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Do You Know What You Need?

Do you know what you need?

I can tell you better what I want more than what I need.  I want a big piece of chocolate cake without reaping the consequences.  I want my kids to be obedient without giving me a hard time.  I want to work less, sleep in and go on vacation more.  The same goes for my kids.  I ask are you hungry, do you want something to eat?  Ten minutes later they tell me they’re hungry.  I’ve learned over the years don’t do what they say, do what they need.

What I need?  That’s a different story.  I know I need to be discipline even though I don’t want to.  If I wasn’t disciplined I would eat whatever I wanted, let time go by and never get anything done.

Not knowing what we need is apart of most of our stories.

Did you know in America there are over 52,000 Self-Storage units?  That means despite the 65% of Americans who already have garages to store ‘stuff,’ there’s an additional 21 extra feet to store more ‘stuff.’

In a study of overeating rats, Scientists examined their eating habits and their reward system (dopamine receptors).  What they found was once the rats started down the path of overeating it drove them towards a dysfunctional reward system.  In order to feel the ‘reward’ or satisfaction of eating they had to eat more in order to feel the ‘reward,’ which led them to their downfall.

It makes me question with our hoarding and addictive tendencies, do we even know what we need?Click To Tweet

Give me what I need not what I want.

One story in the Bible reminds me of what happens when we look within and seek God for provision instead of relying on ourselves or the world to rescue us.

In 2 Kings, a widow who was in financial trouble came to Elisha who her husband had worked for.  She tells Elisha of her troubles, how creditors are looking for her.  Elisha asks her, “How can I help you?  Tell me, what do you have in your house? (2 Kings 4:2).  She tells him I don’t have anything except a small jar of oil.

Elisha then tells her go to your neighbors and ask for jars, bring them back to your house, shut the door, pour the oil into all the jars and put them to the side (2 Kings 4:4).

“She left him and shut the door behind her and her sons.  They brought the jars to her and she kept pouring until they were full” (2 Kings 4:5).

3 Lessons from the Heart:

Three important lessons can be learned from this message.

 1.  She Chose Wisdom.  Out of desperation, the widow who was in fear of losing her two sons to the creditor as slaves, turned towards Elisha, a man of wisdom.  As a widow she was in a desperate situation, no husband, no way to financially provide for her sons, she chose to seek counsel of a wise man (Elisha) instead of acting out her fear.

2.  God Provided.  Elisha asked, “What do you have?”  When the widow came to Elisha, he didn’t immediately dive in to rescue her by giving her what she needed, he pointed her to look within to see what she already had.  As Christians we are called to love others, but we also can be guilty of taking over the role as the Savior and rescue people from their situations instead of helping them gain the skills they need to do for themselves.  There comes a time when helping helps and when helping hurts.  Elisha didn’t create a cycle of dependency, he gave her the skills to utilize the resources she already had.

3.  God Multiplied.  The oil never stopped flowing until all the jars were filled.  God used what she had and made it plentiful, into more than she needed.  Elisha said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debts.  You and your sons can live on what is left. (2 Kings 4:7).  The jar plan Elisha told her, sounded kind of crazy.  But she trusted and obeyed and God multiplied what she had.

How Amazing is our God?

One thing the widow did that makes an impression on my heart is how she embraced the suffering.  She was dealing with the grief of her husband, having to be the primary breadwinner/caretaker of her sons and deal with everything on her own.  She didn’t throw her hands up, say ‘I give up,’ and let her sons be sold as slaves.

When she pursued wisdom and embraced the suffering, it drastically changed her situation.Click To Tweet

What do you need?

Looking at our world, there is an epidemic of brokenness.  A world that turns towards crime, drugs, prostitution, eating, hoarding to fill a void of something we all desperately need–LOVE.

We can have everything taken from us but if we still have love, we have everything we need.  Things and stuff can be replaced but the love from others cannot.

God’s love is the solution to brokenness.

God's love has the power to mend and provide in ways this world can never do. Click To TweetDo you need Love?  Leave a comment below how can I pray for you?

The best way to receive love is to give it.  Who can you love on?  A widow, a person who needs groceries, a parent who could use a date night?  Every small act of kindness makes an impact in someone else’s life.

