When fear comes knocking….

  

….for you are with me… Psalm 23:4

Your peace is a weapon. There are many opportunities created in this world to rob us of our peace. Your confidence in the God of peace declares that you are not falling for the lies of the devil. The first step in authority is to have peace in spite of our circumstances. When Jesus confronted the enemy, He didn’t confront him with His emotions. Knowing he was a liar, He simply refused to be influenced by any other voice than God’s. His peace overwhelmed the enemy; His authority shattered the lie and sent the enemy fleeing.

This week, that trickster tried to stake a claim. The peace of God overwhelmed and he fled. Praise You Jesus! God is always so very close. mmmm……yes, He is.

There is a place of walking with God where you simply fear no evil. David faced a lion, a bear, and a giant. In this Psalm he stood in the shadow of death itself, yet he feared no evil. Our trust in the Lord is what brings peace, not trusting in our abilities. 

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

Because God is with you, every adversity you face will unfold in victory and become a meal for you, an experience that will nourish and build you up spiritually. 

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

The source of God’s peace is God Himself. If fear has been knocking at your door, begin to face that fear with God’s peace. It’s God’s secret weapon to destroy fear. 

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War Room: A Battle Plan

 

A storm is coming. Or you’re in a storm right now. We all know they’re a part of life. We don’t have to be told that. It’s no surprise to us. What it does is catch us off guard sometimes. We have to be ready. We have to be on guard and have a battle plan working and ready when it comes.

A boss that just wont get off our backs.

A spouse that doesn’t seem to be lined up with you at the moment.

A friend that isn’t really a friend.

A family member that seems like a stranger to you.

A competing co-worker.

Gossip.

Rage.

Hurt.

Betrayal.

A past.

A present.

Sin.

All these things and more can be a battle for us at any given time. We know this. We are warned about this in the Scriptures, so that isn’t the problem. The problem is in our battle plan.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against rulers, against the authorities and the powers of the unseen dark world, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:12)

We forget that our battle isn’t with people and get sucked into battling each other. We argue with each other, battle our spouses and divide our own households, families, and work places. In other words, we help the devil carry out his very schemes we want to battle!

You see, there is a battle always going on in the spiritual realm. That’s where the fight is. That’s the battlefield and that’s where we need to fight. The enemy is our accuser. It’s always happening and we need a battle plan.

God is strong and He wants you strong and prepared. You’re up against more than you can handle on your own so take everything God has given you, well-made weapons of the best materials – God’s Word and prayer – and put them to use so you will be able to standup to everything the devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the devil and all his angels.

God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray first, pray often and about everything. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up that that no one falls behind or drops out.

This is an excellent Battle Plan!

I was invited to a premiere event last week for the movie War Room by the Kendrick Brothers – creators of Courageous, Fireproof, and Facing the Giants. This movie is coming out tomorrow, Friday, August 28, 2015. Priscilla Shirer stars in it and Beth Moore has a role too. These ladies are two of my favorite Bible Teachers. This movie is so inspiring. If you are a Believer, go see it. If you are alive and breathing, go see it. You’ll see the power of prayer played out on the big screen. You’ll be moved to get active and speak out boldly and loudly against the enemy’s schemes in your life. You’ll come away with a battle plan. It’s what inspired me to write this message today. It inspired me to get back to my war room battle plan. I know it will inspire you to do the same.

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#WarRoom #KendrickBrothers #PriscilaShirer #BethMoore #Prayer #Bible

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

Forever, Valentine

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And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ. – Ephesians 3:17-18

A child asked Jesus how much He loved her. He answered, “This much,” and then He stretched out His arms and died on the cross.

You may have heard this before. It’s a good way to think about how much Jesus loves you. He loves you so much that He left heaven and came to earth for you. He loves you so much that He suffered and died for you. And the Bible says that nothing you can do will separate you from the love of Jesus.

In these verses from Ephesians, Paul describes Jesus’ love as being “wide and long and high and deep.” The idea is that it is infinite — you will never come to the end of it. God loved you before He created you. He loves you right this minute. And He will love you for eternity.

We cannot possibly understand how much Jesus loves us. We don’t have to. All we have to do is accept it.

Every time I think about how much God loves me, He says – NOPE! More than that, my love! We can’t ever grasp it. It just goes on and on and on. It covers our past. It covers our now. It covers the future. It’s always more than enough. His Love never leaves. Never grows old. Never gives up. Never lets go. Is never selfish. His Love is always, ALWAYS patient, kind, and sweet.

He’s a year-round Valentine that we celebrate all year and not just one day. He is in passionate pursuit of a deeper relationship with us all of our lives.

To fall in love with God is the greatest of all romances.

To seek Him, the greatest adventure.

To find Him, the greatest human achievement. Raphael Simon.

Jesus wants you to be His Valentine now and forever.

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A Person

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Brick by brick, the tower grew higher and higher. And so did their pride. They wanted to be famous, and safe. They wanted to be “the ones” to do this thing with their own hands. They were quite pleased with themselves. “The ones”.

“Look at this mega church I built”. “Look at this ministry I built”. “The bigger, the better because people will see me and how close I am to Jesus”.

