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. 

IMG_2824

Advertisements

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

20140623-060338-21818943.jpg

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

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

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

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

(Romans 8:37 MSG)

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

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

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

20140623-060032-21632655.jpg

You Are The Blessing

20140615-234741-85661820.jpg

The Lord was with Joseph and he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master. When his master saw that The Lord was with him and that The Lord gave him success in everything he did, Joseph found favor in his eyes and became his attendant. Potiphar put him in charge of his household, and he entrusted to his care everything he owned. From the time he put him in charge of his household and all that he owned, the LORD blessed the household of the Egyptian because of Joseph. The blessing of The Lord was on everything Potiphar had, both in the house and in the field. So he left everything he had in Joesph’s care; with Joseph in charge, he did not concern himself with anything except the food he ate. (Genesis 39:2-5)

God was with Joseph and things went very well with him. He ended up living in the home of his Egyptian master. His master recognized that God was with him, saw that God was working for good in everything he did. He became very fond of Joseph and made him his personal aide. He put him in charge of all of his personal affairs, turning everything over to him. From that moment on, God blessed the home of the Egyptian — all because of Joseph. The blessing of God spread over everything he owned, at home and in the fields, and all Potiphar had to concern himself with was eating three meals a day. 

It’s not where you are – it’s YOU that God is blessing. God has favor on YOU.

Being in the favor of God means you’ll be blessed no matter where you are. You walk in a room you are the blessing of that room. 

There is no weak economy in Heaven. There are no droughts in heaven. There are no emergency meetings in heaven. 

In Genesis 13 we see Abram and Lot, uncle and nephew, separate. Lot chose the lush lands of the east. Abram chose the desert and prospered there.

In God’s economy, there IS prosperity in the desert.

When you walk into that job, that home, that position – it’s you that has the blessing and the favor and you bring it with you.
 
God is working through our obedience in Spiritual gifts and professional skills. And, as Joseph’s life reminds us, His purposes stretch from countryside pastures to household financial services firms, from prison administration, to the halls of political power. 

May he find us faithful where we are. Everywhere we are. 

You are the light of world. You carry the light with you. What happens when you walk into a room and flip the light on? Light always wins. No fear. 

Allow God to be the Author of your hopes and dreams —your definition of success. 

Like a drop in the water, your blessings ripple out to those around you. He will bless your work and it will bless your employer, colleagues, clients, customers, vendors, your town. He will bless you and it will bless your family, your friends, your church, your marriage. 

Think you’ve gone too far, or made too many wrong turns? 

God uses broken things. He uses crooked sticks to draw straight lines. It takes broken soil to produce a crop, broken clouds to produce rain, broken grain to give bread, broken bread to give strength. It is the broken alabaster box that gives forth perfume. It is Peter, weeping bitterly, who returns to greater power than ever. 

We can all learn a lesson from Peter: In Matthew 14:22-33 Peter walked on water, but as soon as he took his eyes off of Jesus and onto his surroundings, he began to sink. Don’t look at your surroundings no matter how crazy they seem. Keep your eyes on the Master. He’s the source of power. He’s your confidence.

And, remember this. Don’t forget it: the credit is all His. Take less credit and more confidence in Him. It’s not who you are, it’s Whose you are. 

Prayer:
Lord, thank You for blessing us. Thank You for reminding us that your blessings go with us wherever we are and that our calling doesn’t stop at the church building. You bless us and use us wherever we are in all that we do at home and at work…..and those blessings bless others. Thank You for Your favor. May we be mindful and faithful in all we do. As we go about this next week and all the days following, may we remember to live second. May we remember why we’re here. For Your honor. For Your glory. In Jesus name. Amen.

20140616-000731-451849.jpg

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

20140319-161309.jpg

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!

20140319-162319.jpg

20140319-162953.jpg

When Things Don’t Go As Planned

20140313-035219.jpg

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. 