Prayer-  Dear Lord,  Give me what I need, not what I want.  When I ask for what I want, it makes me dependent upon worldly things that leaves me only wanting more temporary rewards.  I need you Lord.  I want you God.  You are my Maker, my Lord who knows what I need.  Help me seek you, stay focused on you so you can give me the desires of my heart.  Help me be like the widow, who chose wisdom, had faith and trusted in you Lord and allowed you to lead her Lord.  I thank you and praise you for who you are.  In Jesus name, Amen.

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What Is One Answer You Want To Know?

What Is The One Answer You Want To Know?

There are so many questions, yet so little answers.  Have you been waiting on an answer from God about a question that burns deep within?  Seven years ago when our son died, I had a question, “Why?” Oh how I was on a search and mission to discover the answer to the why.  Do you know what happened in my search?  I got further and further away from the answer.  I sank deeper and deeper into the despair of my grief.  My life became utter chaos, everything was out of order nothing was in my control.

In these moments I take matters into my own hand, God so gently whispers into my ear, ‘dear child, if I told you the answer to the why you still wouldn’t understand.  The only answer you need to know is I LOVE YOU.’

There are so many times in the Bible questions were asked and do you know how God responds?  With a another question.  I’ve wondered why does God answer with another question, then it dawned on me.  He answers with a question to reveal the answer within us he already knows.  How well would we understand if he told us the answer?  We understand so much better when we come to the answer ourselves.

I love how God meets us right where we are.

He Sees Us In Our Despair

In Genesis 7-13, God sent an angel to Hagar after she was sent away by Sarai and asks her- “Where have you come from and where are you going?” God already knew the answer yet asked anyway, to give her a very important message.  God sees us in our despair.  In God, He reveals himself as El-Roi, the God who sees us.

He Sees Us When We Hide

In Genesis 3:9-13, God asks Adam and Eve, “Where are you?” after they ate the forbidden fruit.  He then asked, “What is this you have done?”  God already knew the answer yet asks the questions anyway, to let them know, hey I’m God, I know and see everything, there is nowhere you can hide where I can’t see you (Jeremiah 23:16-24).

He Meets Us in Our Unbelief

In Mark 9:14-29, Jesus approaches a situation of a crowd arguing and asks a few questions, “What are you arguing about?” “How long have I been with you?” A father desperately wants healing for his son who is possessed by a demon.   Right before Jesus arrived, the disciples were there trying to cast out the demon but were unsuccessful.  Jesus asks the father, “How long has this been happening to him?” The father responds, “But if you can do anything….”  Wow IF you can?  Jesus knew all the answers to every single question yet the crowd and disciples didn’t even know what they are arguing about until Jesus draws out the answer.

'All things are possible for one who believes.' Mark 9:23Click To Tweet

Don’t you wish God had a telephone number you could call him up at anytime, ask him any question and he provided an immediate answer?

In all of these situations, God knows the answer.  He knows what’s in our hearts.  He sees what we’re going through and what we’re struggling with.  He pursues us.  Meets us where we are and yet we still pursue the answer to what we want to know.

There is no harm in pursuing answers to our questions, but when the pursuit of the answer consumes us and brings more despair, maybe it's time we give our pursuit to God.Click To Tweet

We let him lead us so we can hear what He has to say.  We allow Him to ask us the questions so we can discover the deeper answer within us.

God is close to the broken-hearted.  Our brokenness draws us closer and nearer to him to hear him.  We may not always like God’s plans or what He has to say, but know the only answer we need to know is He LOVES US.  He knows what’s best for us.  We may not like it or want it, but know God is good all the time and desires the best for us.  There may be times when we suffer but know God knows the way through our suffering.  Jesus suffered too.  If anyone knows anything about suffering, it’s God.

Only God can turn our suffering into a door of hope.  Into His glory.  Into His greatest blessings.

What is the one answer you want to know?

Where has the search for the Answer led you?

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Have You Ever Felt Like An Imposter?

Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.”  Genesis 4:25 NIV

Come out, come out wherever you are.  Remember the game of hide and seek you used to play as a kid?  The seeker would count to 100 and say, ‘ready or not here I come.’  The object of the game was to find the best hiding place, turn out the lights and not be found by the seeker.  If the seeker found you then you became it having to go find those in hiding.  If you couldn’t be found then the seeker would say…..

“Come out, come out wherever you are.”

Have you ever felt like an Imposter?

Like you were playing a game of hide and seek only it wasn’t a game, it was your reality?  At one point in our lives we all hide from something, whether its to cover up gray hair (to appear younger than we are) or a pesky blemish on our face.  We all try to cover up our imperfections.

