December 21, 2012

Faith vs Belief


What is the difference between belief and faith? For many it is a question that causes struggles within their belief system.  When exploring this question, one may be led to rethink their faith and realizing that belief and faith are not the same thing.
When breaking down the differences between belief and faith, there is a distinct difference. What is belief?  It is a principle, an idea that is accepted as true; an opinion or conviction; a religious faith; trust or confidence.  What is faith?  It is the confident assurance in the character and nature of God; a strong or unshakable belief in something, without proof or evidence.

By turning to the book of Daniel in the Old Testament you can begin finding some answers when reading an amazing story about three men, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who were thrown into a blazing furnace because they would not worship a false god.  There are two clear verses that shed light on the difference between belief and faith.

If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us[c] from Your Majesty’s hand. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”
Daniel 3:17-18

This passage allows us to break down the difference between belief and faith. In verse 17, the men declare that even if they are thrown into the furnace, that God IS ABLE to deliver them from it as well as deliver them from the King.  Those are strong and powerful words.  They state that God is able.  They do not say that God will but instead if He so chooses, then He will.  They believe in God.  They believe in the power of God.  They believe He can deliver them from King Nebuchadnezzar. This was their belief.

Now comes the moment when faith steps in as they proclaim that even if God does not deliver them, they still would not worship or serve the King’s god.  Their faith said that even if they were to perish, it still did not change that God is good because biblical faith is not placed in the outcome of a situation but instead in God.  This is so profound.  It is realizing that every battle belongs to the Lord and He controls the outcome.  Faith says that God is good no matter the outcome of the situation.  It means believing that God can save the day and that He can work miracles. Faith says that following Him is not dependent on whether things work out to our benefit.  Faith says that we will follow Him no matter what.

There is also a great passage in Hebrews that speaks to faith.

“who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. 35Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. 36 Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were put to death by stoning;[a] they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated—38 the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.
 39 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promise.”
Hebrews 11:33-39

Reading through this passage there are great moments of faith in God when things are both good and bad.  Through faith there were those that conquered kingdoms, shut the mouths of lions, escaped the sword and much more but then there were those that were put into prison, stoned to death, tortured, were sawed in two and killed by the sword.  What a mix.  No matter how good or how bad, whether or not they received what had been promised to them, their faith was not shaken.  They chose to follow and obey God even when they could not see the outcome.  It was choosing to follow even when the outcome may not have been one that they would have chosen.  They each had a faith in the character and nature of God.

Faith is what pleases God. And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek him.” Hebrews 11:6.  Faith is not about all of our beliefs and convictions and those things are not what pleases God.  What pleases God is putting every ounce of trust and faith in Him even when the outcome is unknown, when we do not understand and may not get my way. 

In order to have that kind of faith, I must draw near to Him.  I have to pursue Him.  Come near to God and he will come near to you. James 4:8

So where do you find your faith?  Is it found in a belief system or it is found in Christ?







December 4, 2012

All Things New

Thank you to all those who have faithfully followed this blog over the past four years.  God has been so incredibly faithful and taken it all around the world.  I constantly find myself in awe of how He has used my stories to share His love and faithfulness with those who need to hear.

This blog was started at a time in my life when I was dealing with a lot of heartache and I was searching for answers to things that I did not know how to answer.  God used this blog in my own life to draw me closer to Him.  As I have gone back and read through my journey over the past four years, I find comfort in knowing that He never left my side and was always there leading me through the pain and confusion.

I hope to continue adding to this blog but for now, I have begun a new chapter in my life and to mark that new chapter, I have created a new blog.  God has blessed me with an amazing husband and as we begin our life together, I feel it is time to start something new.  It will be a blog that follows our life (and that of our family) together and the work that God will continue to do in our lives.  I hope you will continue to check in here but please visit my new blog All Things New.

Again thanks to all those who have faithfully followed and encouraged me throughout the past four years.  It has been a remarkable journey.


November 28, 2012

Daughter of a King

My life has never reflected this more than it does now. By the grace and unending love of my heavenly Daddy I have a life I never thought possible.  A friend once told me that in the end everything would be ok. It was hard to believe especially with everything I have gone through but wow, just wow...God has and is truly blessing me so abundantly. Scripture tells us that when we go through trials and hard times, God will bless our obedience beyond what we could ever imagine. I am experiencing that blessing and am living daily in awe of His goodness. I am the daughter of a King!


November 27, 2012

Taking Responsibility
-Henry Blackaby

Then the man said, "The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate." (Genesis 3:12)

Adam and Eve did everything they could to avoid taking responsibility for their sin. Adam blamed his wife: “She gave me of the tree.” He even pointed an accusing finger at God, saying it was “the woman, whom You gave me.” Eve blamed the serpent saying: “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” God ignored their excuses and announced the judgment they would face as consequences for their disobedience.

One of the dirges of mankind is that we refuse to take responsibility for our actions. We want to blame others for our problems: Our parents did not raise us well; our friends let us down; our pastor was not a good enough preacher; our children are rebellious; our employer is not sensitive enough; our spouse is not understanding; there is not enough time in the day . . . the excuses are plentiful! Yet forgiveness and restoration cannot happen until we accept full responsibility for our actions. An obvious indication that we have not genuinely repented is that we make excuses for our sinful behavior.

Nowhere in Scripture does God excuse one person’s sin because of someone else’s actions. If we make a habit of blaming others for our failures, we will not reach a point of honest repentance. God will hold us accountable for our own actions, not others (2 Cor. 5:10). Strive always to acknowledge and take responsibility for your own sins. It will free you to receive God’s forgiveness and to press on to spiritual maturity.