20140313-034325.jpg

The Day We Fight Back {Unleashing the Warrior Chic}

WarriorChic.jpg

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!
20140215-093723.jpg

Autism Speaks: A Beautiful Reminder Part 2 {finding Joy in the midst of Despair}

20140203-235953.jpg

In Bill’s last entry, he presented an overview of his ongoing recovery from Asperger’s Syndrome and how he overcame that to become an occupational therapist. This time, he talks in detail about a key turning point a couple months after he listened to that Paige Armstrong song.</em

 
In life, we have moments where we are on cloud nine and we feel invincible. We can forget God has a hand in getting us there. However, we also have moments where we hit rock bottom. We will question why God places us in such situations. We can forget God is in His master control room watching our every move….
 
 
I found the song Desperate by Joy Williams when I was a sophomore in college. It was a time when I got exposed to Contemporary Christian music for the first time. At that time, I overlooked this song because I purposely wanted to fill my music library with upbeat and positive songs.
 
 
That fall I was attending a students-only occupational therapy conference in Louisville, Kentucky. On the surface, my emotional state was a lot more stable than it was a couple months earlier. My classmates slowly noticed the happy-go-lucky me was coming back. Deep inside, however, my mind was still filled with doubt and hopelessness. This was understandable at the time because I knew I could not fail any more clinical internships when I resumed them in the latter part of the school year. I was worried. As for the conference itself, I had little expectations for it aside from having a few planned moments with Jaclyn, my former opponent in an election for a prestigious student leadership position a few months earlier. 
 
On the first day of the conference I arrived at my hotel (which was also where the conference was taking place) a few hours early. I was waiting for fellow occupational therapy students from USC to arrive so that we could hang out together. Since it was cold outside, I sat in the hotel lobby alone with my USC beanie on and listened to music. Half an hour or so went by when I suddenly saw a girl waving at me. Seeing her luggage tag, I realized it was Jaclyn.

Jaclyn dropped her luggage at the hotel and we chatted for another half hour before going to lunch together. After that, Jaclyn had to do one of her many things during the two-day conference. As she left for her duties, I felt I got my money’s worth already because I was happy that she spent quite a bit of time with me.
 
I had a great time overall during the conference. I got to meet students from other occupational therapy and occupational therapy assistant programs across the United States. I was also surprised that my name was mentioned during the conference opening address along with Jaclyn. Because of that, some of the students at the conference realized that I should be someone that they needed to connect with. Yet, I felt a hint of sadness because I knew the doubt and hopelessness would return once I flew back to Los Angeles.
 
God saw that and set up a miracle. The day after the conference concluded, I was ready to fly home to Los Angeles. Knowing that it was the Breeders’ Cup weekend, I arrived at the airport two hours early. Everything went smoothly as I went on to board my plane on time. However, a message from the pilot came notifying the passengers that there was a computer problem for the plane and the passengers were given the option to wait at the gate and reenter the plane once the problems were fixed.
 
I went outside with some other passengers. Anticipating the wait to be long, I listened to music in the lobby. I was so focused on my music that I missed the reboarding time. I was bummed because I was sure it would be very difficult to fly back to Los Angeles on that day because of the many people wanting to return home from the Breeders’ Cup. Fortunately, I was able to secure a return back to Los Angeles by that evening. However, I had to wait four hours for that flight.
 
Knowing that I screwed up, I was determined to not listen to music any more. I was able to find some conference attendees to get through my first hour of waiting. But, I was wondering how I pass time waiting for three more hours. 15 minutes after I had that thought, I saw Jaclyn passed by my gate. So, I went up and asked her about her flight. Her gate was nearby and she was two hours or so early herself for her flight. We satt at my gate and started chatting for almost two hours before we went our separate ways.
 
During that time, I vented to her what I had been going through since founding out about my diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome. After I was done venting, she gave me a pep talk. The thing I remembered from that pep talk was, “I had respect for you before we even met in person a few days ago for the first time. Now that you told me what you are dealing with, I respect you even more.”
 
