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How Do I PRAY?

Have you ever sat down to pray and just didn’t know what to say? Or felt like your prayers were empty and meaningless? Or if God was even listening?

Prayer is one the most important things we can do in our lives, yet when life gets busy, its one of the first things we omit out of our daily schedules and what we give up when we do don’t see ‘our prayers working.’

Maybe one of the reasons prayer can be so difficult is because of it’s meaning.

In English, Pray means ‘to ask or beg.’

In Hebrew, the word for Pray tefillah means to ‘self-examine.’ The root word for tefillah is tofel, which means to ‘attach, join or bind together.’

In Aramic, the word for Pray salah means ‘to bow, worship.’

In Greek, the word for Pray proseuchomai means to ‘supplicate, to worship.’

As one can see, the definition for pray has a variety of definitions. So which definition is correct?

All of them.

Prayer is way to worship God, it is a way to sit before God to self-examine ourselves and how we ask God to intercede on our behalf and bow before Him in His presence.

Nonetheless, prayer doesn’t have one singular definition and fit into a box. Making prayer fit one singular definition would limit God’s abundant meaning, purpose and power for prayer. The purpose of prayer isn’t solely meant to just ask God for our own needs and personal gain, or just to ‘self-examine’ ourselves or just to worship. Prayer goes way beyond that.

Prayer is our invitation to God to open the door for His divine power to move the mountains in our lives and others. Taking our struggles to God through prayer invites Him into our lives, brings us into His presence and binds us closer together with Him.

So How Do We PRAY?

God doesn’t judge our prayers. They don’t have to be filled with eloquent words or with verbatim Scripture. We don’t have to be on our knees, bow our heads or even fold our hands. The prayer posture and how we pray is God’s least concern. God is more concerned about when we don’t pray and the condition of our hearts. Our prayers are a way to get our hearts right with God and communicate with Him.

If you struggle with what to say during prayer here is a prayer tool that may help.

Praise
Repent
Ask
Yield

If you struggle with what to say during prayer here is a prayer tool that may help. Praise Repent Ask YieldClick To Tweet

PRAISE
If you don’t know what to say, start with the very nature of what prayer is, praise. Some of the best prayers written in the Bible are prayers of praise spoken by David in the Psalms. Start telling God everything you are thankful for. Praising God first, sets our hearts and minds on our Creator and His greatness and puts us in His presence. Praise purifies and softens our hearts, so we can hear what God is saying. (James 4:6-10)

REPENT
Next comes the hard part of what prayer is—repentance. No one likes to admit their wrongs or even speak them out loud. Confessing our sins to God, opens a door for His forgiveness, so we don’t allow sin to reign in our lives but allow more room for God’s truth and grace. Confession allows us to humbly come before our Lord, lay our burdens at His feet, so He can do something greater than we ever could on our own. Confession invites God in to intervene on our behalf. (Matt. 3:8, Isa. 30:15).

ASK
Next, tell God all that is troubling you. He wants to hear what is in your heart. He wants every part of you, struggles and all. Ask God for help and healing, to supply for your needs, your provision, safety, wisdom, discernment, guidance, direction. God is always bigger than our struggles and can handle anything we ask of Him. (Phil. 4:19)

YIELD
Lastly, yield to God. Submitting our ways to God to His will and way, allows for God’s greater plan to happen through us. Pray for God’s desires to be your desires. At the end of the day, it’s about God’s plans, not ours. (1 Peter 5:6, James 4:7)

We may not always know what to say, but know when we are silent that is what Satan desires for us.

Satan tries to limit your praying because he knows your praying will limit him. ~Zig ZiglarClick To Tweet

Next time you pray, don’t allow Satan to keep you silent. Cutting prayer out of our lives, cuts our direct communication and relationship off with God, which is exactly what Satan wants. Your prayers matter and make a difference to God. Never stop praying, He is listening.

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My Guardian Angel

This post is very different from what I normally post.  I hope you enjoy this true story of a guardian angel that saved my son’s life.

Do you believe in guardian angels? I will never forget the time I was a new mother to our newborn son and two-year-old daughter. My husband and I were invited to a friend’s cabin in the mountains for a work barbeque. We decided we would make the trip to go even though our son was only 2 weeks old. He had been sleeping well and thought it would be a good idea to get out of the house. When we arrived, there were quite a few people there already. When I walked inside, I was carrying our son in his infant car seat carrier and placed him on top of the glass coffee table in the living room.

After placing him on top of the table, I immediately heard an inner voice tell me, take him off the table and place him on the floor. At the time I was a tired mother to a baby and a toddler and wasn’t getting much sleep.  Even in my tiredness, I listened to this voice and immediately placed our son on the floor a few feet away from the table, still asleep in his carrier.  Five seconds later, the nine-foot ceiling fan right above the table came crashing down, landing in the same exact spot our son had just been on the table. The fan shattered the coffee table glass with shards of glass landing all around the table and the room (right where my son was sleeping).