There have been so many times in my life where everything from the outside appears like its straight out of story tale when in reality I’ve been so desperately hurting on the inside.  From a distance it looks like I have everything all together but really feel like any moment the life I’ve built is going to crumble and fall apart.  I feel like one of those imposters who doesn’t expose their mess in front of others but instead keeps it hidden so no one will know.

At any moment someone is going to discover I don’t have it all together, nor do I have it all figured out.  Can you relate?

Why do we hide?

I think the very nature of our genetic makeup predisposes us to hide.  When Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden, God gave them one command, Do not eat from “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die” Genesis 2:17.  Well, we know how that all went down.  Once Adam and Eve ate the fruit from the forbidden tree, they became ashamed of what they did and hid themselves from the presence of God among the trees in the garden when they heard God walking in the garden (Gen. 3:8).

The next part amazes me, God then calls out to them and asks them a question which he already knew the answer to–“Where are you?”  Genesis 4:9.  God was the one who created Adam and Eve, giving them life, did they really think they could hide from God?  God is God and knows all things.  There is no where we can hide that he doesn’t see us.  There is nothing we can keep hidden from Him that he doesn’t already know.  

“Am I a God at hand, declares the Lord, and not a God far away? Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? declares the Lord. Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the Lord.”  Jeremiah 23:23-24 NIV

It’ s so amazing time and time again we think we are safer or better off if we hide instead coming into the presence of God in the first place.  We try so hard to hide behind fake facades, perfectly manicured lives, masks of whom we think others will accept.  And yet we are so weary from trying to keep up with an image that doesn’t even matter.

In my professional life I wear a mask for a living to help maintain the sterility of the room I’m working in.  If one person enters the room without having the proper attire or their mask up to cover their face, there is a breech in the sterility of the room.  There are days I’m thankful I get to hide behind my mask so people don’t know whether I’m smiling or having a bad day.  Just as these masks protect the sterility of the room, our imposter masks protect us from others getting close to us and seeing the real version of ourselves.

These personas we hide behind aren’t really who we are at all.  The imposter masks may help protect our fake image but in the long run only end up falling apart.

The masks we wear don't make it better, they enable us to live as imposters in Fakeville.Click To Tweet

“Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.”  Ephesians 4:25 NIV

It’s scary right?  Exposing yourself to others, letting them know your flaws, your deficits, your imperfections?  What if you let others in and they discover who you really are and they don’t accept you?

These are valid concerns and fears.  We must surround ourselves with people whom we trust.  Pray for God’s wisdom and discernment of who you should share your struggles with, whom you can trust.

Where are you?  

When God called to Adam and Eve to come out of hiding, Adam told God he hid because he was naked.  God then responded, “Who told you that you were naked?”

Who told you?

Who told you, you must be ashamed?  

Who……. told………… you?

'But everything exposed by the light becomes visible--and everything that is illuminated becomes a light.' Ephesians 5:13 NIVClick To Tweet

Have you ever felt like an imposter?

Our struggles, our burdens, our trials are not meant to go through alone.  The enemy wants us to feel shame so he can isolate us and keep us hidden in the dark with our troubles.  He wants to whisper lies for us to believe we’re better off hiding.  When we bring our struggles into the light the enemy has no power over us and sets us free from the darkness to be able to live in the light of our flaws, deficits and imperfections they way God created us.   God never meant for us to hide behind our flaws but for them to be apart of who we are.

Have Can I Pray For You?

God does his best work in the light.  If you are going through a tough season or trial have you asked someone to pray for you?  Have you told a trusted individual?  Let another person come alongside you and walk with you in your struggle.
Did you enjoy ‘When You Feel Like An Imposter?’ Please share with others! Want more encouraging messages sent right to your inbox? Subscribe to my blog and receive a FREE E-Book “The Jericho Prayer,” and a weekly Monday Message.  Like my Author Facebook page to catch the latest posts.

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The Top 3 Most Powerful Influences In Our Life

 

Influence (Noun)-  the capacity or power of persons or things to be a compelling force on or produce effects on the actions, behavior, opinions, etc., of others:

We are all under the influence of something.  Cops use this phrase all the time, he was driving under the influence.  Now there are breathalyzers and blood tests to measure someone’s blood alcohol level.  When a person comes into the ER they tell us “I only had 2 drinks,” but the results of their blood tests, tells the real story.

