Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Love Everyone



            With all the political talk going on right now my heart was so encouraged and corrected by my Bible reading today!


Titus 3:1-7
"Remind the believers to submit to the government and its officers. They should be obedient, always ready to do what is good. 2 They must not slander anyone and must avoid quarreling. Instead, they should be gentle and show true humility to everyone. 3 Once we, too, were foolish and disobedient. We were misled and became slaves to many lusts and pleasures. Our lives were full of evil and envy, and we hated each other. 4 But—When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, 5 he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit.[a] 6 He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior. 7 Because of his grace he declared us righteous and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life."


            We as believers are called to show humility to everyone... even the politicians! It doesn't say we have to agree with them, but we need to remember that we ourselves were once foolish and disobedient. We were also misled and slaves to many lusts and pleasures... BUT GOD! God saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done but because of his mercy! Instead of joining the bashing sessions about politicians and non-believers we should be on our knees praying for them, ALL of them! We are called to show true humility to EVERYONE not just those that we like or those that believe the same that we do!


1 Peter 3:8-9
"Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters.[a] Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude. 9 Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will grant you his blessing."


Matthew 5:43-48
“You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’[q] and hate your enemy. 44 But I say, love your enemies![r] Pray for those who persecute you! 45 In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. 46 If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. 47 If you are kind only to your friends,[s] how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. 48 But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect."

            We are called to love everyone; we are to be “Christ Like” and follow his example! His example showed that while we were still sinners he loved us so much that he sent his son to die on the cross for us! Just as God loved you before you loved him, he also loves every non-believer in this world! Who are we to pick and choose who should be loved? We are not called to judge the world, we are called to preach the gospel and show the world God’s love! Our lives should bring honor to God.

            Before someone accepts Christ’s salvation the only Bible they generally read is YOU! Does your life reflect how loving and amazing our Father is or does it paint a picture of a hateful and slandering God?

            We are called to be gracious and humble! Often when we get fired up about a topic we get all “gung-ho” and we can tend to go overboard! We stand outside institutions that are contrary to the word and picket, with signs telling people how wrong they are… but I don’t recall being instructed by my Bible to yell at unbelievers. No, I see that I am to love them so that all glory and honor will be given to God. It’s like the old saying that you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.

            No one wants to spend time with someone that constantly points out their flaws! It is God’s job to burn away the dross in the lives of his people not ours! Yes, he may use people to speak truth, but only when it is done out of love can it be effective!

Ephesians 4:29-32
”Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.
30 And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own,[e] guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption.
31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. 32 Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”

            Let your words build others up! Remember what your mom taught you “If you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all.” If you don’t agree with someone’s life choices, check it with the scriptures. If you find it is contrary to the scriptures your first step to pray for them! Then listen to what God wants you to do! Does he want you to lovingly correct them or does he want you to just love on them? One of the hardest things to remember is that non-believers don’t have the same “standard” they are to live up to! They have not met their amazing savior yet, they are not Christ followers… so don’t expect them to be!

            One final thought; God didn’t ask you to change before he loved you, likewise don’t expect others to change before you show them God’s love!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Faith through trials, a study of Ruth and 1 Peter - Part 1

     God put it on my heart to study the books of Ruth and 1 Peter side by side with my youth group; I myself have been so touched by the study that I feel the need to share it! The study will be broken into nine parts that I plan to post once a week; however I have to play catch up so I have both parts one and two that I will be posting this week. Afterward the youth and I will be going through the book of 2 Peter, I may share those studies as well if I feel they are relevant. I apologize now because these will be a little bit longer than my normal posts.

     I pray that God blesses you through these studies, and if you need prayer for anything that I touch on please reach out to me!

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Faith through trials, a study of Ruth and 1 Peter - Part 1:

Ruth 1:1-5 and 1 Peter 1:1-12

     Ruth: The central Point of Ruth is that even in times of crisis and despair, it is possible to live life according to the precepts of God and that God abundantly blesses those who do so.*

     1 Peter: The theme of 1 Peter is triumph through suffering. Early Christians lived in difficult times and often paid for their faith with their lives. But this letter shows us that following Christ is worth it, no matter what the price. God knows all that is occurring, and he is working out his perfect eternal plan. We must trust him and live with our eyes lifted up to heaven, realizing that our home is there, not here on earth.*

     Those are some pretty heavy themes, what similarities do you see between the two? Crisis, despair suffering and difficult times... I think we can all relate! It is a fact that we will face hard times in our lives. Why? Because as we see in John 10 the enemy comes to kill, steal and destroy our lives. None of us are exempt from challenging times, however, we can walk with the understanding that God is on our side and he has come that we may have an abundant life.

