Advice for the Journey

When preparing for a trip of any length how many of you are last minute packers? How many of you pack well in advance but somehow still find that you’ve forgotten something? How many of you after you return home unpack quickly? Or do you take your time to unpack – at least the inessentials?

As we are at the front door, preparing to begin the journey of a new year, how many feel prepared? How many of us know that we’ve packed well and don’t expect to get caught off guard, only to discover that we’ve forgotten a razor, socks, or underwear? We can prepare all we want. But we must also provide space for the unknown in our journey. My advice: Trust yourself more. Trust the hands that continue to hold you. Live blessed.

Just Because… Happy First Day of May!

Just Because… Happy First Day of May! If you are reading this you are blessed beyond measure. Some are celebrating another year, others new additions to their family, others new jobs, upcoming moves, or the anticipation of any of these and so much more. On the other side some are remembering loss, words and actions of rejection, feeling physical and mental pain, coping with the results of a doctors visit, and again any number of other peace stealing circumstances. The reality is that this unfortunately is our reality, a confusing and mixed up world full of joy and pain, happiness and sadness, laughter and crying, wellness and sickness, wealth and not so much. Life is full of blessings and the truth is blessings come in many forms. Take each one, each moment and embrace it. Place your trust not in your circumstances or your ability to change them or even handle them but in Him who said come to me, lay down what you’re carrying, holding, lugging around and I’ll give you rest. Come now…celebrate the blessing of today. Happy First Day of May…Just Because!

“The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” Lam 3:24

By This…Love

By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. John 13:35

Though He was a Jew, Christ mingled with the Samaritans, setting at naught the Pharisaic customs of His nation. In face of their prejudices, He accepted the hospitality of this despised people. He slept under their roofs, ate with them at their tables, partaking of the food prepared and served by their hands, taught in their streets, and treated them with the utmost kindness and courtesy. Jesus sat as an honored guest at the table of the publicans, by His sympathy and social kindliness showing that He recognized the dignity of humanity..
-DA

The dream started way back when Jesus walked this earth, continued with Martin and many others, and is the legacy which should guide each of us today, Love. Live blessed.

Faith by Submission

How tuned in are you to the timing of God’s plans for your life? -AF

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” ‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:28‬ ‭KJV‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

As we begin this New Year many of us are looking ahead with hope and promise. We say this is going to be a year of finally accomplishing long deferred goals. Maybe it’s reaching your idea of your ideal weight, simply getting in better shape, taking a dream vacation, spending more time with family, growing your family, getting that new position/job, starting that new business, or just spending more time in alone or in studying your Bible. Whatever it is we are encouraged by the possibility of future accomplishment, dreams met, and the opportunities in the unknown, working in our favor. But wait, how long will this optimism last one month, two months, maybe longer or maybe even less. Maybe even worse yet this optimism has already passed. The statistics favor the latter. The truth is that motivation has its peaks and valleys. For most of us the excitement quickly fades and we can easily return to the status quo. On the other hand motivation may remain at its peak but when life kicks in it is no respecter of goals, New Year resolutions, the best laid plans, or even determination, no when life kicks in it often presents challenges, roadblocks, barriers, it plays defense, even sometimes using well-meaning people or even those wearing the disguise of the well-meaning. Unfortunately, depending on the intensity and perseverance of the obstruction this can derail even the most driven individual much less those who have seen their dreams driven into the ground or shattered year after year with the unexpected challenge upon challenge. For example you may have just received a promotion which came with an increase in pay and you are looking forward to finally being able to pay off that student loan debt and maybe even to begin looking for your first home, all of sudden your child, spouse, or a parent gets sick and the effect of bills or the emotional strain of your sick loved one on your own health begins to show. Maybe you also find yourself in a worse financial situation than before the raise as your new income now makes you ineligible for aid in paying some of these bills. This is a fictitious scenario but I’m sure it has happened and as sure as the sun rising and setting that something similar will occur in 2016. The question, what does this all mean and why? Is life just pouring out good and bad, at least from our perspective, until it’s over? Is life just out to get us or is there a bigger plan?

