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

Chosen

  

Chosen is such a powerful word. Especially when you think about it’s opposite: rejected.  Rejection is that thing we all fear, and we’ve all experienced at one time or another.  I bet just the mention of the word “rejection” hurls you into emotion-filled flashbacks, and a flood of memories wash over you reminding you of all the times you were not chosen. 

An audition gone wrong. 
A team you never made. 
A boyfriend who hurt your heart. 
A friend that betrayed you.
A spouse that cheated on you. 
A job you didn’t get.  

If we’re not careful, we can begin to allow these moments to define us.  We begin to call ourselves REJECTED. But God calls us by name, and He calls us CHOSEN.



“BUT YOU ARE A CHOSEN PEOPLE, A ROYAL PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, GOD’S SPECIAL POSSESSION, THAT YOU MAY DECLARE THE PRAISES OF HIM WHO CALLED YOU OUT OF DARKNESS INTO HIS WONDERFUL LIGHT.” 1 PETER 2:9


The enemy to our souls will try and try to tell you that you’re less than who God says you are. He will whisper false labels on you, and try to distract you from your real name: Chosen. Accepted. 

But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do His work and speak out for Him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference He made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted. 1 Peter 2:9 MSG. (emphasis mine)

Spend no more time there. Answer no longer to the name the enemy calls you by. 

Let me tell you a secret the enemy doesn’t want you to know: we all have a choice in this. We can choose whether we move forward from this point or whether we relive the past for the rest of our lives. 

I love the way Christine Caine said it- You could miss the rest of your life, which could be the best of your life by focusing on what was the worse of your life. 

Friend, allow me to speak some things over you. Your true identity. 

You are:

Accepted. 

Chosen

Loved. 

Wanted. 

Special. 

Included. 

Pursued. 

Loved. 

Important. 

Desired. 

Favored. 

Called. 

Preferred. 

Loved. 

Hand Picked. 

Noticed. 

Appointed. 

Selected. 

Loved. 

Remembered. 

You matter. 

You are HIS


Never again answer to any other name!

  

Be a Trailblazer

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All of our actions begin in the imagination. We think it, and then act on those thoughts.

I was recently working on a project that I haven’t worked on in quite some time. I found myself amazed at the things culture has brought into play since my last time being involved. Quite a few times I found myself stepping back, shaking my head and wondering why no one else was seeing it for what it is: attacks from the enemy.

There’s a war on for our minds. Our thoughts. The enemy wants to convince us and change our minds about what we believe because he knows that once our minds are changed, our actions will follow.

God has equipped us with the tools to take our thoughts captive. If it doesn’t line up with scripture – can it. Throw it out with the rest of the junk this culture tries to feed us.

The world will try to tell you that you’re less than who Christ says you are. It wants to beat you down and make you change your mind so that you can then change someone else’s mind about what or Who you believe.

Casting down imaginations (carnal reasonings of the mind) and every high minded opinion raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:5)

The world is unprincipled. It’s dog-eat-dog out there! The world doesn’t fight fair. But we don’t live or fight our battles that way—never have and never will. The tools of our trade aren’t for marketing or manipulation, but they are for demolishing that entire massively corrupt culture.

We use our powerful God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ. Our tools are ready at hand for clearing the ground of every obstruction and building lives of obedience into maturity. (2 Corinthians 10 MSG)

Our Master is Christ. He’s alive in us and speaks today as He always has to His followers. Our tool is the Bible. Hold every opinion against the Light of Scripture. Just because everyone else is doing it doesn’t mean we should be doing it.

In fact, observe the masses and go the other direction. Do the opposite. Don’t be afraid to be different. You just might be the spark that your world of influence needs to fan a flame.

Together as Christians we walk along this uncommon road with the hope that those we walk past while moving upstream may see something beyond an oddity and turn their lives to join us in our progression of faith towards eternal glory.

Don’t go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Go out there and do something remarkable. Guard your mind and be the change you want to see. Someone around you is waiting for you to find the courage.

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Facebook: Online Mission Field

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Facebook has more than 1 Billion members, which by population makes it the third largest country in the world — somewhere between India and the United States(Phil Cooke)

Who’s sending missionaries to that country? Who’s planting churches there?

That’s a HUGE mission field waiting for us.

I’m in.

You?

Our aim in life is to make followers of Jesus, not us.

May they see us pointing to Jesus, not self

The Real Deal

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We have an expression that says, “She’s the real deal.” What we mean when saying this is the person is really who they are appearing to be. They aren’t trying to convince you that they’re someone they’re not. It’s a compliment. It means you’re aren’t a hypocrit or trying to be someone you’re not. 