As I reflected upon what she said to me on my flight home, I thought, “Did God just set this up so that He can talk to me? Did He provide me with someone who is so kind to help this lowly person? If I have a chance, I am more than willing to do what Jaclyn did to whoever You feel will need my help, Lord.” I was convinced of it because I knew the probability of this happening to me was very slim. Moreover, my doubt and hopelessness began to fade away.
 
Since that pep talk, I have done some extraordinary things in the occupational therapy world. Especially for an autistic individual. While I did not get all of the opportunities I wanted, the fact that I attempted these things and have achieved some successes got me a lot of respect from my occupational therapy peers and those who know me well in the autism community. Moreover, I felt the moment also motivated Jaclyn, too, because she has continued to achieve amazing things that leave me speechless!
 
To The Point:
We constantly need God in our lives. In times of hardship and despair, we will need God a lot more. Thing is- are we ready for God to speak to us during these times? Are we listening? Will we know that God is showing us the way through those around us? Will we be confident to march boldly on in our lives when God has spent time and spoken to us?
 

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. ~ Isaiah 41:10

The song: Desperate by Joy Williams:

Don’t go, I’m a homesick child
Just stay and talk to me
Even if it’s just for a while
Oh, I’m afraid of the dark
But You are the light
Stay by my side
Lord, without You …

I get a little desperate
Reaching our for Your love
I get a little desperate
To feel Your touch from above
I get desperate
Far away just won’t do
I’m hopelessly, honestly, constantly
Desperate for You

Oh, Lord, when You hung on that tree
You showed once and for all
That You were desperate for me
And I know You’ll be coming back soon
I hope time will fly, I’ll survive
But in the meantime …

I get a little desperate
Reaching out for Your love
I get a little desperate
To feel Your touch from above
I get desperate
Far away just won’t do
I’m hopelessly, honestly, constantly
Desperate for You

Don’t know what I did before You
Never really lived before You
And I want You to know that …

I get a little desperate
Reaching our for Your love
I get a little desperate
To feel Your touch from above
I get desperate
Far away just won’t do
I’m hopelessly, honestly, constantly
Desperate for You

I need You more in my life
I am hopelessly, honestly, constantly
Desperate for You

Blessings,
Bill Wong

#Autism #AutismSpeaks #Overcomer #Asbergers #AdultAutism #JoyInDespair

Let God Overwhelm You Today

20140126-110525.jpg

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

Speak.

20140120-143048.jpg

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

20140117-010522.jpg

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.

20140117-010551.jpg

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

20140116-022426.jpg

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

Live Like Someone Left the Gate Open

20140115-050402.jpg

Good morning friends!

This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. (Psalms 118:24 HCSB)


It’s a brand new day. It’s 10% of what happens to you and 90% of how you react to it. Decide that today is going to be different.

The enemy doesn’t want us in God’s Word because he knows what a warrior we become when we read and follow it. So, that’s where we need to be every day.

God has a blessing with your name on it. You always have a place to run to. Always. That place is God.

So jump up! Rejoice! Grab a delicious meal of scripture and time with God! And live today like somebody left the gate open!

Today’s a gift – that’s why it’s called the present 🙂

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

20140108-010117.jpg

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

20140107-164033.jpg

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

20140104-015424.jpg

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)

Joy To Your World

20131225-010132.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Miraculous Faith {Part 1}

20131222-012159.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, (Ephesians 3:20 NIV84)

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

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

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

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

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

Reflect Hope

20131219-020522.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May your decisions reflect your HOPE not your fears.

Something out of Nothing

20131127-010855.jpg

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

Weigh Your Decisions

20131117-235445.jpg

The sermon this week was teaching on fear. Specifically on fear of failure. It made me remember some notes that I made a few weeks ago and I wanted to share all of this with you. Because, dear friends, fear can cripple you. Fear can stop you in your tracks. Fear can corrode our confidence in God’s goodness. What you fear tells you where you trust God the least. Did you catch that? Chew on that a minute.

Fear can rob you of your joy of living…..

