Begin Again

Yesterday was Valentine’s Day and for the past few years my husband and I take the time to talk to the church together about marriage and relationships. This year it was important that we talked about managing conflict and walking in forgiveness. This year with the pandemic we have spent more time with our families, especially if you were in a stay at home order like we were.

I think we did pretty good with it. The stressful activity we did was to paint the outside of our house. We have a ranch style home built in 1968, addition was done in 2000. Part of the house is on foundation, the other is crawl space. It is a brick home that was painted a sea foam green. When we moved in thirteen years ago I had always wanted to paint the house, I did not like the color. The home has sixteen windows that looks to be original to the house (except for the addition) and they have the pained glass. We had gotten quotes to get the job done. They ranged from six to eight thousand dollars. The pandemic hit, and we all had to stay home together. My husband and I went out and bought a paint sprayer, rollers, brushes, paper, tape and lots of paint. Stay at home did not mean we could not go outside, and I did not want my kids playing video games all day.

Marriage, more than any other relationship, is going to highlight your flaws. A project of this magnitude with two teenage boys, was going to highlight some flaws as well. We each had a job, and we assisted each other when our job did not need to be done at the moment. The struggle that we found was when we needed help, how to communicate that. In the middle of the frustration on not being able to do this task or problem solve it, how to communicate without filtering that frustration in how we talked to each other.

Ephesians 4:1-3 (TLB) I beg you—I, a prisoner here in jail for serving the Lord—to live and act in a way worthy of those who have been chosen for such wonderful blessings as these. Be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Try always to be led along together by the Holy Spirit and so be at peace with one another.

We each have faults. In love, we must make allowances for each other. Grace needed to be applied to each other. Be patient with your children and spouse. Have faith in what your marriage/family can become. Do not heap on expectations on where you think you should be. Enjoy the journey.

Hebrews 12:2 (MSG) Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. 

If in the process of painting the house we fixed your thoughts on the faults and failure’s of each other the project would probably had never gotten completed. Our family relationship would have suffered a great loss. The problems in our marriage/family are going to be magnified if we do not keep our eyes on Jesus. Study how He lived His life. He had some different personalities to do life with.

The problems in our marriage/family are going to be magnified if we do not keep our eyes on Jesus.

The bigger picture is that I want my children to have lasting relationships. The highlighted flaws that their parents have are going to come out in front of them. When my husband and I first got married my reaction to a question or statement would have been returned with a quick straight to the point answer. I filtered my responses through defense. I thought I was always under a microscope waiting for someone to point out my flaws, this person now being my husband. In return, how I answered was not clear or was often misunderstood because of how I said it, not in what I said. This escalated the conversation into a fight. My husband when he is flustered can come off as very aggravated, this combined with filtering through defense was a combination for disaster. One of us needed to do something. I went to a really good source. I went to my Word.

Colossians 3:13 (NLT) Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.

Philippians 4:8 (TLB) Fix your thoughts on what is true and good and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely, and dwell on the fine, good things in others. Think about all you can praise God for and be glad about.

When tensions started to flair, we had to go back to this. Someone was not ready to change how they approached the problem, that is okay because they need grace in the moment and we are going to give it to them. Did we have a few blow ups? Yes! We are not perfect. In the end, I do not recall what they were about. I do know that the house is painted. We have to redo the porch, we did not seal it…oops! We still love each other. We still enjoy each other’s company. We have had to tackle other projects together and did not dread it!

It is not too late for your marriage or your family. For us, it started with one person making up their mind that they were not going to hold onto offense and to be quick to forgive. I just so happened to be that person in my home. I had to lay down my pride and me wanting to always be right. In turn there was a change in me. I no longer responded in defense. Peace was raging in me, so it was also becoming a part of what our home would be.

You can make up your mind to begin again. What if you spouse is not wanting to make the change? You make the change. Let God work on them. At the end of all of this, we will give an account of what we did, not what they did. I want to hear “well done good and faithful servant”. We are not going to hear “well done perfect servant.” So please stop putting that expectation on the people you have relationships with, including leaders. I want to point out that He uses the word servant. Are we serving in our families? If not, you can begin now. It is not too late. I do not regret making that change. I have my moments, because I am not going to be perfect at it all the time, in return my family have made allowances for me as I have made allowances for them. It is pretty nice.

If you need prayer or would like to talk about anything feel free to email me at amanda@desiringformore.org.

