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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Helping Hands


 Its that time of year when you  hope the good in mankind comes out.  The time of year when you become more aware of peoples needs, kindness is shown, and helping hands are extended.  I would hope that this would happen throughout the year, but its most evident during the Holidays.

Today, a friend was told she was being evicted because the pipes in her rental house burst because she didn't have heat.  She didn't have heat because the gas was shut off earlier this summer.  She works hard, very hard, and it just broke my heart to hear that someone would do that to her the day before thanksgiving.  My immediate thought was "Why won't they pay to turn it on and then have her pay them back?"  A few minutes after I got the text she calls me and says "Its all fixed!! They are going to turn the heat on and have me pay them!".  How stinking cool is that?  God heard my thought, not my prayer...just a thought!  He took care of her by speaking to the hearts of those who were evicting her and they reached out a "helping hand".

A little while ago, after hearing this good news, I was at the grocery store picking up last minute items for our Thanksgiving meal.  I was in line to pull out and traffic was stopped.  A car was stalled. In it was a mom and her small child. One man, then another, and then a third, all from different vehicles, got out and pushed the woman and her child to a parking spot out of harms way.  One of the men began looking at her car for her.  I sat there in tears because it was amazing to see strangers come together and lend a "helping hand" to someone in need.

2 years ago I took the boys to see a Pacers game.  It was December and it was cold outside.  As we walked to the Stadium we passed a homeless man sitting by the stadium.  Me, along with others, walked by him ready to go enjoy a game of basketball, seemingly not giving him another thought.  At the game I gave each boy $20.00 to spend on whatever they wanted as far as snacks.  As we left the game that night, we headed towards the car and noticed the same man still sitting there in the cold.  We walked a little ways and my oldest son looked at me and said "Mom, can I give him my money?".  I said "Kaden, its your money.  You are free to do with it anything you'd like.".  So, he turned and walked back to the homeless man.  He bent down and gave him the money he had in his pocket and asked him if he could give him a hug.  The man took my sons hand and hugged him and with deep appreciation said "Thank you".  I stood there proud and humbled.  Humbled that it took a teenage boy to make me stop and notice.  As we drove away, the snow began to fall.  My son began to tell me how concerned he was for that man and then he said "I wish I could go hang out with him and find out his story.  I want to know why he's homeless.  I want to know he's going to be ok".  We prayed for that man that night.  Kaden reached out a helping hand to him and I hope that the hug and the kindness extended by a teenage boy touched him more than the few dollars he received. 

There are lessons all around us.  People have stories.  They aren't where they are by accident.  Sometimes we get so wrapped up in our own lives that we forget there are many out there who need a "helping hand".  I challenge you today to be more aware.  Open your eyes and your hearts to those around you.  I promise, when you help someone, you will be changed as much as or more than they are. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Wonderfully Made



Above is a list of verses and phrases that tell me who God sees me to be.  Do I say those things to myself?  Do I believe them?  Do you? Do you ever feel like you don't measure up to the standards set by this world?  

Back in the 40's and 50's, Miss America was on average 5'6 or 5'7 and weighed between 140 and 150 pounds.  Today she is taller and 40-50 pounds lighter.  She is viewed as beautiful and women across the world sit and watch the Miss America Pageant and see themselves as failures.  We are far from it.  God says in His word we are Fearfully and wonderfully made.  We are made in His image so why do we look in the mirror and see less than who we are?

Today I want you to know that I think you are beautiful...If you are a guy reading this I think you are beautiful...God loves each and every one of us for who we are, what we are made of, the image we reflect.  We reflect Him.  So, today I vow to see myself differently when I look in the mirror.  Today I vow to remember when I start to feel lonely or sad that God loves me, that I am strong, that I am empowered by Him.  This past saturday at my morning bible study we read in James 2 about Favoritism.  When you think about favoritism, what is the first thing that comes to mind?  For me, it's beauty.  It seems to me that the women who meet the worlds standards of beautiful are favored over those who don't meet those standards.  When we say "Don't judge a book by its cover", we are doing exactly that daily.  We see a beautiful, fit, nicely dressed woman walk down the street and think "I wish I looked like that", or "I wish my legs were like hers", etc.  But what we don't' see is what's on the inside and she could be wonderful or she could have a very hardened heart.  When you see someone who doesn't meet your standard, do you walk the other way? Look the other way? Shun them because of their outward appearance?  Would you be more willing to talk to the beautiful person than the homeless person walking towards you on the street? Ever treated someone differently in church because they didn't match your standard of acceptable? 

This holiday season you will see lots of pretty wrappings - on presents, trees and people.  Try to look past what you see on the outside and look at what might be on the inside.  Because that is what lasts.  And if you have self-esteem issues, do the same for yourself.  God made you - you are fearfully and wonderfully made.  He loves you just as you are.  He loves me just as I am. 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

God sized prayers


I wonder how many of your prayers aren't answered because you aren't asking?  Or how many aren't answered because you don't believe God can or will answer them?  Ordinary prayers get ordinary results.  God meets us where we are.  If you ask small, you receive small.  Once I asked BIG....really big.  I look back now and with tears running down my face I am in AWE of the faith of an 11 year old girl.  Let me tell you the story...

