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Each Punch, Each Stride, Each Step

So, I’ve been solidly single for ten years.

Oh, sure, I’ve dated a few guys and been on a few dates here and there, but I am still solidly single. Such a prolonged single season has really rocked my faith in God and my sense of worth so that I’ve had to practice self-control.

Self-control is one of those concepts that I know is a fruit of the Spirit:  love, joy, peace, patience, etc., etc. and SELF-CONTROL.  But, I always thought of self-control as being more of a theory than a practical virtue to be practiced and maintained until I needed self-control in my singleness desperately.  At some point in my late 20s, I realized my thoughts were being controlled by fear and disbelief instead of faith.  My sense of worth was crippled because I thought I was less than because I wasn’t married, so that negative thought pattern determined my belief about myself.  Here’s the thing:  God doesn’t say that everyone is going to be married at 21, so it takes self-control to not surrender to disbelief, doubting that God has a plan during the period of waiting.  And He does have a plan.

Self-control is mandatory if we are going to live lives that are pleasing to our God.  Paul said in I Corinthians 9:24-27 that everyone who competes in athletic and spiritual competitions exercises SELF-CONTROL in ALL THINGS.  The athletes he referenced were Greeks who trained their mind and bodyfor ten months to concentrate on winning their unique competition.  He compares our individual, God-given destiny to running a race or boxing with aim, so that each punch, each stride, each step of your life is focused at a the target of God’s purpose.  Paul disciplined his body so that he would not be disqualified because he relented to immorality, sensuality, anger, jealousy, strife, etc.   I’ve almost been prey to letting the same “deeds of the flesh” disqualify ME from my God-ordained destiny, until I realized that “it was for freedom that Christ set us free” so I didn’t have to clothe myself daily in my old sins, habits, and thought patterns – I was and am free because of Jesus.

Sexual sin, lust, and negativity may be what our culture permits and even encourages in singleness, but we cannot live effective lives for the glory of God if we let our bodily passions and minds run the show.

Keep your mind strong in the power of GodPractice self-control. He has set a race before you that only you, in whatever relational season of life, can run with boldness and courage.

 

QUITE YOUR SOUL — Worship Song:  “No Longer Slaves” by Jonathan and Melissa Helser.

“I’m no longer a slave to fear – I am a child of God.”

BE ENCOURAGED — Read these Scriptures:

I Corinthians 9:24-27–“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize?  Run in such a way that you may win.  Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things.  They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.  Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.”

Galtians 5:1It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”

DIG DEEPER — Life Evaluating Questions: 

  1. Evaluate your mind. Do you control your thoughts or do they control you?  What thought patterns have you allowed to dictate your worth?
  2. Identify areas in your life over which you need to control yourself. Pray over these weaknesses, allowing God to strengthen you in His power and truth
  3. Pray over yourself and for your God-given, unique purpose. What does God want YOU to accomplish with your talents and gifts for the kingdom of God, regardless of your relationship season?

 

-Heather Carey

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Joy in His Timing: It’s Worth the Wait

Today, I am in a season of waiting—a season that God has put me in as I wait to be healed. I have been waiting for almost three years. Though this seems to be a long time, I am thankful for it.

So you may be wondering,” What is this girl dealing with?”

In the summer of 2012, I was given the opportunity to go to Zacapa, Guatemala. When I found out that I had been selected to be on the team, I was overjoyed—and that is an understatement. The day came for us to leave, and little did I know that in the next 48 hours I would face sickness, death, and the scariest moments of my life. We finally reached our mission base, and an hour in I began to have a breathing attack—this is an attack that is similar to asthma but caused by my vocal chords. I was rushed to a local public hospital. There, I was not allowed to have a translator, was held down by Guatemalan doctors as they shouted words in Spanish and much more that would leave anyone traumatized and asking many questions. Upon returning to the states, it was found that I had broken and fractured ribs, as well as ripped muscle and cartilage. To this day, the doctors are still not sure why I have pain in my ribs, which leaves me still looking for medical answers.

