December 30, 2011

By: Max Lucado

Motherhood is a Special Task

QUESTION: More than anything in the world I want to be a good mom to my kids. How can I be the mom God wants me to be?

ANSWER FROM MAX: The virgin birth is more, much more, than a Christmas story. It is a picture of how close Christ will come to you, a mom, as you also bring a child into the world.

Imagine yourself in that story found in Luke 1.

God comes to you and says, “I have a special task for you. A child. A special child that I want to entrust to you. Are you willing to raise this one?”

You stammer, take a breath. “This sounds scary.”

“Don’t worry. I’ll be there with you. This child is special to me. He will be a great child.”

You shake your head. “Such an awesome responsibility. I don’t know if I can do it.”

“Nothing is impossible with me.”

You smile. “I am your servant. I’ll do it.”

Do we think only one child received God’s special attention? Sure, only one was his Son, and an angel sent out those special birth announcements, accompanied by an angelic choir singing “Happy Birthday.” Of course God pulled out all the stops for Jesus’ birth.

But children aren’t randomly born to parents. God orchestrates the right children to be born to the right parents.

Being the mom God wants you to be starts with the understanding of how important your job is in God’s eyes. He entrusts you with one of his own children. He chose you out of all the moms in the world for this one child.

Remember, you, too, are highly favored by God himself to receive such a special gift.

December 29, 2011

By Bill Crowder

In the International Slavery Museum in Liverpool, England, the devastation of generations of enslaved men, women, and children is remembered. The price innocent people have paid for the greed of others is horrific—but theirs is not the only cost. Engraved in a wall of the museum is a profound observation made by Frederick Douglass, former slave and crusader for human rights, which reads, “No man can put a chain about the ankle of his fellow man without at last finding the other end fastened about his own neck.” In the act of dehumanizing others, we dehumanize ourselves.

The apostle Paul put it another way when he wrote, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap” (Gal. 6:7). Paul’s words form a stark reminder to us that our choices have consequences—and that includes how we choose to treat others. When we choose to hate, that hate can return to us in the form of consequences that we can never fully prepare for. We can find ourselves alienated from others, angry with ourselves, and hamstrung in our ability to serve Christ effectively.

Instead, let’s choose “not [to] grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap . . . . As we have opportunity, let us do good to all” (vv.9-10).

Sowing seeds of greed and hatred Reaps corruption, loss, and pain; But if we sow love and kindness, We will reap eternal gain. —Sper

The seeds we sow today determine the kind of fruit we’ll reap tomorrow.

December 26, 2011

Sunset in the rearview mirror

By Sheryl A. Simons

It was almost dusk as I drove home from work one night, the setting sun on my left. With a slight headache, my thoughts drifted through my day at work at the domestic violence shelter, where we never know from one moment to the next what to expect.

As I drove I thought of my life and all the changes that had come about. I, too, had once been the victim of domestic violence. I was never beaten. I was threatened, yelled at, and had things thrown at me, but I never identified this as abuse. I’d always thought abuse was hitting and physical pain.

The sky was slowly darkening, and the feathery wisps of clouds turned to pretty pastels as I drove along. I continued to keep one eye on the clouds as I watched the road and let my mind wander. I had often tried to reason with my husband. I would say he didn’t need to yell – I could hear what he was trying to say. I just didn’t always agree with him. Did we have to think the same way about everything? Was that what it meant to be submissive? I usually acquiesced. My husband was the head of the household; I was the wife. That was my role. Often I felt put down and betrayed – the butt of my husband’s jokes. But my own husband wouldn’t want to do that, would he? He loved me! I must be the cause of our problems. Soon, it became easier to just agree with my husband, rather than fight. I wanted peace at any cost. I didn’t know the cost was giving up myself. And no one else seemed to notice – no one but me.

My life had begun with so much promise. I’d been a good student. I hadn’t made many of the mistakes my classmates did. I thought I was steady, reliable and a commonsense thinker. So why couldn’t I do anything right in my marriage?

Thankfully, our three children were not the victims of my husband’s violent temper – I was. And as long as that temper was directed at me, it didn’t hurt my children, did it?

My car left the freeway, and I headed in the opposite direction of the beautiful sunset. I hated to leave the florescent sky behind, but my trip must continue. I was headed home.

Home, now, was not with that man. After sixteen years, I left him. Despite much counseling, I could find no way to reconcile our miserable marriage. When we sought the help of pastors and counselors, my husband always made it clear that I was the “bad guy.” But by this time I was convinced that he didn’t love me, and I realized how evil he had been.