Coming out of the fog

Ephesians 3:16-19 (TPT) And I pray that he would unveil within you the unlimited riches of his glory and favor until supernatural strength floods your innermost being with his divine might and explosive power. Then, by constantly using your faith, the life of Christ will be released deep inside you, and the resting place of his love will become the very source and root of your life. Then you will be empowered to discover what every holy one experiences—the great magnitude of the astonishing love of Christ in all its dimensions. How deeply intimate and far-reaching is his love! How enduring and inclusive it is! Endless love beyond measurement that transcends our understanding—this extravagant love pours into you until you are filled to overflowing with the fullness of God!

With all of my careful maneuvering around my house I still got COVID! COVID-19 was not that hard on my husband. It hit me like a ton of bricks! It zapped me of all of my energy and on top of that the world was spinning!! I slept for what it seemed for days. I did not move from the spot on my couch and had to call in people to drive my teenage sons to school. Some say that people just need to get COVID to get it over with, I tell them NO!! I do not wish that on anyone. My youngest had it and was fine. My husband had it and was able to function. I had it and everything came to a stop.

This extravagant love pours into you until you are filled to overflowing with the fullness of God!

Ephesians 3:19b (TPT)

After an amazing time ministering Sunday I went and chatted it up with my husband in his domain of the house he was quarantined into. Monday, after grocery shopping, the symptoms started. I went ahead and scheduled my testing for Wednesday. My symptoms were waves of nausea…it was awful! My Tuesday I could not get off the couch. Wednesday my husband was back at work, I could not move. Thursday I felt better because of the steroid shot and meds I got from the doctor on Wednesday. Friday morning though, I had to scoot across the house because the nausea and spinning was so bad!! No husband at home, thankfully we have a couple in the church that live around the corner, they took my boys to school. The boys got woken up through the echo dot. Mommy was stuck!! Sunday I tried to shower. My husband had to pick me up soaking wet off the bathroom floor. He dressed me, combed my hair and put me back in bed. I did make sure to join in live at our service time to worship with my church family. Monday and Tuesday were a blur. I cannot remember if I took my kids to school or not. By Wednesday it was 10 days since symptoms started so I could come out of quarantine. I went to the gym after taking the kids to school. I probably looked so funny because of the fog my brain was in. I was slow, but I was there. Thursday and Friday I just slept. I tried doing devotions with my boys. Talking was hard. Reading felt labored. Saturday, I was determined to get back functioning, but by two that afternoon I was back on the couch sleeping. Then my head was hurting so bad I was in tears! I slept off and on until Sunday morning. I’m getting back to the church house!!!

Do you know how many articles there are about the long term effects of COVID? I do. I read about those who had symptoms like I did and the long term effects that would happen. I read about people having short term memory loss. I read about people not regaining their energy back for months. Then I had to stop reading because that was not what God has in store for me. I cannot claim what He has for you, because that is based on your faith. For me, God gave me the message to “Reset My Position” just in time for this storm. Just like the verse above, “the resting place of his love will become the very source and root of your life.” What we read sometimes likes to be the root in our lives. We can allow the reports to be our reality if we allow that to take root in our lives.

When I was laying on that couch, and the world would spin, I was brought this song by Elevation Worship called “Rattle.” The lyrics: “This is the sound of the dry bones rattling, This is the praise make a dead man walk again, Open the grave, I’m coming out, I’m gonna live, gonna live again, This is the sound of the dry bones rattling” is what I sung over and over again.

This is the first day I have been able to write. I was not able to write last week because of the fog that had taken over my brain. Yesterday, I went to my house of worship, my local church, and worshiped in the corporate atmosphere. My brain had been blank, but as I was worshiping my brain was starting to be restored. It was in that atmosphere that I received my healing. I have come out of the fog. COVID will not have lasting effects on me! It will not take over my body to where all I do is sleep and it robs me of time. I will move! I will be active!! “By constantly using your faith, the life of Christ will be released deep inside of you!” Come out of the fog with me! Rest in His Love!!

Jesus got tired too

Yesterday I had the privilege of delivering the message to my church, and to all of those that connected with us online via Facebook Live. I knew by the beginning of the week that I was going to have to prepare. My husband tested positive for COVID-19. He is doing well and has gotten over the worst of it. The way our home is set up is that the kitchen is in the center. To one side of the house is our grown up sweet. It has it’s own bedroom and bathroom, dining area, and living area with a fridge. The opposite side of the kitchen is another dining area, two bathrooms, the kids rooms and another living area. The kids and I stayed on one side, my husband had to stay on the other (not fun for someone who’s love languages are quality time and physical touch like he is).