November 7, 2012

One man and a white house

2 Chronicles 7:14

"Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land."

Yes it's going to be another sad four years but my thinking is that it would have been sad no matter who won.   No one man living in a white house can change what is wrong with our country. It is going to require the change of a nation. A change of hearts. It is going to take a nation of people who finally fall upon their knees humbled before the Lord before we see change.

We are a self-centered and sinful nation now wandering the wilderness doing our own thing. Because God is a God of free will, He has given us what we have asked for...a country without Him and we are now suffering those consequences. Reaping what we've sown if you will.

Consider all of this a wake up call.  Stop with the "the world is over", Obama is the anti-Christ, I'm moving to another country drama and step up to the plate. If you claim to be a Christ follower then follow Him and be the example for those who don't.  Live and speak in such a way that those who don't know Him will know because of your life.

There is a spiritual battle taking place over our country and until we seek God's will instead of our own, we stop talking and start doing what is right, nothing will change. 

What's your next move going to be?

October 16, 2012

The hardest truths

As I was searching through things this morning I found this article. It speaks to the character of God.  He is not only just but He makes all things right and new.  No matter how much we have been wronged, God sets things right in His time. Knowing this allows peace  in our lives and the ability to move on when things are hard and hurtful.  God is our protector and defender and so He must be allowed room to move and work while we trust His goodness and choose to love our enemies.

How God Uses the Bible's Hardest Truths

Colin Smith

“They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord” 2 Thessalonians 2:9

To be shut out from God’s presence and from His power is to be without hope and without love forever. This is one of the hardest truths in the Bible. But here’s something I’ve discovered—the hardest truths can produce the most tender hearts. If you grasp this most difficult of doctrines, God will use it to soften your heart today.

To sustain your faith in a suffering world

“He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled... when the Lord Jesus is revealed.” 2 Thessalonians 1:6-7

If you’ve suffered at the hands of other people, or if someone you love has suffered at the hands of others, you will face with this question: Where is God in all this? How can I believe that God is loving and just when so often good people suffer and those who do evil prosper? This doctrine helps. It tells you that you haven’t yet seen the end of the story.

God says to suffering believers: “A day is coming when Jesus Christ will be revealed. Then you’ll see the full measure of My justice and the full measure of My love. Use this to sustain your faith in a suffering world.”

To restrain your desire to even the score

“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge... but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord.” Romans 12:18-19

Someone hurts you. Your immediate instinct will be to want to hurt them back. They brought you down, and you find a certain pleasure in bringing them down. How do you restrain the desire to even the score?

God will repay, so leave room for His wrath. You don’t need to take it into your hands when you know it is in His. You can leave it to Him.

On this foundation God says, "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head" (Romans 12:20). If you don’t believe this, you’ll always be trying to even the score.

To increase your compassion for people who harm you

“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” Matthew 5:44

Anyone who’s suffered at the hands of another person, as all of us have, will hear this and say, “Love him? Love her? How is that possible?”

If the person who harmed you was to see what they did and truly to repent, you might find it in your heart to forgive them. But if they just go on with no awareness of what they’ve done, or worse,they continue doing the same thing, it is very hard to have compassion.

Where do you begin in loving this enemy? The Bible’s teaching helps. Think about everlasting destruction in relation to the person who hurt you, and what it would mean to be shut out of the light and joy and hope and love of the Lord forever… You would not wish that on your worst enemy.

A deep grasp of this truth will help you to pray for those who’ve harmed you. Bitterness cannot survive long when you begin to pray, and you’ll be amazed at the way compassion sneaks in the back door of your heart.

October 11, 2012

Whispers His name


My life has not been one mountaintop experience after another.  I have found myself discouraged and depressed more often than I care to admit.  I have been tempted at times to question God’s goodness as well as His plan.  There have been moments where I have made a list of what I have done or given up for God while neglecting all the amazing things He has done for me.  I know it sounds terrible but at this point in my life, I am not going to hide the bad parts of me because I am just NOT “that good”. I did not get to this place in my walk because of anything that I have done.  I am here because He is good and He has done an amazing work in my life!

Throughout the course of my journey thus far, I have learned that God’s word finds me and meets me where I am.  Whether I am dealing with doubt or anxious thoughts or I am in the middle of an ugly spiritual battle, He finds me. Throughout the struggles of life, God wants to meet us. He wants to be the One that we turn to in time of need.  It is in those moments of life when we are feeling down and out that He wants to make Himself known.  If I have learned anything it is that the Bible is not just for the “strong” Christian.  It is not just for those who lead the perfect life.  God is not just for the happy people of this world.  When we lack hope and joy and we doubt His promises, He wants to reveal Himself to us but we must make the discovery.  The discovery requires work on our part.  When we doubt and question Him, we have to put forth the effort to seek Him.  He is there waiting.  His desire is to be the One that confirms His truth in our heart. It is just like a book where we are dying to know the ending. We have to pull that book down off the shelf and make the effort to read until the end in order to discover the outcome.  It is the same with God’s Word. We must make the choice to open up His book and grab hold of what He has to reveal to us.  Then as we put forth the effort and take the time to soak in His truth, a love and a trust for His word will grow. 