My family was devastated by the divorce. No one in our family had ever divorced. It just wasn’t done. My family’s shame was almost worse than the bad marriage. There were secrets about my marriage that even they didn’t know. I tried to explain, but I couldn’t bring myself to relive the details. They didn’t trust me, so I was on my own. I learned to live with that pain as well, but I had never felt so lonely.

Seven years after the divorce, home was now an eighty-year-old farmhouse on a beautiful country road. I was remarried to a peaceful soul like myself, whom I learned I could trust. We worked together on our home – remodeling, landscaping, building. We were constructing more than a house – we were building a new life. My family was more understanding now, and my kids had weathered the rough years after the divorce, much as our farmhouse had weathered the winds of time. They were doing very well. “Staying together for the sake of the children,” simply doesn’t work – it’s a lie. My children now know that everyone deserves respect, even mom.

I’d learned what marriage was really all about. As head of the household, a man was meant to lead, but not bully, push, manipulate, threaten and criticize. My current husband was a gentle shepherd, not a drill sergeant. He was someone who could be respected and honored – a man of character and commitment. Power and control meant nothing to this man. He was committed to “love as Christ loved the Church.”

Not far from home, I climbed a hill and suddenly was stirred out of my reverie. A brilliant sunset, more brilliant than any I’d ever seen, radiated in the rearview mirror. The vibrant oranges and vivid pinks held me spellbound. I rounded a turn at the top of the hill and pulled to the side of the road. With tears streaming down my face, I witnessed God’s awesome creativity at work. I also knew exactly what he was trying to tell me at that very moment. While I was going through those hard times, God knew what I didn’t. He knew that one day I would look back and see his brilliant master plan. God didn’t put me through the abuse, but he used it to create a masterpiece – one I couldn’t see at the time, but only when I looked back on it. I’d weathered the storm, and God was right there with me all the time. I was never alone.

I sat for several moments, drinking in the beauty of the incredible sunset. I eased back on the road and rounded another bend. That sunset was with me all the way home in the rearview mirror – just as God had been.

Source: Chicken Soup for the Soul

December 23, 2011

The time is coming....

Psalm 7:8-17

The LORD judges the nations.
Declare me righteous, O LORD,
for I am innocent, O Most High! End the evil of those who are wicked,
and defend the righteous.
For you look deep within the mind and heart,
O righteous God. God is my shield,
saving those whose hearts are true and right. God is an honest judge.
He is angry with the wicked every day. If a person does not repent,
God will sharpen his sword;
he will bend and string his bow. He will prepare his deadly weapons
and shoot his flaming arrows. The wicked conceive evil;
they are pregnant with trouble
and give birth to lies. They dig a deep pit to trap others,
then fall into it themselves. The trouble they make for others backfires on them.
The violence they plan falls on their own heads. I will thank the LORD because he is just;
I will sing praise to the name of the LORD Most High.

Source of joy and peace

"Open my eyes to the wonderful truths in your law.

I have chosen to be faithful; I have determined to live by your laws.

Lord, give me your unfailing love, the salvation that you promised me. Then I will have an answer for those who taunt me,for I trust in your word. Do not snatch your word of truth from me, for my only hope is in your laws. I will keep on obeying your lay forever and forever.

May all who fear you find in me a cause for joy, for I have put my hope in your word. I know, O Lord, that your decisions are fair; you disciplined me because I needed it. Now let your unfailing love comfort me, just as you promised me, your servant. Surround me with your tender mercies so I may live, for your law is my delight.

Those who love your law have great peace and do not stumble."

Psalm 119:18, 30, 41-44, 74-77, 165 NLT

December 19, 2011

So much more than meets the eye...

The other day I heard that it had been said that the things happening in my life are punishment for bad choices. I have found it interesting over the past couple of years the number of people in my life who are much like the friends that Job had to deal with.  Always looking at the glass half empty.  Their thinking is that if you are experiencing a storm with mountains of hurt, you must be living wrong. 

Sometimes I wonder what Bible those type of thinkers are reading.  I wonder what they are being taught in their churches.  I wonder what dark roads they have experienced.
I was rereading things that have occurred in my life over the past year and am encouraged.  You see, I was scared of 2011 because 2010 had been horrible.  I could not see the "silver lining."  There just did not seem like there would ever be an end to the heartache and pain.  This past year has not been pain free.  What it has been is an incredible journey where I have experienced God, seen Him provide, watched Him work miracles and been given some amazing friendships.

Last year the song That’s what faith can do was a popular song on the Christian radio stations.  It was a song that each time it played; I prayed that God would allow me to experience Him in such miraculous ways.  Guess what?  He answered my prayer.