God gave me this title right away, “Reset Your Position.” I initially thought ‘okay God you want me to talk about positional authority’…authority of the believer. Then, while in Body Pump Tuesday, it came to me. When we start to fatigue because our muscles are sore, we have to reset our position to make sure we are targeting the right muscle groups. If I do not take the time to reset my position, I will not target the correct muscle groups that I am suppose to be working on.

John 4:6 (AMPC) And Jacob’s well was there. So Jesus, tired as He was from His journey, sat down [to rest] by the well.

Remember Jesus knows what it feels like to be us. He got tired too. I think He had a lot of tired moments. What He was about to do was going to take all of His strength. Jesus modeled how we need to reset our position.

Matthew 26:38-39 (AMPC) Then He said to them, My soul is very sad and deeply grieved, so that I am almost dying of sorrow. Stay here and keep awake and keep watch with Me. And going a little farther, He threw Himself upon the ground on His face and prayed saying, My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will [not what I desire], but as You will and desire.

Judas knew where to find Him because this was not the first time He had been there. Actually we see Jesus going off to pray a lot (Luke 4:1-12, 45-15; Mark 6:30-32; Matthew 4:1-13; Luke 6:12-13); Luke 22:39-44; Luke 5:16 are just some of the scriptures), especially after time of great ministry and miracles. Why? He had to reset His position.

If fasting is to reset my focus, prayer is to reset my position. I need to reset my position not only when I fast. I need to reset my position when I am out doing what He called me to do. We were not meant to carry this alone. Jesus could not either. He had to reset His position.

If fasting is to reset my focus, prayer is to reset my position.

That was Jesus. What did He say about you?

John 16:13-15 (TPT) But when the truth-giving Spirit comes, he will unveil the reality of every truth within you. He won’t speak his own message, but only what he hears from the Father, and he will reveal prophetically to you what is to come.  He will glorify me on the earth, for he will receive from me what is mine and reveal it to you. Everything that belongs to the Father belongs to me—that’s why I say that the Divine Encourager will receive what is mine and reveal it to you. 

Acts 1:8 (TPT) But I promise you this—the Holy Spirit will come upon you and you will be filled with power. And you will be my messengers to Jerusalem, throughout Judea, the distant provinces—even to the remotest places on earth!”

Acts 2:4 (TPT) They were all filled and equipped with the Holy Spirit and were inspired to speak in tongues—empowered by the Spirit to speak in languages they had never learned!

Jude 20 (AMPC) But you, beloved, build yourselves up (founded) on your most holy faith (make progress, rise like an edifice higher and higher), praying in the Holy Spirit.

Another way I reset is to get in my Word. I love what Priscilla Shirer says, “If you want to hear from God and you never read the Bible, then you really don’t want to hear from God.” When you reset your position in prayer, praying in the Spirit and getting in His Word, all that comes out of your mouth is His promises not what is going on around you.

When what is going on around you is starting to fatigue you, it is time to reset your position.

This year is going to bring different challenges. Did you take the time to get stronger? Are you tired? That is okay, it just means that it is time to reset your position.

2 Peter 1:3-4 (TPT) Everything we could ever need for life and complete devotion to God has already been deposited in us by his divine power. For all this was lavished upon us through the rich experience of knowing him who has called us by name and invited us to come to him through a glorious manifestation of his goodness. As a result of this, he has given you magnificent promises that are beyond all price, so that through the power of these tremendous promises you can experience partnership with the divine nature, by which you have escaped the corrupt desires that are of the world.

I kept looking

Daniel 7:13-14 (AMP) I kept looking in the night visions, and behold, on the clouds of heaven one like a Son of Man was coming, and He came up to the Ancient of Days and was presented before Him. And to Him (the Messiah) was given dominion (supreme authority), glory and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations, and speakers of every language should serve and worship Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion which will not pass away;and His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed.