      Ruth 1:1-5 (NLT)
     In the days when the judges ruled in Israel, a severe famine came upon the land. So a man from Bethlehem in Judah left his home and went to live in the country of Moab, taking his wife and two sons with him. The man’s name was Elimelech, and his wife was Naomi. Their two sons were Mahlon and Kilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem in the land of Judah. And when they reached Moab, they settled there. Then Elimelech died, and Naomi was left with her two sons. The two sons married Moabite women. One married a woman named Orpah, and the other a woman named Ruth. But about ten years later, both Mahlon and Kilion died. This left Naomi alone, without her two sons or her husband.

     Can you imagine being Naomi at this point in her life? We meet Naomi at the lowest possible time in her life. She is in a foreign land, she has lost her husband, her two sons and on top of it she now has her two daughter's-in-law to care for. We see so many times in the Bible that we are to care for the widows, and there is good reason; a widow didn't have means to provide income for her family, and here we have three widows living in the same house. This is truly a dark time in the lives of these women!

     1 Peter 1:1-7 (NLT)
     This letter is from Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ.
I am writing to God’s chosen people who are living as foreigners in the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia.[a] God the Father knew you and chose you long ago, and his Spirit has made you holy. As a result, you have obeyed him and have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ.
May God give you more and more grace and peace.

     3 All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see.
So be truly glad.[b] There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.

     You are NOT alone! In verse 5 we see that "God is protecting you by his power..." it's not by your might or your understanding! God has got your back. He sees you right where you are, he sees the bills, he sees the depression, he sees the hurt and confusion; and I know it can be hard to remember at times but by HIS power He is protecting you! Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT) "For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope." God has a design for you life!

     In verse 6 Peter tells us to "be truly glad." Did you know that you have a choice? Even in the middle of a battle you can have peace and joy! "These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world." Wait... the trials are a good thing? How can that be?

     One of my favorite worship songs is Start a Fire by Among Thorns:

Start a fire in me,
Let the flames run free,
Burn away the dross,
Holy fire of God. (repeat)

Let it begin, let it be new,
Let me be used for Your sake,
Bringing glory to Your Name.
I can live knowing that You
Reside in my heart.
Oh Lord, You are the fire,
You're the fire of God.

     For me this song always brings me back to this section of scripture. Just as the verse says "These trials show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold..." the song speaks of burning away the dross. Dross according to Merriam Webster is "the scum that forms on the surface of molten metal." Gross "scum," seriously that is a harsh word! The Bible tells us that the trials or hard times we go through are used for the purpose of getting rid of the scum that hinders our faith from being genuine! That puts things into a new light doesn't it?

     So now we see that when we face trials it is an opportunity for the scum to be burned away! That is truly something to be glad about! When there is scum in our lives it hinders our relationship with God! This is why trails make your faith stronger; it gives you an opportunity to examine the state of your heart and deal with the scum.

     One of my all time favorite scriptures is found in James, and if you look back over my blogs you will see that I mention it many times. James 1:2-3 (NLT) "when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing." This section of scripture has been my life anthem. I, just like anyone have faced some pretty intense trials, and through them I have clung to this verse! In my own life I can see how much my faith has grown and how intimate my relationship with God has become through facing trials. If I could go back and change the past to avoid those trials you better believe I would NOT change a thing! Every trial I faced God was able to burn away more of the scum that hides inside my fleshly body! I'm not saying it is easy to walk through trials; what I AM saying, is that if you cling to the word of God and allow Him to do a work in you life you WILL make it through the storm! Not only will you make it through the storm but you will be a little less "scummy" than when you started!

     1 Peter 1:8-12
     You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls.
10 This salvation was something even the prophets wanted to know more about when they prophesied about this gracious salvation prepared for you. 11 They wondered what time or situation the Spirit of Christ within them was talking about when he told them in advance about Christ’s suffering and his great glory afterward.
12 They were told that their messages were not for themselves, but for you. And now this Good News has been announced to you by those who preached in the power of the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. It is all so wonderful that even the angels are eagerly watching these things happen.

      God prepared the way for you, He sent word through prophets to let you know that you have hope! God didn't just create you and then leave you to fend for yourself; no, he prepared the way for you. When Naomi was at this time of great sorrow in her life she didn't have what we today have. She didn't have the knowledge that Christ came from Heaven, walked this earth, died for our sins and rose again; but we do! We can rest assured that this earth is only our temporary home, and that these trials we are facing are only for a season! We have the knowledge that our inheritance is waiting for us in Heaven, and there is no trial that can take it away or change it! 1 Peter 1:3-5 "All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation..."

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      Father, I pray that you would touch every person that is struggling right now. I pray that you would show them that you are walking through this trail with them. Allow them to see the dross or scum that is being burned away. Give them a joy that is inexpressible and a peace that surpasses all understanding. I pray that you would remind them how much you love them. Shower them with your grace and mercy. Thank you father that we are never alone. Thank you that you have our back and we can trust in you; and thank you that we will make it through this storm. Amen!