For those who say that “my hell” was my own doing, so be it.  To you I say, you are missing the AMAZINGNESS of God. My personal hell has been hard.  Much of it caused by the evil of others but yes, I have fallen along the way too but been picked up by God each time. He has held me close in His arms and healed the broken places. I would not trade a moment of the past few years of my life.  I asked God for the chance to know Him better, to see Him move in my life and allow me the chance to experience miracles and He answered my prayer.  I would NOT change a thing.

For those skeptics, you need to know that before I took my first breath, my story was written.  God has not been surprised by a moment of my life.  He knew how every day of my life would unfold.  It was however, up to me as to how I would respond to each event.  There were times I got lost and could not find Him but He would then reveal Himself in my life in ways that you might now understand.  Those who believe that others who suffer do so at their own doing are missing just what faith can do.  Job was tested.  God allowed Satan to test the faith of Job.  He experienced his own hell but in the end, God blessed Him beyond measure for His faithfulness.

I am learning that people like to talk.  People like to judge.  People like to pick apart the lives of other people missing the flaws in their own life but those people are missing the most important thing in life.  They are missing the opportunity to glorify God through their lives and missing divine opportunities for a huge growth in their faith. 

So here is where I am left standing.  It has been over two months since I have received any form of financial help.  I have been left to provide for every need of five children and myself on my own. I make a little more than minimum wage but do you know what?  We have yet to go hungry.  We have yet to go without water, hot or cold.  We have yet to go without heat and electricity.  I have yet to run out of gas on the side of the rode. I wake every morning with a new outlook on life.  Instead of stressing over the bill that is due in a week, I focus on the day ahead.  I think about the previous days and the ways in which God has provided and am reminded of His faithfulness. We have yet to go without anything. The food, the money, the need is always provided.

I was not sure how Christmas would turn out this year but I knew in my heart there was no need to be anxious.  Up to this point God has provided all we have needed and I knew He would not stop now. Yesterday we experienced one of those miraculous days.  A local church Sunday school class provided bags and bags of groceries.  There were groceries for baking, there was a ham for Christmas day and so so so much more.  Today I came home to find two huge boxes filled with presents at the front door.  Everything is coming together and I am quite certain that this will in fact be the best Christmas my kids and I have ever experienced. 

God is truly with us.  He provides and blesses when we seek and love Him with all of our heart, soul and strength.  God is good!

That's What Faith Can Do- Kutless

Everybody falls sometimes
Gotta find the strength to rise
From the ashes
And make a new beginning

Anyone can feel the ache
You think it's more than you can take
But you're stronger
Stronger than you know

Don't you give up now
The sun will soon be shining
You gotta face the clouds
To find the silver lining
I've seen dreams that move the mountains
Hope that doesn't ever end
Even when the sky is falling
I've seen miracles just happen
Silent prayers get answered
Broken hearts become brand new
That's what faith can do

It doesn't matter what you've heard
Impossible is not a word
It's just a reason
For someone not to try

Everybody's scared to death
When they decide to take that step
Out on the water
It'll be alright

Life is so much more
Than what your eyes are seeing
You will find your way
If you keep believing

I've seen dreams that move the mountains
Hope that doesn't ever end
Even when the sky is falling
I've seen miracles just happen
Silent prayers get answered
Broken hearts become brand new
That's what faith can do

December 17, 2011

He's in Charge

by Charles R. Swindoll

Read Esther 8:9–14

The law of the Medes and Persians couldn't be changed. The law Haman had written had to stay on the books. But because the heart of the king had been softened by the pleas of Esther, he provided a way by which that law might never come into effect—or would at least be neutralized.

The Jews could protect themselves. In fact, they could do more than that. They could take the lives of anyone who might attack them, including women and children, and they had a right to plunder and take ownership of their possessions. So at least it was an even playing field. The Jews now had their own defense, established of all things, by the Persian law. "The couriers, hastened and impelled by the king's command, went out, riding on the royal steeds; and the decree was given out at the citadel in Susa" (Esther 8:14).

Amazing! And to think these rights provided for all the Jews were granted by the same man who earlier had virtually sealed their doom.

You may have some person after you. You may have some document, something that's been written that seems irrevocable—some magazine article, some newspaper article, some transcript, some occupational report, some lawsuit, whatever. Because it's in writing, it looks so intimidating, so unerasable, so legal. And you're reading these words, thinking, Yeah, but if you only knew who's behind that. That's my whole point here! Who is anybodycompared to the living Lord? I don't care who's behind that document. We serve a sovereign God who has yet to go "Ahh!" when He finds anything on this earth. Nothing frightens Him. Nothing causes Him to do a neck jerk. He's in charge! We live "in the shelter of the Most High." We "abide in the shadow of the Almighty" (Psalm 91:1). Nothing is too hard for Him! Nothing!

