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

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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.) 

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.

Making A List And Checking It Twice

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Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. (1John 4:7-8)

As much as I try or even want to love on my own strength, I cannot love well and completely unless I am connected to God. Believe me, I’ve done that, and it ain’t pretty.

When we first know Who God is and experience His love, grace, and forgiveness in our own lives, we are then filled up with a supernatural love that overflows to others…..even those who are hard to love.

It’s this same supernatural love that God pursues us with. His tender passion is not found in this world, oh, no. This world is full of fragile loves–love that abandons, love that fades, love that divorces, love that is self-seeking, self-pleasing, and plain out selfish….me, me, me, it’s all about me, and right now. This isn’t love….these are “feelings”. God is not that kind of love. Real love is like God who is holy, just, giving, kind, patient, seeking others needs first, never gives up, never looses faith, always hopeful, and endures forever.

He’s personal and intimate with us in our hearts, in our prayers, and in our lives. His love is everlasting.

I just love Him so much that I have to do something about it. Who Christ is and what He’s done should cause us to act. His generous love and compassion is not to stop with us. We should find ways to show compassion to those who are suffering (even if it is at their own hands) because Christ is compassionate towards us. (Believe me when I tell you that there are days when that alone keeps me going. I could start another blog on that alone….these aren’t empty words here). His love for me is my fuel and lights me up…keeps me fired me up and overflows to others.

“You can give without loving, but you can’t love without giving….great happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved. Loved for ourselves and in spite of ourselves.” -Victor Hugo

Here’s your list….check it twice 😉:

  • Love for God can be seen only in love for other people (4:11-13,16-21,5:2)
  • Love and fear are opposites (v18)
  • Love is a gift, not a possession (v10,13,19)
  • Confession of Christ and love of others cannot be separated (vv19-21)
  • God’s love is certain. Christ showed that on the cross. (4:10,14; 5:6)
  • Because He first loved us….

    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

    Advent: It Is Finished

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    Today is the first Sunday of Advent. The word “advent” means arrival. The Advent we celebrate is not just any arrival. We celebrate THE Arrival: Jesus.

    This is the Advent: the coming of hope to the hopeless, the arrival of peace to war-torn exiles, and the long-awaited freedom for generation after generation.

    It’s the elaborate yet stunningly simple plan of God to come to His children, to become like them in the most unexpected, unglamorous, fully human way: a Babe in a manger….born of a virgin.

    It’s the beginning of a great ransom story. And you’re in it.

    Our ransom story begins way back at the beginning. Way back to the fall in the Garden of Eden:

    Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’ ” “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” So the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, “Cursed are you above all livestock and all wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” (Genesis 3:1-15 NIV)

    “No sooner was the wound given than the remedy was provided and revealed” -Matthew Henry

    God’s rescue plan started right then. He couldn’t leave us there. His weapon of choice: Grace. He would use Grace to draw us back to Him in the form of His Son. A Messiah. A Savior. Emmanuel: God With Us.

    Yes, the evil one would strike His heel. Jesus would experience real suffering with real blood, sweat and tears. But, Jesus would have the last word. When He cried out, “It is finished!” the serpent’s head would receive the final, fatal blow.

    This is how He would become God With Us. Once His work is done….once you and I accept Him as Lord and Savior…..we will never be separated from Him again. God.With.Us.

    In this Holiday season, I pray you all are keeping your devotion time going. Often we put them aside when we’re busy, but that’s when we need them the most. When we’re distracted and busy we are a prime target for the enemy. And this Holiday is about Christ anyway, right? Let’s keep our focus and the flame of our love affair with Him burning brightly. Do an Advent study/Devotion this season and worship Him. Grow deeper and closer to our Savior.

    You’ll find keeping Christ in Christmas will help your busy Holiday time go much better! Also important: We see a lot of people this time of year that we don’t see regularly….as well as stores packed full of strangers. What a prime opportunity to share Christ and His Gospel. Remember why you’re here in the first place 😊

    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)

    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.

