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Reality Break

18 Jun

End of year exams…graduation…buying teachers gifts…picnics….the list went on and on.  The end of the school year “to do” list.  Your feet hit the floor running first thing in the morning and you drop into bed exhausted at the end of the day.  There is so much to do and not enough time to do it.  Can you relate?

With four out of five of my children still in school, this was my reality and I NEEDED A BREAK!  A break from reality.  So the minute the school bell rang, I packed up my children, their “stuff” and we headed for our condo in Big Bear.  We are in the midst of a 6 day sabbatical and it is awesome.  We have laughed, played, relaxed, taken naps, gone on walks but with ABSOLUTELY no schedule.  We have refused to think about “what we are going to do next” and have lived in the moment.  The result?  Well, I’ve learned a few things that I would like to share with you:

1.  It doesn’t matter where you are.  STOP!  Take a moment and listen to your Creator speak to you.  God is always speaking and you can hear Him. You just need to learn to recognize His voice. He speaks in many different ways, including nature and natural events. When you look at the stars or a sunset or experience a storm, if you look, you can see the fingerprints of God.

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.” Psalm 19:1-4

Take a moment now.  Look around you and ask God to speak to you right where you are!

2.  It’s NOT where you are going.  It’s NOT how fast you get there.  It’s not what you are going to do once you get there.  The MOST IMPORTANT THING is who you go with!  In life you are going to travel down many paths.  You will begin and start many journey’s.  You will need to make several u-turns and take several detours.  Along the pathways of life, whats important is who is willing to travel with you.  Look around you.  Take inventory.  Who is willing to travel with you.  Who has committed to not bail even when they feel car sick?!?  That is your blessing!

TOMORROW, we will look at who your travelling companions are and how they are blessings to you!  Until then…

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It’s Still Gonna Happen!

28 Apr

Ok, I’ll admit, I did not ALWAYS pay attention in my World History class when in high school.  I know, that’s hard to believe.  Well last week I was listening to our pastor speak on the country of Israel.  Now for those of you who paid attention in class, this will be a refresher but for those, like me, that might have been sleeping and/or passing notes, I learned that for approximately 40 years after the death of Christ, the Roman soldiers came into the city of Jerusalem and destroyed it. The Jews had to leave their homeland and they were scattered throughout the world. They had to live in other countries and in some of those countries they were persecuted and treated very badly.  As a result, the country of Israel did not exist until 1948!

As I sat there and took that in, I thought of the faith that our forefathers had to have in order to believe this proclamation was indeed true. Why? Because for many, many years Israel ceased to exist.  Imagine that.  Let’s take 1920 as an example.  Imagine yourself reading your bible in 1920.  You are reading how God proclaimed Israel to be His promise land and that it is very important to Christian history. As you read all of the exciting historical events and as you meditate on the prophetic Scriptures, you would have pondered this facts:

There will be a mass return of Jews to the land of Israel (Deuteronomy 30:3Isaiah 43:6Ezekiel 34:11-1336:2437:1-14).

The Antichrist will make a 7-year covenant of “peace” with Israel (Isaiah 28:18Daniel 9:27).

The Temple will be rebuilt in Jerusalem (Daniel 9:27Matthew 24:152 Thessalonians 2:3-4;Revelation 11:1).

The Antichrist will break his covenant with Israel, and worldwide persecution of Israel will result (Daniel 9:2712:111Zechariah 11:16Matthew 24:1521Revelation 12:13). Israel will be invaded (Ezekiel chapters 38-39).

Israel will finally recognize Jesus as their Messiah (Zechariah 12:10). Israel will be regenerated, restored, and regathered (Jeremiah 33:8Ezekiel 11:17Romans 11:26).

Remember, you are sitting there – in 1920, reading all of these things, all the while KNOWING that Israel was not a country anymore. For over a millennial, the land resulted in Jewish dispersal.  For an additional 50 years, it served Zionist endeavors in the sphere of agriculture, economic development and educational activity.  So, how can you believe these words?  When the words before you spoke of an event to occur in an area of land that was no more!?!?!?  How can you trust that the Word of God was not incorrect?

Can you imagine how much faith it took to believe?  To remain faithful?  To trust?

As I pondered these things, I had to ask myself:

What is in my future, that no longer exists today, that I DO need to trust in?

What do I need to remain faithful in believing?

What future event do I need to trust God for?

You see it was no harder in 1920 to trust in God then it is today.  We too might not see the “country” that no longer exists but our Father has made a promise to us.  We have seen that God kept His promise concerning the nation Israel. God promised that this nation would never be destroyed! Even though nation after nation tried to destroy it, they all failed!!