December 12, 2011

His ways are better

Weeks ago, I posted Target of the Enemy written in reference to a story from the Old Testament.  Over the past seven weeks, I have made my way through the book of Esther.  I have gathered strength and encouragement from the story of a queen who waited in expectation for God’s faithfulness and His timing. 

This is my story now.  I wait with great expectation as to what move God will make next in my life.  He has had me on the most incredible ride over the past two years.  There have been deep valleys and amazing mountaintops.  My faith in Him has grown in insurmountable ways as I have seen Him work through my life and my situation.

There are great things that I have learned throughout my journey.  Things I wish that I could make others in my life understand but this is however, my journey.  

  • I have learned that trusting God to do what I think is best is NOT really trusting God. If I choose to focus my trust on a specific outcome then I am only trying to manipulate God. When I choose not to trust God's plan, then I in turn interpret each circumstance from my own self centered view point.  That kind of trust only undermines my relationship with God and eventually leads to my doubting of God's work in my life.  Without that trust I feel threatened and afraid.  Choosing to trust and growing in that trust allows me to walk with Him and know that though something does not turn out my way, that He has something else, something better in mind for me. 
  • Often times there are things, in the moment, that I think I should do or say.  I should not always act immediately upon those things especially when something within my heart is stirring, telling me to wait. When I feel the call to move ahead but feel a sense of hesitation,  I should wait for an "all clear" sign from God before jumping in with both feet. 
  • I have learned that following God, as He makes Himself clear to me is my responsibility not the responsibility of others.  No matter how much others may push or over analyze, God holds me accountable for my choices.  Providing for me is His responsibility. He asks me to do certain things and it is my responsibility to act on those things.  He then in turn provides for my every need even though it may not make sense to the eyes of the world. As I understand those things, I am learning that His words and His ways confirm to me that His ways, are in fact, better. 

As I woke this morning, I was greeted with an excellent reminder from Charles Swindoll.  His morning devotional  ended with the following and for me, this says it all….

Never try to convince me that some situations in this life are absolutely permanent. God can move in the heart of a king. He can move an entire nation. He can bring down the once-impenetrable Iron Curtain. He can change the mind of your stubborn mate. He can move in the affairs of your community. He can alter decisions of presidents, prime ministers, present-day kings, and national dictators. No barrier is too high, no chasm is too wide for Him, because He's not limited by space or time, by the visible or the invisible. Remember, He lives in a realm that transcends all that. He is all-powerful. When God is ready to move, He moves. And when He does, hang on. You're in for the ride of your life!

Charles Swindoll

For such a time is this...

Pray with expectation. God is up to something big!!

The Ride of Your Life

by Charles R. Swindoll

Read Esther 7:3–5

Talk about the power of a woman! Can you believe Esther's diplomacy and sensitivity, even in the midst of pleading for her life and the lives of her people? "If we were only being sold into slavery, I wouldn't have troubled you with this matter. You have so many important matters to worry about, I wouldn't have bothered you. But he wants to annihilate us!" Esther beautifully portrays in this moment the character qualities of greatness. Her husband is all ears!

Then King Ahasuerus asked Queen Esther, "Who is he, and where is he, who would presume to do thus?" (Esther 7:5).

At this point, I confess that my response might have been something like, "What do you mean, 'Who is he?' You were there when Haman proposed this heinous thing. You gave him your seal to sign the edict. What do you mean, 'Who is he?' Open your eyes!" Thankfully, I wasn't there to blow it.

We live in a world of preoccupied people. They, too, live in a fog—the fog of busyness, stress, and obligations. Who knows how many edicts Ahasuerus signed that day? Who knows how many pressing matters of government were on his mind? The king had countless decisions to make. And Haman, a trusted official, had proposed it in such a way that he seemed to be solving a problem that directly affected the good of the kingdom. So the king probably signed it without giving it a great deal of attention, believing that Haman, a man he trusted, knew what he was doing.

Suddenly, however, things changed. Never try to convince me that some situations in this life are absolutely permanent. God can move in the heart of a king. He can move an entire nation. He can bring down the once-impenetrable Iron Curtain. He can change the mind of your stubborn mate. He can move in the affairs of your community. He can alter decisions of presidents, prime ministers, present-day kings, and national dictators. No barrier is too high, no chasm is too wide for Him, because He's not limited by space or time, by the visible or the invisible. Remember, He lives in a realm that transcends all that. He is all-powerful. When God is ready to move, He moves. And when He does, hang on. You're in for the ride of your life!