I was recently having a conversation with a friend and the story of Joseph’s life, which is one of my favorite Bible stories, came up. The specific area of his life was when Joseph, already sold by his brothers into slavery, taken to Egypt and resold, had now been falsely accused of something and thrown into prison. While in prison he met the Pharaoh’s baker and butler who had offended the Pharaoh in some way and had also been thrown into prison. They both had dreams one night and Joseph seeing that they seemed troubled asked each of them what was bothering them. After they each told him their dream Joseph, through the gift that God had given him, interpreted the dreams. The interpretation was that the butler in three days was to be restored to his position while the baker in the same period was going to lose his life. In three days things happened just as Joseph’s interpretation stated. Joseph however, had made one request of the butler and that was to remember him and speak of his situation to the Pharaoh or someone that could relieve his circumstance. For you and I we might have patiently anticipated that in a few days maybe allowing even up to a week that we would at least have a visitor from the palace and have the hope that our situation was in the process of changing but the Bible records that it was two full years before the butler remembered his fault and Joseph was brought out of prison to now interpret Pharaohs dreams.

Do you think that Joseph might have been excited to finally get out of prison even for a few moments? Do you think that he might have held some kind of animosity toward the butler? Do you think he might have wanted to ask the butler what took him so long, two years, really… two years? I tend to believe that Joseph’s character had further been refined by those two years and this opportunity was one that he was not going to spoil with feelings from his past or his previous circumstances, he was going to focus on his present opportunity. The refining of his character made him ready to be used in the moment and to witness fully God’s present deliverance and His future plans. Pharaoh testified of Joseph’s readiness when he declared “Can we find such a one as this is, a man in whom is the Spirit of God? …As much as God has showed you all this, there is no one as discreet and wise as you are.” Joseph’s present deliverance brought together his past and future possibility in one moment and he was appointed that day as ruler of Egypt second only to Pharaoh (Gen 39:1-41:45).

God always knew the plans that he had for Joseph, and had even shown him in dreams when he was younger. Though Joseph could have made wiser decisions as a young person the circumstances both good and bad that he found himself in were refining and shaping him to be a more faithful person and wise leader. He was to become a man of Faith by his Submission, not to circumstance but to the will of God. The ultimate example of Faith and Submission is our savior Jesus who by faith left heaven, walked this earth, was subject to the effects of sin in this world, but who was submissive to His Father’s will in all things (John 6:38) and ultimately overcame this world (John 16:33).

Trust God’s plans even if the methods seem suspect. The past, present, and future are all a part of the re-creation of the crowning element of the original creation story, mankind. You see God’s plan is to be reunited with us. In this process our characters should begin to reflect His sons which will often mean using methods that seem less like creation and more like destruction. Along this journey of life the loss of a job may be the impetus to launch that multimillion dollar company. The loss of a spouse or a child may be the impetus for self-discovery or to return to school and eventually discover the very cure that will save millions of other families from experiencing that same loss. The final destination lies ahead though the journey is ours to walk and experience. Submitting is just as difficult as acceptance but like King David our request should be MY God create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit in me (Ps 51:10). Again trust God’s plans even if the methods seem less than perfect (Jer 29:11). We trust far less reliable people with areas of our lives everyday even after they’ve proven to be untrustworthy (Ps 118:9, 146:3). The author, creator, our redeemer in whom we live, and move, and have our being has overcome and by faith we too will overcome and be free to experience new life this year and beyond (Acts 17:28, 1 John 5:4). Be brand new, walk by Faith and in Submission to His will.

“In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” ‭‭1 Thessalonians‬ ‭5:18‬ ‭KJV‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

Dear Lord, You are good. And You are good at being God. Therefore, I trust Your plan and believe that You’re allowing this to happen for a reason. It may be hard, but I’d rather be close to You through a thousand difficult moments than apart from You in a thousand good ones. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. – Lisa Terkeurst

Hold On, He’s Strong, and Walk Boldly With Your God.