In 2016 over 10,000 people in Colorado were arrested for DUI’s.  Being under the influence of alcohol clouds judgement and allows not good choices to impact the future.  Being under the influence, influences them in ways they would normally not be influenced.

'Do not get drunk with wine, which will only ruin you; instead, be filled with the Spirit.' Ephesians 5:18Click To Tweet

I don’t know if you’ve come across this verse before.  But I always found it odd how the Holy Spirit is compared to wine.  Looking closer I see why.  Being intoxicated on wine ruins our judgement controlling our minds.  Paul is trying to express to the Ephesians be filled with the Holy Spirit instead which leads to self-control.  Sounds boring right?  In reality we receive so much more in our self-control.  Being filled with the Holy Spirit isn’t just a one time filling but a regular pattern of life.

What Really Influences Us?

FRIENDS.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been influenced by my friends when I was growing up.  Somewhere along the way I valued what my friends thought more than what God thought.  I fell to peer pressure over and over again, reaping the consequences every time.  We are who we hang out with.  If we hang out with others who curse chances are we’ll start cursing.  If we hang out with others who (fill in the blank)  ______________________ chances are we will start doing what they are doing.  We are influenced by those in our inner circle.

“Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”  1 Corinthians 15:33

“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.”  Proverbs 27:17

“Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” Proverbs  13:20

THE WORLD.  “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”  Romans 12:2
There have been so many times I’ve been intoxicated on worldly treasures.  I made them more than God.  I pursued worldly treasures instead of what God desired for me.
How often are we lured away by everything the world has to offer?  We form little g, gods we bow down to allowing them to rule us.  We chase dangling carrots, empty promises of being rich, false images that fall apart don’t last–all for what?  This year I want to ask myself, what influences me?  Following the world or Jesus?
POSITIVITY.  “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”  Proverbs 15:1.  I admit I have gotten into bad patterns of negativity at times.  I’ve allowed negativity to encroach my thoughts and spill out into my actions.  How much more are you impacted when someone responds in love?  When a person could have chosen to get angry and yell, but instead chose to speak love.
JESUS.  His influence changed the hearts and lives of the world while he was on this earth and still impacts us even after he’s gone.  The legacy of love, kindness, compassion, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, joy and patience is insurmountable.
I’d like to say church influences us.  But really many of us, me included, for years have shown up to church sat there, listened to the message, let’s be real here, zoned out and thought of the hundred other things I’ve needed to do.  I’ve sat there taking up space, but my heart wasn’t focused, wasn’t present.  After leaving church, life just went on as if I never went.  The message didn’t seep through.
The message didn’t influence me.  Why?  To be under the influence one has to receive.  One has to partake.  One has to be engaged.  We can’t just expect to be under the influence of something by merely taking up space or by osmosis.  Just like a car can’t run without it’s gas tank being filled with gas over and over, our spiritual lives can’t be influenced without being drunk on the Holy Spirit.  Sounds weird right?

Being influenced requires a regular pattern of life.  A regular filling.  A regular receiving.

We may get mad at God and ask why has nothing changed in my life?  The answer may be what influences us?  Who do we hang out with?  What do we spend most of our time doing?  What music do we listen to?  What words come our of our mouths?  What are we really putting into our hearts, minds, mouths and minds?
There may not be a blood tests that measures what is the level of our spiritual influence.  But there is an indicator in our lives that lets us know what influences us–what fruit is growing in our lives?  An apple tree is recognized by its apples just as a lemon tree is recognized by its lemons.  The fruit of kindness, gentleness, joy, peace and self-control is evident when it is growing in our lives. (Galatians 5:22-23)?

What kind of fruit is growing in your life?

If you would like to know what is preventing growth in your life, revisit the Parable of the Sower in Matthew 13.  Read what sets a person up for success and eternal growth.  There is no one else who influences us more than Jesus.  His influence has transformed our hearts and lives forever that makes an eternal difference.

What Influences Your Life?

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You Have Arrived

Congratulations!  You have officially arrived in 2019!  The New Year always makes me reflect.  No one had to do anything to arrive into the New Year it just came.  No one had to work for it or even ask directions how to get there.  We just woke up and it was here.

