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To The Person Who Has Bigger Dreams Than The Typical Life

Six months ago I moved from Philadelphia to Dallas. Through this process, I have never needed more faith and I’ve never been happier. Needless to say, it has been crazy, exciting, and terrifying the past six months. Since moving, every hour is jam packed, every day is different, and every week brings a new adventure. I know that I am sitting in the Lord’s will and I feel that I am truly starting to tap into the purpose God has for me.

You see ever since I was a little girl I wanted to do something big with my life. I desired to be married and be a wife but I want something beyond that as well. I want to leave a legacy and want my life to count. I’m not satisfied with what is normal. I have huge dreams and am sold out to God’s calling on my life.

Can you relate? If so keep reading because I want to share a few pieces of advice.

  1. Find Then Follow Your Vision – You may be in a season right now where you are searching for your purpose. Don’t take this season for granted. God has not forgotten you, rather you have been set apart. For a few years, I waited as my dreams and passions developed because I also knew that I wasn’t ready to know how they were going to be mapped out. Everyone has a vision for their life. If you were born into this life, God has a vision for you. The key is you need to seek it. Be active in seeking it. Many ignore the vision or settle. We are called to greatness therefore we need to strive for it.

2 Chronicles 16:9a says, “For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.”

Devote yourself to seeking the Lords vision for your life. Once your call is revealed follow that dream no matter the circumstances

  1. Be Teachable – It’s almost laughable at how many mistakes I have made. When our team gets together we have conversations like, “Member the time when Katie…” then someone else will say, “Oh my goodness I remember when Katie did…” Even though I have been corrected, made mistakes, and have not always made the right call, I have made it a point to be teachable. We can look back and laugh about some of the crazy stories over the years because I have since learned from them.

REMEMBER: While it is awesome to have huge dreams and a major vision, please know, you do not                   know everything. Eat some humble pie, admit when you are wrong, and seek Godly counsel. I have been           blessed where I am constantly being poured into from people who will shoot straight with me. Because of           that I am able to mentor and pour into others. Unfortunately, you can end up being the biggest drawback           to your dreams. If you make a mistake, don’t let insecurity keep you from pressing on. It’s okay!! In fact,           correction is a GOOD THING because it is through that we learn.

Proverbs 12:1 tells us straight up, “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.”

  1. Be Expectant –Faith is seriously one of my FAVORITE things to talk about!! It’s a major game changer. It will happen in the Lord’s timing so until then stand bold, stand firm, and do not waver. I have a list of things I am praying for and am expectant about. Think of an expectant mother. She is expectant because she can feel the baby and knows that the baby will eventually be born. Today, be expectant that God will give birth to your prayers!

Mark 11:24 says, “Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you.” You need to be expectant by having faith in your prayers! If you aren’t going to expect what you pray about, why pray at all?

My challenge for you today is be hard core about all the desires, passions, and dreams for your life. Seek what the Lord wants, be teachable, and be expectant. Never settle, but rather, be buck wild about it. Doing this will be the best decision you make. I am living proof of it.

-Katie Dewan

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I shall not be rendered ineffective!

I won’t be ineffective; I can’t and I won’t be rendered ineffective… 

I don’t want to miss out on blessings or God given opportunities because I was “too lazy” to exercise my faith, trust, and boldness spiritual muscles, only to be labeled a lazy Christian because I CHOSE ‘Easy Rd.’. I don’t have to be strapped down and held back by labels or tags against me.

The ONLY name I wish to possess is: DAUGHTER OF THE MOST HIGH KING!!

But – I know I am only human; I will stumble so I just pray His grace will abound.

“But I have this against you: you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember then how far you have fallen, repent, and do the works you did at first. Otherwise, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place…” (Rev. 2:4-5, HCSB) “So because you are lukewarm and neither hot nor cold, I am going to vomit you out of my mouth.” (Rev. 3:16, HCSB)

In case you’re in shock too, these verses ARE IN THE BIBLE so please so kindly lift your lip off the ground and listen up: I’ve read these and heard these verses before and I would think, “WOW Lord! How stinking harsh. I’m totally confused: didn’t you say you would fulfill your purpose in me (Psalm 138:8, HCSB)? Didn’t you say you had all these great plans for me to do even greater things in your name Lord (John 14:12, ESV)? So what’s with all the harsh antics?” I know sometimes I lean more on the idea of being inactive because of “dry spells” or “self-induced inactivity comas” because of complacency. How can I fight against that and make my wandering heart stay steady and attuned to God, His heart, and plans for me?