When I was 11 I fell out of a swing one sunday afternoon.  I was standing up on the seat, tried to sit and lost my grip.  I fell hard and broke both of my wrists.  This was just the beginning of a faith journey God sent me on.  I grew up in a church that believed in Faith Healing.  So I didn't even think twice about whether God could heal me or not. I knew he could.  I prayed he would.  This happened in the spring and within a month or so, I was able to use my hands again.  My left hand was normal, my right hand was a little wavy looking, but I still believed God had a plan. 

Summer break had started and I lived near a lake in Northern Indiana.  I remember my brother and I were down by the lake playing with the neighbor boys.  My brother and his friend Jeff were "spying" on my friend Lee and I.  I spotted them so I took off running towards them to "flush them out" of the bushes.  As I stepped off a sidewalk that led down to the lake, my left foot didn't make full contact with the edge and then I heard a loud snap! I fell and screamed at the top of my lungs as the worst pain I have ever felt coursed through my body.  I looked down at my foot and it was turned out, facing away from my body at a 90 degree angle.  My ankle was completely destroyed. A few men from the neighborhood carried me home and gently placed me on our couch, elevating my leg with pillows.  As I said above, we believed in faith healing.  I look back now and realize what a chance I took on God that day!!  My mom asked me if I wanted to go to the hospital or wait and on God and trust Him to heal me.  I looked at her and said I'm going to trust God.  So she called an elder from our church who came and anointed my head with oil and prayed over me.  Lots of people were there, praying.  

I don't remember if it was the next day or a few days later.  It was a fog of pain.  We had a big brown recliner and I remember my mom would sit and rock back and forth with her Bible, reading and praying.  Our neighbor Carolyn was there, praying.  I sat up and swung my legs off the couch and Carolyn knelt before me and said "God is telling me to place my hands around your ankle.  I'm not going to touch you, but we are going to pray".  As she and mom began to pray, I felt a tingling come over my whole body and Jesus entered that room.  To tell the story today still brings tears to my eyes.  To say that Jesus was there is overwhelming.  I remember being 11 years old and seeing Jesus standing before me, in white robes with his arms outstretched to me.  I started crying then because it was so amazing.  As they prayed, we watched my foot turn before our eyes. My Lord and Savior heard my cries and saw my extreme faith in His ability to heal me and He showed up!!

I couldn't believe what I was seeing - my mangled ankle straightened before my eyes.  Carolyn then said she felt God telling her to place her hands on my heel and move my foot gently forward (toward my body).  She hesitated for fear of hurting me. Really?  The foot just turned before my eyes with no pain!  She didn't touch me and at that moment I felt Jesus leave the room.   I will never forget that day for as long as I live.  To be in the presence of Jesus - to see Him and feel His touch.  Wow. 

We wrapped my ankle in ace bandages - enough of them to support it and began praying for complete healing.  A week later, while mom was at work, my brother and I were home alone when we heard a knock on the door.  Outside were the County Sheriff and the County Nurse.  They had gotten a call that I had been injured and had not received medical care.  This was a common occurrence for people in our church congregation.  So, that day they took Mike and I away from the home and to an Orthopedic surgeon in nearby Warsaw, Indiana.  I insisted before we left that they let me call my mom and she met us there.  The surgeon took x-rays and said the ankle was shattered and would need surgery and pins inserted.  We went to surgery and when he came out he informed my mom that no surgery was needed.  All he had to do was move my foot forward and it was set!!!  Exactly what Carolyn was told to do when we prayed!  Once again, God's sovereignty and omniscience was revealed to us.  God is the great physician.

This is such a testimony to not only trusting God and praying big prayers, but believing that when he tells you to do something, we need to move! So many times in life we are told by God to move, and out of fear of pain, of the unknown, of being uncomfortable, we don't listen.  Later we see why He told us to move and realize the experience we missed because we didn't have big enough faith.  Isaiah 53:5 says "But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities, the punishment that brought us peace was upon him and by his wounds we are healed."

Mark 11:23 " Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them."  That ankle was a mountain.  I believed and trusted God could move it and He did.  What mountain are you facing today? Do you believe God is who He says He is? Do you believe He can move it?  Pray big prayers and watch God do BIG things! 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Pride

I know a  few ladies who read this will know where this came from - this notion of pride.  In studying my Beth Moore Bible study this morning, I read of Uzziah, the King of Judah.  Uzziah's name means "The Lord Saves".  In the first 15 verses of 1 Chronicles 26 it shows how Uzziah served God and was brought to much wealth and power and then.......PRIDE came.  After pride comes what?  The Fall.  Uzziah was powerful and wealthy and smart and then he became prideful and approached the temple of the Lord - something that was set aside only for the high priests.  They warned him to leave, begged him...but it wasn't until God afflicted Him in that place with Leprosy that he realized he wasn't so powerful after all.