Getting directions in this day and age has come a long way.  When I was a kid, there weren’t navigation systems in cars, GPS on phones or even SIRI to tell you how to get where you needed to go.  There wasn’t even the internet to google directions.  We had to rely on the verbal directions of the person giving them either from a friend or a gas station attendant.  We had physical maps we looked at and mapped out our routes.  We had to write directions down with a pen and paper and trust in our own navigation skills and that directions were correct.

Nowadays we don’t have to rely on such antiquated methods of obtaining directions.  We have Google maps and SIRI to take us there.  But sometimes Google maps and SIRI don’t always know exactly how to get where you need to go.  When I type in the address for directions sure they can tell me the fastest route, if there is traffic and other routes to go to avoid it.  If I miss a turn GPS can redirect my route.  They can also tell me how much longer it will take to get there and when I arrive.

Have you ever plugged in the address of your desired location and GPS says you have arrived, yet you are still lost?

You don’t see the location.  You can’t quite figure out where the entrance is.  You’re yelling at your phone, I haven’t arrived!  I’m still not here!  Please get me there!  Can anyone relate?

These scenarios make me realize I put way too much trust in my phone getting me to where I need to go without checking if the directions are correct myself.  The other day my GPS took me to the right location, but guess what.  There was no way to access into the entrance because I was behind the building with no way to get in.

These times show me when I place the trust in myself or technology that might not always be right, I will always be lost.  I will always be seeking how to get in.  I will always be turning around circling and searching.

This may sound cliché, but when we follow Jesus, He knows the way and will always get us to where we need to go.

'Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.' John 14:6Click To Tweet

We can trust when we plug in the address to where we want to go, we can trust Jesus knows the directions of how to get there!  He can tell us the best route, how long it will take us to get there and if there are any obstacles in the way.  And He will most definitely tell us when we have arrived.

Sometimes the directions He gives might take us on detours, may be a little bumpy, but know He knows best to get us to where we need to go safely.

Another cliché Bible verse that shouldn’t be overlooked is Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;  in all your ways submit to him and he will make your paths straight.”

Trusting in God by allowing Him to lead the way, submitting to the way He desires to take you, makes the road a little bit straighter and more direct.  Sometimes we are the ones causing the obstacle and question God why am I not arriving to where I need to go?  Then God gently redirects us around the obstacles before us, rerouting us down an even better road even in our stubbornness and disobedience.

God blesses the broken roads.

Even when we mess up. God loves us, pursues us and gently redirects us and says, 'This way child. Follow Me, I know the Way.' Click To Tweet

We all have the same opportunity of starting over and being intentional in this new year.

I don’t know what your goals are this year, but a good goal to set is, follow God’s directions.  Let Him be the Navigator.  It’s not about our performance, how fast we get somewhere, it’s about our surrender.  God doesn’t care how perfect we are He cares about the condition of our hearts.

Maybe you haven’t arrived to where you want to be in life.  Or God hasn’t given you the directions yet.  Maybe we’re not plugging in the right address.  Maybe we are still trying to do it our own way.  Are you tired of driving around in circles, feeling like you will never arrive?  Maybe we should ask ourselves these hard questions and trust in the One who knows the way.  I promise when we do we will arrive at the exact time God desires.

What address are you plugging in?

Will you allow God to lead you down the best road ever?

Did you enjoy this blog post? Please share with others! Want more encouraging messages sent right to your inbox? Subscribe to my blog and receive a FREE E-book, “The Jericho Prayer” and a weekly Monday Message.  Like my Author Facebook page to catch the latest posts.  Have a blessed week!

I would love to hear from you! Leave your comments below!  Happy New Year!


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When Fear Surrounds Us

It’s almost a new year!  Many of us are excited to start a fresh new year.  Whatever the expectation the new year brings for you, it may bring many fears that can be overwhelming.

I recently had the opportunity to embark on a cruise with 29 of my family members and 5,000 other people cruising around the Caribbean sea.  This was my first Caribbean cruise.  I don’t know if cruising is your thing, but it made me uncomfortable knowing I was in the middle of the ocean with that many people. When I did the calculations, there are not enough boats for everyone if for some reason the ship sank.  Let’s just say it was unsettling for me.

Don’t know if you are one of those ‘What if’ people, I am typically not, however, I am married to one.  I usually don’t think about all the scenarios of ‘what if,’ but when you are surrounded by lots of people and water it makes your mind start going in that direction especially when you watch those movies where the ship sinks or people get eaten by sharks.