Dry spells in my faith are the most painful. See, this thing called complacency isn’t a place or a word that should be in the life of believers – EVER; but sometimes it happens. To be completely vulnerable and honest, I ALLOW it to happen. I know I shouldn’t grow stagnant or still and I shouldn’t allow these dry spells to creep up on me. I’ve heard a new term recently by my pastor (shout out to Community Church of Chesapeake, VA) that could most likely label me well when a dry spell ensues; his word was – ‘staytheist’. Weird isn’t it?! It’s like he fused “stay” and “atheist” together; it is strange but I promise it fits in what I am going to say, so keep in step my friend. A ‘staytheist’ is someone who stays where they are in their faith for fear of what’s next, the unknown, or afraid of possible steps needed to take to walk through necessary doors into a God sized opportunity. To me, a ‘staytheist’ is a doubter, disbeliever, and person gripped and crippled by fear.

I can be a stayeist who doubts, disbelieves, and fears the unknown future or what’s next to see my own God sized doors of opportunity. When this fear, disbelief, and doubt occur, I induce a dry spell; but what gets me out – what breaks up and humbles me, is HIS GRACE! The scales of disbelief fall, my heart of doubt breaks, and my once fear-filled voice returns in gusto, full of life while my self-induced chains of bondage to my spot of staytheism, becomes a place of upheaved rubble in the presence of the Almighty. The very person who could have calmed me and soothed me into peace; I had distance myself. Somehow, I expected that by my very human claim to stay put, would satisfy my momentary state of doubt, disbelief  and fear and could be a match for the tidal wave of unfailing love, grace, and mercy that I needed from my Abba! Through my running, I am still pursued by a mighty warrior – yes, He disciplines me accordingly– but lovingly sets me back on the path of the calling He fashioned for me. It is through His perfect love that all my doubts, disbeliefs, and fears are driven out and put to shame (1 John 4:18, HCSB).

So to all my Complacent Christians or Staytheists out there: Arise sons and daughters! Drop those hole-filled shoes! Cease your striving and turn to grace; allow it to shower you with the love for which you’re desperately searching, feel the acceptance you’ve always wanted, and embrace HIS GRACE. For if we wish to be effective vessels for the Kingdom, we must always thirst for His righteousness (Matthew 5:6, ESV), pursue the things of His heart (Philippians 4:8-9, HCSB), and be steadfast as to be worthy of our callings (Colossians 1:10, HCSB) and worthy of carrying the Gospel (Philippians 1:27, HCSB). It is by His grace you have been saved (Ephesians 2:8-9, ESV) and by Him and His grace, my dear friends, we are sustained (Isaiah 46:4, NIV). His grace clears the stains of our sin, doubt, shame, disbelief, and fear, to tattoo – inscribe on us a high calling; His grace shows us our purpose (Ephesians 2:10, HCSB) and keeps us on our journey. The peace of walking in His grace is obtained by a life fully surrendered to Christ through the receiving of salvation by His atoning blood on the Cross. By entering into this relationship with our Abba Father, we have everything we need to live.

Complacent living and staytheism can seep in, but even if, His grace abounds all the more!

-Vickee

Millenials

What’s Different About Millennials?

It was a colorful fall day in Virginia. After my daily workout with my best friend, we parted ways and made plans to meet back up for dinner. Usually, we did everything together, but today I had my end of semester meeting with my financial advisor. After sitting in the waiting room with my zip-up hoodie and Nike sneakers, I was called into his cubicle. After hearing about the debt I had accumulated thus far, I knew there had to be a better way. It was after that meeting that I devised a strategy to get ahead. One year later I found myself working at a prestigious company with a team that was heavily involved in planning Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium. With this alternative method I was able to get my bachelors with experience rather than debt under my belt. Unfortunately for today’s generation, you cannot pay for college with just a part time job, and no white collar position is guaranteed post-graduation.