What has God promised you if you are a believer in Christ?  Will you ever perish (John 3:16)?

Will you ever be destroyed (2 Corinthians 4:9)?

Will you ever be cast out (John 6:37)?

Will you ever be lost (John 6:39)?

Will Christ ever leave you (Hebrews 13:5)?

Will you ever be separated from the love of God (Romans 8:38-39)?

Will God keep all of these promises? ____ Why (Titus 1:2)? _______________________________________________

Why not bow your, head and thank God for his wonderful salvation and for the way He keeps you safe from destruction! God keeps the believer SAFE FOREVER!

It’s gonna happen – Just Trust Him!

It’s too Easy to be Broken

16 Apr

A man was facing a radical life changing event.  The scarier part was the life changing direction was that is wasn’t even in his hands. He had no control over his future.  His life – his career – his tomorrow was in the hands of another.  He had never faced a situation like this before.  He did not know what to do.  Earlier in his life he had faced situations that weren’t as drastic as this but as he faced them alone, he did not get the results that he wanted.  Now facing this, he had every reason to be in fear.  To doubt himself and the outcome.  Would his life change today? Would he again hear results that his ears, his heart and his mind did not, could not, accept as true?

Unbeknownst to him, I took my concerns for him to a select group of confidential friends.  I shared his fears, my fears, the concerns, the future that he faced.  They poured prayer over this situation with me. For days they continued to pray.  For days they stormed the gates of heaven asking God to intervene on behalf of this young man.   They asked for grace.  They pleased for mercy.  All for a man they did not know.  His burdens became their burdens.  They truly revealed themselves to me as warriors in the battle of this young man.

At 1:30pm he went to learn of his future.  At first, he could not find information at the location that he was initially informed to attend. For over 45 minutes he sought for the person that could give him the information that he sought.  Finally in a totally different building, on the 5th floor, he found a young lady that shared with him that at 8am that morning, the results that he really, really wanted but didn’t believe that he would receive, was indeed the results he received.

His first words upon hearing this news was, “You’ve got to be kidding me!?!”  He could not believe that he heard her correctly.  He wanted those results yet he never believed he would receive those results. “Why are you so surprised?” I asked him while watching tears fill his eyes.   “I didn’t think this would happen!”  I shared with him about the people I asked to pray for him.  I expanded on how they were faithful in asking for God’s favor.  As he reflected on what had just happened, on what he just heard, he sat in wonderment – in amazement.

Ecclesiastes 4:12 reads, “A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken”  When he went alone before, he did not get the results he wanted.  This time, he went as a triple-braided cord.  Himself – his prayer partners & God.  He was not broken.  He was not attacked.  He was not defeated.  He got the results he wanted.

How about you?  Are you bundling yourself with others?  Are you sharing your needs and concerns so that others can gather themselves around you?  IF NOT, what is preventing you?  Stop trying to do it alone.  It will never get you the results you want.  Try it a new way.  Because

Just go…

1 Apr

I was cleaning out my office today and found an entry from a study that I wrote years ago. I would like to share it with you:

The passage for this particular study was Matthew 26:17-25.  Jesus told the disciples to go into the city to prepare for the passover and they were instructed to see “a certain man”.  The question I posed was:  How were they to know which man?  Did they stop and ask Jesus what man, did they ask for more details or a better description? Did they wait to respond until they had all of the details?  No. They just went. They trusted that once they got there, it would become clear to them.  Has there been times in your life that you “just went with Christ?”

There will be many times when Jesus will ask us to just go with Him.  We may not be certain of the path or even the reasoning behind it but we can be assured of one thing:  God WILL NOT forsake you when He’s brought you this far.  How do I know?  Because time and time again, He’s proven Himself trustworthy.  Here’s an example:

Towards the end of my husbands seminary training, he was called by a church to be a youth pastor.  After being there only a short time, we discovered there were a group of people that wanted to take the church in a different direction that our convictions agreed with.  Yes, we were concerned but we prayed and left it to God.  Within two months the senior pastor, who shared our beliefs, announced that he was called to a different church and tendered his resignation.

So here is my husband, still in seminary, wet behind the ears, standing up for his beliefs within the church.  After a meeting with the leaders, they announced that Don would preach while they sought out their direction and new pastor.  What did we do?  We continued to pray.  We trusted God to handle the needs of the church and our future.  The second week that Don preached there was a pastor search committee from a neat little church that aligned with our beliefs in the audience, listening to their next pastor.

