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Say Yes

For as long as I can remember I’ve always had the gift of encouraging others to pursue their dreams. To step out on faith. To believe in themselves. I’ve been the one to promote other people in their endeavors because I’ve believed in them. Even today I directed a co-worker to my sister’s cake making site but when it comes to me and my dreams I’ve never allowed the words I’ve given others to penetrate my own heart. I think the main reason has to do with me not thinking that I’m good enough. Not thinking that what I have to offer is as good as what someone else has to offer but I am beginning to see things differently.

I recently attended a Christian Writer’s Conference that was filled with many writers in various stages of writing. Some were just starting out; some had already been published but all of them had the desire to see their words on paper so that they could touch someone else. The keynote speaker made it a point to remind each and every one of us that even though we were all in the same room together each of us was given a distinct voice that will be used by God and that we should resist the urge to not only compare ourselves to one another but also to give into the fear and not say yes to the things that God has for us. Such a simple statement and one that we all know but it’s so difficult to execute-especially the saying yes part.

Saying yes is absolutely scary. It requires faith not only of the one asking the question but also of the one who is answering. Think about some of the biggest questions that are asked on a daily basis. “Will you go out with me?” “Will you accept the job?” “Will you marry me?” All very important, life changing questions but the biggest, most important life changing question is the one that God asks us each day we open our eyes – “Will you pick up your cross and follow me?” Will you let me lead you down the road that has many twists and turns? Will you let me be your Lord and Savior and trust that I can see end of the road even though you can’t? Will you accept me into your heart? Will you let go of the things you hold dear and put them in My hands?

For some these are simple questions to answer and the answer is always yes without any hesitation but for others (me) they are sometimes hard to answer and the answer is most of the time “maybe”.

Maybe because letting You have control means letting You take me to the uncomfortable places in my heart. Maybe because letting You have control means walking a path that is so small and narrow it’s like walking on a tightrope. Maybe because letting You have control means giving up the security I’ve gained. But wait. Why shouldn’t I say yes? Why shouldn’t I say yes to the opportunities You have for me? I said yes 17 years ago and just as a bride gives her husband her hand I gave you my heart and soul and look at how far You’ve brought me. Because of You I’ve been able to be a blessing to others and remember when someone was a blessing to me. You and I have history together Lord so right now I stand at the edge of this new journey and I’m ready to say yes.

It may be lonely. It may not be easy. It may be the most courageous thing I’ve ever done but Lord I know that with You all things are possible. So what I am saying yes to now? I’m saying yes to believing in myself. I’m saying yes to the possibilities whatever they may be. I’m saying yes to stepping out on faith.

What about you? Your “yes” journey could start by believing that Jesus came to this world to die for our sins. That by faith in Him we can all be saved. Say yes to letting Him into your heart and letting Him show you a world that is beyond all imagination.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved. John 3:16-17 

All That Glitters Isn’t Gold

For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? (Mark 8:35-37)

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Interesting question. What is so important to you at the moment that you are willing to lose yourself to get it? A question that has been running through my mind for quite sometime. A question that I keep asking myself when I think about what I have and what I don’t have. A question that the Holy Spirit keeps bringing to my remembrance when I start looking through any social media and start the comparison game. You know the game where you make two columns-one called me and one called them and you start checking what you have against what they have?

Why is it so important for me to keep that question close in my heart? Because if I don’t I begin to start focusing on the world instead of focusing on God. For me the world becomes loneliness. When I sit too long in the idea that I don’t have a husband or even a boyfriend or even someone to date my focus shifts to “nobody loves me”, “I don’t have any friends”, “everyone else has someone and they don’t understand how this feels”. And honestly even as I’m writing this that heavy feeling is sitting right on my shoulder close to my heart and sometimes-ok more than sometimes-that feeling wins. When that feeling wins the thought crosses my mind that I can satisfy the feeling of loneliness by having sex with someone. But then the Holy Spirit gently reminds me that sex will only leave me feeling worse than before.

Sometimes I think I can make myself feel better by purchasing things I know I don’t need. Even if it’s something small as long as I’m spending money on something it takes the focus way from how I’m feeling. And that includes food. There have been many hamburgers or pizzas contemplated (and yes eaten) that were a result of feeling unloved. And once again I start thinking that this will only make things worse not better. Not only because my reasons were not correct but now I have less money than I did before.