So now, back to the part where we can feel sorry for ourselves and question God. God understands our weakness.  He knows we are human but He does not allow for our distrust in Him.  The Bible is full of reminders of His love as well as all of the things that He has done for us.   It is chalked full of His promises of provision and faithfulness. It leaves no room for doubt. The Bible is also a story of how every attempt at man-made salvation has ended in failure. It is the story of how only the grace of God can redeem and save us.  Throughout the Bible, His word reveals that He is the only One that saves and that He alone delivers.  All of the truths written are not just for those throughout the Bible but they are truth for us as well. 

God wants to meet with you.  He wants you to taste His goodness.  Do not be afraid to pick up His book for fear of failure or look at it as a list of things we have to do. God does give us commands to follow but do not fall into the trap of conforming to an image set by people as to what a follower of Christ should look like. Instead of settling for a life of going through the motions of what we think God wants from us, get to know Him. Get to know your Creator.  Get to know the One who has done great and mighty things.  He sent His Son, Jesus, to die for us and every story throughout the Bible whispers the name of Jesus, our Champion.  He is the One who came to deliver us all from the heartache of this life.  Once we come to understand that truth, following and trusting God will bring joy to a life that just does not make sense otherwise.

  

September 18, 2012

False.Evidence.Appearing.Real

This posting may be hard for some to hear.  It was for me. Worry can consume us all at times.  What we fear most is typically what we value most.  If we value our children, typically we are fearful that something might happen to them.  That being said, whatever we fear the most, is where we trust God the least.  Ouch!
Worry is a matter of perspective.  What we worry about are those things that we tend to say God cannot take care of right now.  We do not trust Him enough to hand over those things that we worry most about because truthfully, we feel, we need to be in complete control of those things. It is not true.  It is a lie.  The enemy does not want us to turn those things over to God because the longer we hold tight to whatever it is that has us worried or afraid, the longer we keep God from having the control from doing just what it is He has planned.

Paul tells us in Philippians to Rejoice in the Lord…because the Lord is near.   God holds all things together.  We do not have to worry, be anxious or fearful when we know who ultimately is in control.  We do not have to worry about the how when we have the Who in our life.  At times, we feel like our lives are lacking certain things.  We want to be married or to have children and it just is not happening.  We ask why.  We worry about the when.  Our life becomes consumed with anxious feelings and we lose sight of just Who it is that is in charge of it all.  He has a plan!  It may not be the plan that we want but He has a purpose for the why.  He is just waiting for us to turn every piece of it over to Him.  It is only then that He can begin to do His work.  When we finally reach a place where we can say we trust Him, let go of the worry and seek His face then our perspective will change. We begin to trust God with those things that we cannot do and we will begin to see Him do amazing things we never knew possible. 

What are you worried about?  What has you afraid?  What are holding too tightly to that you need to let go?  I promise you, the tighter your grip, the longer you are going to wait.  He has a plan.  Something amazing He wants to do but your fear is keeping Him from accomplishing His work.  Let it go!!   He is faithful!

Trust in the Lord and do good.
    Then you will live safely in the land and prosper.
Take delight in the Lord,
    and he will give you your heart’s desires.
Commit everything you do to the Lord.
    Trust him, and he will help you.

Psalm 37:3-5

September 17, 2012

YOU ARE GOOD!



September 17, 2012.  I turned 37 years old today and believe that I did in fact celebrate the most amazing year of my life.  I believe that this birthday served as the official start to a new chapter in my life.  My life has forever been changed by a series of circumstances that unless you are me, you will never understand. 

On September 18, 2009, I received a letter in the mail that changed my life forever.  It caused me to doubt my faith, to question God, give up on my marriage and turn inward.  I became depressed and withdrawn because everything I ever knew to be true changed in an instant. 

Fast forward to September 17, 2010.  I had made it through one of the darkest years of my life.  There were days that I truly believed that I would never see the sun again.  Then, I found Journey.  This is the church that saved me and turned my world upside down.  This church introduced me to a God I had never known. I finally found hope.  I understood who Christ was in my life.  I finally realized that I mattered.  I had begun a part time job in which after twelve years of being a stay at home mom full time, I received my first paycheck and knew, I CAN do this.  To celebrate my 35th birthday, I took my children to The Cheesecake Factory.  Things were still hard but I had found hope in Christ.  The healing had begun.

Move ahead now to September 17, 2011 in which I was now at place where I was free from my past and moving toward my future.  God was healing my heart and restoring all that had been broken.  I had finally found a place to live where someone was willing to give me a chance even though my credit had been destroyed.  God was working.  He was moving.  There was hope all around.  I celebrated my 36th birthday with my children at home.  It was not drama free but it was good.  I had hope.

And here we are on September 17,  2012. The celebration today was not one I would have ever thought possible.  It was truly the most incredible birthday ever.  There were no extravagant presents. No fusses made but instead genuine love shown from people who truly love me and know me.  People who have watched me go through incredible heartache and come out on the other side stronger.   This past year has been amazing.  I became a part of a church plant just when I needed it the most.  God brought someone back into my life. He has given us something special that words cannot describe. It has been a truly remarkable year.  It is one I will never forget.  This day was perfect.

I do not know what tomorrow holds but I do know this…God truly gives us the desires of our heart when we seek and trust Him.  He heals the brokenhearted!  He gives beauty for ashes!  He is beyond faithful and has blessed me more than I deserve.  Thank you God for giving me another year of life and for more than making up for the many years lost.  YOU ARE GOOD!

Real Success


Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.
Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.  
Philippians 2:2-5


Success is what the world chases after but truly never finds.  Everyone wants their moment of fame and to be loved by all.  That is how the world views success.  Empty living is what I call it.  I heard John Maxwell once say “success is when those who know you best, love and respect you most.”  To me, that is real success.  Again, it comes back to perspective and what you see as being important. 

