s the Lord’s love letter to His children.

Another thing I love is telling others about resources that honor GOD and help us all grow.

Lisa Harper has a study coming out that I’m excited about. In fact, I’m on the launch team and I want to share the just released trailer introducing you to Hebrews: The Nearness of King Jesus

Here’s the description Lisa Harper’s Hebrews: The Nearness of King Jesus study:

Join Lisa Harper as she journeys through this bridge between the Old and New Testaments to get into the heart of the matter: Jesus is our accessible King. He is not a far away God, but and up-close Redeemer who draws near to us.

The trailer and description reminded me of the post I wrote this week entitled Made For Heights. God has equipped His people to scale the heights even in the midst of great challenges. He enables us to go to the higher places with Him.

The Sovereign Lord is our strength. He enables us to go on the heights (Habakkuk 3:19)

Read the rest of that post here

The fact that Jesus is near is a theme here on my site. He’s close. He’s crazy-head-over-heels-stalkerlike in love with us! His mind is costumed with us. He is ever working at getting closer to us. He is for us and wants more than anything to have a close, thriving, passionate relationship with us. This is why He gave up His life! He definitely, absolutely is NOT a far away God.

Being on this launch team fit me like a glove. I’m excited. I’m pumped. I’m drooling at the mouth to dig into this study and dance skin to skin with my Jesus. No “four inch rule” for us. No, we are dancing tight and up-close!

Keep an eye out. I’ll definitely be filling you in more so we can all dance with our King Jesus.

In the meantime, don’t forget to check out the new trailer we just released here and follow all the buzz on social media using the hashtag #NearJesus

Slow dancing with Jesus,
Christy

Here’s the problem AND the solution…

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Jesus replied, “Your mistake is that you don’t know the Scriptures, and you don’t know the power of God ~Mark 12:24