Now sex, food and material things are not bad and honestly God wants us to have those things but they must not become more important than God and they must be had in God’s timing and within God’s guidelines.

So my prayer for myself and for others who struggle with putting the world before their own soul is that we can lean more into God during those struggles and allow Him to be the comfort that we need.

Photo Credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/124022043@N08/20624642330/”>how is it buddy?</a> Flickr via <a href=”http://compfight.com”>Compfight</a&gt; <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/help/general/#147″>cc</a&gt;

 

 

 

 

This entry was posted on June 3, 2017. 2 Comments

Name Giver

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No longer shall your name be called Abram bur your name shall be Abraham for I have made you a father of many nations. (Genesis 17:5)  Then God said to Abraham, “As for your wife you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name…then I will bless her and she shall be a mother of nations. (Genesis 17:15-16)

What name has God given you?

Everyday we are being judged by what we say and how we act. Everyday someone is naming us based on what they see and hear. And if we are honest we must admit that we are also naming ourselves based on what we do and what we say. We call ourselves “stupid”, “lazy”, “shameful” just to name a few. We start saying that we will never accomplish anything and we begin to believe the lies and the names that we and others have placed on us. Why? Because we’ve never given God the ability to speak His truth into our lives.

What name has God given you?

We start looking at the things we’ve done and immediately disqualify ourselves without even talking to God. We think that He looks at us and sees what we see so naturally how could He possibly want us to do anything for Him. God chose Abram and Sarai knowing that they would try and fulfill the promise God gave them on their own. He still changed their name, worked through their impatience and kept His promise to make them parents of nations. No matter what you think or how are you feeling God can and will still use you and your story to touch another life. None of us were put on this earth to live out our lives in a vacuum or bubble.

Jesus said that He is the vine and if we are to bear fruit we need to stay close to the vine. Staying close to Jesus allows God the opportunity to step in and not only change our heart but also change our name. And by changing our name our reach goes further and further.

There is so much for us to do and God is just waiting to change our name from saved to unsaved, from unrighteous to the righteous, from guilty to forgiven, from what we used to be to what we are going to be.

So once again I ask you, what name has God given you?

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This entry was posted on April 26, 2017. 3 Comments

The Tempter

I have been reading Matthew chapter 4 specifically verses 1-11 where it talks about Jesus being tempted by Satan in the wilderness. Jesus was there for forty days and nights by himself just speaking with God and after the forty days when Jesus was hungry, tired and at His weakest point that’s when Satan came to tempt Him. And he didn’t tempt him with things that were bad. Money or security, respect and power in of themselves are not bad but he wanted Jesus to place them above everything else instead of leaning into God. Sound familiar? Satan does the exact same thing with us.

He tempts us with the things we want most and always when we are the most weary. When we are facing the possibility of losing our jobs or our homes and we are so stressed that we don’t know what to do he often comes whispering in our ear “your neighbor offered to put you on their payroll” and we begin to consider it knowing our neighbor has never done anything legitimate since we’ve known them.

Or when we’ve been given an opportunity to be promoted to manager but we know that the division we would be managing is known for cutting corners and short-changing people. We start considering it because it would mean our old co-workers would have no choice but to look at us with admiration we could finally be big man on campus.

Or when our boss says that this year part of our review will include peer evaluations and the person we are evaluating is someone we’ve never really liked and this is our chance to really tell our boss how we feel about them. We start considering it as Satan tells us that it will make us feel better and get rid of dead weight at the same time.

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STOP!!!!! When Jesus was tempted He hit Satan with the word of God.

It is written man shall not live by bread alone.(v.4) It is written again thou shall not tempt the Lord thy God.(v.7) Get thee hence Satan, for it is written thou shalt worship the Lord thy God and him only shalt thou serve.(v.10)

And do you know what happened after that? Satan left Jesus. He left because he knew that even during His weakest moment Jesus was so connected to God that He was able to see through Satan’s tricks. Now I know you’re probably saying “that was Jesus and there is no way we could withstand the same temptation after 40 days of fasting” and you’re probably right but there are things we can do to fight off temptation.