So we prayed and we trusted God to handle this situation.  What did He do?  He allowed my husband to partner with a church that shared his beliefs.  There are two things that I learned during that:

1.  Don’t compromise on God’s Word – He’ll protect you when you protect it!

2. When situations come up (and they will!) God WILL NOT forsake you when He’s brought you this far.

So, I shared with you yesterday that I had a rough week.  I shared that my ladies are walking with me.  Then today I find these words written many years ago.  The cool thing, the truth I found then is the same truth I need to realize today.  It is the same truth that you need to realize today too.

Until tomorrow, we will continue to walk in Grace.

Blessed be my friend!

Truths Learned While Going Up!

25 Mar

On a hill, in the distance, was a white cross. Deciding that I wanted to get a closer look, I started walking in it’s direction. I focused on the cross and sought for a path that would take me up to it.  I was walking from a southern direction and was coincidentally joined by 3 other ladies from a northern direction.  The four of us exchanged pleasantries. While looking for the path to the cross, we found a sign that cautioned us:  The climb to the cross would take approximate 10 minute – all uphill, with loose rocks and the possibility of rattler snakes!

Even though cautioned, we wanted to experience the cross and decided to continue on the journey together.  As we found the path, the first thing I noticed was that it was very narrow.  We had to walk single file. I called out to the ladies to stop while I took their picture. We continued on.  The next thing I noticed was the amount of loose rocks that caused your foot to slip every now and then. Next, were several larger rocks that you had to walk around in order to continue upward.  Then, we turned a corner and lost sight of the cross completely!

All of a sudden, truths exploded in my mind!

Remember how I shared that the path was narrow? It was too narrow for more than one person to walk up at a time.  At that moment, I realized that my walk to the cross is personal.  It’s between me and the cross.  Someone else can’t walk with me or for me.  It’s just between me and the cross.

I looked at the picture I took of the girls going up the mountain to the cross.  Each of us were at a different “levels” on the path.  One was high, one in the middle, another lower and I was completely at the bottom taking the picture. It didn’t matter where we were on the journey to the cross – what was important was that WE ARE ALL ON THE SAME PATH to the cross.  It was okay that someone else was higher than me.  It was okay that I was just beginning the climb.  The cool thing is that we were on this journey together!

As we walked upward, my foot would slip on those loose rocks.  That reminded me of the many, many times my spiritual foot has slipped while walking the way of the cross.  We also faced those larger obstacles that we had to walk around.  I’m sure you can relate to times when obstacles have been blocked your way to the cross – to becoming the person you want to be.  Then, as we are heading in the right direction, confident on our journey, we turn a corner and lose sight of the cross completely!  Does that ever happen to you?  Have you turned a corner in your life and lost sight of the cross?

Never fear, my friend, it is still there.   Look up – its just ahead in the distance.  Don’t look back.  Don’t turn around.  Just keep climbing.

Tomorrow, we reach the top and sit at the foot of the cross.  Care to join me?

We were not destroyed!

12 Mar

Over the last few months Pastor Paul has been walking us through Genesis.  The last two weeks were spent on the flood, the results and the new future that Noah and his family faced.  As I have reflected further and searched for information about the rainbow, I found some facts that I wanted to share with you.

A rainbow is caused by the rays of the sun reflecting from falling raindrops forming a beautiful arch formed for the human eye to see. Interestingly, while the rainbow spans a continuous spectrum of colors, humans see the rainbow in seven distinct colors. Seven represents perfection, so the rainbow can portray God’s perfect plan. When all the colors of the rainbow are combined together, the result is white. White is the symbol of purity and the righteousness of Christ.

The seven colors can offer us spiritual significance as well:

Red is the color of blood and represents the shed blood of Jesus. It is the color that stands for the ransom paid. We are told that without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins.

Orange is a combination of yellow, symbolic of God’s divine nature, together with red, symbolic of Christ’s sacrifice. The resulting color of orange is symbolic of God’s perfect plan and purpose for mankind. Orange could show us God’s favor to mankind.

Yellow is the color of gold. It reminds us of the things pertaining to the divine and its nature.

Green is a combination of blue and yellow. It is the yellow of God’s power and the blue of Jesus’ faithfulness that will give everlasting life to all people of the earth. Therefore, green could stand for longevity, eternity, or earthly prosperity.

Blue could represent faithfulness. It reminds us of God’s faithfulness. As the blue color of the heavens does not change, so also with God: “I am the LORD, I change not” (Malachi 3:6).

Indigo, the color between blue and violet, is rather a blue with a reddish cast to it. This could represent our Lord Jesus Christ as a propitiation for our sins; Jesus’ blood (red) through faith (blue) (1 John 2:1,2; Romans 3:25).

