Why Is This Friday So Good? 

   

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


It. Is. Finished.





 



#GoodFriday #Easter #Jesus #Salvation #Resurrection #ItIsFinished

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Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda Versus Me

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

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

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

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

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

The Past on “Repeat”

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

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

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

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

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

Reflection Questions:

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

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

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

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

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

#IfOnlyBook #IfOnlyTour

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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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Speak.

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

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

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

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

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

Speak

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

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

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

Speak.

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

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

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

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

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

Speak.

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

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

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

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

Speak.

Show them your scars. 

GOD still listens. 

GOD still answers.

GOD still heals. 

GOD still forgives. 

GOD still leads.

GOD still directs.

GOD still cares.

GOD still loves.

GOD is still here.

GOD is alive!

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

Autism Speaks: A Beautiful Reminder Part 1

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

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

We are His poem. We are His song.

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

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

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

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

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

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

What did God teach me from this song?

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

Bill Wong, OTD, OTR/L

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

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

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

Leaders are readers.

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

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

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

Today I have more goodies for you:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Praying God’s Word Day by Day

Regularly $9.99—get it for FREE

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

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

Regularly $9.99—get it for FREE

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

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

Regularly $9.99—get it for FREE

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

Check out 10 other FREE Beth Moore books:

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

READY FOR THAT LINK? HERE IT IS:

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

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

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

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

Go Naked

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

Love. It. 

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

But, seriously.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Go naked.

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

Joy To Your World

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Forgiving Those Who Judge You

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Weigh Your Decisions

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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}

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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)

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.

God Uses the Unlikely and the Unexpected

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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…….

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*

He’ll Bring You Back

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God created Adam and Eve and placed them in the Garden of Eden to rule on His behalf.

But, they chose to disobey God’s one command and through them, sin entered the world. They were banished from the Garden and their fellowship with God was broken.

Their.Fellowship.With.God.Was.Broken. This, my friends, hurts my heart. The mere thought of sweet fellowship with my beautiful Jesus being broken just grieves me. It grabs me deep and my soul screeches and pours out, “noooooo!” We’ve all felt further away from God in those times in our lives when we smother Him out and don’t keep Him a priority. But, broken?! Oh, how they must have HURT!

Take this world, the magazine articles written, the speaking engagements, the classes taught, take it all. Take this world and give me Jesus! I’ve GOT to have Jesus!

But, friends, we have an amazing God who is more addicted to fellowship with us than we are to Him. God immediately set into motion His plan to bring us back. This is the story of the whole Bible.

Everything God does is a solution.

God continually works to redeem us for Himself. He wants to lovingly bless us with good things as we seek and find our hope in Him. He is the source of all good things.

No matter what we do, or how we mess up, EVERYTHING God does is a solution to bring us back. Get us back to where we are supposed to be. Back in the game. Back on track. Back in the joy of our salvation. He meets us where we are and never leaves us there. 

The story of the whole Bible is God redeeming His people and bringing them back. It also tells us who God is…it reveals His personality, His character, and His plan for us. And, it also reveals His deepest desire: To relate to and fellowship with the people He created. His deepest desire is a passionate, loving relationship with YOU.

Are you at a place today where you are desperate for God? Empty and needing a Savior? Well, guess what….He wants that even more than you do. It’s called grace. So, don’t be shy. Nothing you’ve done will make Him love you any less. He’s better than we humans about that. Go right on up and climb into Daddy’s lap. He’s running to greet you now.

See: Genesis 1: 1-2:4, Genesis 3:1-24, Luke 15:11-32, James 1:17, John 3:16

GOD in Everything

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Identity Crisis

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

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

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

Thank You Jesus!!

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

Who Is This God, Anyway?

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Yesterday we talked about being fearless. Immediately God took me to His Word and to a place in my heart asking Who is this God that you would serve Him fearlessly in this crazy life and in seemingly impossible circumstances? And, why??

Immediately He took me to Matthew 6:9; The Lord’s prayer. Specifically the first line: Our Father in heaven.

Who is your Daddy?