I was shocked, startled and concerned the glass had landed on our son. The loud crash didn’t wake my son, nor did he even react.  As I inspected closer, the shattered glass laid all around his car seat. To my surprise, there was not one piece of glass on our son or even in his car seat!

It as if a guardian angel had placed a shield over our son that protected him from the flying glass that day because there is no other explanation of why the glass was everywhere except on him. Everyone who had witnessed the ceiling fan crashing down from the ceiling knew our son was in the very same spot only seconds earlier before the fan came crashing down. Those in the room kept saying “The baby was just on that table!” They were in disbelief because they knew what they saw. They knew there were shards of glass everywhere. They knew they just witnessed a potential disaster that could have ended very badly. Everyone was concerned and asked if our baby was okay. To their surprise, we told them he was okay and was not harmed from the glass.

I was so thankful I had listened to that inner voice that day. I truly believe God was looking out for us by sending us a guardian angel. I can’t even imagine what would have happened if I didn’t listen to that voice and if I had left our son on the table. There is no other way to explain how he was kept safe other than God was with us.

I will always remember this day as one of God’s miracles. It is His reminder to me that he is with us no matter what. This day opened my eyes to see many of God’s miracles all around us every day. Some of His miracles may not be as obvious as saving a baby from a crashing ceiling fan, but have made me look around to see his miracles are everywhere! His miracles are in a baby’s smile, a child’s laugh, a beautiful sunrise, and even in my drive to work. His miracles are my children and my husband, and I am so blessed and honored to be a part of their lives!

Our son is now 9 years old and we tell him the story how God sent a guardian angel to save him from the crashing ceiling fan and shards of glass. We also use it as a lesson about listening to that inner voice that tells you when something is not right, to obey immediately, ask questions later or it could end in disaster!

Blake’s response was ‘I am so glad you listened to God’s voice mommy or the ceiling fan would have fallen on me!’ That day definitely caught my attention. Even in my tired state, it showed me how important it is to stay alert, not delay when I hear a prompting from God. Even though I didn’t realize at the time but now know it was God keeping us safe. I am so thankful for guardian angels!

'Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and your right hand delivers me.' Psalm 138:7Click To Tweet

Do you believe in God’s miracles?

Do you have a guardian angel story?  Please share!

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It’s Not About the TACO

Embracing God’s Purpose in Life’s Biggest Messes

Every week in our household our family has a tradition–TACO NIGHT!  If there is one meal we can count on every week, it’s tacos.  We always have the staples for making tacos in our house at any given time.  What I love about Taco Night, is our family sitting down eating the same meal together.

One particular Taco Night, we served the hard shells instead of flour tortillas.  We usually have all the toppings for our tacos on the table–sour cream, salsa, cheese.  One can put on their taco, whatever their heart’s desire.  Our son has a method to how his taco is made and the other sides arranged on his plate. Nothing on his plate can touch each other.

Have you ever watched a scene unfold in slow motion, knowing how it was going to turn out?  As our son lifted the taco to his mouth I could see and hear the taco shell crack and then fall apart spilling the contents onto his plate, which did I mention he doesn’t like other food touching each other?

As this scene unfolded I could see the melt-down process unravel.  He was upset and required a whole new plate and taco because doesn’t like to eat food that’s broken and messy.  If his food has one crack, one bite in it already, forget it he won’t eat it.  (Don’t judge we all have our quirks). There was no rationalizing with him, the food was perfectly fine, but in his mind, it had been ruined.

It’s Not About the TACO

The melt-down my son had nothing to do with the taco and everything to do with an inner struggle of wanting everything perfect and not dealing with the mess.  Our son focused on the broken, messy taco which kept him from enjoying the great meal before him.  The meal was going to taste the same whether it was messy or not.

That disappointment, that argument or disagreement you just had probably isn’t what you’re upset about at all.  The scenario of my son reminds me of the Israelites–an all too familiar pattern that has happened within all of us from the beginning of time.

The Israelites spent 430 years as slaves in Egypt under the rule of the ruthless and mean Pharaoh.  When God sent Moses to deliver them out of Egypt, they left with all of their cattle, their precious valuables and their families!  Which doesn’t happen!  Their exodus resonated God’s power all throughout the land of Egypt.

Little did they know they would be tested further by God by wandering in the desert.  It was hot and tiring traveling through the desert.  They were hungry and thirsty.  They whined and complained about their conditions which made God angry.

“The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, “If only we had meat to eat!  We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost–also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic”  Number 11:4-5

I get it.  Maybe tent-camping for 40 years in the desert wasn’t their thing.  They just wanted some good food, a flushing toilet, or a full-hookup camper with a hot shower.  Even though their immediate comforts were uncomfortable, they were missing the point of God’s purpose.  How soon did they forget they were just freed from 430 years of slavery!