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     Maybe you are struggling right now and as you read verses 8 and 9, you thought to yourself... "but I don't love him and I don't trust him" maybe you thought "I don't even know him." Maybe you, like the prophets want to know more about this gracious salvation that was prepared for you. If that is you, and you want to know God, if you want to have a personal relationship with him just pray this prayer. 

     Father, I believe you sent your son to die for my sins. Thank you for saving me through his sacrifice. I ask you to come and be a part of my life. I want a relationship with you. I ask you to begin burning away the scum that is in my life. Amen.

     It is NOT the prayer that saves you, it is the condition of your heart! If you believe Jesus is your personal Lord and Savior, and confess it with your mouth then you my friend are covered by Jesus' blood and you shall receive your inheritance in Heaven! This is an amazing day! I am so excited for you! I hope by everything you read above you will have figured this out, but if not I need to tell you... you are still going to face trials! I'm sorry but it's true, however, you now belong to the Creator of this Universe and you will no longer be walking through those trials alone! You also now belong to the body of Christ, that means you are part of the family... welcome! If you ever need prayer  or encouragement message me, I want to join with you in prayer and help build you up!

  

* Themes taken from the Women's Sanctuary Devotional Bible

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Do I want to be like my mother?

“I will never be like my mother!” I have heard that said so many times by so many people who were disappointed about all the mistakes their mother’s had made while they were growing up. My childhood was very painful at times and I gained a lot of scars from it. So I had to ask myself the question…  

Do I want to be like my mother?
Do I want to be strong when the world is falling around me?
Do I want to be an example of God’s love in my actions?
Do I want to build others up with my words?
Do I want to have authority when I pray?
Do I want to have compassion when it is not deserved?
Do I want to surrender everything I have to God when he asks?
Do I want to walk away when it is the hard decision?
Do I want to stay when God tells me to stay, even though I feel burnt out?
Do I want to be willing to admit when I am wrong?
Do I want to cling to God when life is suffocating?
Do I want to face the monsters rather than run from them?
Do I want to hold up others when they are falling?
Do I want to teach my children how to love like Christ?
Do I want to show what forgiveness means?
Do I want to be an example of walking by faith not by sight?
Do I want to be wise from learning God’s word?
Do I want to have the fruits of the spirit in my life?
Do I want to be like my mother?  

Yes, my mother made mistakes. Yes, there were dark times. Yes, she did the wrong things at times. But though it all I watched her cling to God’s promise that he has a plan for her life. I watched her hold fast to the things of God. I watched as she surrendered all her dreams and walked away from everything she had been holding onto. I watched her live out a life that would have crushed anyone. My mother is the personification of Job’s walk with God. I know that my heavenly Father looks down on my mother and says “well done good and faithful servant.”

I love my mother with all my heart and I am so blessed that God chose to place me in her care! I would be honored to be even half the woman she is! So, to answer the question… YES, I DO want to be like my mother!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Break Every Chain



Have you ever heard the worship song “Break Every Chain”? If not you really need to pull it up and listen to it… go ahead I’ll wait!

Ok, now that you have heard the song I want to share with you my journey of breaking a chain that held me captive for many years. I apologize because it is a long story, but God has been pressing it on my heart that I need to share my story in its entirety. So here it is:

When I was in high school and still had not started my menstrual cycle at the age of 17 my mom took me to the doctor. The doctor told us not to worry about it until I was 18, and that some girls bodies just took longer to “kick start” the process. Well, 18 came and no menstrual cycle… honestly I didn’t mind too much at the time. Shortly before my 19th birthday I finally was “blessed” with my cycle. I had it one month then it skipped a few months, the next time it skipped a few more months until it got to the point that I would have maybe one cycle every year to eighteen months.

Due to a sprained knee from a skiing accident I went to a new doctor because I had moved cities. I was there for my knee but the doctor took a look at my chart and asked about my menstrual cycles. I informed him that my childhood doctor had told me not to be too concerned until I was at least 18, but that since turning 18 I had not really gone to the doctor. He referred me to have blood work done and an internal ultrasound, because he was concerned about possible ovarian cancer. My mind heard “possible cancer” and went running the other direction… I did NOT go in for the tests. Yes, I see looking back what a bad decision that was!

During this time I met an amazing man of God and we began a relationship just after I turned 20. When we first began having feelings for each other I told him about my irregular cycles, all the while screaming in my head “why are you telling him this?” I told him that it may be difficult for me to have children because of the irregularities in my cycle. He didn’t run from the relationship, in fact three months down the road we were engaged, and six months after that we stood at the altar and committed our lives to each other.

I was so happy and felt so blessed that God had entrusted me with such an amazing man. My husband always made me feel like I was a priority. We used birth control for the first two weeks of our marriage and then decided to leave the birth control up to God and stopped using everything.