Uzziah lived the rest of his days with Leprosy.  His son ran the kingdom for him.  And when he was buried what was he known for?  He was known for having leprosy.  As I began studying this I thought "Where is this going? Why am I reading about this guy?"  But, it hit me full on in the face!!!

PRIDE!

We have all experienced it. We have all suffered from it.  There are times we are prideful and we don't' even realize we are being that way.  When we brag about things we have done, when we look at people less fortunate than us and make disparaging remarks about them instead of praying for them or lifting a hand to help them.  When we place ourselves above someone else we are being prideful.  Have you done it?  Does something specific come to mind?  Boy, lots of things come to mind for me and its humbling.  Something as simple as posting a status on Facebook and constantly checking to see how many "likes" you get is being prideful.  Telling people what YOU DID in order to obtain praise from them is being prideful.   Like the cartoon I posted, we all place ourselves on a throne in one area or another in our lives.  We think we are higher and better than we truly are.  

I challenge you today to find areas you are prideful in and look for a way to be more humble.  Help someone less fortunate but don't tell anyone about it.  Do the thing that makes you YOU but do it for the Lord not for the praise of others.  There are so many things that we are prideful about - I'm so guilty of it and until I read about Uzziah I didn't even realize it.  When our lives are over, will we be remembered for all of the things we did, or will we be remembered for who we were.  I want to be remembered for being loving, kind, compassionate, faithful, and humble.  What about you?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Around the Bend


Don't you wish you could see the future?  Don't you wish God would pull back the curtain and let you know what is going to happen next?  

God already knows what is going to happen next in our lives.  He is going before us, making our crooked paths straight....lining up the people, the opportunities, the circumstances that we need to straighten our paths and propel us toward our destiny in Him.  Do you trust Him? Do you have Faith in Him to do what He says He will do?  

I have journaled for years.  I write down my struggles, my prayers, what God has shown me in my quiet times for him.  One day I sat down and grabbed a journal, randomly, and started reading.  Its funny, because I was thinking "Who wrote this?? She is so sad."  "She is soo worked up over this situation!"  " Wow what a struggle"  "How stupid could she be!!!"  and then further in the journal I see hope "God took care of that guy!"  "God provided when I didn't see a way"  "God sure is amazing - I can't believe that happened!"

We are on crooked paths and so we can't see around the next bend.   All we see is what is in front of us and wonder how are we going to get through.  God isn't calling us to just get through, he's calling us to trust Him and know that He will be there when we get around the bend.  If we just keep moving forward, sometimes blindly, and trust God is ahead of us making preparations for us, we will get around that struggle, that financial difficulty, that sickness, that divorce, that breakup, that argument, that job interview, and we will see what God has in store for us. 

So, trust Him and keep your eyes on the road before you.  You are not alone on it.  God is going before you, preparing your way.  He will never leave you nor will he forsake you.  You are His precious child and you will get around the bend!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Consider this




Jeremiah 29:11 is a verse that I shared with my high school girls yesterday at Bible study.  We are starting a study that will cause us to start to see ourselves through Gods eyes instead of our own.  I asked them if they had ever considered this verse. One had - Jaden.  Her brother was adopted from Ethiopia and his name is Jeremiah.  This is his life verse.  God has plans for Jeremiah.  But let us not forget he has plans for us too.  I think that we sometimes forget that not only are the orphans and the least of these are Gods, but so are we.

We can become so consumed and wrapped up in our circumstances that we forget to CONSIDER God. We focus on the problems or issues in front of us and they become bigger and bigger the more we think on them.  But, consider this:  My God is bigger than any problem.  He formed the universe.  He placed the stars in the sky and knows each one by name.  Is that obstacle you are facing bigger than My God?  God states in His word He has plans for us - so if you believe God is who He says He is, that He is Faithful to do what He says He will do, why then do you worry?  Why then do you consider your circumstances?  Instead Consider God!  Thank Him for working. Thank Him for the answer that's on its way.  Thank Him for being in complete control.  I am a firm believer that what we confess with our tongue will be what we believe in our heart.  If we confess there is no way out, that we will never get well, or we will never get out of debt- then we are stuck in bondage to what we speak.  If we confess that we are more than conquerors in Christ Jesus, that our God is bigger than our sickness, bigger than our financial mess, bigger than the job we go to every day - then God will honor our FAITH in Him and will be faithful to bring to us the promises He made in His word.  