Live Blessed.
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Happy New Year!

This one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13, 14

Happy New Year, 2016 is here! Blessings to you all. Enjoy every moment and stay safe and focused.

As you enter upon a new year, let it be with an earnest resolve to have your course onward and upward. -ML

Hold On, He’s Strong, and Walk Boldly With Your God.

Fatherless & Widowed

Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world. Jam 1:27

While reading this verse a couple mornings ago a few thoughts came to mind.

In this world, many young people are growing up without both a mother and father or in some cases neither, for whatever reason. Also as a result of the introduction of sin the blessed union of marriage has been tainted by death and has taken many a husband leaving brokenness and sometimes unquenchable sorrow. Caring for the physical needs of these individuals is James’s inspired message to us in this verse, but what are we doing within the spiritual context of this instruction?

As we take the gospel, in love, to this world we are to share and reveal an image of a father, that the world has distorted and that many have never known. Foreign to many is a father of love, free of abandonment, hurt, pain, or rejection, however Love is our Father who art in heaven. Now as for the companionship of a husband lost, the Bible calls the church a bride anxiously awaiting their groom, who we know as Jesus. James along with inspiration from Paul (Eph 5) is laying it out for us and bringing these ideas together so that we can better understand a pure and undefiled religion. People hate religion because it is often practiced outside of love and the pure heart and intentions that Christ ministered with. James is saying if we look at this world as being full of individuals who have been spiritually orphaned and/or widowed, taken advantage of, abandoned, hurt, and rejected by our adversary, the devil, after willingly or unwillingly going his way for a season, they have a need day in and day out that longs to be filled. As we move closer to the second coming of our Savior there is little knowledge and understanding of the true nature of God the Father and His son Jesus, and we are to visit and share with our family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, etc. what hopefully is an overflow of Christ in us. The abundance of true wealth, not just our earthly gain, shared with those longing to be restored is an earnest and honest practice of pure and undefiled religion.

Finally, keeping ourselves unspotted from the world, but how?

One day a young minister was being escorted through a coal mine. At the entrance of one of the dim passageways, he spied a beautiful white flower growing out of the black earth. “How can it blossom in such purity and radiance in this dirty mine?” the preacher asked. “Throw some coal dust on it and see for yourself,” his guide replied. When he did, he was surprised that the fine, black particles slide right off the snowy petals, leaving the plant just as lovely and unstained as before. Its surface was so smooth that the grit and grime could not adhere to it. In commenting on this incident, an unknown author said, “Our hearts should have the same characteristic. Just as that flower could not control its habitat, so we cannot avoid living in a world filled with evil. But God’s grace can keep us so clean and unspotted that though sin touches us on every side, it will not cling to us.”

Living in this world we all experience hurt and pain. Our hurt and pain, God who is able and remains faithful, uses to smooth off our rough edges and bring out a glow, a shine, a surface that the evil of this world cannot cling to.

Jesus in His final prayer before Gethsemane asked these things of God the Father, I pray not that you should take them out of the world, but that you should keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. As we seek a closer walk with Christ, our religion, in spirit and in truth, in Him as the foundation of our truth and hope and every promise fulfilled, will become purer and our lives will become even more resistant to the things of this world. The Lord is faithful, who will establish you, and keep you from evil. 2 Thes 3:3

Jude says this Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. Jude 24

Remember as you go through each day, this day, what the truth about a pure and undefiled religion is. Church attendance, yeh sure. Bible study, definitely. Paying tithe, again sure. But nothing can replace walking in and sharing the love of our Savior Jesus Christ and His Father with the Fatherless and Widowed of this world for this is as we once were ourselves, a broken people without Father or Groom, who have now been called to the family of God. Continue in grace and to grow in faith in our brother, friend, and Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Live blessed.