A year and eight months after our wedding we moved an hour north of where we had been living, and I finally decided it was time to go to the doctor. My grandma recommended her doctor and I went. She like my previous doctor concerned about the lack of menstrual cycles and referred me to a fertility specialist.

After running test the specialist confirmed my new doctors’ diagnosis of Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome or PCOS. He told me that my testosterone levels were three and a half times higher than what they should be, and due to that my body was not creating eggs. He sent me for an internal ultrasound… I actually went this time! The results came back favorable, I had no cysts. The specialist explained that before advances in medicine PCOS was never diagnosed until women had multiple cysts in their ovaries.

This specialist job was to help my husband and I conceive, and he had many success stories of other woman with PCOS that he had helped, so I was hopeful! I spent two years working with this specialist trying to conceive. I had however drawn a line in the sand, a boundary if you will… I would take any fertility medication but I would not do invetro. I do not have anything against invetro, and I do not look down on those who have chosen that path. However for my husband and I it was a black and white subject. Still after two years no fruit had come of our efforts.

I kept praying for our children to come, but nothing. I prayed about adoption, but felt “wait” being whispered back to me each time. I talked to my husband about adoption and we both agreed that for us to adopt at this point would be giving up God’s best for us. In our private prayer time God gave us both the same answer about adoption; if we were to adopt it would be just like Sara’s story in the Bible where she gives her maidservant to Abraham to conceive a child, and it caused great stress and discord in their household. Neither of us wanted that, so we waited.

I was struggling at this point emotionally, I just could not figure out why four years into our marriage God had not blessed us with a child yet. I cried myself to sleep countless nights. I felt broken and defective. Every time I would read a story of child abuse in the paper, I would cry out in anger that there were people abusing children that they never should have been blessed with in the first place while my womb remained empty.

The church my husband and I had been going to at the time had a woman’s conference every October, and every year I went. At the conference on the last night they always prayed for woman that wanted to conceive a child. So every year like clockwork I would go forward for prayer and beg God to heal me and allow me to have a child.

On my sixth year at the conference there was a special speaker that was never able to have children, and they did a special prayer for women that needed to allow God to open them up to adoption. I went forward for prayer ready for God to release me and allow me to adopt. Still the answer remained the same “wait”. I cried so hard that night. I kept asking God WHEN, when will I be able to hold my children in my arms? “Wait” that gentle whisper continued.

One night while I was laying face down on my living room floor crying out to God I had a thought… I know it was a “God Thought” because there is no way I came up with it myself. I felt the need to get the attention and focus off of myself! I started praying for anyone I knew that wanted a child, was currently pregnant or recently had a child. It was probably one of the most helpful things I had done and it really got me on the right path to healing for my emotions.

One year later I had traded my nights of crying for nights of fervent prayer for the mothers around me and I felt less suffocated. At the conference my seventh year that same special speaker was back, and again they offered prayer for woman to conceive as well as women to be released to adoption. This year I stayed at my seat and prayed for those women instead of going forward for prayer myself… and my life was changed!

While they prayed for the woman, I prayed for the women. I thanked God for the change in my life over the last year. I thanked him for the healing he had given me. I still felt weighed down but freer at the same time. One of the other special speakers at the conference this particular year said she only prayed for something once. She knew that if she had prayed for it God heard her and that it was done. While I don’t see this being an every day kind of practice it was exactly what I needed at that moment. I prayed to God, “Daddy, I have prayed for a child for so many years. You have heard my prayers and my cries and I know it is done. I want your best and I know that no matter what happens you are still God. If I never conceive you are still God!”

The worship team began playing the song “Break Every Chain” I kept my focus on God, and while the song was playing I felt God asking me to give him what I had been holding onto… my children. My husband and I had picked out names for the children we wanted before we were even married, and often during my prayer time I would use those names to pray for them. I had a moment of pause, and then I felt reminded of my words, “if I never conceive, you are still God.”

There is power in the name of Jesus
There is power in the name of Jesus
There is power in the name of Jesus

I lifted my hands and I prayed, “God I give my children to you! Abigail Eden, I give her to you. Malachi Robert, I give him to you. Noah Samuel, I give him to you.” As soon as I spoke the last word of my prayer I saw a vision of myself in a jail cell on my knees with shackles on my wrists. The song kept playing:

To break every chain
Break every chain
Break every chain

I saw myself stand to my feet and lift my hands up in worship, and I watched as the chains fell off of my wrists.

All sufficient sacrifice
So freely given
Such a price
Bought our redemption
Heaven's gates swing wide

I was standing in the jail cell no longer shackled to my pain but free. Then there was a bright light that burst into the cell and the door flew open. Immediately I felt a heavy weight lift off of me and peace came rushing into my spirit. It was an amazing feeling!