December 10, 2011


I have a friend who is dealing with great hurt.  I've been there.  I know the emptiness, the pain, the disappointment and the sorrow.  I know the questions we throw at God in hopes of some form of relief or answer.  I know the doubts that form in regards to our worth.  I know.

This is for you....


I was regretting the past
And fearing the future...
Suddenly the Lord was speaking:
"MY NAME IS I AM." He paused.
I waited.  He continued.

"When you live in the past,
with its mistakes and regrets,
 it is hard.
I am not there.
My name is not I was."

When you live in the future,
its problems and fears,
it is hard.  I am not there.
My name is not I will be."

When you live in this moment,
it is not hard.
I am here.

Helen Mallicoat

It is so hard to stay in this moment.  When we are hurting we search our past in hopes of an answer.  We look to the future in hopes of a resolution.  Christ said that we cannot do that. He told us not to worry about tomorrow.  He told us not to worry about things that are out of our control. He is our provider.  He supplies our every need out of His unconditional love for us.  There is nothing that we lack.  We may not always see it that way but once our eyes are opened and we walk in faith, we recognize that we have all that we truly need and so much more.

Our hearts deceive.  Our hearts long for things that we may not necessarily need at this moment in time.  When we allow our hearts to long for "things" (whatever that may be for you at the moment) we become "sick". (Proverbs 13:12)

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, But a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.”
Proverbs 13:12

Every woman is familiar with unfulfilled longings that can come in the form of material possessions, attention, another child, etc. We wait and  hope for something that will fill that desire or empitness. No matter how long we wait, we will end up being disappointed, heart sick and in deep despair. When we hit rock bottom, we can even reach a place where we  limit God or settle for less than what He has planned for our life. Either way, we lose. 

How much better off would we be if we chose to trust in God alone to fulfill our every dream? What if we learned to wait patiently on Him and trust His timing instead of demanding our way or giving up? Only God can see the big picture, and only He has the power to fulfill what the heart desires. He is so gracious and longs to show us compassion. His Word says that we are blessed when we wait on Him.

“Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you;
He rises to show you compassion.
For the LORD is a God of justice.
Blessed are all who wait for Him!”
Isaiah 30:18

No matter how bleak the situation may feel or truly be, God knows the path. He knows the outcome. He does not always answer our prayers immediately. Sometimes He answers by making us wait so that His plan will spring forth in His perfect time.  We makes us wait in order to grow our faith and allow us to see with our eyes how awesome He truly is.  When we have hope in the Lord, we can trust in His promises and His timing and soar above the feelings of emptiness. This hope can renew our strength, we will be able to run and not grow weary, walk and not feel faint, and we can soar on wings like eagles.

I am praying for you my friend.  God has you on a great journey.  Though it may not feel like it right now, seek Him and one day you will look back and see how His hand moved your life in miraculous ways!  Love you!

“but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint
Isaiah 40:31

December 3, 2011

Standing confident in His timing

Each day that passes I learn that waiting on God's time is not always easy.  It is a lesson I am learning through my own waiting.  It is a lesson that I am now thankful for learning.

Patience is hard.  Patience is not something easily practiced.  It does not come naturally for many and a lack of it can cause us to stumble.  Patience is most definitely a fruit of the Spirit and something that we can not achieve in our own strength.

Learning to be patient through difficult times requires total submission to God.  Without His presence and our confidence in His Truth, waiting for an outcome to our needs or wants can be crippling.  We want what we want now and if we do not get it, we tend to grab the reigns and pull that horse in the direction that we want to go.  Instead we must wait for God's direction or what a mess that we cause!

God has a reason for not always answering our prayers instantaneously.  He is doing a work within our lives and knows that in order for us to become more like His Son, there must be a transformation.  A transformation that requires learning to trust Him no matter what our circumstances.  Learning to trust Him no matter others may be leading us to do.  Learning to pray through a situation with expectation that He knows what is best and knows what needs to be endured in order to come out on the other side changed.

We may never understand why things happen in the ways in which they do.  Whether it be due to the sin in our lives, whether God allows Satan to test or tempt us or because of the bad and sinful choices of others, He has a plan and He offers grace.  