How you think determines what you become.  If you want to be rich, chances are you will become greedy in order to get there.  If you want to be powerful, chances are you will take down anyone you have to in order to accomplish your agenda to get that power.  Your thoughts lead to your actions and ultimately those actions will determine who you are.  It is about your attitude.  It is about your true character. It is a mind set. Those who think like Jesus thought typically live a life as He lived.  If we want to please God then we choose to walk like His son.  Pleasing God is not about self-promotion but instead self-abandonment.  It is understanding that our life is not our own when we have chosen to follow Christ.  It is realizing that “serving is not what I do but instead a servant is who I am.”  We cannot serve when we are focused on pursuing the world’s idea of success.

Everyone goes through some form of heartache and pain in life.  It serves a purpose.  It is an event that has happened so that the gospel can be enhanced.  These events happen so that our faith may grow and our joy increase as we experience the abundance of grace and joy that comes from living as Christ lived.  Joy should not be based on what happens to us but instead what God is doing in and through us.  That is when you will find the most joy and be most content.  

September 16, 2012

Tis Gar Plen? (Greek:So What?)


Perspective is an interesting thing.  The thing about perspective is that you and I will never view things in the same way because perspective is determined by what we see.  Just as I have never walked in your shoes, you have never walked in mine which means that when an event arises in life, you are not properly equipped to make choices or decisions for me as you have not been where I have been.  The same would serve true looked at the other way.  We can share our thoughts with one another but in the end, that is all it amounts to, our thoughts. 

We all have “whats” that happen in our life where we are left wondering the "whys" of it all.  The storm ripped the roof right off of my house, I have no money to pay for the damages and I just do not understand why.  We all experience those moments. We just wish we could understand the whys of it all.

Throughout the years, I‘ve learned that understanding the whys are not important as long as I trust God with "the what" of it all.  Realizing that whatever is taking place right now has a purpose. God always has a why behind the what and though I may not understand the why, I can trust God completely with my what and ask "now what?" What do you want me to learn from this?  When obstacles appear in my path I see them as divine opportunities, in which God will show Himself not just to me but to those around me as well.  When the setbacks come, I see them as setups for God to be glorified in my life.  God wants to use me to make a difference.  The (spiritual) prison in which I lived for many years has now become my pulpit.  The misery that I suffered is now being turned into my ministry. God has a plan.  No matter how horrible or evil the circumstances that surround us, whatever Satan intended for harm, God will use for His glory and it will be made right. It is all about perspective. It is a mind shift.

So when life throws a curve ball, instead of freaking out about it, you can say “SO what! (Tis Gar Plen!)”  (Philippians 1:12-18)  What does it matter? In the end, whatever crap we are dealt, we can be certain God has a purpose.  He has a plan.  He is in control.  In the end, everything is going to be ok!

September 14, 2012

Curve Balls


Life is good.  I could not be happier.  August was definitely my month.  In a matter of a two-week span, I had three different job offers and a proposal.  I accepted a new job and said a big ol' yes to that proposal.  God has most definitely blessed me.  

It is amazing to see God work.  To feel His presence and experience His blessing.  I have been through a lot over the past couple of years but now I am experiencing the other side of that trial.  I am living out the abundance of His grace and the joy of living under His faithfulness.

A couple of weeks ago I received an email from someone I had not heard from in a very long time.  The email was rigid and cold, sad really.  I did not see it coming.  I was not prepared for the battle it would cause but as I realized the timing of it all, I became aware of what was happening.  It came right after my job offers and my proposal. A time when I was on top of  the mountain singing and praising God for His faithfulness.  It was a time when my faith was strong but then suddenly BAM, the enemy tried to knock me down.  He was trying hard to discourage me.  He was trying to keep me from experiencing the joy that had overtaken my life. His feeble attempts were almost successful until I spent some one on one time with the One who holds my life in His hands. What the enemy used to try to discourage in turn caused my faith to grow even more. 

It takes a lot to reach a place of assurance in God's love.  I could go on and on about how much I love Him but truth be told, it could never come close to the love He has for me.  I am saddened for those who lack the knowledge of His grace and who fail to understand the love He has for us. I am saddened for those who have unresolved issues in their life and instead of dealing with it head on, project the guilt of their own issues, whatever they may be, on to others in order to hide.  It is a life lived in chains.  I know because I was once there. It is a sad and lonely existence but it just does not have to be that way. 

Life is good.  I am blessed.  I have an awesome God, amazing kids, a fiancĂ© who loves me with a love I have never known,  a church family like I've never experienced, a home that in my eyes is my perfect home and a job I adore.  I could not be any happier and I want that for everyone.  Life is not perfect by any means but because the Creator of this universe has lavished His love upon me, I am beyond content.   

Safe in someones mouth?

Love Is...
By Suzie Eller

"No longer will they call you Deserted, or name your land Desolate. But you will be called Hephzibah, and your land Beulah; for the Lord will take delight in you ..." Isaiah 62:4a (NIV)

Several children were asked to define love. One said that love was when her mother was pregnant and her daddy painted her mother's toenails. Another said that love was when her daddy walked in after work smelly and sweaty and her mom said he looked handsome.

But one child said this, "I think that love is when your name is safe in someone's mouth."

Makes me think about Candy. One day she showed up at school. Her morning was like every other. She got up early, fixed her siblings breakfast, and got them all out the door to school. She had picked up her jeans off the floor and put them on in a hurry. Candy's mother was addicted, and her daddy wasn't in the picture, and sometimes laundry just didn't get done.