We can first and foremost lean into God and the grace that He supplies everyday. How? By reading His word, speaking to Him and surrounding ourselves with preaching, teaching and music that helps us gain a better understand of God.

We can also pay attention to our bodies and get the required rest we need. Rest? Yes rest. Think about how off kilter you are when you don’t get enough rest. You become irritable and every little thing gets on your nerves. Perfect soil for Satan to come in and stir the pot.

These seem like simple things to do but they can often be the hardest. We can always find an excuse not to grow in our relationship with God or to not get to bed at a decent time but if we choose to ignore these things we are choosing to give Satan an opening big enough to slid his foot through. Then before you know it his leg will be in followed by his arm and soon his entire body. No we are not perfect and God gave us grace & mercy for the times when we do give in to temptation but if our desire is to submit ourselves to God and resist the devil he will have absolutely no choice but to leave us alone. (James 4:7)

And it doesn’t hurt to throw a little bit of the word at him as he’s leaving.

photo credit: Jon David Nelson <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/65771669@N07/29551850866″>Sonoran Mountain Kingsnake</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

 

 

This entry was posted on March 16, 2017. 2 Comments

Running The Race

Anyone that knows me knows that I have never been much of an athlete but I thoroughly enjoy watching sports-particularly basketball and tennis. I also enjoyed watching the swimming and track & field races during the summer Olympics. Each athlete is given a lane to swim or run in but on each side of them is another athlete who’s trying to out swim or out run the other. But what if, as you are in your lane, you look over and see not another person but yourself?

The bible often talks about how we as Christians are in a race. But if a traditional race has people running against each other and we are not to compare ourselves against one another who exactly are we in a race against? I think we are in a race against ourselves. I think we are running against fear, doubt, insecurity to see who will cross the finish line first. The thing is they are so much running a race as they are holding us back.

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Fear: An unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain or a threat.

Doubt: A feeling of uncertainty or lack of conviction.

Insecurity: Uncertainty or anxiety about oneself; lack of confidence.

Just imagine you standing on the starting line of the things that God has planned for you and you look over and see fear telling you that the future God has is way more dangerous than where you are now. Right now you’re comfortable and safe. What in the world will happen in the future?! No. It’s so much better to stay here and not venture any further.

Then you hear doubt chiming in and agreeing with fear but adding their own little bit of advice. Doubt starts saying that even if you did move forward you’d just stop right away anyway so why even bother to start.

And then here comes insecurity. Insecurity puts the icing on the cake and tells you that God didn’t really put anything in you that is worth pursuing. Basically you are no good and you deserve to be at the bottom of the pile. Everyone else is better than you are anyway so once again why put yourself out there?

I’ve fallen into this trap myself. Even when writing this post I allowed a close friend of fear, doubt and insecurity to visit me…procrastination. Once you allow the other three to speak in your ear procrastination quietly comes in and before you know it something that should have taken you a short while to finish takes months, years, decades or it never gets finished at all.

But then I think about this verse…

Therefore we also, since we are witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily ensnares us and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the sham and has set down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1 NKJ)

This verse tells us to let go of the things that weigh us down and things that tend to trip us up. Sometimes it’s that relationship, or that job or even your current dream. Sometimes its even letting go of our own selfish nature. And always it’s letting go of comparing ourselves with one another. Why? Because our goal is to win the race that God has set before us. Not our friends on social media. Not our neighbors. Not our co-workers. Not our family members. But us.

I start to remember that at the end of the day while it is my race to finish there are others whose race depends on how well I run my race. If I allow myself to get sidetracked there are people who won’t get to hear what I have to say. They need to hear how the gospel can change their life.They need to hear that they too have a voice and a purpose.

So I want to say to everyone out there who has struggled with our racing companions fear, doubt, insecurity and even procrastination they may try to keep up with you but you are stronger than they are. Your voice is stronger than their voices. And as you continue putting one foot in front of the other keep that finish line in view and not the finish line of pleasing others but the finish line of hearing God say “well done good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:23).

photo credit: acase1968 <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/60035031@N06/26672521686″>100 meter dash</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

This entry was posted on February 26, 2017. 2 Comments

Condemnation

Your Honor, I’d like to present the case against this defendant. It is open and shut. We have eyewitnesses. We have video evidence. And most importantly we have their own testimony about why they are here in this courtroom today. Your Honor based on the evidence I ask that you find this defendant guilty and condemn them to death.