The Israelites never went without provision of food, shelter, water or clothing.  They had everything they ever needed.  God wanted The Israelites to depend on Him for their daily bread, NOT MAN.  Instead, they focused only on what was before them to satisfy their souls instead of what God was able to provide for them–The Promised Land.

Sometimes I think our focus can get off.  We get lost in our problems, stumble on our inadequacies, caught up in our roadblocks, and caught up in our own desires.  We become like the Israelites entering into patterns of grumbling and complaining, losing sight of God’s purpose of what He’s able to do in our lives.  And before you know it, life becomes unbalanced and we fall apart.

What if that’s the point?  To discover God’s purpose for us within the mess?

Our struggles, inadequacies, and roadblocks will always get in the way of God’s purpose and plan for us.  But what if we embraced God’s purpose among the mess?

'And we know in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose' Romans 8:28Click To Tweet

I guarantee there will always be another mess.  When we embrace God’s purpose, we can stop using our messes and struggles as an excuse to hold us back, but allow our mess to be God’s platform in what He’s able to do in us. Just like the whole taco fiasco with my son, we too miss out on life’s biggest blessings when we allow our struggles to hold us back.  God will use our struggles as a catalyst for his greater plan.  We don’t have to worry about how everything will work out, He’s got it all within His grip.

Let’s Taco About it:  

What’s your one thing getting in the way of God?

Do you sometimes fall apart?

How can you embrace God’s purpose when you’re life is a mess?

It’s not about the Taco.  It’s not about our next performance.  It’s not about doing things with our own strength.  It’s not about waiting until the mess is over but embracing God’s purpose for us even in the mess.

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Failures Don’t Define Us

Have you ever failed something?  Not just a little failure, but a big failure that defined the course of your life?  I’ve shared in other posts the failure that changed my perspective was when I failed my nursing boards.  But what if you have a constant failure in your life one you have to deal with every day?

I’ve shared before about our daughter Brooklyn who has dyslexia which there is no cure.  She will have dyslexia for the rest of her life.  Every day she’s reminded of her inability to interpret text when she’s asked to read something.  Her deficits and inadequacies are amplified every time she’s asked to spell a word.  I can’t imagine what she goes through on a daily basis fighting the battle within thinking she’s not smart and not capable to do what others can do.

As a mother, I have a choice in how to treat my daughter and my daughter has a choice in how she will respond.  Will, I treat her that she has a disability and allow her to use it as a crutch to make excuses for why she can’t?  Or will I show her I believe in her and give her the skills she needs so she can run?

Many of us believe the lie, our failures define us and hold us back from our future.  

Praise God we serve a God who is bigger and is able.  

We are more than our past failures.  We are more than our weakest link.  God uses our weakest traits as a catalyst to propel us towards his greatest plans.  Our weaknesses are not an excuse to go through life walking with a limp, but an opportunity to learn how to overcome and grow stronger for what God has in store for us.

Our failures don’t define us, God’s truth does.

I am always so amazed how God uses the unlikely to carry out His almighty plan.  He doesn’t use the strongest, the wisest or even the most powerful to carry out His plans.  Instead, he used a little shepherd boy named David, a young teenager named Jeremiah and a man with a stuttering problem named Moses.

When you are chosen, you can’t run or hide from God’s choice.  God sees so much more in us than we will ever see in ourselves.  When God chose Moses to go before Pharaoh, Moses wasn’t so sure.

Exodus 4:10 “And Moses said to the Lord, “Pardon your servant, Lord.  I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant.  I am slow of speech and tongue.”

I love God’s response to Moses.

Exodus 4:11-13 “The Lord said to him, “Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute?  Who gives them sight or makes them blind?  Is it not I, the Lord?  Now go, I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.”

God didn’t say to Moses, ‘you know you’re right, my plan is never going to work because you don’t have the skills to be a great leader.’  Instead, God reminds Moses, who made you and gave you the ability to hear and see?

We may feel deficient.  Not adequate.  Not prepared.  But God will never ask us to go somewhere without equipping us with the skills we need to accomplish what he is asking of us.  The tasks God asks may be hard and difficult.  They may even seem impossible, but God is bigger.

Jesus reminds us inLuke 18:27, 'What is impossible with man is possible with God.'Click To Tweet

Paul reminds us in Ephesians 3:20, “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen. “

When Moses went before Pharaoh, he had already provided a way and means to communicate to Pharaoh, his brother Aaron.  He provided the words and the details of what to do.  Moses was merely God’s vessel and needed his obedience.  Moses had no idea how everything was going to turn out, but God did.

I can’t always be there advocating for my daughter in what she needs to succeed, but with tutors, teachers and a strong support system, we are going to give her the skills so she can fly.  I never want her dyslexia to be a stumbling block and reason why she can’t but the reason why she overcomes and succeeds.

 

Just because my daughter has dyslexia doesn’t mean she’s deficient.

Just because Moses had a stuttering problem didn’t mean he was incapable.