She arrived at school and a mother of one of the students confronted her, asking, "Why are you always so dirty?"

All she could do was bow her head in shame. There was no way she could share her secrets with this condemning woman.

In Isaiah 62, a nation was marked by shame. Through the prophet Isaiah, God let the nation know that He was willing to come down into the trenches beside them. Yes, He saw their situation, but He also saw them for who they were to Him.

Shame can teach us many lessons, like:

Stay low.

What you have to offer isn't enough.

Keep your secrets to yourself.

But when God marks your life, there are new words to redefine you, like: Beloved. Mine. Beautifully and wonderfully created.

As a teen Candy became a Christian. She knew little about faith, but what she did know is that for the first time in her life her name was safe in Someone's mouth.

As time passed Candy handed her shame to a Heavenly Father who took it willingly because each of us is precious to Him, and shame was never a burden God desired that we bear.

Perhaps you, like Candy, define yourself through the words of someone else. Or see yourself through the past. Or the actions of someone who was supposed to love you and failed.

When shame encounters the love of God, something powerful takes place. That love lifts the receiver up and over shame to a place of value set apart by God. Your burden is shifted to God's broad shoulders and He is now free to complete the "good work began in you" (Philippians 1:6).

As God's girl, shame has no place in your life or heart. Your name is safe in His mouth because you are beautiful. You are loved. You are His.

Dear Lord, that past incident or those words from the past, they do not define me. Your words and Your love define me. From this day forward I choose to see myself as You do. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

September 6, 2012

He brings us rest

So incredibly beautiful and full of truth.

“Believer, you are not exempt from trials, but you have sufficient grace for any trouble. God’s choicest love letters are sent in black-edged envelopes. The envelope frightens us, but if we know how to break the seal we will find riches for our soul. Great trials are the clouds from which God showers great mercies. Frequently, when the Lord has an extraordinary mercy to send, He employs His rough and grizzle horses to drag it to our door. The smooth rivers of ease are usually navigated by little vessels filled with common commodities, but a huge ship loaded with treasure crosses deep seas…in all things pray. Prayer is the universal remedy subduing every disease. Prayer unlocks the treasure of God…prayer extinguishes the violence of flames and closes the mouths of lions. Prayer overcomes heaven and bends omnipotence to its will. Just pray, believer, and, in the name of the Well-Beloved, answers of peace must be given.” In the words of Jesus, “Come unto me and I will give you rest.”

Charles H. Spurgeon

August 22, 2012

It's going to be Okay!


“I said to the man who stood at the Gate of the Year,
‘Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.’
And he replied, "Go out into the darkness, and put your hand into the hand of God.
That shall be to you better than light, and safer than a known way.”
by Minnie Louise Haskins

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy.

A friend painted the above picture for me a few years ago.  At the time, I did not believe anything was ever going to be ok again, but guess what?  He was right.  Things are looking brighter. 
We all struggle.  We all suffer.  There are periods of darkness in everyone’s life at one time or another but in the end, it's OK. I think of the verse in Job that says, "But he knows where I am going.
    And when he tests me, I will come out as pure as gold." (23:10)
We go through the fire.  God places us there.  He knows where we are headed and He knows where we will end up.  I have come to learn that the world remains a dark place as long as He is refining me.  As long as there are changes to be made in my life, there is suffering I must endure but as I grow closer to being where He wants me, the light begins to appear and things begin to be okay. That is where I am now.  I have been through a lot but I did not give up.  I did not lose heart and I did not lose my faith!  And now, I can see the sunrise.
You may not be able to see it yet but I promise you it is coming!  I promise you that the best is yet to be.
As we are dealing with our struggles, we should keep in mind that there are reasons that we are called to suffer.
We suffer because:
·       God wants to show us how much we want what He wants. "For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow." James 1:3 
·       God wants us to be a comfort to one another. "Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you. Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer." 2 Corinthians 1:6
·       We are then able to point others to how truly amazing God is.  "But it is no shame to suffer for being a Christian. Praise God for the privilege of being called by his name!" 1 Peter 4:16
·       It causes our faith to grow stronger. "In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation." 1 Peter 5:10
·       It motivates us to follow Him. "Even though Jesus was God’s Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered." Hebrews 5:8
·       It allows us to identify with Jesus a bit more. "I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death." Philippians 3:10
·       Others will see a life lived out in faith and will be compelled to follow us to Jesus. "So I am willing to endure anything if it will bring salvation and eternal glory in Christ Jesus to those God has chosen." 2 Timothy 2:10
·       We are made an example of what a life entrusted to God looks like "And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them". Romans 8:28
·       It trains us to go to God first for help. "When I was prosperous, I said,
    “Nothing can stop me now!”
Your favor, O Lord, made me as secure as a mountain.

    Then you turned away from me, and I was shattered." Psalm 30:6-7


When we find ourselves in the midst of suffering, we only need to willingly put our hand in God’s hand and walk with Him into whatever He allows or has planned.  No matter the reason we suffer, we must choose to walk by faith and not by sight.  It means we embrace God’s sovereignty.  We recognize that He sees the end from the beginning and all the spaces in between.  He sees the entire path that our life will take through the deepest valleys all the way to the highest mountaintops. And as we trust Him and walk His path, we will encounter a life so full of joy and a life few ever truly experience.   

August 14, 2012

The Launch


I have not posted anything is what feels like forever.  Life is moving at such a fast pace and so many exciting things are happening.  God is truly moving in my life and I have never been more aware of His presence.  God is moving and He is here!!!