I am so confident in His plan for my life.  I know that He has already walked the path before me.  He has laid it out and provided for my every need.  I have no reason to wake up each day worried or concerned for what will happen next.  Matthew 6:34 says, "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."  I wake up daily with the attempt to cling to this scripture as a reminder that God has already provided what I need for that day.  It doesn't mean that I can lay in bed and wait for money to pop into my bank account but it does  mean that I can go about my day trusting He will provide. He has worked out everything and all I need to do is submit to His will and allow my day to unfold.  

I do not write to you as one who gives an opinion.  I am writing as one who has seen God's hand move.  I am one who has experienced His divine grace and provision.  God's promises are true!  We lack nothing when we submit to His will and trust His guidance. It is a work.  It takes focus and we must learn to stop judging others and focus on our own faith struggles, our own sins. We then will have the ability to live a life of submission which is a  lot easier than playing "class monitor". A submissive and God focused life is filled with great amounts of joy and peace and making us more aware to experience His movement in our life.

Stop turning your nose down at others.  Love the way in which God loves.  Share what you have with others as God commands.  Forgive those no matter what their offence as God has forgiven you. In order to live an abundant and free life, the choice must be made to break free from the religious chains that bind us to laws that we have been freed from because of Christ's death upon the cross.

Praise God for His grace and faithfulness.  His love is unending!  It is unconditional!  There are no limits to what He has planned for our lives.  The choice is yours to make! Will you choose to surrender, trust and love Him today?

December 2, 2011

Be careful little eyes....

Anyone out there remember singing "I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the House of the Lord?"  Growing up in a traditional southern baptist church there were many songs we learned in Sunday School and Children's Choir.  I can still remember most of the songs we sang and often catch myself singing them when I'm cleaning or cooking.  They were always fun to sing and taught such great messages, or did they?

I was driving home with my youngest after preschool one day as she was singing "be careful little eyes what you see."  You know that song?  Be careful little eyes, hands, ears and mouth.  I'm pretty sure just about anyone who has ever been to church has heard that song at one time or another.  I began singing with her when she stops mid song and says "mommy, so God is like Santa?  He doesn't give us presents if we're bad"?  WHAT??  Arrow through my heart.  I thought it would break in that moment.  Now to some, that may not seem like such a bad question but to me, it is horrible.  I know she is only four but we have spent a lot of time talking about Jesus on the cross and the thoughts of my little one thinking that Jesus only loves her and gives her things if she is good breaks my heart. We needed some Truth in that moment.

It became an excellent teaching moment and I took it.  Several days ago I wrote about my ten year old saying that "Jesus lives in mommy's house."  Today the question was asked of me, just where do I believe that God lives.  I now want to tie it all together and share with you just as I did with my four year old.

Sunday school songs are great but they can, in fact, give us the wrong impression of God and may not always be theologically accurate.  Be careful little eyes leads us to believe that God sits up in heaven and looks down on everything that we do and judges us. The song says "for the Father up above, He is looking down in love." When we are born again, God lives in us.  When we accept Him by faith into our lives, He resides there.

We also have a habit as believers to teach that church is the "House of God."  This too is untrue.  The only time that God is present in a church, is when His children are present.  He does not live within the four walls of our pristine brick buildings, with plush carpets, soft chairs and expensive sound equipment.  There are probably even churches in existence where God is missing.  We spend so much time focusing on the building where we think that God resides that we forget just where to find Him.  Because of this we miss out on many intimate moments with Him.

One of the most powerful things about the gospel is that Christ came in order to free us from the concept that God lives within the fours walls of a building. God is not confined within our churches and only available to "special" people but instead He lives within all those who believe.  He is accesible to all of His children.

So to conclude, Sunday school songs are not bad but we should be careful that we teach our children the true good news of the gospel.  God is with us.  He is Immanuel.

“Look! The virgin will conceive a child!
      She will give birth to a son,
   and they will call him Immanuel,[a]
      which means ‘God is with us.’”

Matthew 1:23

December 1, 2011

Failed system

"And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
John 8:32

God is setting me free from my past. He is breaking the chains of  the obstacles that I once found as my security. Those things stood in the way of God being my Father. I am now on a new road surrounded by old signs. God is making it clear that those old signs are nothing more than myths to prop up a failed system.

I used to believe that suffering was a sign of God's disappointment in my life but then I studied Job.  Instead I'm learning that suffering often indicates something different. It is a new work being done so that I am free to know Him more deeply and follow Him faithfully. Walking by faith and following Him is not easy. It means going against the grain which means our circumstances will not just fall into place and line up to the journey we are taking. There is resistance at every turn.  So God must teach me how to walk with Him. Only through His teaching and my brokenness am I able to experience and know His great joy and peace.