This year is coming to a close and tomorrow we celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ! As I read this verse yesterday I began to thank God for redirecting my focus this year. I was able to read more of His Word than I had ever before. This completes my second year as a stay at home mom, to now teenagers. I started out strong in my first year, then I got lazy. I filled my days with binge watching shows on Netflix while my kids were at school. At the beginning of 2020 I did not allow the television to come on until sundown for the twenty one day Daniel Fast we did. Then Covid-19 shuts everything down in March. I had to make a choice. What should I fill all that time with?

Last night my youngest son and I sat down to watch Christmas movies. We watched “Santa Claus” with Tim Allen. It is one of our families favorites. There was a part of the movie when Scott Calvin (Tim Allen) is reading his son the Twas the Night Before Christmas. It brought back the memories of my grandfather reading that to my sisters and I when we were little. He would read it to us every Christmas Eve. As I told my youngest about that memory, he asked why I never read it to them when they were little. I told him that as fond as those memories were, I wanted them to focus on Jesus at Christmas.

We do celebrate with gift giving at Christmas, but our children have never known Santa to bring those gifts. We all have a choice on how to celebrate this season and our choice has been the miracle of the birth of Jesus. Jesus came to this world as a man, born in a manger, to put us back in right standing with God and to restore our relationship. He is a God of grace and mercy. I can never be enough without Jesus.

We also take time to bake for our neighbors. We will go and serve in a local organizations as a family, not just in the four walls of our church building. We want to teach them that giving is what Jesus did and that is what we should do also. We will also take a trip every year, just the four of us. Many years we are not even home on Christmas Day. It is about making lasting memories with them. They will forget what gifts they got, but they will not forget the time we spent with them.

This Christmas and all throughout the year, all I want is a little more of Jesus.

Author Unknown

As I read Daniel 7 it started out with, “I kept looking….” That is the perfect statement for this year. A couple of nights ago we were all looking at the night sky to the Christmas Star. The world was focused on one part of the sky. This same star is said to be what led the wise men to find Jesus. This year has made us think and readjust many things, but one things cannot change, His dominion is an everlasting dominion which will not pass away;and His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed.

I do not know what you are focused on today, but I pray that you take time to focus on the miracle that we celebrate. Dr. Michelle Bengston posted this morning, “I don’t know what you are wishing for this Christmas, whether it is tangible, physical, relational, or emotional. But God wants to hear about your desires from you. What a joy to know there is a safe place to come and share our innermost desires.”

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas! Glory to God in the Highest, peace on earth and good will to all men!!

Giving Thanks As We Break Bread Today

Who is Jesus to you? Today think on that and in courage share that with someone today.

Matthew 16:13-18 (MSG) When Jesus arrived in the villages of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “What are people saying about who the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some think he is John the Baptizer, some say Elijah, some Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.” He pressed them, “And how about you? Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter said, “You’re the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”  Jesus came back, “God bless you, Simon, son of Jonah! You didn’t get that answer out of books or from teachers. My Father in heaven, God himself, let you in on this secret of who I really am. And now I’m going to tell you who you are, really are. You are Peter, a rock. This is the rock on which I will put together my church, a church so expansive with energy that not even the gates of hell will be able to keep it out.

As a church we focused so much on that Jesus kept us from hell. This is just part of the truth, but not the whole.

Jesus walked this earth as a man. John the Baptist preceded Him, proclaiming that we need a changed life, that the Kingdom of God is here. When Jesus began His ministry, that did not change.

Jesus did so much in such little time. He was focused. Do not lose focus! We are Kingdom Disciples!!

What should we be focused on? Jesus and all that He is. He did not save me from hell, He is my everything!

Let me explain. Jesus revealed Himself in His Word. He did this because He did not come to just save me from hell, His Kingdom is here, that means He wants me to be whole!!

When we are whole, we are nourished!!  We can sustain in any terrain! So let us find out who Jesus revealed Himself to be.

When we are whole, we are nourished!!

When we first think of nourishment we automatically go to our stomachs. This is an area that His disciples struggled in as well.

Matthew 4, the first temptation was about Jesus being hungry. The devil tempted Him to turn a stone into bread. Verse 4 in the Message, “Jesus answered quoting Deuteronomy: ‘It takes more than bread to stay alive. It takes a steady stream of words from God’s mouth.’”

The disciples were presented with hunger for the crowds in feeding the 5000, then the 4000, then there was a time when they argued because they were about to traveled and they only packed one loaf of bread!

The first I AM Jesus gives us is so fitting then… “I am the bread of life.”