This Sunday is the official launch of the church plant that I became a part of six months ago.  I have been given the amazing privilege alongside my best friend and the love of my life not to mention my children to be a part of something that will grow God’s kingdom.  I finally have a family.  I have a church family and it is something that I have not known in a very long time.  My children have a family.  They are witnessing firsthand what it truly means to be part of a church family. Together we are watching God create something amazing out of a group of ordinary people each with their own story to tell.  My kids have witnessed God move in the life of their mom and have witnessed firsthand God using their mom to share His love with those who do not know Him.  God is blessing me with the unbelievable opportunity of living this out with my children.
Our church family


I spent years as a stay at home mom.  I always knew there was more for me but I was part of a group that told me that if I worked outside of the home, I was neglecting my mission field (my children).  I was depressed and knew something in my life was missing.  I have now discovered that I was missing the opportunity to share God with other people.  I was missing the opportunity to share my faith. Over the past year, I have had the opportunity to work and I have loved every moment.  I love my job.  I love the people but most of all I LOVE the opportunity I have to share my faith with those I encounter every day.  To me, there is no greater example for my children than to see their mom live out her faith in front of them.  It is incredible.  God has blessed my work and opened many doors for me.  It is such an exciting time in my life. I just cannot explain the joy.  

All this time He has been preparing me for this very moment in my life.  He knew the hard road I would travel and the pain I would endure but He has used every second of it all to prepare me and to grow my faith in Him so that I could be my best for Him.  After years of heartache and abuse, God has taken the ashes of my life and turned them into something beautiful and I cannot get over it.   I know this mountaintop will not last forever and eventually there will be trials again, but how thankful am I that God’s hand is upon my life right now?!?!?!  He has chosen ME and He is using me in a way that brings Him glory!!!  I am so undeserving but so extraordinarily thankful!

July 28, 2012

Martin Luther wrote, “And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us, we will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us. The prince of darkness grim, we tremble not for him; His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure. One little word shall fell him.”

July 26, 2012

Perseverance and patience

I'm learning to wait on His timing as He's teaching me to have patience in all circumstances. With that comes great peace as I wait for His plan to unfold. God is good!!

The Power of Patience
-Charles Stanley

Hebrews 6:9-15

Picture yourself waiting in a checkout line that hasn’t moved for ten minutes. Many of us would feel frustrated. We live in a generation that expects instant results.

Everyone struggles with some degree of impatience. We’re born with this trait—think about a three-month-old who wants milk in the middle of the night. The inborn reaction is to fuss at the first hint of discomfort and to keep at it until the need is met.
Patterns from our old “flesh” nature make this a continual battle for most people, but one that is very worthwhile to fight.

Let’s consider the biblical definition of patience. It can mean both longsufferingand perseverance, or not giving up and yielding under pressure. In either case, it reveals itself when we are willing to wait without frustration while suffering or experiencing some strong desire. In other words, we accept difficult situations without giving God deadlines. What’s more, patience means accepting what the Lord gives, on His timetable—or what He chooses not to give. This quality results in inner peace and lack of stress. Meanwhile, we should pray, obey, and persist as we seek God’s direction.

The danger of impatience is that we might miss the Lord’s perfect plan and His blessing. Only when we trust our Father’s will and timing can we rest peacefully.

What causes you stress? Carefully examine whether you are taking matters into your own hands or releasing the circumstance to almighty God. Listen to Psalm 37:7, which says, “Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him.” Seek His way and His timing. Anything else can be destructive.

Needed this reminder today. Thankful that God knows and sees all things.

Matthew 18:1-7 The Message

At about the same time, the disciples came to Jesus asking, "Who gets the highest rank in God's kingdom?"

For an answer Jesus called over a child, whom he stood in the middle of the room, and said, "I'm telling you, once and for all, that unless you return to square one and start over like children, you're not even going to get a look at the kingdom, let alone get in. Whoever becomes simple and elemental again, like this child, will rank high in God's kingdom. What's more, when you receive the childlike on my account, it's the same as receiving me.
But if you give them a hard time, bullying or taking advantage of their simple trust, you'll soon wish you hadn't. You'd be better off dropped in the middle of the lake with a millstone around your neck. Doom to the world for giving these God-believing children a hard time! Hard times are inevitable, but you don't have to make it worse—and it's doomsday to you if you do.

July 11, 2012

The two loves of my life and five special blessings


In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.
Ephesians 1:7-8

Sin can forever change the journey our life takes if we do not understand God’s forgiveness and grace.  At fifteen, I committed a sin that forever changed my journey and sent me on a path of self-destruction that lasted until I was in my thirties.  I realize now at thirty-six, my self-destruction came as a result of not fully understanding what forgiveness in Christ truly meant but through God’s grace and mercy, He has shown me great things and I now have an understanding of His character that has changed my life. 

uh
I lived for many years unhappy and unsatisfied.  With each purchase of a new toy, new home, new car or new outfit, I just knew I had found sheer happiness and joy.  I knew all my dreams had come true and the sky would stay sunny forever.  I was wrong.  Within days and sometimes-mere minutes, the feeling of happiness would vanish and I was back to feeling empty.  I wanted so much more from life but because of sin that had settled deep within my life, I could not attain the relationship that I truly wanted with God.  Now at the time, this was not something that I recognized.  You see I did all the right things according to “church standards.”  I attended church and bible studies.  I participated in various ministries and served when called.  From the outside, I had it all together.  I even believed I was doing all the “right things” but there was still such a void within my life.  It took that day of destruction for the truth to begin to surface. 