Ok, I promise I’ll stop.

But seriously have you ever been in that kind of life or death situation?  Like the scene in the Poseidon movie when Josh Lucas, Richard Dreyfus, and the young gal are debating whether they should stay in the room with the flooding water or go towards the vents which they didn’t know where they led fearing they might get stuck?  Everywhere they looked their options went from bad to worse.  If they stayed they would have drowned if they went forward they still may die, but it was their only option for a possible way out.

Maybe we haven’t been in a scenario as drastic as the Poseidon movie where our lives depended on it.  But we all have been in situations when we open our eyes and all we see is the fear that surrounds us.  It doesn’t matter which way we look it’s there and we can’t escape it.  I don’t know about you, but when I live in the ‘what if’ and look for the ‘bad’ things to happen, fear gets the best of me.  When my focus is on the fear, fear is all I see.

We may not like our situations. We may not choose them. But know it could always be worse. Click To Tweet

Maybe you are in a situation like the scene on the ship, if you stay you’ll drown but if you go forward, there is fear of the unknown of not knowing how it will all turn out.

When we let go of our fears and release them to God, we allow Him to take care of them instead of trying to control the situation ourselves.  He is our way out.  Our fears will always squash our hopes, our joy, and growth because we are trusting in what we see and not in what God is able to do.

The verse in Isaiah, I’m reminded of what God was able to accomplish through the Israelites when they trusted in Him.  They saw the enemy armies attacking, coming at them full force and God said, “The Lord will fight for you, you only need to be still” (Exodus 14:14).  He then provided a way out for them when he parted The Red Sea when they trusted in Him.

I’m reminded what God did for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace when they stood up against Nebuchadnezzar.  They refused to take orders from the king and only would obey their one true king–God.  When they stood their ground, God protected them when they were thrown into the blazing furnace.  Not a hair on their body was singed nor did they smell like smoke.  God protected them in their obedience.

When we put our trust in God in what He is able to do and keep our eyes on Him we’ll be protected even when our fear surrounds us.

'I keep my eyes always on the LORD. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken (Psalm 16:8).Click To Tweet

When Jesus lives in our hearts, we are not exempt from having fear or bad things from happening to us.  We are able to be protected from our troubling circumstances when we stand in His presence, focus on God’s power, trust in Him and obey.

Are you surrounded by fear?

Do you trust God with your fears?

Are you hoping to get rid of fear in the New Year?

This New Year, take a deep breath, close your eyes and focus on the One who is able to do the impossible.  Trust in Him.  Allow Him to lead you, He knows the way out.  You are loved, my friend!

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Prayer Changes Everything

“When a believing person prays great things happen.” James 5:16 NCV

Do you believe prayer changes everything?

I admit, there have been times in my prayer life when I’ve prayed but didn’t really believe God was able. I threw prayers up to heaven not truly thinking anything was ever going to change in my life. But then something happens when we pray when we believe God is able.

When we start praying like it matters.

When we focus on His purpose.

God has the power and strength to do anything at any time, anywhere, yet he patiently waits for us in our unbelief. He uses prayer to shape and mold our unbelieving hearts, to make room for what He desires for us.

Our prayers mean so much to God. They move His heart. Imagine our prayers have the ability to move the heavens.

In Matthew 18:19-20 says, “Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”

Have you ever had an experience when prayer changed everything?

Many times I’ve believed, God isn’t listening. I have prayed the same prayer for over 20 years and God still hasn’t answered it. Does that mean He doesn’t care or we should stop praying?

God hears our prayers. I believe God cares about what we care about because we are His children. Our persistent consistency gets God’s attention and shows our faithfulness. When we are constant in prayer, God sees what we’re passionate about. He sees what matters to us. A prayer a person has prayed for years is never wasted and will be used in greater ways than we could ever imagine.

“Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him.” (James 5:13-14)Click To Tweet

We are only one prayer away from the sick being healed. One prayer away from someone else’s breakthrough. One prayer away from lives being changed. One prayer away from God doing the impossible.

Nothing changes when our prayers are silent and when they go unspoken.

Everything changes when we pray.

Sometimes the biggest change that happens when we pray isn’t our situation, it’s our hearts.Click To Tweet

Do you believe prayer changes everything?

Would you like to make a difference with your prayers?