Because of Jesus, we come to God as our Father. A child, sitting on our Daddy’s knee chatting….and listening to His wisdom. Trusting in His care over us. We come to Him not as a fearful people to a tyrant lording over us. No, He’s kind. He’s gentle, yet sure and just. He’s your Daddy!

Some of you may have never had that feeling of being a Daddy’s girl. Never sat on your Daddy’s knee and felt that love, care, protection, strength, provision and wisdom. I’m sorry. I truly and deeply am. I know you have an idea or dream of who you wanted your Daddy to be, wished your Daddy to be.

I have some notes on Daddy. Notes on who He’s been to me, will always be to me, and most certainly wants to be for you. This list never ends, and is added to regularly. I’ll never be able to stop describing Him as He meets my every need, my every longing as I go through this life. Some of this list is from teaching notes, and all of it is true.

You are secure and taken care of because of Who you belong to. This is your Daddy. Follow Him fearlessly. Allow me to introduce you:

Your Daddy is…

the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End

Keeper of creation and Creator of all

Architect of the universe, Manager of all time

He always was, always is, always will be unmoved, unchanged, undefeated, and never undone

He was bruised, but brought healing

He was pierced, but eased pain

He was persecuted but brought freedom

He was dead and brings life

He has risen to bring power and was raised to bring peace. 

The world can’t understand Him, armies can’t defeat Him, schools can’t explain Him, and leaders can’t ignore Him.

Herod couldn’t kill Him, Nero couldn’t crush Him

He is Life, He is Love, He is Longevity, and He is the Lord

He is goodness and kindness and faithfulness and He is God

He is holy and righteous and powerful and pure

His ways are right, His Word eternal, His will unchanging, and His mind is consumed with US

He’s our Savior, our God, our peace, our comfort, our Lord, and He rules our lives

His bond is love, His yoke is easy, His burden is light, and His goal for us is abundant life

He’s the wisdom of the wise, the power of the powerful, the Ancient of Days, Ruler of rulers, the Leader of all leaders

His goal is a relationship with you and He will never leave you, never forsake you, never mislead you, never forget you, never overlook you, and never cancel your appointment in His appointment book

When you fall, He will life you up

When you fail, He will forgive you

When you’re weak, He is strong

When you’re lost, He is your way

When you’re afraid, He is your courage

When you stumble, He will steady you

When you’re hurt, He’s going to heal you

When you’re broken, He will mend you

When you’re blind, He will lead you

When you’re hungry, He will feed you

When you face trials, He’s with you

When you face persecution, He shields you

When you face problems, He will comfort you

When you face loss, He will provide for you

When you face death, He will carry you Home to meet Him

He is everything for everybody everywhere every time and in every way. 

He is your God, and THAT is Who you belong to

You see, with a Daddy like this, we can face anything, anytime fearlessly because we can trust Him. We. Can. Trust. Him. You are His creation. He’s invested and consumed with you. He can’t stop thinking of you, and doesn’t want to. He is the Supreme Ruler. Nothing can defeat Him. He’s your Protector. He never fails. He is madly in love with you. Madly. Crazy. Head over heals. Stalker type love….only not creepy. He is unstoppable and never gives up on you. Never. He is your Provider. When He calls you to a thing, He will carry you through it. He will equip you. He is powerful and majestic.

He’s your Daddy

 

You can do all things through Him who is your strength. In His strength, you are fearless.

 

 

Defining Life

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Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new (2 Corinthians 5:17).

I love Spring. It gets me excited. It makes me stretch all the cold bones of the winter and washes away all the mud and the muck. All those dreary days are forgotten at the sight of that first Spring flower. And my eyes dance. I love the newness.That freshness of all things beginning. Growth. Potential. Everything on the horizon.

When you ask Christ to be your Savior, you are a new creation. Your sins are forgiven. All things new.

Satan always defines your life based on your past; God defines you by your future.

“You’re never going to change!” “You always do that!”

Perhaps you’ve heard such words. Words can define us if we let them. Failure can be a warning sign that motivates change or it sends us into self-sabotage and shame. The cross paid the price for that. Have you accepted the payment on your behalf?

When you allow others to define who you are that is contrary to who God says who you are, you’ve made them an idol in your life. You’ve allowed a spirit of rejection and shame and performance to define you.