2 Corinthians 3:4-5, 'Such confidence we have through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves, but our competence comes from God.' Click To Tweet

Where we fall short, God makes up for our deficiencies and accomplishes His greatest plans through us.

We have two choices.  Allow the limitations of our deficits to confine us and stay in cycles of brokenness or allow God to use our deficits to refine us and move forward in His plans for us.

Do you believe God is bigger?

How will you allow your deficits to impact you? To confine or refine?

Has God helped you do the impossible?

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The Truth About Picky People

The other day my son was hungry and wanted a snack.  We had just been the store and bought bulk size snacks for kids’ lunches for times like these.  I started to give my son options for what snacks he could eat.  As I ran through the list of 4 or 5 options, he said “no” and had a reason for why he didn’t want every single one of them, but yet he was hungry.  As a parent, these moments sometimes are frustrating, because when I was a grew up there weren’t 4 to 5 options of snacks to eat.

As a kid….. You get what you get and didn’t throw a fit.  

When did kids receive the right to be so picky?

These snacks were perfectly fine last week, but for some reason this week these snacks didn’t meet his criteria.

Was I the one to blame for his picky palate by providing him with multiple options?

By allowing him to have all of these options was I setting him up for discontentment?

These moments make me question my actions as a parent.  Was I setting the foundation for him to be picky in other areas of his life as well?

This picky culture isn’t so far off from how the Sadducees used to live in the Bible.  The Sadducees were a Jewish party that represented the wealthy and sophisticated.  In Jesus’ time even though this group was small in number they had a strong political and religious influence in Jerusalem.  The Sadducees were the ultimate picky culture.  They picked and chose which truths they wanted to believe and not believe.

“But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?”  Matthew 3:7

In this passage, John the Baptist was preparing the way for Jesus.  John the Baptist was calling the Pharisees and Sadducees a “brood of vipers,” because they wanted to hear and see the message of baptism he was teaching, but thought the message didn’t pertain to them.  John was preaching about repentance, a deliberate turning away from sins in order to be forgiven and receive the righteousness of God.  He was teaching everyone needed to repent and be baptized in order to be made new in God and that God always forgave those who repented.

John knew the Sadducees only believed in half-truths.  They only accepted five books of Moses and rejected all other oral traditions (Mark 12:18 footnote).  They didn’t believe in the resurrection or a personal Messiah but held onto to the promise of the Messianic Age a future era where there would be peace, harmony a life without strife or hardship (Acts 4:1, Matt. 3:7 footnote).  They wanted to believe in the promise of life with harmony but didn’t want to walk away from a life of sin.  John actually refused to baptize the Pharisees and Sadducees because he knew they failed to repent (remove sin from their lives).  The Pharisees and Sadducees had one thing in common, they believed their salvation and deliverance was already given to them because of their birthright into the Jewish heritage.

When John asked them “Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?” he was asking them ‘who told you the Messiah is coming to bring repentance or judgment?’  Did they only want to hear the message when their lives were at stake?

How true is this for our lives as well.

“….I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. ”  John 10:10 NIV

Jesus came so we could have life and have it to the full.  But somewhere along the way we can get caught up in picking and choose the parts of Jesus we want and don’t want just like the Sadducees. I for one have been guilty.

Have we become a picky society that picks and chooses what we believe?

Do we want the promise of heaven and the crown but not the suffering of the cross? Do we want the promise of the resurrection of our circumstances in our lives but not the sacrifice of Jesus?  Do we believe in the Bible, but only the red letter parts?  Do we want a Savior and God’s grace to be extended in our mistakes but not for him to be Lord over our lives?

Have we become like the Sadducees?

Do we believe in the sanctity of marriage except when times get difficult?  Do we believe in the power of prayer only if God answers our prayers our way in our timing?  Do we believe in preserving our children’s innocence except in times of worldly persecution?  Do we believe attending church is enough to maintain a relationship with God?  Or that God is only loving when things are going well in our lives?

Choosing half-truths for our lives somehow along the way has been substituted for God's truth in our lives. Click To Tweet

By allowing these half-truths in our lives, are we setting the foundation to pick and choose which parts of Jesus we want to accept and not accept?

Living on the slippery slope of choosing what parts of Jesus I want and don’t want is dangerous.  When I am being picky, I am missing out on the greatest blessings Jesus has to offer.  Jesus is meant to live in our lives wholeheartedly, not halfway.  What if there was only the death of Jesus without the resurrection, how meaningless would that be?  Sadly I think this is how many of us live today.  We believe Jesus is our Savior but not that he is able to resurrect our circumstances by being Lord in our lives.  In God all things are possible.

Jesus is the piece that makes us all whole, He completes us.Click To Tweet

He is the source, maker, provider for all our needs. The more we understand who Jesus is and His role in our lives, the more we can understand God’s love for us—the better we can understand our identity in Him and be filled with His fullness. In God, we lack nothing.  Jesus came so we can have life and have it to the full.  The fullness of everything God has to offer is ours already; we just have to open, receive, and allow room for it in our lives.