For most of my adult life I have said I am living my mothers life.  My mom is a Godly woman and she is my hero, so please don't take that as a bad thing.  But, my mom was a single mom from the time I was 5 until I was 24.  She struggled financially, she struggled to put food on the table and to provide basic needs for my brother and I.  At the age of 31 I became a single mother of two children.  While I have much more than my mother did - an education and a decent job, I was still a single mother of two struggling to make it financially.  For years I have confessed "I'm living my mothers life".  Its been a mirror image almost.  A few weeks ago God spoke into my heart and told me to quit confessing my mothers life.  My mother has always wanted more for me than what she had.  She has always had FAITH in me and believed I could be more than I believed I could be.  But, I didn't believe it.  I saw my circumstances and the parallels of our lives and believed that was all I would have.  So, I confess with my lips that I am NOT living my mothers life.  God has plans for me and until I quit living the life my mother lived and open myself up to embrace what God has for ME, I will never move forward.  God has plans for me - plans to prosper me.  Plans for my future.  But, I was unable to receive those plans and walk in them because I didn't CONSIDER God.  I considered my circumstances. 

God has plans for us - but he can't reveal those plans and bring them to fruition if we continue to consider our circumstances instead of considering Him.  So, whatever it is you face today, speak life into your words!  Confess with your mouth and believe with your heart that God is who He says He is and walk in that truth.  God is faithful to fulfill His plans for us but we need to be open to believing and receiving what He wants to give us.  So, today, CONSIDER GOD   

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Worth


I have struggled with self-worth for as long as I can remember.  So many have tried to encourage me, lift me up and tell me I'm loved, but at the end of the day, the battle is in my head, in my heart...its one I fight almost daily.

Looking back, it started when I was 5.  My dad left.  He'd found someone new to love and walked away.  I don't write this to make him feel bad, its just the way it was.  Seeing his truck at someone else's house on my bus route made me feel unworthy.  Unworthy of his love and attention.  I didn't feel good enough for him.  Have you ever felt this way?  Felt like someone who should have loved you unconditionally turned their back on you? Ever felt abandoned or discarded?  Have you internalized those feelings of rejection and allowed it to change how you feel about yourself?  Let me remind you what God's word says about you and me.

I struggled with my weight since he left.  Most of my life I was overweight and sedentary.  I just didn't care.  If my dad couldn't love me why should I love me?  So, most of my life has been a struggle with what the world sees and who I am in Christ.  I finally got healthy after my babies were born.  I lost about 100 pounds, ran hundreds of miles and became obsessed with my size.   I ran marathons, half marathons, and spent a lot of time on the road.  It was something I thought I was doing for my health (and I was), but I look back now and realize I was running away from my past.  I was running away from those feelings of inadequacy - trying to prove him wrong.  I was worthy because I could run 26.2 miles.  I was worthy because I was a certain size now.  But, eventually, I stopped running. I realized that all of that running still left me feeling empty inside.  Who was I trying to please? Why couldn't I move past that struggle in my head?   As long as I could run lots of miles and tell everyone about it, I felt worthy.  If I could run 14 miles without stopping, I was worthy.  But, we all have to stop running.  Eventually we come to a point in the road where we have to make a decision.  I have to face my feelings.  In 1 Sam 16:7, it says "Man looks at outward appearances, but the Lord looks at the heart"
When this world ends, and I stand before my creator, he won't look at the size of my clothes...He will look at the size of my heart.  I may not be able to run all those miles any longer, but does it make me less worthy?  I may not be the size I was at 32, but should that change who I am in Christ? NO.  Too often we let what others think of us matter.  All that matters is that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. (Ps. 139:14).  I am loved. I am worthy.  So, if you have struggled like me, look in the mirror today and instead of seeing what is wrong with your outward appearance, look at your heart (you can see it in your eyes) and say:

" I am loved "
" I am worthy " 
" I am good enough "

Let me share with you a poem my oldest son wrote me on Mothers day this year.  It opened my eyes to see that he sees me not for my size, but for who I am.  May it bless you as it blessed me:

I see a woman
A woman who's height does not reflect
how high she is in love
eyes of blue are the sapphire treasure
that is lost in her sadness
Sadness that exists because
she feels she has all to give
and no one to receive.
Its as if she is standing on the highway
with a sign that says "I need to be loved by someone"
The problem is that the highway is too mainstream
It's filled with common things
She deserves uncommon
She deserves more than what she's expecting
You see, its not just about acceptance for her
She has just been accepted too many times
She wants to be marveled at
And rightly so
Many years she has been a candle in a closet
Her light hidden from sight.
She is becoming content with circumstances
NO longer
Soon, a blind man will see and see her.
He will be drawn in and captivated by her smile.
Soon, she will find love
But right now, she has not one but two.
Two loves that give back the love she pours out
they are her children.
Two boys that don't always show what they feel.
But still they feel.
They love their mother
They are constant.
They will love her till the day she dies. 
 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

A sunday afternoon


"A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte" painted by Georges Seurat is a beautiful picture.  I first saw this picture 3 years ago at a Big Stuf Conference in Panama City Beach, Florida.  I was there with our youth group and out on the boardwalk they displayed a copy of this painting.  I looked at it but didn't think much about it, until they explained why they were displaying it.  