During my waiting, I have often questioned:

Why God has not healed me yet?

 Why he allowed me to go through such a traumatizing event?

Yet, I have come to the conclusion that it is not my place to ask.

Instead of looking at this event with such a “poor me” outlook, I must look at all that God  has done, and is still doing through this event and my injuries. During the accident, God did not leave me; he kept me alive and protected me. He has drawn me closer to him through this, and is continuing to draw me closer to him daily, as I rely on his strength to continue through life.

The fact is, I have seen God work in my life more in these past three years than ever before. Now do not get me wrong, it is a struggle to get out of bed, get dressed, and go on with my daily duties. There have been days (and weeks) that I have not gotten out of bed, times that I have been angry and sad; but,  looking back on these almost three years, I have had to rely and have chosen to rely more on God then I ever thought was possible.

I have learned to find joy in God’s timing. Psalm 27:14 states, Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!” (English Standard Version). In whatever you are waiting for in your life today, be patient and joyful in the Lord’s perfect timing.

–Chloe S.

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Intentionality in A “Busy” World

 

The older I get, the faster time seems to pass, as life gets busier and busier. From running to class, the gym, work and everything else I am involved in, I can easily get caught up in going through the motions of my crazy, busy life. Do you ever feel this way? I think if we are honest we have all felt this way at some point in our lives.

I have been reading in John recently, and have noticed something about Jesus that I really didn’t before. In John 4, when Jesus stops in Samaria and talks to the woman at the well, this realization hit me.

If you have your Bible handy or the Bible App on your phone, open to it while you finish reading this.

Before stopping in Samaria, Jesus had been in Judea teaching and baptizing (John 3) . John 4, however, starts with Jesus setting out from Judea and heading for Galilee. This trip would have been about 70 miles long and would have taken about 2 1/2 days.

Jesus was not in a climate-controlled SUV with the new Taylor Swift album on the radio and drinking His favorite Starbucks beverage. He was probably walking or riding on an animal like a camel. It was probably extremely hot and dusty. He wasn’t exactly sleeping for 12 hours a night in a cozy bed at a Marriott either. He was probably doing most of the intense traveling early in the morning or later at night to avoid the heat of the day. I imagine Jesus tired, sweaty, smelly and extremely dirty from the sand-like silt on the roads He had been traveling as He arrived in Samaria for a quick stop.

John 4:6 says this, “Jesus tired out by His journey, was sitting by the well, it was about noon.”

Take a second to imagine if you were in Jesus’ position, exhausted from this long trip that still isn’t over and now you are sitting in the hot sun in the middle of the day. If I am honest, I wouldn’t be my most “joyful” self, and I know I’m not alone! 😉

The story continues with a Samaritan woman drawing water from the well and Jesus asking for a drink, which was unheard of in that time because Jesus was a Jew and Jews and Samaria’s did not associate with each other, let alone share things.

Then Jesus and this woman have a conversation that literally changed the course of eternity.

In verses 4-15 Jesus tells her of Living Water that she desperately needs. I imagine her being kind of sarcastic with Him and thinking: “This guy is crazy!”, but verses 16-18 really shock her. He says, “Go call your husband and come back.” She said, “I have no husband” and Jesus said, “You are right in saying ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five, and the one you are with now is not your husband.”

This is her HOLY CRAP moment where she figures out who Jesus is, and a few verses later, her life is forever changed when she makes the choice to follow and obey Him.

John 4:39 says, “Many Samaritans from the city believed in Him because of the woman’s testimony.” Not only was her life changed, but MANY OTHERS were changed, simply by hearing her story!

This is a perfect example of Jesus being intentional with someone and loving her exactly where she was, even though Jesus was exhausted, dirty, and hot. Jesus could have gotten caught up in the business of getting to Galilee already or his overwhelming exhaustion and not said a thing to this woman, but He did not. He was intentional with someone who was not highly thought of by others and eternity was forever changed because of this quick, intentional encounter with her.