Can you relate to the Sadducees?  

What half-truths have you substituted for God’s truth in your life?

God’s love and grace are transformational.  We become victorious when His word is alive and active in our lives!

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The Message and The Miracle

Have you ever gone through a hard time in your life and questioned is God even there? Or does he even care?

Sometimes I’ve caught myself questioning God and his motives when I’m going through hard times. I question God ‘why is this happening to me? Don’t you even care?’ Then he so tenderly reminds me, yes he does care more than I’ll ever know.

In my struggle I realize I’m not the one waiting on God, he’s the one waiting on me. If I just opened my eyes to see what God is trying to show me, His creations are all around me. He has made the heavens, the earth and everything in it. He has already sent Jesus to die for us.

Do I really need him to show me another sign of what he is capable of doing?

My unbelief and doubt aren’t so far off from the Pharisees and the crowd Jesus fed.

The gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, capture the life of Jesus, his ministry, his death, and resurrection. Each gospel captures Jesus’ messages and miracles he performed. Jesus didn’t perform a miracle without there being a deeper message at hand. When a person reads the gospels one will see the pattern of a message then a miracle, a message then a miracle. When we look deeper, we can see this message and miracle pattern in our lives as well.

In the gospel of John 6, Jesus had just performed the miracle of feeding 5,000 people from only 5 loaves of bread and two fish. The crowd was amazed at this miraculous sign that Jesus did. After performing this miracle, Jesus withdrew from the crowd knowing the crowd intended to make him their king. The crowd then went looking for Jesus in Capernaum.

When the crowd finds Jesus, he then says, “I tell you the truth, you are looking for me not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him and the Father has placed his seal of approval.” (John 6:26-27)

Jesus knew their hearts already. They weren’t looking for a Messiah, the one who could give them eternal life, they were looking for another miracle.

John 6:30 says, “So they asked him, “What miraculous sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do?”

Can you even imagine asking Jesus, ‘what else can you do before we believe you?’ It didn’t matter the crowd had just witnessed Jesus miraculously feed a crowd of 5,000 people with just some loaves of bread and fish, the people wanted more.

The crowd didn’t need more proof of Jesus’ abilities, they needed more faith.Click To Tweet

The same scenario happened with the Pharisees after Jesus fed the four thousand people. Afterward the Pharisees questioned Jesus. They wanted to test him and asked him for a sign from heaven.

Jesus sighed deeply and said, “Why does this generation ask for a miraculous sign? I tell you the truth, no sign will be given to it” (Mark 8:12).

How many times have we been guilty of this as well?

There are signs all around us that God is with us and cares about our struggles, yet we search for God to prove his divine authority by performing miraculous signs.

In both scenarios, Jesus did not perform another miracle when they demanded it because they lacked faith. Their request for a miracle came from unbelief (Mark 8:11 footnote). God doesn’t need to prove his abilities he is able. There is evidence all around us of his divine abilities.

Do we really need more proof or more faith?Click To Tweet
What greater sign do we need from God that he can handle our trials and struggles that he hasn’t already done for us?Click To Tweet

Do we seek God like the Pharisees and crowd does, only searching for the next miracle? Are we missing the point as well?

Our relationship with God goes deeper than him supplying for all of our needs and making sure everything is good in our lives all the time. Our relationship with God is more than just a good feeling that is temporary. Our relationship with God is eternal and everlasting.

Behind every miracle lies a deeper message.Click To Tweet

What do you seek God for? To perform another miracle? Or to be your Messiah who has come to give you life?

Searching for a miracle from God without faith is like a person telling a horse to move without ears. Faith without action is dead. Seeking a miracle without receiving God’s deeper message is like sending Jesus to die for us without the resurrection. The death and resurrection of Jesus is the greatest message and miracle ever.

Jesus’ death would be pointless if there wasn’t a resurrection. Jesus was preparing the hearts of people to have faith in him was going to require believing in the unseen of what God could do.

Matthew 17:20, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

We only need faith the size of a mustard seed for God to move the mountains in our life.Click To Tweet

Do you believe our faith in God leads to life’s biggest miracles?

Do you see the pattern of a message then a miracle in your life?

It’s all about meeting Jesus right where we are. In Him, we have life to the full that is complete and everlasting (John 10:10). Have a blessed week!

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Confessions From a Checkbox Christian

Have you ever believed something your whole life and wondered, do I believe what I believe because I believe it or because that is what I’ve been told my whole life?

That is the very question I asked myself when I went away to college and was away from my family for the very first time. I had been a Christian my entire life, but my faith was put to the test when I left home. This was the point in my life was I going to put into practice everything I learned or go along with what the world says I should do? As time went by I found out real fast going along with what the world said I should do got me into trouble. I became more distant from God and wondered why was my life such a mess?