You see, the artist painted that painting not in brushstrokes, but in pin dots.   Seurat contrasted miniature dots or small brushstrokes of colors that when unified optically in the human eye were perceived as a single shade or hue. He believed that this form of painting, called divisionism at the time but now known as pointillism, would make the colors more brilliant and powerful than standard brush strokes.   When you stand afar, you see the beautiful masterpiece in front of you.  But, when you get up close you can see that it was created with millions of dots...time consuming, painstakingly placed dots.

Such is our life.  We are God's masterpiece but we get so wrapped up in trying to see the BIG PICTURE, that we fail to see the beauty of the artist as he uses each life experience to create that masterpiece.  God uses every experience, every tragedy, every trial, every relationship, every success and failure of our lives to create US.  What they taught us at Big Stuf that year was all about "Konnektions"  Every connection in our life is a dot on the canvas of our masterpiece.  When in pain we can only concentrate on that pain - what is right in front of us. But, this pain and suffering and chaos in our lives is a way to connect with our creator.  CS Lewis expressed that you can become a megaphone for God when you connect to God through your pain.  We were put here to make connections, and what we connect with matters:  how we use our gifts, who our friends are, how we move towards our future, our family, our places and positions in the world.  I know this was a great experience for our youth - learning about "Konnektions"...but it opened my eyes.  That picture has changed me.  It made me realize that God doesn't allow me to go thru things to discourage me or to hurt me, but to change me.  He is using each and every experience, every connection to create His masterpiece - ME. My Life.  

So, embrace your DOTS.  Know that God uses all things for our good, even when it hurts.  Its to make us stronger, wiser, bolder, and to boost us toward our destiny in Him.  We have a purpose on this earth and each connection brings us closer to it.  So, remember, what we see as circumstances, God sees as opportunities.  Embrace them!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Write it down!

When I write down my goals, my dreams, I am writing them into existence.  I am believing by faith that they will come to pass.

God spoke in Habbakuk, telling him to write down his vision on tablets, so it may be read.  God is telling us to write down our goals, our dreams, our prayers and petitions.  Make them concrete as in stone.  This way it is out of our minds and onto paper, making them more tangible.  Writing provides a channel for our thoughts and desires.  Writing brings our thoughts and desires from the mental realm into the physical realm and helps to provide clarity.  What we may wish or hope for may not seem such a good idea when we get it onto paper.  

I love seeing what God was saying in the Old Testament.  I am so guilty of not reading the Old Testament and I miss out on so much.  Through my own study this morning, I was taken to Habbukuk and see these words from God that, although spoken thousands of years ago, are so relevant today.  God wants our thoughts, if in His will, to become reality.  If you have a dream, write it down.  Create on paper a map of how to attain it, and then you have begun the process of bringing it to fruition.

Isaiah 55:8  "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways..."

I fully believe that if our hopes, dreams, prayers are in line with God's will for our lives, then He will bring them to completion.  But I also believe God expects some action on our part and that starts with taking it from the mental realm into the physical realm.  WRITE IT DOWN!

Monday, November 11, 2013

God is faithful to completion

God will finish what he started.

He wouldn't have whispered that dream in your heart if He didn't already have plans to bring it to pass.   2 or 3 years ago I attended a Bible study at my church.  I remember a question was raised in the study that has never left my mind: "What is your dream job? What is the one thing you would love to do if you could?"

I went home that night, pondered it, thought and prayed and in my mind I found all I could think about was ministry.  What kind of ministry? I had no clue.  I know that I have a heart for women's ministry and I immediately thought how cool it would be to work for an organization such as Women of Faith.  Being able to travel and touch women's lives, to be surrounded by Godly women and to be able to encourage others.  But, that seemed impossible to me.  Who am I? What could I offer that would be worthy enough of women's ministry?  As a single mom I knew that now was not the time for me to even consider moving to seek my dream job.  I have two kids to raise and consider, so I put that dream on the back shelf of my mind.  But, I did find a local women's ministry to pour myself into.  I learned what it was like to work behind the scenes and bring a Women's conference to completion.  After three years of serving on that ministry, I found my hearts desire was still not being met.  I don't think God wants me behind the scenes.  I believe He has a story he wants told by and thru me.  So, I stepped away and began seeking avenues to bring my dream to fruition.  God has begun to open doors, and ignite a passion and fire in me that I never thought I would have.  When He first gave me this dream, I said it was impossible.  But, I kept believing that by Faith, everything is possible with the Lord.  Especially if He is guiding me to it.