I am a Millennial. Despite our bad rep, I am proud to hold this title. There is more to us than Snapchat, Justin Bieber, and Netflix and Chill. Millennials are the most diverse generation in U.S history. Millennials were born between the late 1980’s and 1990’s. We are engaged, focused on the future, and tolerant. Furthermore, we are the generation of entrepreneurs, we find pleasure in the journey, and we are the first generation to have personal media. Generation X focused on a work/life balance while Millennials have work/life integration. A Millennial self-brands weekly, daily, and hourly. Our mentality is different compared to generations before us as we emerge from adolescents to adults.

The traditional road map of life is:

1) Graduate college

2) Become financially independent

3) Get married

4) Have a baby

In 1960, 75% of people hit this complete roadmap by the age of 30, when in 2010, only 10% of people had completed it. For our generation, our 20’s have become a transition period. It is no secret that generations before us are critical. Can I be bold enough to say that we have aspects we need to work on as a whole? We have bigger issues than whether we should use the filter X-Pro II or Valencia.

Here are a few of them:

1) We compare.

Although social media has brought a sense of community, we also use it to compare ourselves to others. We compare each other’s lives and this causes considerable anxiety. Whether it comes to success in money or our bodies, we need to learn to be content and work hard on our own journey regardless of what others are doing.

2) Few of us plan for the future.

We all know that one guy who is 25 and his parents are still depositing his rent, food, and cell phone bill into his bank account each month. As a whole, our generation needs to budget and learn what it means to save. Many of us are privileged because generations before us paved the way. However, we need to follow their example and do the hard thing rather than make constant impulse buys.

3) We feel entitled.

No, not all of us are entitled. But I have seen far too many students graduate and assume they are starting out with a six-figure salary in a management position. We need to put in the hard work and earn it. We should never want to be known as a generation that is lazy. Achieving a goal when the road is hard is the most rewarding thing our generation could ever do.

Despite our shortcomings, Millennials should be immensely proud of the notable qualities we possess.

1) We can hear the hard thing.

We don’t need fluff, but rather we are attracted to boldness. As painful as it may be, we want to hear the truth. We can immediately spot when someone is being fake. Each of us is searching for authenticity, and that is something to be valued.

2) Millennials know how to follow their passion.

The 2014 Millennial Impact Report did a study which surveyed 1500 millennials. The findings showed that the main factor in determining whether or not they remained at their company was having their passions used and fulfilled. Our generation is driven by a group of people who must find a role where their values and dreams come to life.

Here is the question we really need to ask: Are we factoring God into our generation? 

What we need to remember, above anything else, is God and His Word are the ultimate authority. Because we are searching for authenticity, we can always turn to the Scriptures. In all of the examples above, whether budgeting, working hard, or following our passion, the Bible is extremely relevant. God’s word can be utilized to guide us in every single one of these areas.

All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” -Timothy 3:16-17

We are living in a different time. Often, lines are blurred and our generation comes to situations or decisions that aren’t black and white. This is when we have to set our feet on the solid rock and stand on what God’s Word says. When our generation is searching for discernment, His Word will be the cornerstone we need to ground ourselves in truth.

 “The steps of a man are established by the LORD, And He delights in his way. When he falls, he will not be hurled headlong, because the LORD is the One who holds his hand.” –Psalms 37:23-24 

-Katie D.

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The Chains Are Already Broken: Choosing Grace

Sometimes it can be pretty tempting as someone saved by grace to become a little self-righteous and prideful when we look at others caught in sin. I think sometimes we forget what it was like to be in the grips of sin and death, to be caught in the addiction. Or, maybe by the grace of God you never had that one “big” sin struggle – but let’s be real, we all have a struggle with sin, hence the grace of God.