I reflect back upon this time in my life when God was so patient and merciful with me. I can see now how naive I was. In my aimless wandering I became lackadaisical and blind to the realities right in front of me. I came to my senses and realized doing life on my own, without God wasn’t how God designed me.

I started getting back into what I had grown up doing, going to church, praying and periodically reading the Bible. I would have said I was a Christian, but somewhere along the way, my Christianity became more of a routine than it was a relationship with God. Something became lost along the way. I thought by asking Jesus to be my Lord and Savior was all I needed to do to maintain a relationship with Him. How wrong I was. I thought by checking off my boxes of going to church, praying and reading my Bible would make me right with God.

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What I discovered along the way, was God cared more about the condition of my heart than me externally conforming to His laws. God reminded me, I was just like the Pharisees in the Bible.

The Pharisees were members of an ancient Jewish sect. They strictly observed the traditions and written laws thinking this made them self-righteous, above everyone else. They thought what made them right with God was living by legalism and keeping the written laws by men. In reality, the Pharisees were hypocrites. They honored God with their lips and not their hearts (Mark 7:6).

Wow, Is that how I was living my life, by only honoring God with my lips and not my heart?

The hard answer was, Yes. God desired all of my heart, not to just do what’s right and conform to his laws.  He cares about the condition of our hearts, and I realized I was just going through the motions with a distant heart.  Obeying God’s laws with a distant heart is like a puppet master controlling his puppet. God doesn’t want to control us like puppets, he wants all of our hearts and desires a relationship with us.

The Pharisees believed God’s grace only extended to those who kept his law (Mark 2:16). They didn’t understand why Jesus talked and ate with tax collectors who were considered sinners. Jesus was teaching them there was not a place where God’s grace can’t reach—we are to love sinners, but not the sin.

“You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men” (Mark 7:8).

The Pharisees were holding on to the traditions of the elders telling them not to associate with ‘unclean’ men who were sinners. Jesus was telling them, God’s commands in the Bible have more authority than traditions of men.  God’s commands (His love) accept and love everyone, not discriminate and condemn.


“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9

When I was busy checking off the boxes, living by legalism, I realized there was always going to be another box to check, another rule to follow, or another good deed to accomplish, when was it ever enough to please God?

Living a legalistic life puts the trust in ourselves and not what Jesus did for us. When I was living by legalism, I was putting the hope of salvation upon myself taking God out of the equation. Following all of those rules wasn’t going to get me to heaven—putting my trust and faith in God was.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”  Ephesians 2:8-9

In God’s love, we can be set free from checking the boxes.

There will always be another box to check.  The promise of salvation will never come from following a bunch of rules (Galatians 2:21). We are already worthy in God’s eyes don’t have to earn or prove our worth by performing more. If we weren’t worthy, God would have never sent Jesus in the first place.

We receive the righteousness of God through our faith in him.

I realized we become righteous through our faith in Christ, not by anything we do on our own (Philippians 3:9 NLT). Our good works and abiding in God’s commands is a result of His righteousness overflowing from within us—not something we do ourselves.

When I was living by legalism, I was missing out on the beautiful message of the gospel. God’s love transforms hearts and lives. His love is a free gift in which He offers to everyone. No amount of good works could ever repay Jesus for what he has done for us already.

So take the advice from a recovered box checker, you never have to check another box off again when God’s love is living in your heart. Accepting Jesus as my Lord and Savior is the key to my salvation and allowing God to have all my heart is the key to transforming hearts and lives.

It’s all about meeting Jesus right where we are. In Him, we have life to the full that is complete and everlasting (John 10:10). Have a blessed week!

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3 Strategies Satan Uses Against Us

When you look at this picture what do you see?  The game of chess is an interesting game where one tries to capture the king to become the victor.  I love how the game of chess provides an opportunity for the underdog to win.  It’s not over until it’s over.  Even if all the major playing pieces are taken, it’s possible to still win.  In this game, the pawn can become a queen.  The pawn is merely an underdog until it makes its way to the other side and changes the trajectory of the game.

The game of chess requires perseverance and patience.  How many of us give up before the end of the game? Is it because we are weary and tired?  Or have we lost the confidence to believe that we can win?  In life, Satan can play us like pawns in his game of evil.  He throws temptations in our path trying to lure us away, he whispers lies in our ears to make us doubt and seduces us to believe life is better in the green grass.  He waits until we are at our weakest, most desperate moments to make his move.  He is evil and uses sneaky strategies to make us move where he wants us.  We don’t have to fall victim to Satan’s evil schemes.

3 Strategies Satan Uses Against

  1.  Unforgiveness-  Satan’s role in our lives will always be to tempt us.  When there is unforgiveness in our lives, Satan will always use this against us to tantalize us to the point of destruction.   Unforgiveness opens a door for the enemy to cause division and chaos in our lives.  Satan seduces us into believing holding onto unforgiveness is a better solution than forgiving others.  Forgiveness provides an open door for unity, harmony and peace in our world.  Forgiving others allows an opportunity for the underdog to win.