When we come to know Christ our spirit is 100% redeemed. However, our soul requires regeneration. This is a process. The Bible calls it sanctification. “Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen” (Hebrews 13:20-21). It is God’s responsibility to guide our maturity process as we yield ourselves to Him.

You are a new creation “in process.” Only Jesus made plan “A” in His life. God redeems our “B” and “C” plans to be His “A” plan. Accept God’s process in yourself and in others. Believe who Daddy says you are.

And besides….the next time the enemy reminds you if your past, remind him of his future

New Future With A Past

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read about Rahab in Joshua Ch 2

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

And There Came A Lion

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

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

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

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

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

Miraculous Faith: Part 2

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

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

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

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

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

photo credit:Crosschurch TV

We Are Jairus’s Daughter

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I woke thinking of Jairus’s daughter. We don’t know her name. We don’t know it because we are Jairus’s daughter.

I first imagined what it would be like to be a 12 year old girl lying on a sick bed, then death, then to life again. What would I do more of? Less of? Begin to do? She would never forget what it was like, coming from death to life.

But…we who have accepted Him as Savior know what this is like. We were once lost, and now am found. Once dead, and now alive in Christ.

When Jairus arrived with Jesus, the mourners were in full voice. There was no quiet whispers or quiet tears, no, this would be loud. Jairus was told his sick daughter had died, and there was no use in bothering the teacher any more. I wonder how many times our lack of faith stopped us just short of a miracle??

Although Jairus’s shoulders slumped, and the mourners laughed at Him, Jesus had a plan in His heart for Jairus’s daughter, and carried that through to completion. I’m ever so grateful for a love that isn’t fickle, and easily bruised!

“My child, get up!” She was called from death to life with a word, and the first thing she saw was the face of her Savior. What an incredible, unforgettable gift to her and her parents!! She could never be the same. Her life had great worth in His eyes. No doubt that she is a daughter of the one true God.

There are those others, like me, who have faced a near death of a loved one and have an incredible sense of security and destiny. We can relate to Jairus, the father. Jesus saves.

Each of us is called from death to life when God births us anew in His Spirit. He has reached down and taken us all by the hand and said, “My child, get up!” What an incredible, unforgettable gift to us! We can never be the same! Our lives have great worth in His eyes. “At once” she stood up…..He is calling us to a resurrected new life Let us rise and stand up at once in our new lives in Christ, for we are Jairus’s daughter.

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Freedom: We hold the keys

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

Free is such a beautiful word.

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

    No Longer At Sin’s Beck And Call

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


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

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

    The message of the New Testament Centers on:

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

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

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

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

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

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    Jesus is a “come as you are” kind of guy….but you certainly aren’t leaving the way you came

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    Jesus is a “come as you are” kind of guy….but you’re certainly not leaving as you came!

    Even the worse day of your life, God can redeem. He can go back, pick that thing up and bring about a complete transformation. The devil will be sorry he ever messed with you -Beth Moore

    There’s nothing more powerful on earth than a Christian walking in full on bold faith in Christ, and all He is and does and can do.

    The devil wants you walking around feeling small and defeated, but it is he who is defeated. He has no power over you.

    You are accepted….redeemed…..renewed…..assured of a present and future glory with Him……reconciled with Christ and re-created!

    He breathes new life! You are a NEW creation…..not a turning over of a new leaf….the old is gone, and a new life has begun!

    Yep, that’s right, when you bring up to Him your past sin, He’ll say what sin?

    You can choose to let your past define you, confine you, refine you, outshine you, or you can choose to move on and leave it behind you…..because you, my friend, are a brand new creation in Christ.

    Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old is gone, the new has come! And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us the task of reconciling people to him. 2 Corinthians 5:17-18

    Patterns Everywhere: Which to follow?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Rich, poor, comfortable, uncomfortable, first world or third world this principle remains true: the presence of God comes to those who seek Him..