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

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

    Let’s get our praise on…

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

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

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

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

    You.Are.His.


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

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

    He.Is.Yours.

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

    Work and Worship

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    Today God Is First

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

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

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

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

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

    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

    Creation: A Love Story

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     

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

     

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

     

    Public Relations 101: the spiritual battle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

    The Game of Life: Follow the Leader

     

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

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

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

    WWJD

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    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.

     

     

    Fearless

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    We often get things backwards in life. We’re funny that way. We like to pray about something, wait for God to answer and THEN walk in the victory. And, that does happen. God moves in any way He wants. He’s God. 

    But, today God has you on my mind and heart. You, the one feeling boxed in by your past, your circumstances. And you, the one with the mountain in front of you to climb….that big thing to conquer. Also you, the one that has talked to God and begged for mercy over your circumstances but seeing no change. 

    You’re not alone. Sometimes we hate those words. We hate them because we “feel” alone and we’re sick of people telling us we aren’t. It’s true though. You may feel alone but you aren’t. Our feelings cloud our judgment.

    There are times that you have to be fearless when you feel afraid. Walk when you want to sit. Because sometimes, that’s when the miracle happens. 

    In Luke 17:11-19 we see 10 men crying out to Jesus to have mercy and Jesus tells them to go and show themselves to the priests. They were unclean and were not to be near the temple or its people. Sending them there was promising them healing. As they were going they were healed. They began walking in the promise before it came and while their circumstance was the same.

    In Exodus 14:10-14 we see God’s people boxed in and tempted to run back. They were told….Don’t be afraid. Stand firm and see the Lord’s salvation He will provide for you today (don’t run back into that life); for the Egyptians you see today, you will never see again (He’s great at wiping out those old ways and bondages). The Lord will fight for you; you must be quiet (and stop talking about how much easier it seemed to be back then). They needed to be fearless even though they felt afraid, and THEN God moved.  

    In Joshua Chapter 3 we see that once they stepped their toe into the water, it parted. Some of you need to step forward, put toe to water first to cross over to victory

    Some of you need to walk out God’s promises first, even when things seem the same, and before seeing God’s hand on it. 

    All of us need to be fearless and stand firm on the rock.

     

    Our strength is not always in our arms, its in our feet. Stand on the Rock, the solid ground. That’s where our strength is. 

     

    On Christ the solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand

    God has promised you promises and is asking you to stand firm, don’t be afraid, watch and see Him work. Believe it. Walk out those promises now, in your present condition. Just don’t forget to give glory to the One who brings the victory

    A Shot of Adrenaline

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

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

    No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins.

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

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

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

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

    That will shoot adrenaline into your souls! 

    Hebrews 12:1-3, The Message.

    Go All In {Bible Study: Living and Leading Like Jesus}

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    Read Luke 10:25-37

    Focus: Luke 10: 27, 37

    27) He answered: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind”; and, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 37) The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus tole him, “Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10:27,37)

    The ‘expert in the law’ was testing Jesus. He was quoting Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18. I had to giggle a little about Him quoting scripture to JESUS. Ha! He had no idea that he was talking to the Word made flesh and quoting the Word to the “Word”! Ha! The purpose of the law is not to save from sin, but to produce knowledge of sin…the function of the law is to show man what a guilty sinner we are. Jesus was trying to make a point with this man about following the letter of the law versus following the heart and Spirit of the law, but he didn’t get it. We know this by the way he says, ‘the one’ instead of saying the Samaritan. He knew the answer in his head but not in his heart.

    Love God and Love people. That’s it.

    Makes sense to me that these verses are in this order…. Love God with all of you and love His people. The closer we grow in our walk with God the more we can understand His love and be filled with love for others. All the more reason to be sure I am spending time with Him every day. Jesus is telling us to live as He lived and love as He loves. And, that is loving God supremely with the TOTAL person…go ALL in.…allowing nothing to come between us and God….and then go and love His people like THAT.