2 Corinthians 2:10-11 NIV

“Anyone you forgive, I also forgive. And what I have forgiven–if there was anything to forgive–I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.”

2.  Making Fear greater than God.  Satan will do anything he can to elevate our fears, trying to make them greater than God.  One of his primary purposes is to instill fear in our lives and take our focus off of God.  The other day we were at the park and my daughter said, “I’m thirsty.”  I said, “There is a water fountain over there, go get a drink of water.”  My daughter said, “I want a drink of water, but there is a wasp over there.”  I went over to inspect the situation to find the wasp had already left.  I told my daughter the wasp was gone, but she would not go near the water fountain because she was still afraid she would get stung.  How many times has the enemy done this in our lives?  He instills fear in us so we can’t go where God is trying to lead us.  Even though the wasp wasn’t there anymore she still wouldn’t go near where it was.  Allowing fear to dictate and control our responses and actions will always keep us from God’s greater plans.  When Fear > God, we will always live defeated life that is stuck.  When God > Fear, we will always live a life that is filled with God’s abundance and victory.

1 Peter 5:8 NIV

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

 

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Where is Your Hometown?

I hope you enjoyed last week’s post Where do I fit in?  Do you ever feel like a stranger in your own skin?  Starting over in a new place can be exciting but also difficult.  I have to learn where the kid’s new school is, where the grocery store is, the vet, my work, the park, and anywhere else we need to go.  When I look around nothing is familiar and feel like a foreigner in a new land.

Starting over means meeting new people and asking simple questions like ‘Where are you from?’  Being in the military, these simple questions can be tricky to answer!  There is not a short and easy answer to give.  I was born and grew up on the east coast, moved to AZ for 10 years, then lived in Alaska now we live in Colorado.  So I guess I’m from the east coast and lived in AZ for most of my married life.

We all come from different walks of life.  Some of us grew up in the inner city and are used to taking the subway or bus for transportation.  Some of us grew up in neighborhoods and walked to school.  We knew all of our neighbors by name and even got together once in awhile.  Some of us grew up in the suburbs where the nearest neighbor was a half a mile away, but you could still call on them to borrow a cup or milk or an egg.  Whatever walk of life we come from, all of us come from somewhere that we can call our hometown.  There may be circumstances in life that don’t allow us to visit or go back to our hometowns, but we always know where our home is when God’s love resides in our hearts.

This is not our home.

Philippians 3:20 (NIV), “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ,”

Paul was reminding the Philippians in this verse as Christians, we are merely aliens living in this world, our citizenship is in heaven not here.  We live in the world but are not of the world.  He encourages them, even when there is trouble in this world, we are in union with the things of Christ, not of this world.

1 Chronicles 29:15 (NLT), “We are here for only a moment, visitors and strangers in the land as our ancestors were before us. Our days on earth are like a passing shadow, gone so soon without a trace.”

As Christians, we can rejoice because the life we live here on earth is only but a moment compared to the eternal life we live in heaven.  Our lives will only be a trace of God’s creation once we go to heaven.  There are so many times I miss my family and friends.  I wish I lived in the same town as them and yearn to be closer to them.  I am reminded that wherever I live this is only my temporary home–heaven is my final destination.

1 Peter 2:11-12 (NLT), “Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls.  Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world.”

In this new life and town we are living, God reminds me, it doesn’t matter where I reside, His love always brings me home.

In a world filled with hate and violence–God’s love brings us home.

In a world filled with destruction–God’s love brings us home.

In a world filled with devastation–God’s love brings us home.  

Home is where the heart is.

I don’t have to wait to live in my hometown to feel at home.  Wherever God’s love is present, I am always home.   Peter warns us in this verse to not give into the evil worldly desires but to rise up against them, so others will know our actions are from God.  Starting over in a new town can be hard, but I don’t feel like a stranger when God’s love resides in my heart.  His love turns a stranger into a friend.  He is the one who provides for my every need.

In this world, we will have troubles and struggles but stay faithful my friend, God is holding them in His hands.

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Where is Your Hometown?  Do you struggle with not living in your Hometown?

 

Have you ever felt like a stranger in your own skin?  How or in what way?

 

God’s love and grace are transformational.  We become victorious when His word is alive and active in our lives!

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7 Miracles I Have Witnessed as a Nurse

Have you ever witnessed a miracle, something so amazing, you knew it could only be God’s handiwork?  Being a nurse I can say I have been a first hand witness to some of life’s most amazing miracles.  I’ve witnessed countless births—babies taking their first breath of life as they enter into this world.  I’ve seen patients on their death bed who had no chance of survival, walk out of the hospital on their own two feet.  I’ve seen a father donate his own kidney to his son to give him a chance of life. It is an honor to be a nurse and a witness to some of life’s most precious moments that can only be explained as a miracle.  A miracle is something that cannot be explained by laws of nature but only by the divine work of God.