Sound familiar?

Yeah….

You see, God wasn’t pleased with them. He could see what they were doing. They were trying to live life without Him. That doesn’t make us happy, or safe, or ANYTHING.

Living life like that only destroys us. God loves us too much to let that happen. So, He’ll interfere. He’ll stop things. Plans get halted. We get annoyed, but we need to just see that God is saving us from ourselves.

God knows.

God knows that however high we reach, however hard we try, we can never get back to Heaven by ourselves. We are not saved by our works (Ephesians 2:8-10)

We don’t need a staircase; we need a Rescuer. The way back to Heaven isn’t a staircase, it’s a Person.

We can never reach up to Heaven, so Heaven came down to us Jesus.

Jesus. Jesus. Jesus.

It’s all about Jesus.

Today’s thought: I cannot save myself, this situation, or this person. I need Jesus.

See: Genesis 11

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

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

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

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

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

(Romans 8:37 MSG)

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

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

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

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You Are The Blessing

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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.

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Trust Issues

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A Facebook friend shared this picture, and I just had to share it with you.

It’s easy for us look at this picture and think how silly it is for her to hold on when we see that He has something better for her.

Isn’t this so like us?? We have trust issues. We hold on to things we think are the better things for us. Do we really think we know better than God?

We forfeit a lot of untapped blessings by doing this.

If only we would just surrender it all to Him. Because, dear friends, He has better things for us and loves us beyond compare.

He holds no good thing from us. He can do immeasurably more than we could ever ask or imagine….if we would only TRUST Him!

The thing is – Jesus is looking for people to give more than words of belief; He’s looking to see how those words are lived out in our lives.

When we decide to believe in Jesus without making a commitment to follow Him, we are nothing more than fans. We need to become faithful followers.

What is it that you need to surrender? What things or people or hurts or pasts or (fill in the blank) are you still holding on to?

Won’t you trust Him and let go?

God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us. Glory to God in the church! Glory to God in the Messiah, in Jesus! Glory down all the generations! Glory through all millennia! Oh, yes! (Ephesians 3:20, 21 MSG)

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Resting in His Finished Work

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In Psalm 23:2 when David says, “He makes me to lie down in green pastures”—he’s saying, “My shepherd makes me lie down in His finished work.” With His own pierced hands, Jesus created a pasture for the soul. Can you imagine the satisfaction in the heart of the shepherd when, with work completed, he sees his sheep rest in the tender grass? Can you imagine the satisfaction in the heart of God when we do the same?

His pasture is His gift to us. This is not a pasture you have made. Nor is it one you deserve. It is a gift of God. Ephesians 2:8 says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.”

Your Shepherd invites you to nestle deeply hidden, buried, in the tall shoots of His love—and there you will find rest.

From Traveling Light, Max Lucado

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Just drop it already…..

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

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

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

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

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

And besides…

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

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

Enough.
 

Hand them over.

For your family and friends, hand them over.

For God, hand them over.

For you, hand them over. 

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

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

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

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Gaining Intimacy With GOD

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

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

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

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

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

Fasting is where less is more. 

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

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

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

Jesus Himself fasted:

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

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

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

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

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

Fasting also reveals a few things for us:

1. What really controls us.

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

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

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

2. My abuse of time. 

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

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

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

3. That more is not always better. 

We think that more is always better.  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The following is an excerpt from Reclaiming Eve Chapter 5

God of Community

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Unlock that power today!

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When Things Don’t Go As Planned

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

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

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

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

What??

Yes.

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

 

Here’s a few examples: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who’s plan do we operate by? 

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

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

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

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

Surrender. 

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Overcoming

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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Waiting to Exhale: Forgiveness = Freedom

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Hurt people hurt people

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

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

As free, forgiven people we should free people. 

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

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

Our moral debt was paid on the cross. 

How does this servant love differently after receiving such grace? 

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

Human nature is to retaliate

Three common obstacles to forgiveness:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some of us are waiting to exhale….

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

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

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

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

Say to yourself: “GOD loves me NOW” 

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

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

Waiting For My One True Love

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

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

I waited.

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

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

So I kept it a secret.

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

This went on for years.

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

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

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

What?

Wait?

Again?? 

Really????

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 
Love,
Morgan

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

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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

{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)

Dare To Be

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

BUT…

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

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

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

Forgiving Those Who Judge You

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reflect Hope

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May your decisions reflect your HOPE not your fears.

In All Things….Remember

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I’ve had quite the week. One child extremely sick and facing emergency surgery. Mom in another hospital facing the same thing. Me, coming down with bronchitis, sinusitis, and strep throat.

No matter what mountains we’ve faced this week….or will face in the future….one Thing remains solid.

His name is Jesus.

And those mountains?

They take one look at GOD and melt, melt like wax before earth’s Lord.

Whatever you’re facing, just remember who you belong to

Something out of Nothing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When God speaks into your life, believe Him. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hebrews: The Nearness of King Jesus

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read the rest of that post here

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

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

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

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

Slow dancing with Jesus,
Christy

Made For Heights

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

~Today God Is First~

Here’s the problem AND the solution…

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

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)

Trusting the turn-by-turns

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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