    The question started out: Who is my neighbor? but it ended by posing the question: To whom do you prove yourself a neighbor? My neighbor is anyone of any race, creed or social background. The real test of love is action, not just profession. Loving God with all of me and see people as He sees them. ALL are worthy.

     

    God wants us to understand that people are always more important than our schedules, our things, our money, and our time. Helping people means personal sacrifice, but that’s how we show God’s love to them. And we let God love them through us!

     

    I love the picture of Christ here: The Samaritans were despised by the Jews because of their mixed Gentile blood. It was a despised and hated Samaritan that stopped to care for the Jew. Jesus came to this world, despised, rejected, and hated….for us. He saw us in our desperate need, had compassion on us. There is nothing….no debt of ours….that He leaves unpaid by the sacrifice…..payment for my soul….for all eternity. His blood paid my sin debt. Woo!!!! THANK YOU JESUS!!! (also note that this is a picture of how Jesus extended His hand of love to His own people….the Jews….in spite of how they reject and despise Him)

     

    No Unemployment Lines Here {Living and Leading Like Jesus Study}

    So glad to see you back here with us for week two: Luke Chapter 10 of our Bible Study, Living and Leading Like Jesus! Come on in with us!

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    {Read: Luke 10: 1-7}

    2) He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. 3) Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. (Luke 10:2-3)

     

    In the beginning of Chapter 10 we see Jesus sending them ahead of Him to prepare the people for the coming Messiah. You and I are also sent out ahead to proclaim the coming of the Messiah.

    Christian service has no unemployment!

    The workers are few because of lack of participation of believers in the Gospel mission. It’s time for believers to take their stand out among their fellow believers and bring the Gospel of the coming Messiah! He sends us all ahead to the people with whom He wants to dwell.. Jesus is coming, and we are commanded to GO AND TELL! What prepared them for this mission is that they had been equipped with Jesus’ power and vision to reach people.  It is important to dedicate our skill to God’s Kingdom, and WE too must be equipped with His power and have clear vision of what He wants us to do….and that comes by asking.

    Jesus’ first instructions were to pray for a gathering of believers in Jesus out from among the mass of unbelievers. He wanted full participation of believers. Begin by prayer and mobilizing people to pray. Mission is based on prayer. How much time will you devote to praying for God for missionaries? Missions are for humble people not for self-assured. Sound like you?

    He doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called. We must stop believing the lie that we aren’t qualified. It’s true that in our own strength we aren’t qualified. His qualifications surpass any situation. He is highly qualified for whatever may come. A little police officer holding a badge up and saying, “Stop in the name of the law!” would have most of us freeze in our tracks. Not because of the officer’s stature, but because of who he represents and who qualifies him in his position (our laws). There is absolutely nothing that surpasses Jesus’ qualifications. These are the same qualifications we are sent with. How could we hold back?? Will you join God on a mission? Your mission field is right now. Right where you are. Take this lesson as your call to live and lead like Jesus on the mission field wherever you are.  Go! Now!

     

    Missions is not a program in the church, it’s the purpose of the Church. It’ s a way of life right where we are. 

     

    Don’t just go to church. BE the church. 

     

    {Also note a cross reference in verse 3b to Matthew 10:16 to be wise as serpents and gentle as doves, meaning to be wise about what is good and innocent about what is evil…and to Matthew 7:15, Wolves: false prophets, people who have not been sent by God but who claim they have. Be vigilant to these false prophets}

     This stirs such a passion within me for His people. For the workers in that we here in this office are passionate about Encouraging, Equipping, and Empowering people to be all that God created them to be. For the harvest in telling the Good News of our coming Messiah!

     

    Digging In: We are all laborers in the field- no matter where we are. What does your personal mission field look like? Who are you reaching out to?