I had a situation where someone wanted to say something about someone that was out of character for the person being spoken of. I didn’t need to know the details. I knew the person. She’s the real deal

GOD did extraordinary miracles through Paul…. Acts 19:11

Paul was the real deal. GOD began using Paul in amazing ways and there arose people who saw this power who also wanted to do the same acts as Paul. The problem was they weren’t the real deal. They were trying to be someone they weren’t. They were trying to appropriate the same Power Source as Paul without ever having a relationship with the Power Source, and it nearly killed them. 

It is impossible to be the real deal without tapping into the real Power Source. The Holy Spirit is our Power Source. Do you want to experience the extraordinary with GOD? If so, tap into the real Power Source.

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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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

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

 

 

 

 

{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

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.

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….

    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.

    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

    Made For Heights

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    The Sovereign LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights” Habakkuk 3:19


    The book of Habakkuk inspired Martin Luther’s reformation and the book “Hinds Feet on High Places” by Hannah Hunnard. Habakkuk encourages us to question what God is doing in our lives. When we are thrown into suffering for a period of time, or our enemies are prospering while we are just barely getting by, we wonder about the equity of God and life. Habakkuk affirms that God is God and we are made to scale the mountains of adversity. We just need to be still and know He is at work. He is who He says He is and does keep His promises.

    God equips His people to scale the heights even in the midst of great challenges. He enables us to go to the higher places with Him where we are set apart from the world. Sometimes the way we have to go to get us there is through suffering and sorrow, but if we rest in Him and trust Him we come out where He wants us.

    When Jesus told the disciples He was going to send the Holy Spirit to them, it was in order for them to scale the mountain before them with a new form of power they had not experienced.

    “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8)


    If you find yourself in a place of doubting God and His plan for your life, know that this is a normal aspect of your journey in God. However, know that God has made available His Holy Spirit in order for you to accomplish the tasks that lie ahead.

    Ask the Holy Spirit to enable you to achieve the heights for which He has created you.

    ~Today God Is First~

    Trusting the turn-by-turns

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    Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” Isaiah 30:21

    We hear a lot about how so few are surrendering to following Christ radically. Giving up the throne and becoming second seems to be hard for a lot of people. Being willing to listen to God’s directions and doing it regardless of how ridiculous it sounds, is important. We all see people doing it. And, we all want to have that kind of closeness with God.

    I don’t think it’s so much a matter of people not wanting to live this kind of life, as much as it’s about the mystery. It’s about the unknown. It’s mystical and scary, and there’s no control over the results of our choices. If we went to church on Sunday and got a list for the week….sort of a summary list of turn by turn directions. You know, the kind you get on your GPS where you can see a complete summary list ahead of time of all the turns you’ll make to get to your destination?

    We would all follow God if we went to church and He gave us a complete list of to-dos. Even if they were crazy, we would do them. We don’t like the mystery of listening as we go. We want a complete list. We would even say and do crazy things if on the list God said, “On Monday, while you’re at the copy machine, your co-worker is going to walk by. Turn to her and say this. She’s going to cry, but that will only last a minute, and then she will be happy you told her that. Then, you will go and do this other thing and that will happen.”

    It’s the unknown, unplanned, and not knowing that holds us up

    We can read scripture and see the consequences of some of our choices, but in the day to day, we need to trust God for turn-by-turn directions. We need to listen to His voice as He says turn here, this is the way. It’s a beautiful thing to be going about your day and hear His directions this way. I’ve never regretted one time of listening to God no matter how crazy it sounded. Not one. Every single time, He had already gone ahead and prepared things for what He has me doing. But, we will always regret not listening and following His voice.

    The cool thing about God is, He is always working out a solution. Everything He does is a solution. So, when we get off track He is more than willing to “recalculate” our wrong turns and help us get back on the road. God calls on us, we certainly can call on Him.

    Let today be the day that you say Today, God is first. Radically. No matter what. Even in the crazy ridiculous…

    I’m Not Ready!

    Today God is first….

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    “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness'” 2 Cor 12:9

    If there is one thing that is consistent throughout scripture, it is this: God calls people when they are not ready. God will never call you into service when you think you are ready. This is intentional on God’s part.

    And, you can be sure when God calls you, you will have similar responses as Saul did when he was called to be the first king, or Gideon, when he was called to take down the idols in his nation, or Moses, when he was called to deliver his people from Egypt.