What does it mean to be condemned? The dictionary defines it as the expression of very strong disapproval. Buildings are most often condemned. People who find themselves convicted of a crime are often condemned or sentenced to serve time in prison. But what about you? Have you ever been condemned? You may not know it but each day that you live Satan is constantly trying to make you feel ashamed and unworthy. His job is to make you look at the decisions you’ve made in the past and start to live condemned. He wants you live as if everyone, especially God, disapproves of who you are and what you’ve done but…..that is not God’s view of you.

Romans 8:1 says “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit.” This scripture is quoted a lot by Christians and I often remind myself of it as well; but what does it mean? The first time I heard this scripture I had only been saved for a few months. I didn’t hear it at church. I didn’t hear it from a preacher on television. I heard it from someone who was very close to me and it was the first thing that was said after we became reacquainted. Why would that be the first thing someone said to me? I’ve asked myself that question over and over again and I think I finally have the answer. Shortly before I gave my life to Jesus I was involved in a relationship with a married man. And honestly it was this relationship along with other things going on in my life at the time that made me realize how much I needed Jesus.

I believe that God knew I needed to be away from him so He used a situation with me being diagnosed with tendinitis in my wrist to place me on leave. I was away from my job for a while which meant that I couldn’t see this individual. When I finally was able to go back and I saw him I didn’t quite have the same feelings about him as I’d had before. For years I’ve thought it was strange that he quoted that verse to me but now I know that it was God telling me that no matter what I’ve done in the past, as long as I’ve given it to God and asked for forgiveness, I don’t need to feel ashamed.

How freeing is that? How amazing is it to know that God doesn’t look at our sins and say “I don’t like you.” Why? Because when He looks at us He only sees the atoning blood of Jesus. And how awesome is that all we have to do to receive that atonement is to admit that we are sinners and ask Jesus to save us from our sins. We may have consequences to our sins but we will not have the heavy burden of proving our worth to anyone.

Hallelujah Jesus that we have the opportunity to no longer be condemned, to no longer live a life without hope.

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This entry was posted on January 24, 2017. 3 Comments

What You Do In The Dark

I was recently thinking about something my aunt said to my cousin years ago “remember what you do in the dark will be shown in the light”. My aunt was referring to the fact that she know my cousin was pregnant before my cousin said anything but I know that this saying can be in reference to anything. For me I was thinking about our relationship with God.

Being part of a church is important and it is something that God asks of us in Hebrews 10:25 but more important than that is having and developing a close relationship with God. Throughout the Old Testament God has always been concerned with how we interact with Him. He took Moses on a mountain for 40 days to commune with Him. He met with Jonah in a whale after Jonah ran from Him. He met with Adam daily in the Garden of Eden because He wanted that relationship with Him. And He still wants that relationship with us. He sent Jesus to reconcile us back to Him after 400 years of silence.

Why is it so important to have that relationship with Him? Because we are instructed to be conduits of His light to others and we can’t be that if we aren’t connected to the source of the light. How do we get connected to the light? We first admit that we are sinners and that we need a savior. We ask Jesus to come into our heart and make us over.

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How do we stay connected to the light? We spend time building our relationship by reading His word, meditating on His word and most importantly praying & listening to what He has to say.

All those things are done in our private time with Him. You know that preparation time when no one sees you. The time when you are holding yourself accountable for how much you pray and spend time reading & meditating on His word. See the time you spend dedicated to Him in the dark will at some point show up in the light. It will show up in how you treat yourself and others. Are you judgmental? Are you angry or irritated? Are you impatient? Do you constantly compare yourself to others and weigh your achievements against theirs?

We all fall into those traps but at some point we need to decide if we are going to let the light of God’s word truly shine within us or if we are going to continue believing the worst in ourselves and others?

I have decided that I will no longer allow myself to be held in bondage by words that don’t affirm myself and others. The only way for me to break those chains of bondage is to deepen my relationship with God and allow the Holy Spirit to lead and guide me. What about you?