For a couple of months I had the most amazing peace I had felt in a long time. I knew that no matter what God was still God. I had left those chains on the floor in that jail cell, and I was NOT going to pick them back up!

About three months after the conference I was talking to my husband about adoption because I felt like all the pieces were falling into place and I felt like the door was opening for us to finally walk down that path; and he informed me that he never wanted to adopt. I was crushed! There is no way to describe how hurt I was. I had always wanted to adopt at least one child even if I had biological children, and I had communicated that to my husband before we got married. I remember telling him “I will never be ok with that!”

I am ashamed to say that I allowed this to build a wall between us. I was angry and hurt, and I defiantly took it out on him. It was not my intention to make him suffer, or to build this wall; but unfortunately that is what happens when we are hurting. On one particularly difficult day when I was struggling I went to the women’s Bible study at church, and I swallowed my pride and let the ladies know what I was going through.

They prayed for me and afterwards one of the ladies came to me and told me her story. Her and her husband had agreed not to have children; however she had started longing to have a child. In her prayer time she cried out to God, and she said God had revealed to her that if she was to become pregnant she would have to give 200% to the child because her husband’s heart would not be in it. If that were to happen she would begin to resent her husband for his lack and many problems would arise.

I thanked her for her story even though I didn’t think it applied to me and my husband; after all we both wanted children! For two weeks I could think of nothing other than her story. I realized that it really was the same thing; I would have to give 200% because even though my husband wanted children he had specifically told me he did not want to adopt. I prayed to God and asked for his forgiveness of my selfishness, and I asked him to help me bring down the walls between my husband and I. Then I had to go to my husband and ask for his forgiveness.

A few days later I was talking to one of the women at church about everything and asking for her prayers to help me get past this and give it to God. She told me that my senior pastor’s wife had written a book called “Inconceivable” that told her story of not being able to conceive. She said it was a great book and she thought it would be good for me to read. I honestly brushed it off thinking I had already received my healing for no being able to conceive; since the women’s conference I had felt so free I didn’t “need” the book.

About a month later she caught me at church and handed me a copy of the book. I went home that day and decided… its short enough I may as well read it. I have never cried over a book so hard in my life! It took my two weeks to read the book, not because it is a long book, but because it was that emotional to read. She went through all the nitty gritty bits, all the painful thoughts, everything that I had been facing for the last eight and a half years of infertility.

Then the book dove into the aspects of adoption. She spoke about her husbands reservations about adoption and her battle emotionally with that. The book touched every part of me, even those hidden things that I didn’t realize hurt so much. I finished the book on a Friday night, and as I read the last word I took a deep breath and just said “Thank you God.”

Sunday morning I was so excited to go to church, I felt changed and could not wait to lift my hands in worship with my new freedom. I was praying and thanking God for all he had done in me, and the song “Break Every Chain” started to play. Since the women’s conference anytime I heard this song my mind would take me back to that moment when I had decided that God was still God no matter what.

This day was no exception, in fact on this day I felt that same determination and freedom I had while at the conference. I raised my hands and just kept thanking God. I began to pray the same prayer I had the day of the conference.  “God I give my children to you! Abigail Eden, I give her to you. Malachi Robert, I give him to you. Noah Samuel, I give him to you.”

I felt the gentle whisper of God saying to me, “that’s not it, that’s not all…”

“NO, I can’t give you that. I don’t want to give you that.”

“Am I not still God no matter what?” I couldn’t breath, I knew what he wanted but it was my safety net. I had given God my biological children, but now he wanted my adoptive child as well?

I fought with my emotions for what felt like an eternity, but was only seconds in actuality. I then took a deep breath and surrendered, “God that fourth child that I have always wanted to adopt, I give them to you.”

Instantly I saw the same vision from the conference. I saw myself in a jail cell on my knees with shackles on my wrists. I saw myself stand to my feet and lift my hands up in worship, and I watched as the chains fell off of my wrists. I was standing in the jail cell no longer shackled to my pain and then there was a bright light that burst into the cell and the door flew open, but this time I saw myself walk out of the jail cell!

Now here I am a year and seven months later… do I have any children? No, but this has been the most amazing and happy time in my life! I have had so much peace, that God given peace that surpasses all understanding! God has opened doors for me to be able to talk to other women struggling with infertility. I was even blessed by a conversation with a young girl who asked about my story and when I told her she began to cry. I asked why she was crying and she said that I would hate her if she told me. I let her know that nothing she said could make me hate her. She explained her shame over an abortion she had and the impact it has had on her life. I was able to share God’s amazing love and grace with her.

Each time I have an encounter with another woman where I get to share my story I thank God. And each time I think “if it was just for this moment, just for her healing I would go through it all over again!” I can look back over the last ten years of my journey and see God’s hand all over my life. The Bible tells us that God’s timing is not our timing, I can truly attest to that! My journey was very painful, but I would not change a thing about it. Not only has it made me who I am, but God is using my journey for his glory and he amazes me at every turn!