I then came to this realization: Jesus was a heck of a lot busier/ more exhausted than I am and He was still a heck of a lot more intentional than I am. WOW. Let that sink in for a second, it still gives me chill bumps as I type this. It might sound obvious, but it’s a truth that’s been rocking my world: Jesus was constantly busy traveling, preaching, healing and spending time with thousands of people; yet, always intentionally personal with each person He came in contact with no matter what, and, in this case, with a woman with a bad reputation at a well, because He knew everyone he came in contact with had the potential to change this world for His kingdom based on the specific callings He had placed on their lives; whether he or she knew Jesus already or not.

This passage has lead me to seriously reflect on how intentional I am with everyone I come in contact with no matter what is going on in my life – the janitor in my dorm, the Starbucks barista, my family, my waiter at a restaurant, my roommates and especially my friends who don’t know Jesus. Sweet reader, the only way to be intentional with others daily is to first be intentionally with Christ daily, fill up on His word and then go intentionally love this world. Jesus has given you influence in countless social circles in your life, don’t let these opportunities to be intentional slip by because things are hard or you are exhausted. Jesus had it harder than we do and was still intentional!

When we fully rely on His strength, Jesus can, and will, use our intentionality to impact the people in our circles of influence for His glory. Imagine how much the world would change if all Christians intentionally loved everyone in our circles of influence. Let’s be the hands and feet of Jesus, as He graciously works through us to radically transform this world for His kingdom.

Love you, sweet reader, keep fighting the good fight.

– Hunter Scott

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Time Keeps on Ticking

Imagine how different our lives would be if we made time for God.

You may be thinking, “I make time for God! I read a chapter of my Bible a day and pray before meals and big tests. I even pray for my annoying siblings! I definitely make time for God!”

That’s not exactly what I mean, though. I don’t mean, “Do you have a mental list of ‘Christian duties’ you perform each day that make you feel as if you made time for God?”

What I do mean is, “Imagine our daily lives and how they would change if our lives were in tune with our Savior.” Imagine if our heartbeat was connected to His and His voice was constantly heard in our souls. Imagine if we took the time to give Him all of our time. If this were to happen, our lives would no longer feel empty. Depression and fear would no longer linger in our hearts. Our lives would be purposeful.

So often I have been convicted of this idea of being completely in tune with my Savior every moment of every day. Still, I let distractions become gods, and I let good intentions win over actions. I do not fight to hear His voice over the clamor of a typical school day. I let my agenda override His agenda, and at the end of the day, I wonder why I feel so purposeless.

We must fight through the power of the Holy Spirit.We must fight to protect not only our daily quiet time spent in His Word, but we must fight to stay in communion with Him throughout our busiest days. We must fight to hear His constant whispers, and we must have enough faith to believe that when I respond, He listens.

We must take the time to give all of our time to Jesus.

Psalm 46:10a “He says, “Be still and know that I am God.”

Psalm 31:15 a “My times are in Your hands”

 

-Morgan

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Isolated by God….to Prosper

September 1st rolled around and the new adventure was about to begin. Being in the same role for the last 12 years had been a total blessing, but look where God has taken me now…on to BIGGER and better things. When September 16th rolled around I thought “God where have you taken me?” Bigger and better things didn’t seem as important when I was all by myself, away from my wife, my family, and my friends…this couldn’t have been God’s plan…I didn’t pay attention to God’s leading.  I took a new role with my company and moved across the country to a new city away from everything I know.

I think of Abraham and Issac in this situation, Abraham must have been incredibly scared and angry. I think his thoughts must have consisted of, “God you just gave me this boy and now you are going to take him away?” and “I am nearly 100 years old and cannot wait for another child to arrive, what am I going to do now?” These would have been my thoughts. I am a sinner and I am not perfect. I struggle with anger and I get scared, but instead of looking to God in these times I try to look to myself and that gets me nowhere. However, Abraham looked to God.