God wants to bring our dreams to pass. He wants to give us the desires of our hearts.  He wants us to be celebrated.  Remember Rachel in the book of Genesis.  She and her sister married Jacob.  Rachel had a desire to be a mother.  Year after year her dream did not come to pass.  Leah bore child after child.  Rachel became discouraged and didn't believe she would ever have children.  Years of frustration and she gave up on her dream.  But, Gen 30:22 says "God remembered Rachel...".  Even though she became discouraged and gave up, God did not forget the promise He made to her.  Maybe you feel like this.  You feel you have waited and waited and that dream in your heart has never come to pass, so you gave up on it.  But know this - God remembers.  He has destined you and I to fulfill our destinies.  He will make it come to pass.  Thankfully, God has the final say, not us.   He says in Philippians, what I started in your life, I will complete.  God will complete our incompletions.  We haven't made too many mistakes, we haven't missed too many opportunities.  Get your passion back for what your hearts desire is and know that God is a God of completion.  Don't settle for good enough.  YES is in your future.  Its in mine!

 

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Faith without Works...



So many times we pray and ask God for things.  We ask him to provide a better job or to heal us or to allow the person we have a crush on to see us.  Maybe you need freed from an addiction, or you are wanting to get out of debt.  Whatever it is, you believe God can move in your situation. So, you pray and pray but what are you DOING to show God you SEE what he can do.  God is looking for people to demonstrate their faith.

In James 2:14-26, James is showing us that Faith without works is dead.  Abraham believed God would save his son Isaac, and by doing what God told him to do, he acted on that faith.  God wants us to move.  He wants us to show Him that we see he can do what He promises in His word to do.  Its not enough to sit and pray to be delivered from and addiction and then continue to do what we always do in that addiction.  If you want freedom from overeating, act on that by passing up the cookie jar.  If you want a better job, then give 100% at the job you are at now.  If you are believing for your soul mate and are tired of being single, don't sit at home on the couch every weekend expecting God to drop that person from the sky onto your front doorstep.  Get out and take action.  Become involved in your Faith walk.  

I have a dream of becoming a writer.  God wants me to tell my story.  He wants to use a gift I didn't' know I had to bless others and bring glory to Him.  If I sit around waiting for that book to write itself, my dream will never be realized.  If I don't take steps to act out my faith that God will use me in ways I've never been used before, then I will never fulfill my destiny.  How do I become a better writer?  By writing, and learning and being proactive in what God is leading me to do.  He will take my little and multiply it.  I have to be willing to step out in faith, to be uncomfortable, to be criticized and rejected.  One day, it will all come together in His timing, in the way He wants.  But that won't happen if I don't ACT.  Its one thing to ask for God's help, its one thing to believe He loves me - but if I want to get God's attention, I have to take it one step further and put actions behind my faith! I will see favor and opportunity that will thrust me to a new level when I take action to show God my Faith.  

I had this dream about a year ago.  I sat down, wrote in a journal and then let life get in the way and put it aside.  I heard God again tell me to write my story and I still said "God, I'm not a writer.  You are going to have to tell me what to write".  But, I didn't put actions behind that.  I didn't sit down with a pen and paper or my computer and write.  I expected God to do all the work.  Finally, I realized that I need to act on what God is telling me to do.  I could not wait around for something to happen.  I finally had to say "I'm taking a step of faith to put action behind what I'm believing.  I want to show God I am serious about doing what He is telling me to do."  So I signed up for a creativity workshop.  I am going somewhere, by myself, without the comfort of a support system.  I'm stepping out in faith that if I take action, God will take what little I give him and he will multiply it and bless it.  

As James wrote, its not enough just to believe.  Its not enough just to pray. "Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead".  What are you believing for?  What are you praying God will do in your life?  As you take steps of faith you will begin to see God open doors.  You will see His favor in unusual ways.  Remember that God is moved by your Faith.  Show Him you believe He can do what He promises in His word to do.  Act on it.  Move.
 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Miracle Revisited

I've been sharing with you what I've been learning in my morning studies.  Today, I feel God is leading me to share a story from my past.  With the upcoming Holiday season fast approaching, and the amount of excess we see in America, we tend to forget that there are people out there who struggle for the most basic of needs - food, shelter, good clothing.  We take these things for granted way too often.  We have cabinets full of food and yet often hear ourselves saying "There's nothing to eat".  We have closets full of clothes, yet we say "I have nothing to wear".  We live in homes that many would consider good homes compared to the street or shelter they live in and and we say "I wish my house was bigger, or nicer".   God put it on my heart this morning to share so that as we enter this time of Thanksgiving, we can truly be thankful for what He has provided.