I am not sure who needed to read this, but I want you to know that God sees you! He cares about you! He loves you beyond measure, and he will use your journey for his glory if you allow him to! Surrendering our pain is not easy, but it is necessary! I pray that you allow God to break those chains off of you!

When I look back over my vision I can see that God offered me freedom when I was at the women’s conference by breaking the chains off of me and opening the cell’s door. But I was still clinging to my chains and wouldn’t leave them behind. It wasn’t until I fully surrendered that I was truly free and walked out of the cell.

Allow God to break the chains, and take the next step and leave them behind. Walk out of that jail cell and allow your journey to bless you!

Monday, January 20, 2014

The Heart of Worship



(I'm going to confess right now that this is kind of long... but I pray that just as I learned some amazing truth you will as well!! I pray that you will learn what it means to have a Heart of Worship and that you have a burning desire to join me in learning to walk in a lifestyle of true worship! If you need prayer let me know, likewise keep me in your prayers that I can commit to a life of true worship!!)

1 Corinthians 12:7-13
Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.
12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body

**What does a body need to survive?
            One major thing the body needs is circulation!!

                        The circulatory system is an organ system that permits circulation to transport nutrients, oxygen, carbon dioxide, hormones, blood cells, etc. to and from cells in the body to nourish it and help to fight diseases, and to stabilize body temperature and pH levels.

What does this have to do with the Heart of Worship?? Well if we define the Heart of Worship it may become clear:

Heart: a hollow muscular organ that by its rhythmic contraction acts as a force pump maintaining the circulation of the blood

Worship: reverence offered a divine being or supernatural power: an act of expressing such reverence

So if we take those two words and create a definition for the Heart of Worship we get:

Heart of Worship: a rhythmic force maintaining circulation in an act of expressing reverence

**I want to go through this definition one word at a time so that we fully grasp what the Heart of Worship means!

Rhythmic

Heart of Worship: a rhythmic force maintaining circulation in an act of expressing reverence

Rhythmic or Rhythm: Something marked by moving: an ordered recurrent alteration of strong and weak: the aspect of music comprising all the elements that relate to forward movement

**This tells us that rhythm is constantly moving forward, by an alteration of strong and weak. Well if we are talking about worship there are two elements… us and God. We KNOW that God is strong! So if the alteration requires strong AND weak, we must be the weak portion.

2 Corinthians 12:8-10 NLT
Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 10 That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

**Worship connects us to God so that when we are weak HE can be our strength! We make a continuous exchange with God, we give him out weaknesses for his strength; and that exchange allows us to “keep moving forward” (Walt Disney).

Force and Maintain:

Heart of Worship: a rhythmic force maintaining circulation in an act of expressing reverence
Force: strength or energy exerted: cause of motion or change: active power: capacity to persuade or convince

**Here again we see the words strength and movement. Rhythm and Force are tied together by their definitions, but a new set of words is introduced to us Persuade or Convince… in other words make us believe!!

Worship causes us to believe, it convinces us of the truth.

Maintaining or Maintain: preserve from failure: sustain against opposition or danger: uphold and defend: to continue or persevere: to support or provide for

**this is what the force is causing us to believe in: that God will preserve us from failure, he will protect us from danger, he will cause us to persevere and he will support and provide for us!!

Isaiah 43:1-5
But now, this is what the Lord says—
    he who created you, Jacob,
    he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
    I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
    you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
I give Egypt for your ransom,
    Cush and Seba in your stead.
Since you are precious and honored in my sight,
    and because I love you,
I will give people in exchange for you,
    nations in exchange for your life.
Do not be afraid, for I am with you;

Isaiah 43:10-13
“You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord,
    “and my servant whom I have chosen,
so that you may know and believe me
    and understand that I am he.

Before me no god was formed,
    nor will there be one after me.
11 I, even I, am the Lord,
    and apart from me there is no savior.
12 I have revealed and saved and proclaimed—
    I, and not some foreign god among you.
You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “that I am God.
13     Yes, and from ancient days I am he.
No one can deliver out of my hand.
    When I act, who can reverse it?”

**the last line reminds me of the song “the whole world in his hands” God has us in his hand and that means that there is nothing that can come against us that can take us out! God maintains us!!

Express:

Heart of Worship: a rhythmic force maintaining circulation in an act of expressing reverence

Expressing or Express: directly: designed for or adapted to its purpose: delivered without delay

**Worship gives us direct access to God through the Holy Spirit. “Without delay” sometimes when we want to talk to someone they are not available, that is not the case with God, we can speak to him without delay!!