….If you let it.

Fear lies. 

Don’t believe anything fear says to you. Ever. It’s a trap to keep you frozen and ineffective for the Kingdom. It’s that simple. And it’s that complicated.

Fear always bugs us with those crazy “what if” questions.. What if I fail? What if I mess up? And baaad? What if I’m not enough? What if…what if….what if…..(insert your version here)?

Fear asks who will be watching when I fail? Who’s watching…that’s the big one. The possibility of someone seeing us fail is what we fear most of all because, whether we admit it or not, we have a deep need of the approval of those around us. We aren’t as fearful of failure if others won’t know about it, right? Even bigger than our fear of failure is the fear of who will SEE us fail, don’t you think?

It’s true that you may mess up. In case you didn’t know, let me tell you something: everyone messes up sometime or other. No one is perfect at everything. But that failure isn’t final, and the labels people give you don’t matter. The world will always try to tell you that you’re less than who He says you are.

Always.

And, hey, since we all know that, why measure ourselves by the world and it’s standards anyway? Why claim those labels? Why? Why? Why?

We shouldn’t. 

We don’t have to.

So let’s stop that. Deal? And while we’re asking all these questions, let me ask you another one: what if you don’t fail? What if you actually go out there and rock it? That’s a way bigger risk! That is just not worth passing by.

Decisions become easier when your will to please God outweighs your will to please the world

Find out what pleases God and do it (Ephesians 5:17). Why? Because He is the ultimate Master you’re serving. He is the One from whom all blessings flow. He is the One who is madly in love with you and thinks you’re to die for…..and proved it. 

We don’t overcome fear by being passive. We overcome fear by attacking it. We overcome fear by the victory King Jesus has already won. We put on our Ephesians 6 armor and do as Jesus did….we remember, BELIEVE, speak, and claim the promises of God. We remember that we are the child of the one true King. THAT’S who you are. THAT’S your name. Believe it.

The next time the enemy tries to remind you of your past…..remind him of his future! 

We Belong To Him {there’s a great joy and peace in that}

20131117-064740.jpg

Know that the Lord is God— he made us; we belong to him. We are his people, the sheep of his own pasture ~Psalms 100:3

Shepherds played an important role in the world of Israel. Their work was to find grass and water for the sheep and to protect them from wild animals and tend to their sickness and wounds. It required them to spend long hours exposed to the natural elements. It was not and easy life.

It was to the shepherds the angels first announced the birth of Jesus. This was especially appropriate since Jesus’ famous ancestor, David, had centuries earlier watched the family’s sheep in those same fields near Bethlehem.

It also reminds us that the coming of Jesus is good news for all people, not just those already privileged by wealth and power.

The important role of the shepherd is used often in the New Testament to teach us about Jesus. He is the Good Shepherd who gives His life for His sheep (John 10:1-18).

Psalm 100 is and invitation to enter joyfully into God’s presence. He is faithful and extends that faithfulness to us and beyond our generation forever.

He is ours and we are His.

God is all-knowing and ever present. He is beautiful and desirable. He is Creator. He is good and generous, great and sovereign. Holy, loving, and faithful. He is merciful, forgiving, and powerful. Ready and willing to reveal His will, law, and direction. He is righteous and just, and His Spirit is sweet.

And, He says to us:

I am your God and your are my sheep.

This. This makes me stand to my feet and applaud God. To bring a gift of laughter, and sing myself into His presence. For I know this: Jesus is my LORD. He made us….we didn’t make Him. We are His people, His well-tended sheep. I enter His presence and say THANK YOU! I make myself right at home with Him, and praise Him the whole time.

Thank Him. Worship Him. For God is sheer beauty, all-generous in love, loyal and always and ever.

Psalm 100 (The Message)

Trusting the turn-by-turns

20131111-085654.jpg

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….

20131108-193604.jpg

“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.