Sin does that.  We become blind and numb to what truly matters.  We want to hear from God and we even plead with Him for a sign of His presence but we cannot find it.  It is not because He is not there; it is because our sin serves as a barrier that separates.  Now I will not divulge the sins of my teenage years right now but those sins shaped me into a person that was very insecure and naive.  Satan used those characteristics within me to speak lies into my heart that kept me from trusting the promises of God. I was easily manipulated and trusted the wrong things.  I placed my faith and hope in people instead of God.  I began to justify the choices I had made as a teenager and rationalized within myself that I could make it all up to God by getting my life together as an adult.  I have now learned that it just does not work that way.  It took such a long time to get here but now that I am…OH MY GOSH!!  There is such FREEDOM!!

Back to sin and forgiveness.  Here is the truth that changed my life and brought me tremendous FREEDOM!  Forgiveness is complete even when confession isn’t!  There is it!  That simple truth changed my life.  The thing is though that I did not just hear that truth one day and got it.  Nope!  I did not have anyone to share that simple fact with me but instead, God used the past few years to teach this truth to my heart.  You see throughout my life I believed each time I committed a sin that I lost the love of God and had to start all over again.  I believed that I had to do certain things and live a perfect life in order for God to love and bless me.  I made His love conditional.  I have learned it is not that way at all.  That was just another lie of the enemy to keep me from God.  I had to learn that when I came to Christ, He forgave all the sins of my life committed in my past as well as my future.  I learned that I do not have to confess the sins of my past all over again and I do not need to fear that God will reject me if I do not keep my slate perfectly clean.  Jesus died on the cross so that all my sins were forgiven once and for all…forever.  I learned that my relationship with Christ is secure forever!  However, I had to come to understand that my lack of confession is what hindered my relationship with God. When I sinned, I was still forgiven.  God still loved me. It was my lack of understanding repentance and confession that kept me from experiencing His amazing freedom. Throughout my life, God still worked and blessed me.  Though I had wandered off His path for my life at the age of fifteen, He still gave me health and five healthy and beautiful children.  He protected my children and me and He still continues to do so. He was always right there with me though I was not fully aware of how to access Him. Those years spent on my own path were years filled with unhappiness and emptiness but those were consequences suffered from choosing my own way.  It has been heartbreaking but life changing as I have experienced God work out such bad things into such great things for His glory. 

Last year I became single again.  My prayer over the past few years has been that God heal my heart and make it a heart that longs only after Him.  My prayer was also that if it was God’s will for me to ever be in relationship with anyone, that He send me someone that loves Him as much I do.  Pure and simple, I want someone in my life who longs to walk with God as much as I do. I believe He has answered that prayer. That story in and of itself is one that I cannot wait to tell someday and is a story full of sin, grace, mercy, love and forgiveness as well as answered prayers and God has placed that person in my life.  The person God brought into my life happens to be a person that I would not have expected but through a set of circumstances that could have only been set into motion by the One who controls the Universe, it happened.  I spent a year falling in love with God.  I spent a year allowing Him to penetrate my life and put my broken heart back together and in return He has blessed me with an incredible man.  Now this man has his own history but he is someone who has found and experienced forgiveness and grace as I have and has forever been changed.  We both walked away from our past changed.  We both walked away from our sinful past and found a forgiveness and love that we now understand and want to share, together.  It is amazing.

I have never been this happy.  My life according to the world is not perfect but in a world where God is in control, it is perfect because of His love and blessing.  Everything in my life has changed.  I live a simple life now.  A life spent experiencing “family” and understanding the purpose of why I am here on this earth.   God has given me the amazing blessing of walking hand in hand with my best friend as we serve and love Him together.  We are taking this journey together and together we are living out God’s design for what a healthy relationship should be in front of my children.  We are worshiping and ministering side by side.  God knew the longings of my heart and He has fulfilled each one of those longings.  I feel so undeserving but I am learning that God is faithful. He is not faithful because of what we do and do not do but instead He knows our heart and our true character and He rewards and blesses accordingly. 

I do not know where you stand today in your life or what trials you might be facing but I do know this….God is faithful.  He is full of love and forgiveness.  He longs to bless us and to fulfill our deepest desires and longings but we have to walk toward Him.  We have to find our way out of the dark and choose to tune out the lies that Satan would whisper into our ear.  (Be aware that those lies can come from anywhere. Satan can use friends, family and even pastors as a way to make us doubt God’s voice.  Satan used Peter to try to cause Jesus to doubt. Matthew 16:21-23) We must always be on guard but most importantly, we much know God and His character.   Once we understand who He is and the way in which He loves us and the freedom and happiness He brings into our lives, we will experience more than those without Him will ever be able to comprehend and it will make us want to shout from the rooftops…How great is our God!!

July 8, 2012

Hurt people, hurt people

Pastor Jimmy often says that hurt people, hurt people. That statement could not be more true but after a while it becomes a choice. After being hurt we choose to either move on and allow our hearts to heal or we become engulfed in bitterness and hurt other people. Often you find that people choose the latter. They choose to crush the spirit of others by hurting the way in which they hurt.

Personally, that is not the way in which I want to live. I've been on the receiving end of that kind of punishment from a hurt person and I can tell you that the hurt I experienced from them cannot touch the poison of bitterness that surrounds them. You see I had my heart broken and my dreams shattered but I survived. I turned to the only One who could heal my broken heart and fell deeply in love with Him allowing Him to reshape not just my life but my heart.
I have been through a lot but I have watched God turn horribly painful things into such amazingly great things. Because He healed my heart and put my life back together there is no room in my life for the cancer of bitterness to eat away at my soul.