My pastor said one Sunday “we were saved, so that we could worship the Lord.” We see in the definition of expressing “designed for a purpose.” We were created to bring God praise and Glory!!

Ephesians 1:11-14
11 Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan.
12 God’s purpose was that we Jews who were the first to trust in Christ would bring praise and glory to God. 13 And now you Gentiles have also heard the truth, the Good News that God saves you. And when you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago. 14 The Spirit is God’s guarantee that he will give us the inheritance he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people. He did this so we would praise and glorify him.

**God gave each of us a purpose, that purpose is to praise and glorify the Lord!!

Reverence:

Heart of Worship: a rhythmic force maintaining circulation in an act of expressing reverence
Reverence: honor or respect felt or shown: a gesture of respect: one held in reverence

**honor and respect, those to me are powerful words!! We were created with the purpose to bring honor and respect to God through worship!!!

The Bible shows us the perfect example of this kind of worship!

Mark 14:1-9
It was now two days before Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread. The leading priests and the teachers of religious law were still looking for an opportunity to capture Jesus secretly and kill him. “But not during the Passover celebration,” they agreed, “or the people may riot.”
Meanwhile, Jesus was in Bethany at the home of Simon, a man who had previously had leprosy. While he was eating, a woman came in with a beautiful alabaster jar of expensive perfume made from essence of nard. She broke open the jar and poured the perfume over his head.
Some of those at the table were indignant. “Why waste such expensive perfume?” they asked. “It could have been sold for a year’s wages and the money given to the poor!” So they scolded her harshly.
But Jesus replied, “Leave her alone. Why criticize her for doing such a good thing to me? You will always have the poor among you, and you can help them whenever you want to. But you will not always have me. She has done what she could and has anointed my body for burial ahead of time. I tell you the truth, wherever the Good News is preached throughout the world, this woman’s deed will be remembered and discussed.”

** This woman in a true act of worship took a year’s worth of wages and poured it out upon Jesus!! The men there called it a waste, but Jesus called it a good thing. I think the number one reason that people hold back from having a heart of worship is fear of what other people may think of them!

Worship isn’t just getting up and singing to God, it is a lifestyle!! When you pray you are worshiping God by honoring him. Does it make you uncomfortable to pray with others around? And why is that? Are you afraid of what they may think? 

In verse 8 Jesus said “She has done what she could” God is not asking you to be someone or something that you are not, he wants you to be YOU. That’s what he desires… YOU!!! He wants you to give him what you can, give him what you are!!!

Verse 9 Jesus tells us that this lady will be remembered and discussed (like now), if you live with a true Heart of Worship you WILL effect others for God’s glory!! There is this guy Dave that I used to know when I was in high school. He passed away a year ago, leaving his wife and four young children. His wife Jess, could have given up and turned her back on God; but instead she has laid down her life at God’s feet and walked a life that is a shinning example of the Heart of Worship!!

In the same way you can also cause someone to turn from God!! You can choose to be an example of a hardened heart…

1 Corinthians 8:9-13
Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak. 10 For if someone with a weak conscience sees you, with all your knowledge, eating in an idol’s temple, won’t that person be emboldened to eat what is sacrificed to idols? 11 So this weak brother or sister, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. 12 When you sin against them in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. 13 Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall.

Romans 14:13-21
13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. 14 I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean. 15 If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died. 16 Therefore do not let what you know is good be spoken of as evil. 17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, 18 because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval.
19 Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. 20 Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a person to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. 21 It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall.
** Be that person that brings glory to God!! Don’t let the way that you live be an obstacle for others! We don’t want something that is said here to cause someone else to feel like they are not welcome! We want the words that come out of our mouths to be building words!! Let the words that come out of your mouth Glorify God!! Honor and Respect him, one of the ways you do that is to honor and respect others!!

** We know the definition of the Heart of Worship is this:
a rhythmic force maintaining circulation in an act of expressing reverence

So if we re-define the definition of the Heart of Worship using what we just learned we come up with something like this:

Heart of Worship re-defined:
A continuous exchange with God, in which I give him my weakness for his strength / allowing me to move forward with the belief / that he will keep me from failure; and that he will protect and provide for me / by allowing me direct access to him when I live out my purpose / of bringing him honor and respect

Last thought… a continuous exchange, that brings us back to the topic of circulation! This is not a one time thing, it is a continuous exchange we make with God! Having a Heart of Worship is so important for our spiritual walk, without it we are dead. Just as the body can not survive without circulation, the spirit can not survive without worship!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

You are Priceless!




Matthew 6:25-27 NIV

25 Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?

1 Timothy 6:15-16 NIV
God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen.

*God is the King of Kings, and he is our heavenly Father… that makes you Royalty!!! Not only are you royalty, but you are PRICELESS!!! The definition of priceless is “having a value beyond any price” another definition is “worth a king’s ransom.”