     

    It’s Not Always Easy But It’s Always Worth It {Live and Lead Like Jesus Bible Study}

    Week one of our Bible Study: Living and Leading Like Jesus is complete. What a great study this week!! We’ve gone through all of Chapter 9 in 5 days! We are having a great time with my two online groups that I’m leading. GOD is answering prayers and speaking loudly to us. Pray for us, will you?

    Let’s lean in to the last verses for this week. We’ll pick back up next week. See you then?

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    58) Jesus replied, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”60) Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”62) Jesus replied, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:58,60,62)<

    Jesus did not rebuke, but clarified for him what following Him would involve so he could count the cost. Perhaps he was looking at the followers and daydreaming a life that wasn’t reality. He would need to accept homelessness, physical discomfort, and rejection. Life is urgent and announcing God’s Kingdom is urgent—spreading the Gospel is urgent! No procrastination and putting off things with God. Seize the day for Him. Jesus was totally dedicated in every way and in every moment. Looking back keeps us from looking ahead at following Him and His command and is a distraction. We need to leave our past behind. This isn’t a question of entrance into the Kingdom—but effective service in the Kingdom after entering it.

    Discipleship involves hard work and sacrifice. It’s not all pretty and glam (as some people think!). Jesus wonders: Are we ready to rough it? A life lived for and lead by Jesus is a life abandoned….no half hearted commitment. We can’t pick and choose among Jesus’ ideas and follow Him selectively–this isn’t a Burger King, have it your way menu for you to choose from–we accept the cross along with the crown and abandon what we place our security in without looking back (not only at things, people, or behaviors that distract, but also the past life that the enemy would have you focused on instead of walking clothed in His righteousness and in the power and authority given to you by Jesus Himself). We have to loosen our grip on things that normally provide emotional security: Are you ready to surrender control of your life and follow Him? Christ followers aren’t made of half-hearted stuff or dreamy sentimentality. Kingdom work is the hardest, most gut wrenching, most exhausting, most heart breaking, most judged job that is by far THE most rewarding, most joyous, most satisfying job that I wouldn’t trade for anything this world has to offer. Following Christ isn’t always easy, but it’s always worth it!

    Heart chat:
    People have a hard time when it comes to denying themselves to follow Christ. Did you battle something you would have to give up to follow Christ? Is there anything above Jesus for you?

    Prayer:
    Lord, thank You for all You gave up for me. Thank You for living a life of such discomfort, and suffering the cross……all for me! May we answer the call to follow You with sincerity and whole-heartedly without looking back. You are worthy. In Jesus name, Amen.

    Note To Self: You’ve Gotta Go

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    Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. (Luke 9:23-26 NIV)

    Having outlined His own future in verse 22, the Lord invited the disciples to follow Him. This would mean denying themselves and taking up their cross daily. Anyone who intends to come along side Jesus has to let Him lead. Nothing material can compensate for the loss of a walk with Jesus—Jesus’ disciples are not to use their lives on earth merely to please themselves; they should spend their lives serving God and others. In efforts to focus on acquiring all the worldly things, the true purpose of life is missed. What good would that do when we would only have it for a short while, then leave it forever. It would be an insane bargain! Serve Him with boldness!! And, don’t miss the excitement of His coming back….how could that compare with anything this world could possibly say to us to cause us embarrassment?!

    To follow Him we must lay down our devotions to this world and live for Christ and His mission. The fact that He mentioned that we need to take up our cross tells us that we can expect painful situations every day because of our allegiance to Christ. To take up the cross means to deliberately choose the kind of life that He lived. The life He lived involved this and more:

  • Opposition of loved ones
  • The reproach of the world
  • Complete dependence on God
  • Obedience to the leading of the Holy Spirit
  • Proclamation of an unpopular message
  • A pathway of loneliness
  • Organized attacks from established religious leaders
  • Suffering for righteousness sake
  • Slander and shame
  • Pouring out one’s life for others
  • Death to self and to the world<
  • But, it also involves laying hold of life that is life indeed! It means finding at last the reason for our existence. And it means eternal reward. Do we think of our relationship with God primarily in terms of, what’s in it for us, or in terms of what we can do for Him? Am I willing to deny myself, take up my cross daily and follow Him? Willingly renounce any so called right to plan or choose and to recognize His Lordship in every area of life? Surrendering to God’s will does not mean you lose. It means you win. God’s will is always best, even when we cannot imagine how!