Jeremiah 29:11 – “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” These are good words given to us by a good Father. God does not want to punish us–He wants a relationship with us. He wants to love us and wants us to love Him back. Moving to Atlanta has allowed me to see God in a new way. He has taken care of us. Even in the moments we worry, He has been there. Growing up, my great grandfather was a deacon in the church. At his house my grandfather had that Footprints poem and I thought it was the silliest thing ever cause I didn’t understand it at that young age. What I learned later in life was that it was in those times of struggle that God is there to carry you. You are not by yourself to walk alone.

Even if Abraham was freaked out of his mind he never showed worry or anger, when he was asked by Issac “Where is the lamb for the burnt offering? His answer to Issac was “God will provide.” Wow, “God will provide.” I can tell you I wasn’t thinking that in September. I was thinking we were going to be homeless and that I completely missed what God wanted for my life and for my family. I have heard for a long time that God works on the other side of faith. I can tell you that my faith has been tested and I am sure it won’t be the last time, but God our Father is so good.

Ladies every time I write a blog I think what can a guy who’s probably at least 15 years older than most of you tell you that would be impactful. I can tell you to run to God; pursue a relationship with your Heavenly Father who loves you and wants to see you prosper. God is not a God that gives you something like He did with Abraham and Sarah with their son Issac and then take it away to hurt you. He wants to prosper you. He loves you.

-Chad

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Beyond Convenience

A few days ago I was caught red-handed in the grumbling act. You know what I am talking about-where I was only focused on myself and taking care of my needs. “Why do people have to come to me when it is so inconvenient for me? Why doesn’t anyone ever care and respect my time?” This was a pretty classic way to start a day in which the Lord decided to convict in the midst of my grumbling. Let me paint the picture for you. It was my second day back to college after a wonderful spring break. It was cold and gloomy (two things which I am not made for- I am more of a sunshine and warm weather type person). Also, I have a lot of “duties” that I need to finish up in these next few weeks as I complete my senior year of my college career. So of course what did I do? That is right…grumble and complain.

I sit down to spend time with Jesus and lately I have been reading in the Gospel of Mark. This particular day I was reading Mark 12. So here I was sitting in my dorm room just reading along and then I got to the story of the poor widow who gave all she had-two coins, to Jesus. This is a popular story and one in which I have read many times before this. But, the Lord had an appointment for me using this passage. Verse 44 says, “They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything-all she had to live on.” I read what my study bible said about this passage and the following line jumped off of the page and convicted me- “We should consider increasing our giving-whether of money, time, or talents- to a point beyond convenience or calculation.”

“Really, God? But what about me and my needs?” I continued to argue. Then I was reminded of that passage again about how the wealthy gave out of their wealth but the poor woman gave all she had. I quickly realized that the reason why I was getting worn out in my ministry of serving Jesus was because I wasn’t truly doing my ministry and giving all I had to Jesus. I was doing my ministry for the approval of those higher than me. So, in doing this, of course I wasn’t going to be fulfilled and was going to be annoyed when a person came in my room and took up my time.

God wants me to finish strong in this last little bit of the school year. This doesn’t mean that I can coast but that I need to give all that I have so I can finish well. He has given me a task and what a shame it would be if I did not look to see an appointment that maybe he had for me because I was too busy. I felt challenged the other morning to ask myself what it really meant for me to give everything I had to Jesus. I realized that meant I needed to be inconvenienced, interrupted, and become more selfless. In doing these things, I would be continuing to be refined to look more like Jesus (Malachi 3:3). And in the end, isn’t that all I should want anyway?