If I’m honest, there have been times that I have looked at others caught in certain habitual sins that I have been saved from and become angry, or hard-hearted, or anything but compassionate. Now, there is a place for righteous anger, don’t get me wrong, but there is a place for compassion, too! It’s as though I had forgotten that my escape from those sins was by the grace of God. I had no reason to be proud.

But I think our sense of pride can sometimes come from a forgetfulness of the snare of sin. Now, words are a funny thing. Sometimes they can be used so much they become “Christianese” or so cliché that we forget the weight of their meanings, but there is a reason we use those words! Let’s look at two words for a second: caught and snare.

Caught – past tense of catch; intercept and hold (something that has been thrown, propelled, or dropped).

  • capture (a person or animal that tries or would try to escape).

Snare – noun; a trap for catching birds or animals, typically one having a noose of wire or cord.

  • a thing likely to lure or tempt someone into harm or error.

Those are pretty strong words. Neither portrays exact willingness on the receiving end, but that is no mistake on Satan’s part! The Lord wins us with His loving kindness; the devil is conniving and has to manipulate us into what is essentially quicksand.

I was recently humbled – God is pretty good in that arena. Although God is good and faithful to keep us in His grace, I was reminded how once we choose sin one time, it becomes all the easier to choose it again, and again, and before you know it, it seems as though sin is grabbing you. Even when you know how bad, how wrong, how hurtful it is – to you and God – it consumes your thoughts and you feel almost like an addict feeding a fix. Sin is obsessive and completely insane. That is why we say people get “caught” in the “snare” of sin, because it truly does grab a hold of you making you feel powerless.

But there is hope for the sinner. Like Judas and Peter, there is the gift of grace and the offer of whether we accept it or mourn our sin in worldly grief. Judas chose the latter and it killed him – literally. He was so consumed by the guilt and shame of betraying Jesus that he hung himself. Peter was also extremely distressed by his denial of Jesus BUT Peter remembered the message of his friend and Savior – the message of forgiveness of sins. He remembered the grace that Jesus said was available. Peter’s sorrow was met with repentance and the acceptance of grace.

Accept God’s grace! Choose to use the power that is waiting for you in Jesus to overcome your sin. The chains are already broken; we need only to believe it.

 

Chelsea Prevosto – Intern

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God’s Plan > My Plan

 Great things never came out of comfort zones. 

This is a quote that I have heard repeatedly within the last couple years, and for some reason, it has really stuck with me. I have been crawling my way out of my many comfort zones for the last several years and to be honest, it is downright scary sometimes. There is a passage within the book of Isaiah that I have always clung to and it is in chapter 41:10-13.

            “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. All who rage against you will surely be ashamed and disgraced; those who oppose you will be as nothing and perish. Though you search for your enemies, you will not find them. Those who wage war against you will be as nothing at all. For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.

            I have clung to this passage for several years because of the peace that it has brought when worry, doubt, anxiety, and fear have consumed me in various circumstances. I have recently graduated college, but I can recall my sophomore year so clearly. Having already changed my major twice by the fall semester, I was beginning to feel the pressure of getting my life together. People always tell you college is the best years of your life, but at that point I was beginning to wonder what the heck I was doing. So as I sat in my education major classes and felt absolutely no passion for the work I was doing, I knew I needed to change my major (yet again). I felt like I was going through a quarter life crisis–people have those right? I began combing the degree completion plans to see if anything really fit me. I dreaded to tell my parents because after all, they were paying for me to get a degree in something. I didnt want them to think I was wasting their hard earned dollars. I began to pray, and pray, and pray. I begged for answers because I honestly just wanted to know the direction the Lord wanted me to go.

            It was uncomfortable. The not knowing what I was doing and the struggle of wondering whether I should stick it out haunted me. Throughout the process of praying and waiting on the Lord for the next step, I realized that the only reason I truly wanted to teach was because I thought there was security in it. I thought that at least when I would graduate I would know exactly what job I was looking for. Crawling out of this comfort zone was difficult. I had to let go of my idea of job security and embrace the Lords right hand in this season of my life and allow him to show me the path He wanted for me, not the one I was trying to force.