    This life of abandonment is genuine living and brings profound spiritual pleasure. It has a joy, a holy carefreeness, and a deep inward satisfaction that defies description.

    It is possible for believers to temporarily cower in fear around unbelievers and act “ashamed” of Jesus as Peter did in his denials of Christ. Hurt people hurt people and will often try to embarrass someone for the stand they take in an attempt to make themselves feel better.

    “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose” -Jim Elliot

    Prayer:
    Deny myself… oh what a challenge for us at times, Lord, but even moreso when we take our eyes off of Jesus and what He’s done for us. This I know Lord… when I keep my eyes fixed on Jesus and lose my life for His sake, I am filled with such peace and contentment that can only come from Christ! God, help us to be “all in” in our relationship with You – we can’t have one foot in the world and still fully follow You. Help us to boldly live for You, knowing that it may cost us temporary comfort, but oh what joy for such an eternal reward! In Jesus name, Amen.

    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.

    Continue reading

    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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    How To Tip: A Day In The Life of A Powerful, Focused Leader

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    Even when He is busy, high in demand and hyper-focused on His work, what does He do? What’s the secret to being a powerful, sought after leader with stamina? What can we learn and do in our own lives to be that person too? Let’s lean in and take a look in a day in the life…..

    Jesus’ ministry had just begun. He’s in Galilee, preaching the good news. As He walked along, He gathered Simon, Andrew, James and John and they went into the town of Capernaum. Right away Jesus preached a sermon that blew their minds, and then drove out a demon. As soon as they left church, He went to a friend’s house and collapsed on the couch exhausted and took a nap because He was done for the day. WRONG…..he healed Simon’s mother-in-law, who then, in turn, saw to their needs.

    That same evening, after the sun had gone down, the WHOLE TOWN came pouring in with their various sicknesses and demon possessed loved ones. Because He had already done His daily deed of preaching a knock-out sermon, gone the extra mile and drove out a demon AND healed that sick woman, He informed them of His office hours, prayed for them and said He would see them then. WRONG….He ministered, He healed their sick, and demon-possessed loved ones.

    Whoa…..pause! Can you imagine the exhaustion? I’m a crisis counselor, and I know when I’ve had a “big” day filled with a few heart broken, abused, and hurting people, I am worn out……and I don’t have the whole town at my door…..all in one evening (some days it feels that way). When I’m finished traveling and speaking somewhere, I’m ready to kick my shoes off, and hang loose for a while. And if it’s really late when I’m done, I look forward to sleep.

    Very early in the morning, while it was still dark (around 4AM), He got up, went out, and made His way to a deserted place. And He was praying there. (Mark 1:35)


    The very next morning, He didn’t sleep in. He knew to energize wasn’t by sleeping in. He didn’t say, well, God knows I did all that fantastic, powerful, life changing stuff yesterday and will understand that I’m exhausted and sleeping in. He kept His focus. He knew that was the first step to complacency.

    You see, that time with the Father is what gives us what we need to do…what we are called to do….when we are called to do it

    It’s our power pack. Remember, His desire….ABOVE ALL ELSE….is to spend time with us.

    When Jesus was busy, in demand and focused on His work, what does He take time to do in this verse? It inspires me to focus on first things first…..powering up with the Giver of supernatural power. I don’t want to be complacent. I want to be on fire! I want to be a mover and shaker….a person who impacts and changes the lives of others. I don’t want to sit in the stands….I want to be right in there, leaning into all He has for me. I want to encourage, equip, and empower others to do the same. I want to make Kingdom differences. I want to walk in power with the King. I want to be like Jesus. May it be so for all of us reading this, Father, for Your glory!

    How does it impact you?