Whatever the task is that the Lord has given you, he wants you to finish strong. In doing this, he wants you to be joyful in the job that he has given you to do. It may take everything in you to be joyful and some days you may just have to fight to have joy. But it will be worth it, and in the end you will be fulfilling what the Lord has called you to do, with everything you are, and there is nothing more satisfying then doing that.

 

-Elise

FLY

Fly Far, Far Away

I am a person who loves a good, solid, date-filled plan.  I always loved the first day of class where I would be given the syllabus and know exactly what we would be covering, what we would read, when assignments were due, etc.  I loved being able to see the end in sight and checking off the weeks as they passed.  I knew when my exams were, when I would graduate, what courses I would take…I had my entire college career planned out within my first quarter.  I’m BIG into plans.

When I graduated college I knew I would get married in six days, we would move to our cute little apartment at Cameron Ridge, David (my husband) would be traveling with the band he was in and I would start my “big girl” job on the 16th!  I was good to go.

Then the job started.  Along with the job came being strapped to a desk (literally) by a phone cord.  Where were my due dates?  Where were my deadlines?  When would this “quarter” end?  Can I switch classes now?  Better yet—Id like to drop this class now.  Where was my syllabus?!  I know it sounds crazy but for the first time in my life I was without a “plan”.  I was looking at my life and only seeing that exact moment and nothing beyond.  I would be stuck here forever.  God made me and knew that this would drive me insane.  Why would He place me here?  I cried out to Him. Every. Single. Day. For over four years.  Psalm 55:6 became my cry; “…Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest.”  I only wanted OUT of where I was.  I would find myself driving to work actually thinking, “If only I could fly away…”.  Don’t get me wrong, my husband was alongside encouraging me the entire time but no matter who you were or what you said—I could not be comforted or encouraged.  I only wanted to fly away and be at rest.  But how would I do that?

Daily I would receive verses from family members and close friends who really knew I was struggling—I heard every cliché known to man.  Then one day, for some reason, Proverbs 3:5-6 hit me in a way it hadn’t before: “…Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”

My whole life I “understood” where I was and why I was there.  This was the first time that didn’t make sense to me. Was I TRULY trusting in the Lord?  I was definitely trying to lean on my own understanding and that wasn’t doing anything for me.  Was I TRULY acknowledging Him each day?  I was definitely trying to direct my own path.  Up until now when that feeling of desperation would come over me I would recite Psalm 55:6  “…Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest.” Depressing, isn’t it?  I even had this verse on my desk at work.  All of a sudden Proverbs 3:5-6 took over in my moments of desperation.  I could clearly hear the word of the Lord saying to ME  “…Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”

I finally felt encouraged!  Not what anyone else said or did but what the Lord said to me through His word.  His word is powerful and it is living.  When you find yourself trapped, stuck, placid, in the rut of “same old, same old”—remember to ACKNOWLEDGE your heavenly Father.  Don’t fight where you are but rather ask Him to direct your path—if nothing else, ask him to direct your attitude to the state it needs to be in, I was full of bad attitude for months.  Believe it or not, I am still working that same job…it has been five and a half years!  God has surely kept me here for His glory and I am more than okay with that.  I continue to seek Him daily and ask Him to direct my path, and for now—I am right where He wants me.

-Amanda

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The Greater the Drought, the Wider the Grace

I have been doing a lot of soul searching lately. Why do I feel these emotions that attempt to consume and overwhelm my spirit?  I feel trapped and guilty and lonely…and posses this insane urge for constant affirmation.
 
I’ve been struggling with my faith SO MUCH over the past year. Not just like, “My dog died and now I’m sad” kind of struggle, but, “Am I really a believer? I’m not even sure you’re really there, God” kind of thing.
 
The most irritating of it all is watching the followers of Christ who are SO passionate and on FIRE for the Lord…because that used to be me. I was relentless for Christ…until it all seemed like too much and I turned away. I sacrificed my intimacy with Jesus for something far less satisfying and I am now having the hardest time forgiving myself.
 