Let’s Get Our Praise On {get your feet dancing and that body moving!}

20131107-124905.jpg

Dear child of God, sister, mother, brother, father, son, daughter, friend, family or foe,

Let’s get our praise on…

You are beloved of the most high GOD. The One True GOD. You are bought, paid for, redeemed, restored, re-done, repurposed, and worth it. He is crazy about you, mad about you, obsessed about you, His mind is stayed on you.

You are beautiful. His eye is always in you. All heaven praises and celebrates you. If you falter, He will drop what He’s doing and come running for you. Everything He does is a solution for you. There is nothing you can do to make Him love you any less and there is nothing you can do to make Him love you any more. YOU.ARE.SET.FREE!!

The Creator of the sun, moon, stars, day, night, land, air, sea, mountains, trees, seasons, and mankind has you in the palm of His hands. You are the apple of His eye. He created you in His image to reflect His love to this world. You, my friend, my sister, my brother, are His love song to this world. The Word That Became Flesh became you on that cross so that you could become Him in this world.

He is mighty, He is power and He calls you friend. He goes before you, behind you, stands beside you, makes your paths straight, and directs you. He covers you, protects you, and shelters you.

You.Are.His.


He spoke the world into existence, and the sound of your voice turns His head.

He takes the unlikely and makes them the one. He takes the unqualified and gives them power and position. He takes the unworthy and gives them a crown. He takes the humble and gives them a seat of honor; love and acceptance to the unlovable. He takes the sick and makes them whole….hope to the hopeless. Trades sorrow for joy, pain for pleasure, fear for perfect peace. His burden is light.

He.Is.Yours.

Hear that beat? Here that music thumping? Come on, get up! Let’s get our praise ON!

God Uses the Unlikely and the Unexpected

20131023-091215.jpg

God uses unexpected people to spread His message. We have our own preconceived ideas of who is worthy, but God doesn’t play by our rules. I’m glad. He’s a much better leader and coach than we are. I’ll let Him call the plays. 

Let’s look at John 4:4-47

On His way home from Jerusalem, Jesus stopped in Samaria—an area most Jewish people avoided. Jesus didn’t have any concern for the prejudices of people around Him. Instead, He chose to minister to everyone who was willing to recognize Him for who He really was. 

We don’t know much about the woman at the well. Her villiage knew who she was. They knew she was woman not to be trusted or a woman to be admired. But, when she met Jesus she knew her villiage needed to meet Him too. Telling her villiage was not up for debate or a choice; meeting Jesus was not a story that could be contained. So despite the risk, despite the ridicule she knew could come, she ran to the villiage and told them the story about how she met a man who knew everything about her. 

Her villiage was never the same. 

GOD used and unexpected woman to impact her whole Villiage with her story. She was repurposed. Her story ended differently than it began. Hallelujah!

Because It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish…

GOD used the story of a divorced, relationally plagued woman to move the hearts of a whole town. One woman’s story brought the whole town to Jesus. This was the tool that GOD used to bring His message to a lost world. 

Maybe you feel like the woman at the well. Maybe you have done some terrible things. Sexual sins. Bad relationships. Things you’ve said. Bad habits you can’t kick. God still wants to use you. He wants you to get in the game. He wants to work through you. 

None of us were created to sit in the stands. We all need to get out of the stands, off the bench and into the game. 

What is your circle of influence? If you had been at that well, and you had immediately left to go back to your circle of influence, your network, where would you have gone? Your family? Your school? The sport team you play on? Your neighborhood? What circle of influence has GOD put you into? Where has He planted you? 

Where did God find you?

Where did He take you?

Whatever your story, it’s not a story to be contained. You must reach out wherever God has you….EVERYWHERE that God has you…and tell the story of Jesus.

My life is not my own. I belong to him as well as all that encompasses my life. I am sealed. Repurposed. I must go and tell about a man who knows everything about me…….

Life On The Edge

20131014-232316.jpg

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

m

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

Creation-ALoveStory

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

Public Relations 101: the spiritual battle

20130926-073131.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

#1 Productivity Killer

Clock

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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