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    There is a woman in Haiti that goes outside her tent everyday, raises her hands in the air and praises God for everything she has. Out loud….in front of everyone. This dear woman only has about 5 things in her whole possession (AND lives in a tent!). 5. 5 things, yet she praises God with everything in her. All around her are people living just like her. Want to know her secret? Her security doesn’t lie with her circumstances, but on the promise and presence of God. She is passionate for His presence. Rich, poor, comfortable, uncomfortable, first world or third world this principle remains true: the presence of God comes to those who seek Him. I have way more than 5 things. You have way more than 5 things. We need to walk around everyday praising God. We need passion for His presence!

    The Lord recently brought a sweet girl into our family. Her name is Bella. Although she has a lot of hurt, and a lot of pain in her young 6 years of life, we stand on the promises of Psalm 103 and see His healing, redeeming, crowning. Oh, the crowning of love and compassion. That brings tears to my eyes for her. Every single day I tell her she is loved, treasured, and wanted. He is faithful and He is healing her heart and her body and is redeeming her from where her circumstances could have taken her.

    Want to get in the presence of God? Praise Him. Remember all that He has done, who He is, and what He will do. He forgives. He heals. He redeems. He crowns. He satisfies.

    We have a compassionate, loving, gracious God who is crazy about us. We talk about the benefit packages we have with our jobs. The benefits of a child of God are listed here in this Psalm. When you feel as though you have nothing for which to praise God, read David’s list and worship. God’s love is overwhelming, all consuming, and everlasting. He wants to overwhelm you now with His loving presence.

    Go ahead…..walk outside your door, raise your hands in the air, close your eyes and praise Him with everything in you. People may say your crazy, but deep down they want to do it too 🙂

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    A Door To Hope ministries does a great work in Haiti. We are very impressed with them and encourage you to click the link and get involved.

    When the answer comes, don’t run from the giants…

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    A few days ago I was in my favorite spot and talking with God. As we chatted, I asked Him for a breakthrough on a certain thing that was very close to my heart. That very afternoon it came. Praise God! With this breakthrough, came lots and lots of things for me to do. As I was getting bogged down by the mountain, I thought about the Israelites. I always think of them when I pray for something to happen, it happens, and then inside my head I am tempted to complain for various reasons. It always sends a jolt through my body. Praying for a blessing, and then complaining when it gets here?! Crazy!

    We have a dream. We pray for a new position at our jobs….with that position comes new responsibilities, and more work. We complain. We pray to open that business, and yet, we complain about the long hours. We pray for that relationship, and then complain about the work it takes. Aren’t we a bunch of fickle people? We think that just because we are blessed with something, it means we can shift into cruise control and do nothing. I mean, God gave it to us, doesn’t that mean it should be easy? This is the point when a lot of people quit and miss out on God’s best for them.

    The Israelites dreamt of the promised land. I believe God gives each of us a dream. A dream especially tailored for our talents and purposes…..a dream we were destined to fulfill.

    But just as they were promised a land flowing with milk and honey only if they had the faith to move ahead and take the promised land, so too does everyone with a dream face obstacles that would keep us from God’s best for us. Those giants they had to overcome struck fear in the hearts of those to whom the promise was given. Some drew back as a result. Discouragement, fatigue, impatience, and unbelief set in. All of these were common to those men and women who spent 40 years in the desert because they simply could not walk in faith toward the destiny God called them to.

    You know in your heart that God has great things for you. But, with every advancing step, you meet obstacles. Yes, giants are in the promised land, but God is too. It’s okay to feel overwhelmed. There are times in our lives when it’s normal to feel overwhelmed or in over our heads. When the Israelites had that sea in front of them, and Pharaoh’s army behind them, it was okay to feel overwhelmed. We just can’t let our circumstances circumvent seeing God move. Had they not moved forward with God, that sea would not have parted and they would have missed the miracle. And so would we.

    God does huge things in our lives. Take the remnants of that into our next thing.

    Focus on these truths:

  • God has a plan for you. They are good. Jeremiah 29:11
  • Emmanuel, God is with you
  • He will make a way
  • God is never surprised or caught off guard. There are no emergency meetings in Heaven. He’s got this
  • God is an expert at resurrections. He brings dreams to life
  • In a way only God can do, He will bring you through. Only then do you understand that that the real joy isn’t in the dream itself, but rather in the richer faith you’ve acquired along the way.

    “If He calls us to slay giants. He will make us into giant slayers.” -Christine Caine