I guess part of me feels like its too late…too much heartbreak, too much pain…too much sin and rebellion…Jesus would never want me back, and IF, just IF He did, He would NEVER actually want me.
 
And then use me after all I’ve done? Psh…puuhhhhhlleeeeasssseeeee…
 
Yup, so that’s exactly how I feel. Those are the words I hear. So, what do I do?
 
I keep trying.
 
Trying to be good enough again. Hoping, praying that someday, SOMEDAY I will be accepted again and loved and cherished for exactly who I am. I will let someone in to the deepest, darkest corners of my sinful heart and this person will NOT walk away, will NOT take the knife right to the heart…
 
Cuz’ that’s what my dad did. And every man I let in after him…
 
Emmitt.
Ryan.
Randal.
 
Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my father. He is an incredible man of God, I am by no means trying to bash him. But he is definitely not perfect. The Lord has continually been restoring our relationship and it’s beautiful. But there are still those words that he yelled in his anger that echo in my head, supporting the lies of my insecurities. There are still those memories of when I needed him most that he walked away or refused to be an emotional support, serving as proof for my feelings of inadequacy.
 
Unworthy. That’s what he says I am. That’s what the enemy constantly labels me as. And I’ve started to believe it. In order to fill that gaping hole of worthlessness, I search and cling; drawing every ounce of life out of each relationship attempting to quench the growling hunger of my soul.
 
John 15:16
“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit- fruit that will last.”
 
Woah, woah woahhhhh…did Jesus just say HE chose ME?!
Wait…not just chose me, but also APPOINTED me?!?
Hold up…he chose me, he appointed me to go AND bear fruit- fruit that will last?? So, not this crap that I get at the Rot(school cafeteria) that goes bad the very next day??
 
Huh, that’s interesting…I mean, my ex Ryan chose me for a while…but then I guess I became too much so he chose another girl. He also once let me drive his brand new Chrysler 300 to school when my car broke down…I thought that was pretty sacrificial. I think Jesus took this whole ‘I want you’ thing a little more seriously, though. I mean, He died on a cross and took my eternal punishment for me…that’s pretty hardcore.
 
In Hebrews chapter 10, Paul writes, “we have been made HOLY through the SACRIFICE of the body of Jesus once and for all…therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the BLOOD of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his BODY…let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in FULL ASSURANCE of faith…let us hold UNSWERVINGLY to the hope we profess, FOR HE WHO PROMISED IS FAITHFUL.”
 
I may be struggling but His grace will always be more than enough for me.
I am wanted.
I am cherished.
I am adored.
Thank you, precious Jesus.
-Kirsten
cleaning

Unto the Lord

Colossians, 3:23-24 “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving”.

I’m sure you are familiar with this verse or have heard it from you parents maybe after having been asked to clean your room. Or maybe from a teacher when you turn in a knowingly crappy homework assignment. You cringe knowing the work you have just put forth was by no means your best and if you could see the Lord sitting next to you, watching you—you would have done things A WHOLE LOT different.

Recently my husband and the staff at church have been taking turns cleaning the sanctuary each week. When David’s turn came around last week I offered to go with him. I watched as he meticulously lined all 299 chairs that were laid out. One by one he walked by them adjusting with his homemade string contraption that he created JUST so the chairs could be straight. I walked along the other side briefly tapping each chair- more so “eyeing” them to assess their straightness and coming to the conclusion more often that not, “looks good to me!”. As you might have guessed I finished WAY before David and eventually had to ask him,  “What is taking you so long?!” He responded with, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart as working for the Lord…” and continued one by one straightening the chairs.

