lauriesblog

Are You Willing To Fight?

Are you willing to fight? I recently came across the hostage story of Kayla Muellar and could not help but think what I would do in that situation.

It also reminded me of how incredibly lucky we are to have freedom and how freedom, much like grace, isn’t free. It comes with a price. Also, it makes me think about our son whose job is to protect and serve our country. I think about how I’ve always ended our correspondence with the words KEEP PUSHING.  See, we decided that in our family we are going to fight; we are going to keep pushing no matter what because when we feel as though we cannot go on anymore, we know that we have a father in heaven that will take over. We know that no matter what GOD WINS and all that is required of us is to GO and KEEP PUSHING. Keep trying and to never give up.   As I was reading the story of Kayla Muellar and came across a letter she wrote her family, I saw how Kayla never gave up. Daily, she would look forward to the day she would be reunited with her family.   It kept her going knowing that her family would try and keep pushing through. It also mentioned how Kayla would try her hardest to be kind and spark conversation with those that held her captive. This reminded me of Philippians 1:12-14:

Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel,  so that my imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to everyone else,  and that most of the brethren, trusting in the Lord because of my imprisonment, have far more courage to speak the word of God without fear.”

Although Kayla never actually made it home, I am confident that God used her to impact those around her. I am sure we will never hear the stories of love and kindness she showed or even forgiveness she may have given but I guarantee you someone’s life was change because of her situation.

I am also encouraged to be stronger and love deeper by her story and as I sit and visualize what I might do in that situation, I have to say that she has ignited a flame within me because of her sacrifice; reminding me yet again that Jesus did not die in vain, Grace came with a price. Freedom does as well. It’s time for Christians to stand up even if it means risking it all, to love as Jesus did. Justly. We can no longer sit back and allow evil to prevail especially when the victory is already ours. ARISE brothers and sisters, equip yourself as Ephesians 6:10-18 says:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.  Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.  Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,  and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints.”

-Laurie Graham

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God Wants to Use You

The Lord sometimes shows us the most beautiful things in the ugliest place. Skid row in downtown Los Angeles is dirty, and filled with approximately 17,000 people who are sick, lost and forgotten, but the physical bodies on skid row are not just people… They are CHILDREN, children of the most High God. God created them uniquely and with a purpose just like all of us. He LOVES them so dearly and so much, but they somehow, somewhere lost their way.

If you or I were to be walking down skid row, or any city street for that matter, and saw a 5 year old little girl wondering by herself we would surely stop and offer her help. If we saw a 2 year old baby boy crying on the sidewalk because he was hungry and scared, we would not hesitate to stop and pick up that baby and offer him food and shelter. In the same way, we would see those children and it would rip our hearts out. God sees us and the forgotten in the same way and so God sent His children (us) to go out and help the forgotten (physically, mentally & spiritually) to remind them that they are not forgotten.

During a recent outreach on the dirty forgotten streets of skid row God began to show me the beauty of my husband. Yes, men can be beautiful! It is the purity of heart that radiates beauty and how beautiful is the painted picture of a mighty and strong man loving a forgotten world? A man strong enough to bear the weight of the world on his shoulders but tender enough to stop, get on his knees and ask a elderly man who was fallen face first on the concrete if he was ok while so many others just walked by. This is the moment when my spirit leapt and my heart broke, as I was just as guilty as the others who walked by this man lying on this face. It was a surreal moment; almost a moment of slow motion when I turned backed to see where my husband was and saw that he was on his knees on the dirty sidewalk filled with urine, trash and many other unpleasant things asking the elderly man if he was ok. The Lord used that moment as confirmation, as earlier in the day while reading my bible I read:

Isaiah 61:1 [AMP]

“THE SPIRIT of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed and qualified me to preach the Gospel of good tidings to the meek, the poor, and afflicted; He has sent me to bind up and heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the [physical and spiritual] captives and the opening of the prison and of the eyes to those who are bound,”

When I read verse earlier in the day I immediately thought of my husband, as He is a mighty and strong man and yet humble and loving man. We had already gone through skid row once handing out hygiene products and loving and speaking to the people, as we were on our way back to our car a man who had heard or seen from others that we were out there came running across the street asking for help, unfortunately we had nothing left to give. This man was cold, wearing only a t-shirt, jeans and tennis shoes and that is when my husband gave the man the jacket off of his back. There was no hesitation at all and while the man was putting on the jacket I looked down and on that corner of 6th street & Crocker in downtown Los Angeles etched in the cement was my husband’s name! Wow God! Really? Awesome!!! God already knew that this would happen and whoever wrote that name in the cement that day had no idea that God would take that and make it a miracle.

All night I was thinking about this little miracle that happened on skid row with my husband and I began to realize that our calling is much bigger and greater than we could ever, ever imagine. Our callings are BIG because we have a BIG God, but the act of our calling could be in the smallest thing, like touching a homeless man’s hand and telling him God loves him, to stopping to ask a elderly man lying on the ground if he is ok, to handing out inexpensive hygiene products or to giving someone less fortunate than you the jacket off of your own back.

God uses us in the most amazing ways, we just have to be willing to go.   Never underestimate the power of God even in the small things! He wants to use you.

-Laurie Graham

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Victims Become Conquerors

When victims find their voice, they release healing to others who are still being held hostage by sins that where committed against them.

There is power in your testimony. There is a release that occurs when we share how God has come into our lives & healed the darkest & deepest pains.

We can release healing when we share the love of God with others; victims become conquerors when they find their voice.

We, as women, need to rise up and empower each other.

Empowerment means to give power of authority to; authorize, especially by legal or official means.

Through the death & resurrection of Christ, God has given us the power and authority over those things that have hurt us.

In order for us to go from victim to conqueror we must be courageous.  We need to dig deep inside of ourselves and find that courage we once had to get past the sin that was committed against us.   When I was a child & I was being molested it took courage for me to look others in the face as if I wasn’t carrying around this huge burden of guilt, shame & fear. It was then that courage was built into my DNA.

In Deuteronomy 31:6 Moses is speaking to the children of Israel, he is worried that once he leaves they will leave God.  He gathers them together to give them words of encouragement / words of empowerment.

“Be strong & Courageous. Don’t tremble! Don’t be afraid of them. The Lord your God is the one who is going with you. He won’t abandon you or leave you” [Deuteronomy. 31:6]

When God raises up those He wants to carry on his work (you & me) He ensures their success.  How do you know you have been called?  You did not fall victim to your circumstances, therefore you have been raised up to carry on His work.

While the children of Israel had the power of God fighting for them, they had no reason to fear all the power against them.  They found their strength in God. They were no longer victims but became conquerors.

We must trust God that He will give us everything we need to be courageous.  We must encourage and support each other to not give up, to fight the good fight for our freedom and to break the chains and bondages of our past.

1 Corinthians 15:58: “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters STAND FIRM. Let nothing move you.”

Courage is something every Christian possesses. For we have no reason to be fearful for we have an everlasting God and we will live with Him for eternity.  We must however, ask God to equip us so that we can be ready for anything that comes our way.

I believe one of the most courageous things we can do as Christians is to look into the eyes of those who have offended us, hurt us and or committed sins against us with the love of Christ.  This does not mean we are approving of what they did or that they get a “get out of jail free card” this simply means that we are looking at them from a conquerors perspective and not a victim perspective.  Know that our God is bigger than any hurt or sin. Knowing that God is for us & longs to give us everything we need.

We can be bold and free when we are in the presence of God and therefore have the courage and confidence to look the past in the face and conquer it with the love of Christ, allowing us to empower each other.

-Laurie