There is definitely a way to find healing and there is absolutely a way to finding true love with another but both require falling in love with the only source of true joy and contentment in this life.

I found this article this morning. It offers some helpful advice in the process of recovering from a broken heart.

How to Heal from a Broken Heart Whitney Hopler

When a romantic partner breaks up with you, the heartache can be so strong that it feels like it will never end. But the good news is that the pain will gradually subside when you follow biblical principles to fall out of love with your ex. In the process, you’ll fall more in love with God, whose love is stronger than any human being can give you.

Here’s how you can heal from a broken heart:

Change your feelings through changing your thoughts. You can overcome the negative emotions (such as grief, loneliness, rejection, anger, bitterness, guilt, and jealousy) that may be tormenting you right now if you follow the Bible’s advice to renew your mind. Keep in mind that God sometimes allows people to experience troubling emotions to motivate them to change their thoughts, which lead to their actions and shape the course of their lives. Pray specifically about each of the negative emotions you’re feeling, asking God to show you what specific thoughts in your mind are causing you to feel that way. Then honestly evaluate the thoughts you’ve identified, to determine whether or not they reflect biblical truth. Any thought patterns that don’t line up with God’s principles are unhealthy for you, so you should change them. For example, if you see that some troubling emotions you feel are being caused by bitterness toward your ex, the Bible says to get rid of bitterness, so you should change bitter thought patterns. You can do this by refusing to dwell on unhealthy thoughts that enter your mind and then praying about them, asking the Holy Spirit to help you shift your focus to something positive that reflects biblical truth. Memorizing key Bible verses that relate to the thought patterns you want to change can also help, since the Holy Spirit will bring those memorized verses to the forefront of your mind when you pray. The more your thought patterns change over time, the more your feelings will change as a result.

Turn to God alone for comfort. Don’t try to tranquilize your pain through alcohol or other drugs, rebound relationships with other people, eating, shopping, television, or anything else you think may comfort you. Instead, go directly to God for the help you need, since God is the only source that can truly help you.

Focus your devotion on God. God is the real love of your life. When you’re alone romantically, you don’t need to feel lonely, because God is always with you, and His presence is more than enough to make up for the loss of your ex’s company. If you spend as much time now thinking about your ex as you did when you all were together, you should drastically limit the amount of time you spend thinking about him or her and spend the extra time in prayer with God and meditating on what He says to you through the Bible. Use this time to the fullest to develop a closer love relationship with God. As you do, the He will comfort and heal you.

Derive your sense of security from your relationship with God. You never need to feel insecure because you don’t currently have a romantic partner, or because you’ve gone through a breakup that’s made you feel rejected. Keep in mind that your security is truly based in your relationship with God, who loves you completely and unconditionally.

Let go of regrets. Don’t allow yourself to be tormented by regrets about the past; doing so isn’t productive and will only interfere with your healing process. Ask God to help you shift your focus from the past to healing in the present and hope for the future.

Keep up with your daily responsibilities. No matter how you feel, don’t neglect your daily responsibilities, such as showing up at work on time. If you fulfill your responsibilities, you’ll fight back depression before it can gain a foothold in your life.

Serve other hurting people. The suffering you’re going through after your breakup is preparing you to comfort and encourage others who are suffering.  Ask God to alert you to the opportunities He brings into your life to help others with all you’ve learned from your own struggles. Then be faithful to respond to each opportunity by reaching out and helping them.

Avoid sinful responses to rejection. Choose not to respond to the sting of romantic rejection in a sinful way, such as with bitterness, angry wrath, complaining, slander, gossip, grudges, or revenge. Check your motives when thinking about your ex, and ask the Holy Spirit to direct you away from unhealthy thoughts and toward healthy ones. Pray for your ex when you think about him or her.

Choose kindness and forgiveness. Decide to love your ex as God wants you to love him or her. Treat your ex as you would like to be treated (with kindness). Obey God’s command to forgive your ex for however he or she has hurt you, relying on God’s help to make the choice and remain committed to that choice anytime afterward that you think about your ex.

Deal with your own sins against your ex. Make a list of the specific ways you’ve sinned against your ex, and then confess those sins to God and to your ex (in an appropriate way, as God leads you). Repent to God and ask your ex to forgive you.

Remove unnecessary reminders of your ex from your life. Let go of items that remind you of your former romantic relationship and make new associations with places that you and your ex used to visit together. Don’t let the fear of encountering your ex keep you from carrying on healthy activities (such as attending church and family gatherings) in your current life, however. Instead, trust God to help you gracefully deal with seeing your ex again if you encounter him or her.

Get rid of self-pity and embrace gratitude. Stop wasting time and energy feeling sorry for yourself, and instead develop a habit of noticing the blessings God brings into your life and thanking Him for them. The more you express your gratitude, the more you’ll become aware of abundant blessings in your life.

Turn your worries into prayers. Whenever a worrisome thought enters your mind, pray about it, trusting God to handle your concern in the best way possible.

Grow more content with your life. Trust God to give you what’s truly best for you, and delight yourself in your relationship with God (which will last forever) more than anyone of anything else that comes and goes.

Be patient. Over time, God will heal you completely from your heartache. You can rejoice in the knowledge that what you’re going through now will eventually produce godly character that will be valuable to you both in this life and in heaven.