            From a young age, I had loved art. I enjoyed arts and crafts at camp and I liked doodling and drawing. While I never took many art classes in school I took one in high my senior year and loved it. I never considered a degree in the arts because I did not think one could make a decent living out of it. Looking back now, I see how foolish I was to put God in a box. I stepped out of the comfort zone of the major I felt was correct and into the unknown major of Graphic Design. My family was a little skeptical at first, especially since this was my third major. I cant say I blamed them, but I felt the Lords presence over the whole circumstance. It was scary to step into a brand new degree plan and start all over. It was scary to step into something that I felt no real security in. That being said, it was comforting to know I had stepped into something that I felt the Lords hand all over. Just as the Lord says in end of that passage, Do not fear; I will help you He helped me in the same way.

            That was two years ago. I had never used a Mac computer, and didnt even know how to turn it on in my first class. I had no idea about photography, or hand lettering, or what the Adobe programs were. All I knew was that the Lord had put me in this degree program and wanted me there. Now as a recent college graduate with a degree in Graphic Design and job that uses those skills I am grateful. I am grateful for the Lords provision. I am grateful for his prodding to step out of a comfort zone and into the unknown because it didnt just change my degree path, it change my life.

 

-Molly Hitch

 

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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

sunshine

Giving God Control

What’s Love Got to Do:

Everything.

I never realized how warped my view of God’s love was until last week. I thought I was over that “stage.” That stage of learning that God’s love is always good, trustworthy, perfect, patient, kind and not insisting on its own way. I thought I’d been challenged in understanding that God’s love was different than my love, or the love of ex-boyfriends, parents, step-dads, and friends. No matter how good or bad, it is not God’s love.

Being able to image Christ’s love is a privilege; it’s an honor. But we can hardly fathom God’s love completely, let alone show it perfectly, which can make things complicated for some of us.

I’m currently reading through William P. Young’s The Shack (such a good read for anyone who has dealt with grief that has challenged their perspective … of anything, but especially of God. And with all of the tragedy happening lately, I’m sure it’s not a stretch for many of us). But, in light of this, one quote has really stuck out to me – “Paradigms power perception and perceptions power emotions.”

In other words, what we believe deep down helps us to form what we think to be true about a given situation. And while emotions can be a beautiful gift, adding color and depth to life, they can also make things dark and bleak very quickly.

I’ve been reminded recently how easy it is to believe one thing to be true … because I want it to be true. Because all of my experiences have told me that it must be true the way that I see it.

I saw things, I saw people, and I saw God one way, and I wouldn’t let God show me otherwise.

I have had times of being mad at God for not stepping in and saving me from making choices I regret. I’ve been mad that He didn’t step in before Eve took a bite of that apple and handed it to Adam. I’ve been mad that He has loved His Creation enough to give it, to give us, the very independence we ask for. I was mad because surely I would never have asked for such a thing…

Can you say arrogance? Don’t worry; I’ll say it for you (talking about myself of course).

I stepped into the role of judge. I judged The Judge. That’s a pretty horrific realization. But we are pretty fickle and fragile as humans. We can be so lost in our own perception of reality or so sure of our own judgments and it only takes the briefest moment, the quickest sight, or one word to alter our perception for much longer than the circumstance itself – as does stepping away from the Truth itself.

If we are not careful to be on guard, what we hear and see can manifest itself in our heart and mind.

Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life. – Proverbs 4:23

My heart has not always been watched over very well; sometimes we can’t help what happens to us, but for me, I know I have not watched over my own very well, either. My view of love has been distorted because of the love I’ve seen and the love I’ve chosen.

People always leave, so God must too, right? Can’t trust people, must be a reflection of God!

WRONG. So, so, wrong, dear sister! Just because we believe something firmly doesn’t make it true.

“Be willing to re-examine what you believe. The more you live in the truth, the more your emotions will help you see clearly. But even then, you don’t want to trust them more than Me.” – The Shack

God is so gracious to us, He even gives us an example of this in Acts 10. In verses 10-16, Peter, a Jew, followed the Law of Moses and did not eat any animal that was “unclean.” Then the Lord gave Peter a vision:

And Peter became hungry and wanted something to eat, but while they were preparing it, he fell into a trance and saw the heavens opened and something like a great sheet descending, being let down by its four corners upon the earth.  In it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air.  And there came a voice to him: “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” But Peter said, “By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.” And the voice came to him again a second time, “What God has made clean, do not call common.” This happened three times, and the thing was taken up at once to heaven.”