    Saul answered, “But am I not a Benjamite, from the smallest tribe of Israel, and is not my clan the least of all the clans of the tribe of Benjamin? Why do you say such a thing to me?” (1 Sam 9:21).

    “But Lord,” Gideon asked, “how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family” (Judg 6:15).

    But Moses said to God, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” (Ex 3:11).

    When God calls, you will most likely be in the most unlikely circumstances to receive that call. You will be in the midst of a crisis, you will lack resources, you will not have the skills you think you need. This too is the way of God.

    God does this because He wants you to know your call is only based on His ability, not yours. When you think it is based on you, this is a false humility. And, it is unbelief and disobedience on your part.

    Has God called you to something you have failed to do because you felt you were not ready? Repent before the Lord and let God accomplish great things through you.

    Work and Worship

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    Today God Is First

    “One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike” Rom 14:5

    Avodah (Ah´-voe-dah) is a Hebrew noun used in the Bible that has two distinct yet intertwined meanings: worship and work. It is also derived from the Hebrew verb L’Avod which has two meanings; to work and also to worship. The dual meaning offers powerful wisdom for modern times for how we are to view our work lives.

    Work, if done with and unto God, is a form of worship in the biblical Hebrew context. There has never been a concept of segmenting our work from our faith life in the Bible. It is in the realm of the sacred to bring God into our everyday life. Hebrews did not set aside a “day of worship,” such as Saturday or Sunday, but everyday is a place and time of worship. They did set aside a Sabbath day of rest.

    It is a western idea to segment one’s faith life from our work like. In the Middle East and Asia, their cultures would never separate their faith from their work life even though their faith foundations might clearly contradict Christian beliefs. When someone comes to faith in Christ from this area of the world, they have an easier time of assimilating their faith into their work because they have always done so.

    God calls us to do our work as an act of worship to Him. Our work is not to be a place of sweat and toil, but an expression of our love, faith and adoration of Jesus Christ. Today, before you work, ask God to help you see your work in a new way–as worship to Him.

    A Boss or a Leader {Which one are you?}

    Leaders remember: you’ve got to live it to lead it

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    Just a short post today as I ponder leadership.

    There is a difference between a boss and a leader…
    Anyone can be bossy, but not everyone can be a leader

    Leaders lead~~Bossy people are just bossy.

    Leaders inspire, build up, and encourage~~Bossy people blame and tear down.

    Leaders want others to succeed~~Bossy people walk in fear and jealousy.

    Leaders see clearly that there is no “I” in team~~Bossy people see no “I” in team.

    Leaders thrive on giving~~Bossy people snatch, take false credit, and think everyone is out to get them.

    Leaders speak well of your accomplishments to others~~Bossy people belittle you and gossip.

    Leaders make much of Jesus~~Bossy people need to be upfront and center with the spotlight on them.

    When a leader sees someone younger in the faith making a mistake, they come alongside, teach in love, and keep it between them ~~~Bossy people see someone make a mistake, call it out and tell others about it. (whoever would foster love covers over an offense, but whoever repeats a matter separates close friends. Proverbs 17:9)

    Leaders do this:

    So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. (Ephesians 4:11-13 NIV)

    Go. Inspire someone today. Encourage. Equip. Empower others to the attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ

    Leaders: Remember, you’ve got to live it to lead it. A boss says “Go!” A leader says “Let’s Go!”

    Life On The Edge

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    Around 1406 B.C. God brought His people to the edge of the land He had promised to their ancestors, and Moses handed leadership of the nation over to Joshua. After 40 years of wandering in the wilderness, finally the people of God were ready to realize the promise of living in the land of Canaan. All they needed to do is to obey and trust Him in order to take possession of the land. In other words, trust Daddy and do what He says. 

    What is your edge? God spoke something to you a while ago. For some, a long while ago. Is It to begin teaching a Sunday School class? A small group? Or maybe it’s a big step in changing a lot of things in your life. Maybe it’s a little step. Maybe it’s to finally begin leading your family in the Way they should go. Is it to say yes to that mission trip? What promise is God calling you to realize in your life? 

    Some of you are right there on the edge. It’s time. You can see it. You can feel it. The only thing standing in the way is you putting your trust in Daddy God and obeying what He tells you to do. 

    It’s time for you to take that step. Take possession of that promise. Don’t worry, if God brings you to it, He WILL bring you through it.

    “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do. Study the Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all that you do. This is my command–be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For The Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:7-9

    See: Joshua 1-6

    I Am Second: The Movement

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    What a beautiful picture of freedom in Genesis 2:25:

    Now the man and his wife were both naked, but they felt no shame….