John 3:16 NLT
For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

*God paid the ultimate price for you because you are THAT valuable to him! He is the King of Kings and he paid a King’s ransom for YOU!!! A ransom is “a consideration paid or demanded to release someone or something from captivity.” You have been paid for at the highest price; God could have created you and left it at that. He could have left you in the captivity of this world but He chose to take his VERY best, and lay it down for you!

Walk in that confidence knowing that you have been paid for by the highest price, and that you are PRICELESS!!

Genesis 1:26-28 NIV
26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

27 So God created mankind in his own image,
    in the image of God he created them;
    male and female he created them.

28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

*God made you in his image. Just as you have features that resemble your earthly parents, so too you have features that resemble your Heavenly Father because you were made in his image. Therefore, you can not be junk, ugly, worthless, broken or useless because God is perfect and you were made in his image! He has instructed you to “Rule over…” that means you have authority over the things of this world!

Song of Solomon 4:1
You are beautiful, my darling,
    beautiful beyond words
.

Song of Solomon 4:7
You are altogether beautiful, my darling,
    beautiful in every way.

*You are beautiful, you were made in his image, the word of God tells you those facts; but we also know that the enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy us (John 10:10). In Ephesians 6 Paul teaches us that we do not fight against the seen, but against the UNSEEN, and that is why we need to be prepared by putting on the full armor of God!

Ephesians 6:13 NLT
Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.

*The enemy is going to lie to you, that is a fact! Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be protected!

Wear your Helmet of Salvation, this allows God’s power to work inside of you. Put on your Breastplate of Righteousness, so that you will walk in God’s righteousness and have a blessed life. Strap the Belt of Truth around your waste so that you will not be deceived when the enemy tries to lie to you! Put up your Shield of Faith, so that you can extinguish the arrows(lies) that the enemy launches at you. Carry your Sword of the Spirit (the Bible), that way when you are being attacked you have ammunition to declare the truth. With all the armor in place you will not be able to help but have your feet firmly fitted in the Shoes of Peace; the unspeakable peace that comes only from God!

*When a thought tries to creep in that is contrary to the word of God do not camp out on it! Do not entertain it or keep it around! IMMEDIATELY recognize that it is not from God, and verbally say “that is not a God thought and I rebuke it right now in the name of Jesus.” (John 14:6 tells us we have access to God the Father through Jesus Christ!) Then use your sword to speak truth!

Example:
When you are feeling ugly or worthless:

That is not a God thought and I rebuke it right now in the name of Jesus, I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14), I am beautiful in everyway (Song of Solomon 4:7). I am created in God’s image, I am a child of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords who paid the ultimate price for my life because I am that valuable (Genesis 1:26-28, Matthew 6:25-27, 1 Timothy 6:15, John 3:16).

*There will be days that you may have to rebuke every other thought that comes into your head, but be consistent! God has given you the armor you need, and he has placed HIS power (the same power that raised Christ from the grave) inside of you so that you will be able to stand firm!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Overwhelming Victory




Romans 8:31-38 New Living Translation (NLT)
31 What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? 32 Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? 33 Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. 34 Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.
35 Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? 36 (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”[a]) 37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.
38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[b] neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.
      
     My favorite part is verse 37 “despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.” What an amazing promise! No matter what we go through victory is ours. Don’t get me wrong, not all victories happen the way we thing they will.

Romans 8:28
New King James Version (NKJV)
28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
           
      “According to His purpose.” We may not see the good in our current circumstances but God has prepared the way. Not all things are good, but God can bring good from all things! One of my favorite quotes is by Edwin Cole, “Yesterday’s dung, is tomorrow’s fertilizer.” So very true!

James 1:3-4
New Living Translation (NLT)
For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.
           
      Another great promise! If we allow our faith to grow through challenges and trials, we will build endurance; something we all need! One version uses the word “character” the testing of our faith builds character, I find that so encouraging.
           
     When gold is put into the fire all the dross or “junk” comes to the top, it is like that with our faith life. When we go through trials, “fires” all the junk that lies underneath comes to the surface. This is so important because it gives us an opportunity to take that junk to the Lord, and lay it at his feet; to take that “dung” and use it to grow!

Psalm 3:3
The Message (MSG)
But you, God, shield me on all sides; You ground my feet, you lift my head high

     I love that so much! There have been many days that this verse has been my anthem! When I feel overwhelmed and frustrated I just stop and say a simple prayer; “Father, I thank you that you shield me on all sides, protecting me! Thank you for grounding my feet no matter what is going on. And thank you that because of the sacrifice on the cross I can lift my head high.” It strengthens me, and reminds me that God has me in his hands.

     I pray that each of us be encouraged through our day, that we would remember, overwhelming victory is ours, because God will work things together for his good. Allowing our faith to build endurance and character, while shielding us, grounding our feet and lifting our head high!