Peter was so adamant about what he believed that he would not even hear from THE LORD. The Lord had to call him out on this not once, not twice, but THREE times!

We’re human. We are not immune to having deep rooted, passionate beliefs, but let us lean in and listen when He’s talking. He is a gracious God; He may even repeat it a fourth time for you.

And about those things that we could not control that may have happened to us – the good news? God is in the business of restoring and redeeming what sin destroys. But for the freedom we do have – let’s protect the hearts He’s given us and let our Jesus shape our world; don’t let the world shape our Jesus.

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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

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Humble Beginnings

We are not defined by our

  • Beginnings
  • Past
  • What others think of us
  • What we think of ourselves

We can, however, influence our course in life by thinking negatively about our worth.

I want to cancel the negativity of this type of thinking and focus on our worth in Jesus Christ.

When Philip told Nathanael, “We have found the very person Moses and the prophets wrote about! His name is Jesus, the son of Joseph from Nazareth.” in John 1:45, Nathanael responded “Nazareth!”  “Can anything good come from Nazareth?”

Nathanael judged Jesus because of his birthplace in Nazareth. The area of Nazareth was never mentioned in the Messianic prophecies; therefore, it is possible that Nathanael was not merely showing contempt, but was instead looking to what he believed.

Humble beginnings do not limit us to a humble life. 

Beauty, wealth, knowledge and power are idolized these days as being true indicators of success or worth. That is not what God rewards. God rewards those who have a heart for Him.

 John 14:15 says, “If you love me, obeymy commandments.   

Notable Humble Beginnings:

Acts 4:13-14 – “The members of the council were amazed when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, for they could see that they were ordinary men with no special training in the Scriptures. They also recognized them as men who had been with Jesus. But since they could see the man who had been healed standing right there among them, there was nothing the council could say.”

Here, Peter and John had just been used by God to miraculously cure a man who had been crippled since birth in Acts 3:1-8. They were dragged before the Jewish religious leaders for interrogation, and Peter answered that it was “by the name of Jesus Christ that the man had been healed. The high priest and other Jewish leaders were astonished that what they perceived as “unlearned and ignorant men” (vs. 13) could do such a miracle. The Jewish priests, scribes, and elders suffered from elitism, believing that only a limited number of people in high positions could be used by the Lord. That elitism continues in the thinking of many religious people to the present day. But God confounded that prejudice. He chose to use those that the snobbish might consider just ordinary, everyday people, such as Peter and John, to do great things for Him.

Acts 22:12-13 – “A man named Ananias lived there. He was a godly man, deeply devoted to the law, and well regarded by all the Jews of Damascus. He came and stood beside me and said, ‘Brother Saul, regain your sight.’ And that very moment I could see him!”

Here the apostle Paul was recounting the incident where a man named Ananias was singled out by God and sent to Paul to heal his blindness. And that he did! Ananias was not a great preacher, a church leader, or anything else. He was a devout, respected disciple of the Lord. After the events in Acts we do not hear anymore about Ananias, but a humble, simple man through the Lord was able to cure blindness in a future apostle. This is the case of an apostle being cured by a disciple. We expect the apostles and other “spiritual giants” to do the remarkable ministry, while the other followers of the Lord remain humbly on the sidelines. That has never been in Gods plans. God uses many humble, common, even ignorant people – to do his work. Moses was tending sheep in the desert before leading Israel out of Egypt. Daniel came from slavery in Babylon to become the assistant to the King of Babylon. The Apostles Peter and John had previously been fisherman.

There are several stories in the Bible of people doing amazing things with very little status or reputation. Let’s consider why this is:

1 Corinthians 1:26-29 – “Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthywhen God called you. Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world;things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important.  As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God.”

Our worth comes from Jesus Christ alone.

-Vince