    Absolutely nothing hidden. Honesty with themselves, each other and best of all with God. What a pure, beautiful way to live. So inspiring!

    There’s only one way to get that kind of life and that’s by living second. We live in a culture that all about being first at whatever the cost. Where lives are lived in secret and where money and me, me, me is what counts. It’s exhausting. There is no joy.

    I am on the launch team for the I Am Second Organization. We launched  a new and improved book this week. It’s updated with even more content and inspiring stories about God making extraordinary differences in ordinary people like you and me. Real stories. Real people. Changing lives. 

    I know the people in this book. I know them because I saw a little piece of me in nearly every story. Maybe you’ll see a little of yourself in the pages too.

    No matter what walk of life we come from, we all experience pain. Some caused by others and some caused by us. One thing for sure….no matter the cause of the pain, the one and only freeing way to live is second.Living second is living surrendered to God. Fully. Him first and upfront, center stage and having His way with you in every area of your life. No secrets. No holding back.This book is full of evidence of the powerful hand of God that moves freely and victoriously once He is given the freedom to. These ordinary people surrendered their lives and allowed God to use the platform they’ve been given. He blessed them for it. And, He’ll do the same through you and me.

    The words “change me” are the two mos

    t powerful words a Christ follower can say. Once said, God began doing a work on all of the heart ache, pain, punishment, prostitution, hate, drugs, pride, pornography, alcohol, bitterness, shame, and loneliness and more. God is a God who can do immeasurably more than we can ever ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20). We see this truth in this book. This book is about victory.

    The stories in this book will warm your heart, draw you closer to your Savior, and inspire you. Get.This.Book.

    Do you know someone that needs encouragement? Someone that needs a Savior? Someone screaming out for help in the wrong direction? Someone you want to reach with the Gospel? Get.This.Book.An

    d.Gift.It.To.Them.Now.

    A person on our team shared this verse and I agree that it does a great job at summing up what this book is all about and what the people in this book are doing:

    Come and listen, all you who fear God, and I will tell you what he did for me. For I cried out to him for help, praising him as I spoke. If I had not confessed the sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. But God did listen! He paid attention to my prayer. Praise God, who did not ignore my prayer or withdraw his unfailing love from me. Psalms 66:16-20

    This isn’t just a book. It’s a movement. 

    Here’s the link to purchase the book on Amazon: I Am Second

    A few quotes from the book:

    The Scruggs Q3Michael W Smith Q2

    Michelle Aguilar Q1

    Annie Lobert Q1

    Chris Plekenpol Q1

    Lecrae Q2

    Brian Welch Q2Karen Green Q1

    *I do not profit in any way from this book. I get no money whatsoever from the sales. We here at E3 are about Encouraging, Equipping, and Empowering others. This book is a holy hallelujah touch down in accomplishing this and so we pass it on to you. We are honored and blessed to be a small part of the team*

    Creation: A Love Story

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     

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

     

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

     

    Public Relations 101: the spiritual battle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

    The Need To Impress

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    Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in The Lord is kept safe. Proverbs 29.25

    The fear of human opinion disables; trusting in GOD protects you from that.

    Fear. Fear. Fear. The opposite of peace.

    Fear can torment, dilute your impact, and snatch your ministry.

    Instead, Focus on Pleasing GOD and the fear of others’ judgement will disappear. Attempting to impress others will stop. It’s trap! We aren’t performing here. This isn’t a competition. This is real life. A real eternity is at stake.

    Focus your attention on sweet Jesus. You can trust Him. Take the energy you’ve been using to impress others and pour it into trusting Him…..the One that will never leave you, or forsake you.. This is how we stay connected to Him and are made keenly aware of His presence. Begin today in baby steps to take GOD at His word and before you know it those giant leaps of faith will come in victory. And, that fear of others’ opinions will be no more.

    If you’ve noticed your impact and ministry being diluted, begin now to let your faith be bigger than your fear.

    The Game of Life: Follow the Leader

     

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

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

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

    WWJD

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    A Shot of Adrenaline

    Do you see what this means–all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on?

    It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running–and never quit!

    No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins.

    Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how He did it.

    Because He never lost sight of where He was headed–that exhilarating finish in and with God–He could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever.

    And now He’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God.

    When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility He plowed through.

    That will shoot adrenaline into your souls! 

    Hebrews 12:1-3, The Message.

    Come Home, Runaway

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

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

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

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

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

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

    THE RUNAWAY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    That’s what’s so amazing about grace.

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