From the age of 5 years old I grew up in a single parent home.  I loved my mom with everything in me because she did what she had to do to make sure my brother and I were taken care of.  She worked factory jobs, cleaned offices at night, anything to make enough money to put food on the table and make sure our home was provided for.  We lived below the poverty line but unlike many in today's world, she never took a handout.  She worked hard and most importantly, she had Faith in our heavenly Father to meet all our needs.  Her faith was Uncontainable. (see previous blog)

About the age of 11 or 12, there came a point where there was no food in the house except a bag of navy beans and a can of Crisco (remember that jar of lard??), and the bank account was empty.  My mother had two children looking to her to provide and she just didn't know where it was going to come from.  So, she sat my brother and I down, got out a sheet of paper and said "By Faith, we are going to make a grocery list.  Lets write down everything we need and at the end you can each ask for one 'want'".  So, we wrote our list.  It took up the whole page.  At the end my brother asked for a bag of Oreo cookies.  I honestly can't remember if I asked for anything.  I just wanted our cupboards to be filled.  After completing the list, mom had each of us place our hands on it, and she began to pray "Father, we come to you and ask that you meet our needs.  There is no other way but through you.  By Faith we claim that you will provide for us."

The next day we went to school and she went to work.  I dont' think any of us really dwelt on that list or our prayer.  We just went on by faith.  When my brother and I got home from school that day and walked up the steps to our front door and we saw inside bags and bags of groceries!!!  We took it all inside, excited and ready for mom to get home.  As we unpacked the food, we went through the list we had prayed over and every single item on that list was in those bags, even the Oreos!!.   God saw our need, our complete and total reliance on Him, and our Faith that He could provide.  He used someone who was willing to listen to Him and He met our needs according to His riches and glory!  

I tell this story today for two reasons.  One, to give God glory and praise.  Two, to show you that God is alive and working today, just as He was when he multiplied the five loaves and two fish.  So many of us live in excess.  We have more than we need and yet we wish for more.  As we come upon this season of giving, consider how God can use you to bless someone with less.  Spend time with Him and ask Him to use you to bless others instead of increasing your own.  And maybe this story is for you who is suffering with little.  I hope that this increases your FAITH in God and His ability to still perform miracles.  If you trust Him, confess it, believe it, and walk in it, He will meet your needs, according to His riches and glory.  Amen?  Amen!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Future Glory


I love the analogy of the potter and the lump of clay.  When the potter places the clay on the wheel it is just a lump.  Bumpy and full of knots.  But, as the potter spins the wheel and applies pressure, the clay goes thru a transformation.  The lumps get worked out bit by bit until a beautiful piece of artwork is formed.  God uses trials to help form us.  Each difficulty isn't there to discourage us, but to refine us.  When someone offends us, we need to overlook it.  When someone is hard to get along with, we make allowances for them. As we spin on the wheel and pass each test that comes our way, we step into a new level of our destiny.  We need to understand that each irritation is not God trying to make our lives miserable.  He just knows there is a masterpiece in all of us, waiting to be formed.  So often we ask God to change our circumstances, change that person, etc, but what God is wanting to do is change us.   When you can be happy, not because of your circumstances, but in spite of them, then nothing can take your joy. 

I read a story of a teacup that was sitting on the shelf in an antique shop.  A couple picked up the teacup to look more closely at it, admiring it for its beauty, the teacup began to talk.

"I  haven't always looked like this," it said.  "There was a time that nobody wanted me.  I wasn't attractive.  I was just a hard lump of clay.  But then this potter came along and shaped and molded me."  

The teacup told the couple that the process was painful so it said to the potter, "'Hey! What are you doing? You're making me uncomfortable. That hurts.  Leave me alone.'"
The potter simply smiled and replied, "Not yet."
Then the potter put the teacup on a wheel and began to spin it around and around.
"I got so dizzy," the teacup told the couple, "but after a while I had taken on a new shape.  He formed me into this teacup you admire.  I thought he was finished, but then he put me into a furnace.  It was so hot I didn't think I could stand it. When he came and checked on me and looked through the furnace window, he had a sparkle in his eyes.  I screamed out, 'Let me out of here! Its' too hot!' But he smiled and said, 'Not yet'.  He finally took me out and put me up on a shelf so I could cool off.  I thought 'Thank goodness it's over.  Now I can go back to being my normal self.'  But then the potter painted me, changing me from the old gray color to this beautiful blue.
The teacup went on to tell the couple that the paint was sticky and uncomfortable.  "I thought I was going to choke.  I told the potter to stop, but he said, 'Not yet.'  Then he put me into a second oven twice as hot as the first one.  This time I knew it was over.  I screamed, 'I'm not kidding! I can't take it! I'm going to die!'
Again the potter said 'Not yet.'
"Finally, he opened the oven door, and put me on a shelf.  A few weeks later he came by and handed me a mirror, and when I looked at myself I couldn't believe how beautiful I had become.  I couldn't believe how much I had changed.  I didn't look like that old lump of clay I used to be.  There was a time that nobody wanted me, but now I'm this beautiful teacup; valuable, expensive, and unique, all because of this potter.  He made me into something amazing."