God is leading me on an incredible journey. It is more amazing  than anything I can imagine. If I follow Him in obedience, His work in my life will not only astound and amaze but bring great glory to His name.

God will and always provides. The fact that there is no money in the bank or that others are destroying my reputation with words does not mean a thing. God does not wave a magic wand and make everything right according to my wants and desires. I will never truly experience His love if I question His ways each time my expectations are not met. He knows me better than anyone else. He knows my needs better than anyone else. He provides better than anyone else. He is bringing me into a life aligned with Him. Instead of rescuing me from the things I'm having to endure, He has chosen to use every trial and circumstance in order to show me what true faith, true freedom and life really are when He lives within me.

November 29, 2011

Driven mad

“Lord, I heard Your voice today. You said something I’d rather not hear. I prayed about that person, You know, the one that drives me mad. I reminded You how often I’ve been hurt, annoyed, irritated and upset. And You said, ‘Love one another as I have loved you.’”

Pam Weaver

I did it again. I got scared, acted in fear and responded in my own way instead of by faith. I prefer the moments when I recognize what is happening verses those that I recognize after the fact.

What an incredible peace grace brings into our lives. I recognize my lack of faith but am fully aware that God is in control. He is not surprised by my weak moments and once again has had to say "let Me do my job precious daughter. I've got this."

I've spent the morning praying for the "one" who drives me "mad". I recognize the need for a Savior in the heart of this person. I've prayed that God put a love in my heart for this person and that I begin to see them the way in which He sees them. It's incredibly hard but I know that Jesus was nailed to that cross for this person just as He was for me.

Forgive my evil thoughts and show me how to love like You have loved me.  Allow my heart to break when I fall short of Your plans and when I allow bitterness toward another one of Your children to creep into my thoughts and heart.

Get rid of all bitterness, passion and anger… Instead, be kind and tender-hearted to one another, and forgive one another, as God has forgiven you through Christ. Since you are God’s dear children, you must try to be like Him.

Ephesians 4:31-32

November 26, 2011

Story revealed

Article first published as Story Revealed on Blogcritics.

So I've learned that God definitely works in mysterious ways. He moves in ways we may not always understand or moves in ways we cannot always see.

It is exciting to be part of His story. Having no idea how the story will play out although being fully aware of His movement in your life. All you can do is grasp hold of His hand and allow Him to lead. There can be fear not knowing exactly where you are going. Each step is not always easy and stable. You may even question whether or not it is His hand you're holding but you choose to follow His steps and trust His guidance in obedience.

In life we experience opposition when obeying God instead of those in our lives. Opposition can leave us doubting what we so strongly hear God telling us to do. We must remain focused.

I do not believe that God creates the opposition experienced by His children  (though He does allow it) but instead believe it is created by sin and the schemes of Satan. There are stories throughout the Bible that exemplify choosing to walk by faith instead of sight when facing opposition. David dealt with much opposition from King Saul.

This particular story begins with King Saul ordering the murder of David. I'm pretty certain there is probably not much greater opposition than someone ordering you to be killed especially when those orders are issued by a King.  I'm also pretty certain that murder is a sin meaning Saul was not acting in accordance to God's will.

Now David had spent much time running and hiding from King Saul until one night he found him unprotected and asleep. David had the perfect opportunity to "take out" Saul but he refused. Instead he chose to trust that God would "take out" Saul in His appointed time. David knew God had a plan and he waited. He did however take Saul's spear and water jug and later confronted Saul.  During this confrontation, Saul admited to his sin, asked David to return home and assured his safety. What a moment!! Imagine being David and standing before a man who wanted you dead. It was clearly a God ordained moment but a moment used by God to test the heart of David.

Many deal with injustice but what matters is how we choose to responsd. It is our response that reflects the true condition of our heart and whom we serve. Whether opposition comes from an ungodly person or a fellow believer, God will judge all people. Like David we must trust in the Lord that He alone will deliver us from opposition because God is just and WILL enact His justice!!

God's word promises that He will deal justly with those who treat us unjustly. What a relief especially when we have been beaten and are exhausted. Saul was dealt judgments by God because of disobedience. He lost his kingdom and it was given to David. Israel was defeated by the Philistines the next day and Saul along with his sons died in battle. This great downfall was all a result of his disobedience.

You see as king, Saul was the spiritual leader of his people. (Just as pastors are spiritual leaders of their churches and husbands spiritual leaders of their homes) This means that as king he was accountable in great measure in his example of faith and obedience. Saul obeyed God to a point but selfishly refused to obey God all the way. Saul's life reflected that of a double minded man. (James 1:8) His life reflected confusion between his faith and fleshly living meaning he held back part of his life from God.