Violet, the color in the rainbow with the shortest wavelength, is considered a shade of purple.  Purple is the color of kings and symbolic of royalty, therefore Violet could also represent royalty.

All of the facts above refreshed my vision of God but the greatest thing that impacted me was the fact that God shared with Noah that the rainbow was His covenant (His promise) that mankind and the earth would not be destroyed.

In 2008 Don and I sought refuge in the island of Maui.  We had experienced a tragic loss in our family – we felt the possibility of being destroyed.  For 7 days Don and I saw multiple rainbows each day – each one different:  at different times, different locations, and after different events.  Everywhere we went, a rainbow was close by.

Now in 2011, after listening to the sermons on the rainbow and researching the above, I feel God has sharing with me another truth. Everyday that we were there – feeling broken and beaten, He was reassuring me.  He was saying to me, “You too will not be destroyed!”

We are on the other side of that event now – we’re healed and seeking God’s direction for our lives – the cool thing then, as now, is that regardless of where our paths lead us – we will not be destroyed.  We can trust God.  So can you!

 

Red Light…Green Light…

11 Mar

Have you ever thought the prayers you have prayed have gone unanswered?  Some people do.  Several years ago Garth Brook wrote a song titled “Unanswered Prayer”.  The chorus reads, “Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers. Remember when you’re talkin’ to the man upstairs, that just because he doesn’t answer doesn’t mean he don’t care..”

I would like to challenge that thought process today. When you are driving your car and come to an intersection, what determines how you proceed?  A stoplight!  The stoplight determines if it is safe to go – GREEN.  If you need to proceed with caution – YELLOW. Lastly, the stoplight tells you when you may not go any further – RED!

My friend, God answers your prayer in the same way.  When you pray – you are receiving an answer.  God has either given you a red light, a yellow light or a green light.  Many times when we receive a red or yellow light we assume He is not answering us.  We wanted the green light and when we didn’t see it – we assume that prayer went unanswered.  Our prayer didn’t go unanswered, we were just color blind!  Let look at some stoplight answers in Scripture:

Elijah was afraid & ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, while he himself went a day’s journey into the desert. He came to a broom tree, sat down under it & prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, LORD,” he said. “Take my life…” (1 Kings 19:3-12)  Elijah stated that he had enough!  He wanted God to take his life.  His prayer was to die.  It was not in God’s timing for this prayer to be answered the way Elijah wanted.  Therefore, God answered this prayer with a RED stoplight.

In bitterness of soul Hannah wept much and prayed to the LORD. And she made a vow, saying, “O LORD Almighty, if you will only look upon your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the LORD for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head… I am a woman who is deeply troubled… I was pouring out my soul to the LORD… I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief.”…. So in the course of time Hannah conceived and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, saying, “Because I asked the LORD for him.” (1 Sam 3:11)  This was a yellow light prayer!  Hannah prayed – she did not get a green light the first time she prayed, nor the 2nd or 3rd.  In the Course of time, as she continued to pray, her yellow light turned green!

As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed. One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan. ( Luke 17:11-19)  These men asked God to heal them.  His response?  A green light!  The timing and the heart of Christ was moved to grant the result they asked for.

Did you notice what the 10th man did?  He returned praising God loudly, he threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked Him.  Friends, regardless of what color light we receive, we too should follow the example of the one healed:

1.  Praise God loudly

2.  Throw yourself – your needs, prayers, and request at his feet

3.  Thank Him – for He WILL answer your prayer the moment you pray it!

 

 

 

 

Creative Ways to Enhance Your Prayer Life

8 Mar

Prayer is to be a constant part of our daily lives. This is the reason we speak of our “prayer life.” Think about the times that most us do pray – at church, during our quiet times, before meals, before bed, in times of crisis.

1 Thessalonians 5:17 tells us to pray continually (NIV), without ceasing (KJV and NAS), and at all times (Message).

We can compare Bible study to eating – which brings about nourishment and growth to our spirit.  We can also think about prayer as “breathing.”  Just as breathing is essential to our physical lives so our prayer life is essential to our spiritual lives.

Breathing consists of both inhaling and exhaling. Likewise, prayer is to be not only a process of talking to God, but also listening or receiving from God.

I have recently discovered two Creative Ways to Enhance Your Prayer Life:


The 5 Finger Prayer


1. Your thumb is nearest to you. So begin your prayers by praying for those closest to you—your parents, brothers, sisters, etc.. They are the easiest to remember.