This past weekend we held our first Blush conference of 2014. Hours upon hours, meeting upon meeting, effort upon effort, phone call upon phone call, and prayer upon prayer had been put forth. Saturday morning our team woke up to the “Blizzard of 2014” coming down HARD outside. We make it to the church and 9:30am rolls around – time for the conference to start! But where was everyone? The terrible weather and driving conditions forced church groups, young women, rehab centers, homeless shelters and domestic violence centers from all over Ohio to cancel on us. There we were- ready as ever to put on a conference for the masses. I was so discouraged. Our team regrouped and moved forward. We weren’t there to impress man or each other or ourselves- we were there to be the hands and feet of Christ. We were there for that one young lady who arrived from a homeless shelter downtown. We were there for that lonely leader who had grown weary, we were there AS WORKING FOR THE LORD.

The incredible worship band had practiced hours and we all worshipped to the fullest together as one group. The speakers had spent months preparing and they spoke as though they were speaking to thousands. Our break in speakers had worked tirelessly and listened to the Lord for months leading up to the conference waiting on Him to tell them exactly what to say. They professed their faith and displayed perfect freedom that Christ had given them over their past. Not a single individual that I saw put forth any less than their best. As the day unfolded and hearts were changed, I was embarrassed as I thought about my discouragement earlier that morning and how thinking “…all that work for a snow storm to come and ruin it”.

As I looked around at all the servants, all the prayer, all the young women, I couldn’t help but think of what David had said to me only a couple weeks earlier, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart as working for the Lord…”. I was exhilarated by the word of God and all I could do was smile. It was as though He gave me the personal boost that I needed to overcome the discouragement the enemy tried to lay on me that day. I watched as our team fervently prayed with the young women who came, not one person was left alone. I watched as our worship band magically became our janitorial staff, stacking and straightening chairs and vacuuming rows. I watched as our speaker ran around wiping down counters and tables with Clorox wipes. It truly was a beautiful sight and I myself was changed that day.

Colossians, 3:23-24 “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”

 

-Amanda

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Fear God, or Fear Man.

It’s 4:30am and I am waiting for a bus with my wife Lisa at the airport in Phoenix, AZ. We aren’t heading out on vacation, although I wish we were.   We are heading to Atlanta, Georgia to look for places to live. I have been working for my company for 12 years all in some form of retail and we had been praying for many years for an opportunity to do “something” BIGGER. I had felt as though God had been silent for a long time—not “400 years” long time—but long enough that I was really struggling.

Finally, in the beginning of August, God answered my prayers with an opportunity of a promotion which includes a move across the country to a new city. God knew my heart and He also knows the struggle and fear in my heart right now.

We have lived in Phoenix, AZ for the past 9 years. We have 2 nieces and a nephew that live there with Lisa’s sister and brother-in-law. In addition to family, we have formed some of the most important relationships with our friends we could ever have hoped for. Fear comes every time I remember that I’m getting ready to move Lisa across the country where we have no family and no idea of the area we are moving into. I also have this pit in my stomach because I know there are people that are concerned about our choice. Am I trusting God? Is this God’s will?

2 Timothy 1:7 says “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love, and self-discipline.”  I don’t want to be fearful or timid.  So we have been praying for the Spirit to give us wisdom and strength to make hard choices and follow after God’s will. We know it is a major struggle for the ones that feel as though we came to this decision lightly. We are leaving what’s been comfortable for the last 9 years, but we know we are seeking the Heart of God and His will not ours.

Girls, I can say that God loves you and me.  Fear of man is not from God, but a healthy fear of God shows you trust that He does have what’s best for you. I know that moving across the country is kind of crazy and moving away from everything we know seems insane, but God has spoken and we want to listen. I hope you all listen to how God leads and directs and you will not be afraid to follow even if people say you’re crazy.

I love how God says exactly how He will care for us in our time of fear.  In Isaiah 43:1-5 God says “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame will not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior, because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you, I give men in return of you, people’s in exchange for your life. Fear not, for I am with you.”

Don’t you love that?! How sweet is His love for us that He calls us by name.  He says that He will be with us when trouble comes and that we don’t have to be overwhelmed by our trials.  Trust Him to care for you when you are afraid.

-Chad