Whatever is important to you.  Whatever concerns you.  Gather two to or more friends to come together and pray about what’s weighing heavy on your heart.  Meet together in numbers, pray consistently with a fervent passion that shows God I’m serious, please hear my prayers.  One of the greatest tragedies is when a prayer goes unspoken.  God will use us to carry out his greatest plans.  God uses our prayers to fill our hearts with what He desires for us.  Our prayers matter and make a difference.  Don’t give up, keep praying with a believing heart. God hears our prayers and is able to accomplish the impossible.

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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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Why Do We Need To Go To Church Anyway?

If we believe in God then why do we need to go to church?

Sunday at church the question was asked, “Why do we need to go to church?”  It is a very common response for others to say, I don’t need to go to church to experience Jesus or have a relationship with God. This is true so it can be difficult to answer. We were all asked freely what was our own personal reason for being there that day in church?

Some answers were:

1. To worship
2. To connect with others
3. Build relationships
4. Receive Sacraments
5. Edify Believers
6. To take scheduled time out for God

These are all great answers. However, one answer struck me, as someone raised their hand and said, “I come to church to fill me up.”  She said, “I think of church like a gas station to fill my tank up. Just like a car. Is a car a car just because it takes space up in a garage?” “What is the point of having a car sit in a garage if the gas tank is not filled up, you can’t go anywhere with an empty tank.”

How profound this statement was to me. Just as a Christian goes to church.

Does sitting in a church make a person a Christian or a believer?Click To Tweet

Of course not. A person can absolutely have a personal relationship with God without going to church. But how full is their tank and how far have they gone in their relationship with the Lord? Our personal relationship with God can be like the car that sits in the garage with an empty tank, collecting dust and forming rust. How far can we go if we are not filled up? Our tanks will never be filled just by sitting there. Church is a way to connect, re-energize, refocus, worship and build relationships.

What is the church to you?

Is it the building? The choir? The pastor? The church is the people. Not the building, not the things in it, but the people in it. The building is just a building and means nothing without the pastor, the choir, or the people.

Right before we came to Alaska, our church had the unfortunate experience of being victim to a horrible storm that caused a flood. The waters rose so fast and became so powerful they pushed opened the doors of the church. Water came gushing into the sanctuary filling the entire room. All the seats we sat in every Sunday became submerged in water. It was the most unbelievable sight. When the rain stopped the water then had a chance to recede and drain. When this flood happened it was an eye-opening experience because at first I was saddened the flood ruined the church where we worshipped the Lord. When the storm left, in came the people to help in any way to rebuild and restore what was damaged. This experience made me realize more than ever, a storm can take away the building but it can’t take away where we worship the Lord. Where we worship is the church.  The church is the people.

As the sermon went on that day the pastor stated statistics of why people don’t attend church.

It saddened me to hear the responses:

1. 30% say church is important but not relevant
2. 40% say church is ambivalent, I find God elsewhere
3. 30% say church is not important

Other reasons people said why they didn’t go:

1.  Hypocrisy
2.  Moral values of the church leaders
3.  The church’s irrelevance
4.  God is missing from the church

So it challenged me to think how do we answer the question, “Why do we need to go to church?” It makes me question, Are we the people who are in the church doing something wrong or are the people attending not fully, wholly giving themselves completely?

“Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ.”(1 Corinthians 12:12).

I think the blame game can be played here. But in reality, there is no perfect church or person for that matter. There will always be variables at play. I believe we do need the church and the church needs us. That is how the beautiful message of the gospel is spread. That is how the body of Christ functions and we become the hands and feet of Jesus. A body works much better when it has all of its parts.

“Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. 15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.” 1 Corinthians 12:14-20

People who go to Alcoholics Anonymous go to keep them accountable. Without accountability what kind of relationship can be built? Church keeps us accountable. It is important to keep coming together and be the church.

Hebrews 10:25 NIV-  “So let’s not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another and all the more as you see the day approaching.”

Nothing happens when the car is sitting in the garage with an empty tank. God’s word isn’t meant to stay on the pages of our Bibles, but to be alive and living within us.  His words, His truth, fill us with all we need and more than we can imagine.  His words will sustain and maintain us in this life and for all eternity.  Keep filling up your tank and see how far you go.

Have you given up going to church?

Are you missing from church?

How does church fill you up?

“Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 28 And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues ? Do all interpret? 31 Now eagerly desire the greater gifts. And yet I will show you the most excellent way.” 1 Corinthians 12:27-31

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The Secret to Being Perfect

Summer is here. The sun is shining, kids are out of school, days are filled with relaxing, activities and hopefully vacations.  I love the things we learn from our seasons and vacations we go on.  There’s indigenous wildlife and landscapes we discover in the places we go.  One bird indigenous to Alaska I will never forget is the raven.

These birds live in parking lots and attack trash cans, devouring any food left on the ground. They live up to their name because they are ravenous scavengers that will eat anything. I’ve always wondered why these birds choose to stay during Alaskan winters. If I were a bird I would definitely use the wings God had gave me to fly to warmer temperatures. Even though ravens don’t migrate when the weather gets cold, I don’t think these Alaskan ravens could fly very far even if they had to. They are self-indulgent glutinous birds way too fat to fly anywhere. I have never seen ravens this big ever in my life. These birds may be sleek and shiny on the outside, but their selfish desires hold them captive in the tundra weather as a result.

These Ravens remind me of the Pharisees in the Bible.

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.” Matthew 23:25-26

The Pharisees had a tradition to engage in ceremonial washing of their body before eating, so nothing dirty would enter their bodies. However Jesus was pointing out, the Pharisees were missing the point. What was the point of physically cleaning the outside of their bodies if their hearts were filled with greed and self-indulgence? The Pharisees thought they were perfect because they followed the traditions of men. They were more concerned with keeping the tradition of ceremonial washings then keeping their hearts clean with the righteousness of God.

How true is this for our lives?

Am I like the Pharisee trying to maintain perfection on the outside but really full of un-righteousness on the inside?

I have been guilty of trying to maintain the facade that everything is perfect in my life on the outside by keeping a clean house, car, a perfectly manicured yard, obedient kids, a successful husband the list goes on. Maybe you can relate?

Have you tried to find value and worth through your circumstances like me? Have you tried to seek righteousness in your own works? Truth is I can have everything perfect and neatly organized on the outside but really am falling apart on the inside.

Where is the hope or freedom in my failures?

Is success in life really measured by my performance and how perfect I look from the outside?

There will be times my achievements fail. Times I don’t always get it right.  There will always be another room to clean in my house. There will always be a child’s behavior to correct. There may be times my husband and I don’t get along. There will always be that certain something that doesn’t go as planned.  Does that mean I only receive hope if my circumstances are going well in my life?

Perfectionism and keeping a bunch of rules will never make me righteous or bring me peace or freedomClick To Tweet

I am not perfect.  But I am made perfect in God. Through God’s eyes even when I fall short, He sees me as his perfect workmanship and makes up for my shortcomings (Romans 3:23).

He created and designed all of us with a purpose that is greater than our next performance.

The secret to being perfect isn’t in what we do ourselves with our own strength but in what God can do in us with His strength.Click To Tweet

God cares more about the condition of our hearts than how clean our houses are. His desire is for us to love him with all of our heart, all of our soul and all of our minds” (Matthew 22:37).

Jesus tells the Pharisees, “First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean” Matthew 23:26. He was trying to teach them you will always be held captive by selfish desires and trying to maintain perfectionism. We will always be set free in God’s truth and love for us.

“You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32

When I seek God for my righteousness and desires of my heart he shows me “I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; our souls knows it very well (Psalm 139:14). Righteousness does not come from ourselves or in anything we do, but from God himself.

“…not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—“ (Philippians 3:9).

Our hearts will always find peace in His presence and freedom in His truth.

The next time there are a pile of dishes in your sink, say to yourself, “Bless this mess, because I am made perfect in God!” Thankfully God cares more of how clean my heart is than my sink!

Have you ever met someone and thought wow they have it all together, to only find out they are shattered and broken on the inside?

You never know what someone is going through. Just because their life seems perfect on the inside doesn’t mean it’s true.  Thankfully we have all been saved by his grace.  His grace and purpose are always greater.

“He has saved us and called us to holy life–not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace.  This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time.”  2 Timothy 1:9

Can you relate to the Pharisees?

Do you allow circumstances to enslave you and determine your happiness?

Have you been victim to performance and perfectionism?

How has God’s truth set you free?

Our circumstances will always change.  God’s truth is eternal and everlasting!  There is hope when we seek our truth and identity in God. You are perfectly perfect in who God says you are. He created you and never makes mistakes. You are perfect!

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