This is how God shapes us.  He sees our potential, but along the way we have to go thru the fire.  We have to endure the hard times, the heat, so that we can come out stronger and more beautiful than before.  Scripture says that after we have passed the test, we will receive the victor's crown of life.  So, pass your test.  Don't fight the wheel.  Let God refine you.  

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Uncontainable



In my study this morning I read the word "Uncontainable".  God is uncontainable.  The work he wants to do thru us can be uncontainable.  God has placed inside of all of us seeds of greatness.  Yet, so many of us never cultivate those seeds of greatness because we don't believe we are good enough.  We see ourselves as second-class citizens and think we don't have much to offer.   I know because this is how I've thought of myself most of my life.  I will be vulnerable and honest with you.  I see others doing great things and I have let my circumstances, my past and my limited view of myself keep me from doing great things as well.  I've told myself I'm "Just a mom", or "Just" a girl from small town Indiana.  We all start somewhere.  The difference is some of us have a limited mentality. But we all have something incredible to offer.

Numbers 6:24-26 "The Lord bless you and keep you, the Lord make His face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you, the Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace"

"Make his face shine upon you" means his acceptance and favor.  If you believe you have God's favor in your life, if you confess it daily, God will raise you up above your circumstances.  We need to start EXPECTING God's favor.  We need to start seeing ourselves differently.  We need to realize we are uncontainable!  We all have potential, but it will never be realized until we break free from our limited mind-set.  The difference between those who have done great things and those who haven't is their mind-set.  Change your mind - change your life!!

God has a plan for each and every one of us.  A plan to increase us, a plan to empower us.  If we think we can't be used, that we are defined and confined by our circumstances, then God is limited by us in what He can do.  But, if we release those chains of bondage on our minds, we become uncontainable!  God can begin to move in our lives in ways we used to only dream about.

I declare I will go places I've never dreamed of.  I will have influence in circles I never imagined.  I will set new limits.  I will take new ground for my family and I will advance God's kingdom.  This is my declaration.  This is my prayer!  God, shine your face on me and keep breathing in my direction!  I'm ready for your Favor and your Blessings!  I am UNCONTAINABLE!!!  AMEN!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Good Enough?

Have you settled in life for good enough?  The job I have isn't the job I wanted, but its "good enough".  I have a dream to be a writer but I'm not talented enough, so where I am is "good enough".  I'll never ______ (fill in the blank) because I'm not good enough or where I'm at is good enough.

GOOD ENOUGH is not your destiny!   We all have seeds of greatness in us, but to see the fulness of what God has in store, we have to change our thinking and our perspective.  God didn't create us for good enough.  He created us for greatness.  In order to reach our full potential, we have to stretch.  We have to reach forward to the things God has in store.  That means we have to MOVE. It requires action on our parts.  We can't sit back and say God has more but then just stay where we are.  We have to stretch our faith, stretch our minds, stretch our abilities.  When we give God our natural, He will make it SUPERnatural!

Have you settled somewhere beneath what you know God has put in you? Have you given up on a dream or let go of a promise?  I know I have.  So many times I have heard myself say "I'm just a mom from small town Indiana.  Who wants to read what I have to say?"  God showed me everyone starts somewhere.  Its just those who REACH and STRETCH that become all He created them to be.  Its what we do with the opportunities that are placed in front of us or the ones we seek out that makes a difference.  I have a dream.  A dream to tell my story.  A dream to encourage and uplift others with my testimony.  What good are all of the things God has done in my life if I don't share them with others?  I am willing to stretch my faith because God says in His word in 1 Cor 2:9 " No eyes has seen, no ear has heard, no mind can conceive what God has prepared for those who love Him"

If we settle for good enough and don't reach for the promise, we will never realize God's full provision.  What God has for our future supersedes what we've seen in the past.  Can you imagine coming to the end of your life and wondering: " What could I have become if I hadn't settled for good enough? What could I have been if I had striven to be my very best?"

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Storms

What man means for harm God uses for good.  What is your test will become your testimony!  We all go thru storms in life - and when we are in the midst of one we wonder "God, where are you? How could you let this happen to me?"  The same God who is in control in the good times is in control in the bad times.

When we go thru storms, God is using them to increase our faith in Him.  Nothing happens outside of His will for our lives - and while the storms may be hard, the will not keep us from our destiny.  God is using the storms for a purpose and we will come out of them better, strong and the storm will move us to a place of greater blessing and greater influence.

There will come a point in our storms where will need to just say "God, I trust you".  We have done all we can do and must now relinquish CONTROL and let God lead.  Let Him take the storm where He wants it to go. God is a faithful God.  He will not let a storm stop His plan for our lives.  God said in His word that no weapon formed against us shall prosper.  AMEN!  Don't complain about your storms.  You will come out stronger, increased, promoted and smelling good!  God will vindicate you.  And remember - God is in control of your enemies.  God will use your storm to show His power and to bring Him Glory!

So, rest in Him.  Let go of control and trust He will take you where He wants you to go.  The end result will be amazing!!