I believe God deals with the unjust. I believe those that have treated me and others unjustly will in fact be dealt justly by God. It is hard to stand back and wait when the world yells fight but as a child of God, revenge is not to be my motivation. Instead I must be motivated by His love in order to walk by faith and do what is right. God's just is perfect and because I know this, I can be confident when dealing with opposition. By being confident, I am then free to love, forgive and walk by faith.

Dealing with opposition requires strength and courage. When you feel like the world is against you, human nature screams give up but God gives us the strength to survive and endure.

When God is for us, who could ever stand against us? (Romans 8:31) When the world comes against us, Christ Jesus, the God of the universe is for us!!

Remember that opposition comes from the enemy and can come from anyone in  your life. Remember that Satan is opposed to God, His word and His children. It is Satan's plan to turn people away from God. As a Christ-follower we have to be aware that we will face opposition and unjust accusations. Remember that Jesus walked a perfect and blameless life and was still crucified. We must be patient and endure. (1Peter 2:19-21)

If you're walking through life receiving high fives and gaining the approval of man from your choices, take heed. Chances are you are walking in the flesh and not by faith and obedience. God WILL enact His perfect justice in His ordained time.

November 24, 2011

Give thanks

Giving Thanks Always

“Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 5:20

There are four types of people. There are those who are constantly complaining and grumbling. Have you met any of these folks? I mean, they can brighten up a room just by leaving it. That’s the lowest level. Then there are others who live lives of ingratitude. They don’t complain, but they never thank God for His obvious blessings. That’s a little better, but not much better. Then there are people who thank God for obvious blessings. When something good happens, they’re grateful. That’s a better level. But the highest level is to be grateful for all things at all times. That is the secret of a happy and productive life.

Bow before the Lord and begin to think about difficult circumstances you’re facing. Now, thank Him for each one.

Adrian Rogers

November 20, 2011

Rejoice Always

Live in peace with each other. And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else. Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil. May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.

1 Thessalonians 5:13-23

Rejoice always.  Just what exactly does that mean?  Does it mean to rejoice the birth of a baby?  Yes.  Does it mean to rejoice when you receive a bonus check from work?  Yes.  Does it mean to rejoice when a prayer request has been answered?  Yes.  Does it mean to rejoice when someone has gossiped about you and hurt you?  Yes.  WHAT?!?!  God wants me to rejoice when I am hurting and someone has done me wrong?  ABSOLTELY!!

What a strange way of thinking in a world full of selfish people.  The thoughts of even having to find any kind of joy in our times of hurting are completely ridiculous.  Is it ridiculous?

We are told to rejoice always and give thanks in ALL circumstances.  Whether good or bad the above passage says, “For this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus”. Read that again.  Not only the good but also the bad as well are both part of God’s will for our lives when we are a child of God.

Made me stop and think when I read that verse again.  I have read this passage over many times. I can check it off my list as one that I have memorized but it was not until this morning that it all sunk in and the blindfold was removed from my eyes.

Everything event, every moment of joy, every storm and every trial are part of God’s will for my life.  He is able to take every aspect of my life and work it out according to His purpose and plan and He does so in order to bring glory to Himself.  Is that not amazing?  He allows us to make our own stupid choices and even mess up in major ways and then He is able to turn every one of our mistakes into something that brings Him glory.  WOW!

I have had people tell me that they feel incredibly sorry for what I (as well as my children) have had to go through.  They have “cursed” the presence of certain people in my life.  Let me say this…I am so incredibly THANKFUL for every person and every event that has transpired in my life over the past two years.  Do not feel sorry for me but instead rejoice with me at the work that God is doing in my life.  It is amazing!  I know it is difficult for many to see the awesome work that He is doing because you are unable to witness every event with me and only hear things through the “grapevine” but trust me when I say, I would NOT change a thing. 

I heard a sermon this morning that spoke of God allowing us to sin and make our own choices for a reason.  For those of us who are careless and often act before we think or speak, we end up making some pretty dumb moves.  I am thankful for a God who gives me those choices and does not treat me like a puppet.  He allows us those choices in order to draw us back to Him.  In order for us to become broken and realize our great need for Him in our lives we must fall sometimes.  God knows what He is doing.  His plans are perfect and are not to cause us harm.  That is what I have learned and that is what I am experiencing.

So to all my blog followers, rejoice with me!  Give thanks for every event that has transpired over the past two years because God is GOOD and He is up to something AMAZING!!!