2. The next finger is the pointing finger. It reminds you to pray for those who point you in the right direction – those who teach, instruct and heal. This includes teachers, doctors, and ministers. They need support and wisdom in pointing others in the right direction. Keep them in your prayers.

3. The next finger is the tallest finger. It reminds us of our leaders. Pray for the president, leaders in business and industry, and administrators. These people shape our nation and guide public opinion. They need God’s guidance.

4. The fourth finger is our ring finger. Surprising to many is the fact that this is our weakest finger.  It should remind us to pray for those who are weak, in trouble or in pain — the sick, the elderly in nursing homes, etc. They need your prayers day and night. You cannot pray too much for them.

5. And lastly comes our little finger; the smallest finger of all. Which is where we should place ourselves in relation to God and others. As the Bible says, “the least shall be the greatest among you.” Your pinky should remind you to pray for yourself. By the time you have prayed for the other four groups, your own needs will be put into proper perspective and you will be able to pray for yourself more effectively.


Use your daily routine of life to reinforce your prayer life:


When you first wake up – Praise our Creator

When you shower or bathe – Ask for cleansing of your soul; confess, repent & receive forgiveness

When you eat – Give thanks not only for the food, but for your family, home, life, etc.

When you go to work or school – Pray for those with whom you come into contact


I hope you find theses creative options as a help to enhance your prayer life.  Ephesians 6:8 says: “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.

 

White as Snow…

7 Mar

Last Saturday it snowed in Ramona.  If you have heard lyrics to the song “It never rains in Southern California” then you know having it snow is a REALLY big deal!  My children were so excited!  The last time it snowed at our house was when we lived in North Carolina in 2001.  It was midnight and they were outside making snowmen and having snowball fights.  Yes, I joined in the fun too!

The next morning I awoke to a peaceful serene snow covered view.  Our yard, cars, and trees – everything was picturesque.  The mountains in the distant were snowcapped – it was breathtaking.  Then I looked over to our trash cans and refuge area.  It was not the ugly stinky area that it normally was.  The area that is and has been an eye sore (because when is trash EVER pretty!?) didn’t look the same.  It was not an embarrassment to me.  It looked just like everything around it and unless you knew what it was before the snow, you would not even know what it was now.  In fact, it was beautiful!  As I stood there, reveling in its beauty, I thought back on my life.  There were times when I chose to put myself in stinky situations.  There were times when I hung out with the trash.  There were events in my life that were indeed an eyesore and reason for embarrassment.

Then I met someone who changed all of that.  I am happy to report that He came into my life and covered all of that nastiness with beauty.  In fact, unless you knew me during that time in my life, you wouldn’t even know who I was then.  I am beautiful.  Not because of any external change.  Not because of anything that I have done.  But because of the One that I found that made me and all that I had done “White as Snow”

Are there things in your life that need to be covered up?  Are there decisions and/or choices that you have made that are in need of being made beautiful?  You do not need to spend another moment feeling like an eyesore and or being embarrassed.  My friend wants to do for you what He did for me.  Even if you don’t think YOU CAN, maybe even too bad to be covered up.  He says to you today, “Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”

He wants to discuss your decisions, choices and past with you.

He wants to settle this matter today!

Go ahead; let him make you white as snow!

What Are You Listening To?

26 Feb

“Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” These words found in Romans 10:17 have become my latest challenge.  As I look at these words I evaluate how much time I actually spend “listening” to God’s Word.  Now PLEASE do not get me wrong, I am not saying that I am no longer going to read God’s Word, nor that it is unimportant – because it is.  But I am wondering why I don’t spend time literally listening to God’s Word, IN ADDITION to studying God’s Word.  Therefore I have committed to listening to God’s Word.  Earlier this week I downloaded the Bible.is app on my iPhone and each night this week I have listened to the Word of God all night long.

Several things have happened:

  1. My sleep is much deeper.  I have not once this week woke up in the middle of the night, as I usually do.
  2. I cannot remember any dreams.  Most days I can wake up and give you a brief rundown of something I either dreamt about and/or thought about during the night.
  3. I am happier each day.  I find that the little things don’t frustrate me – I am laughing more.
  4. I actually think more about Scripture and truth than I usually do.
  5. I have prayed more this week

Now I can’t say for sure that all of the above is a direct result of literally listening to God’s Word but it does give me cause to wonder.  I am going to continue this upcoming week as well.  I am also committing to listening to that app while I am walking each day this week.  Can’t guarantee anything earth shattering, but I look forward to fleshing out growing my faith – by listening to God’s Word – and hearing from Christ, who is the Word of God.

Really excited about this and if you want to join me on this journey; put on your walking shoes, grab your ipod and share your experiences with me!

Remember