Here are 7 of the Most Precious Miracles I have witnessed (as a Nurse and Mother)-

1.  A Mother’s selfless act of giving her baby up for adoption–    I have worked in the operating room as a nurse anesthetist for over 13 years now and in that time, have witnessed hundreds of babies born.  I will never forget the love of the mother who gave her baby up for adoption.  I couldn’t imagine what that mother felt at that moment knowing she was giving her motherly rights away to another mother.  How selfless of the birth mother, putting her own child’s needs first before her own.  By giving up her rights she was giving another mother a chance to be a mother and a chance for a better life for the baby.  This selfless act of love reminded me of the selfless love Jesus gives us everyday.

2.  The Blind Couple-  One of the other births that I will never forget is a baby being born to a blind couple.  Both the mother and father were physically blind.  When their baby was born, they handed me their camera and asked me to take a picture of their new born child.  I literally had tears in my eyes taking the picture of their new baby, knowing they would never physically see their child with their own eyes.  What impressed upon me so much about their baby’s birth, was no amount of blindness can ever change the amount of love they had for their child.  Just because they couldn’t see their baby with their own eyes didn’t mean their love for their child was any less.  This picture of blindness showed me we may go through periods of darkness or spiritual blindness in our lives, but that doesn’t mean God ever leaves us or doesn’t love just as much.  

3.  #1 Nurse Necklace-  I will never forget the family who gave me a #1 nurse necklace.  I was a nurse on a medical floor and took care of an older gentlemen for many weeks.  This man had a very loving family. He became very ill and passed away a few weeks after being ill in the hospital.  I was so touched when the family invited another nurse and I to their father’s funeral.  I have had patients pass away before but have never been invited to their funeral.  Afterwards the family gave the other nurse and I a #1 Nurse necklace to thank us for taking care of their father.  It stirred my heart the way the family showed gratitude by giving us the necklace after their father passed away.  I never before had a family respond in that way and it moved me.  It showed the power in giving gratitude and kindness out of our grief and sorrow.  

4.  The Russian man-  I will never forget when a Russian man, whom I never met before, reached out his hand and said, “Do you believe Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior?” I said, “yes.  Then he says, “You are my sister” (while still holding my hand).  We are all brothers and sisters in Christ, adopted into God’s one big family.  It doesn’t matter if we are Catholic, Greek or Jew when we accept Jesus as our Savior, what unites us as family is the blood of Christ.  

5.  The Roll Over Accident-  Have you ever witnessed something and you know what you saw, but couldn’t believe it?  My children and I were driving down the highway one day when it was raining.  A pick-up truck about 3 car lengths in front of us lost control and flipped horizontally (3 times) on it’s side with a flat bed trailer attached to it.  When the truck and trailer stopped rolling, it laid horizontally on it’s side laying across all 3 lanes of the highway.   Not one car hit the rolled over pick-up truck.  What was so amazing, all 3 passengers inside the truck boosted themselves out of the window and walked away unharmed.  It was a bone-chilling moment, knowing the accident could have been much worse, but God protected us.  This moment showed me not only do physical seat belts keep us safe but so does God’s belt of truth when it’s worn.  Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place.”  (Ephesians 6:14).  

6.  Brooklyn-  Our daughter Brooklyn who is almost 10 years old now, was born 8 weeks premature.  When she was born she only weighed 3 pounds 8 ounces.  She was too tiny to bring home and needed to stay in the hospital to learn how to feed and grow.  Her birth and life have nothing been short of a miracle.  Since she was born, she has alway defied the odds.  She came home after only 3 weeks (usually babies have to stay until they reach gestation).  She never needed oxygen when she was born, in fact she came out screaming!  One thing she has taught us is to trust in God’s plans.  Life may not turn out the way we planned but God’s plans are always greater and better.

7.  Bowen-  Out of all the miracles I have witnessed, there has been none greater than our son Bowen.  He is our third child born six years ago.  Even though he lived a short life of only two weeks on earth, his life impacted us greatly.  God used Bowen in a big way in our lives to show us how life’s most devastating moments can be turned into life’s greatest blessings.  How God takes our tragedy, our hardship and heartaches uses it, molds it and turns it into something more beautiful than it was before.  He showed us the meaning of living a life of love is a life worth living, when we are loving we are living.  There is no gift greater than that.  

Our son’s life taught us that God does answer prayer, maybe not in the way we want. Our son is no longer suffering, he is living a life free from pain, disease and sorrow.  God went ahead of us and made the greatest plan ever.  He is taking care of him until the day we will see him again. 

Have you ever witnessed a miracle from heaven?  Something that could have only been God’s handiwork?  Please Share!

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Join me next week for the 4 part series of meeting Jesus in the scriptures, our struggles and our everyday lives.  I would love to hear from you!    Please Leave Your Comments Below.  Have a Blessed Week!