John 6:35 (TPT) Jesus said to them, “I am the Bread of Life. Come every day to me and you will never be hungry. Believe in me and you will never be thirsty.”

We are a hungry people. Is He your bread? I cannot feed others, when I am hungry.

The second part of that of Him being living water to where we never go thirsty was revealed to the Samaritan woman at the well. It propelled a ministry, that even reached the house of Nero.

John 7:38 (AMP) He who believes in Me (who adheres to, trusts in, and relies on Me), as the Scriptures has said, “From his innermost being will flow continually rivers of living waters.”

These are scriptures that I cling to. When Jesus modeled the prayer for us, He also told us to thank Him for our daily bread. He is my daily bread.

Today is Thanksgiving in the United States of America. Thankfully, I will be celebrating with my family. I have prepared food all week long to share at my mother’s home. My prayers are with families that usually have to travel long distances and cannot this year due to Covid restrictions. As we break today let us know that the compassion and deep love that Jesus has for each one of us. As we over stuff our bellies with all the comfort foods, let us remember He sent us the Comforter in the Holy Spirit so that we would never have to go without His Presence.

I started out this month writing a daily Thanksgiving on my private Facebook page. I admit I did miss one day and that is okay. We are not perfect in what we set out to do. We will continue to make mistakes, but He is right there in the midst of them. His bread is fresh and new every morning! I will continue to give thanks.

Do you feel loved?

Ephesians 2:4 (AMP) But God, being (so very) rich in mercy, because of His great and wonderful love with which He loved us.

As I was sitting talking with one of my precious daughters in the Lord, we were talking about the struggles of trusting God the Father. We are both from childhood divorced homes and know the struggles of having our fathers let us down. We talked about marriage and I was reminded of what Christ said about husbands and the church. In reading this, look at it in the perspective of a woman reading it, and how she longs to be loved.

Ephesians 5:25-30 (AMP) Husbands. love your wives (seek the highest good for her and surround her with a caring, unselfish love), just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify the church, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word (of God), so that (in turn) He might present the church to Himself in glorious splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy (set apart for God) and blameless. Even so husbands should and are morally obligated to love their own wives (being in a sense) their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own body, but (instead) he nourishes and protects and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members (parts) of His body.

In the beginning God created all things and he put man in dominion. God saw what He created and saw that it was good. However in Genesis 2:18 we see that it was “not good” that man be alone, some translations say not “beneficial”. He then creates the animals and brings them to the man to name. They were created to be a helper to man, but it still was not a suitable companion for Adam.

Genesis 2:21-23 (AMP) So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam; and while he slept, He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at the place. And the rib which the Lord God had taken from the man He made (fashioned, formed) into a woman, and He brought her and presented her to the man. Then Adam said, “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”

Eve was not mistreated, she was not abused by a father or her husband. Yet the enemy went to her for the first attack against mankind. Adam was right next to her.

Eve was not mistreated, she was not abused by a father or her husband.

When I was fifteen I prayed for God to send me my husband. I felt I was all alone. I felt like I had no one who could love me for me. I told God that if He sent me my husband I would serve Him the rest of my life. A month later I met my husband on a blind date. When I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior, do you know what God spoke to my heart? He told me that everything I was making John out to be in my life is who He wanted to be in my life. That John could still hurt and wound my heart, but He never would. That is when I surrendered my life to Him.

The hurt and wounds we have from fathers (or some even their husbands) can cloud the ability to see the love that God truly has and desires for us, causing us to have trust issues. This is why Ephesians 5 is there. As I read the Word I see how much love God has for His daughters. We are so very important. We were created to be strong and to endure so much, but we were created with love. We are important. We have value. We are loved!

Yesterday during service, I had a moment, I was looking out during worship and saw how empty it looked in there. Just a few services before it was full and we were wondering what we could do to make room and still be safe because of COVID. I was taken back to when our church took a big hit because of the financial climate ten years ago, attendance and with that giving dropped tremendously. I was thinking, here we go again God, please help me keep my trust on you (considering we are in a building program).

Do you know how much God loves us? In that moment God spoke a Word to my husband just for me. He let me know that what happened ten years ago will not happen again. I have been confessing this whole time, God I know you can do even if… I have been praying for God to show out in a big way, in a way that it would be no way we could take credit for it. I will keep speaking His Word, I will keep preaching His Word, and I will keep going where He tells me to.

On top of that He gave me a little “I love you, daughter” by my pizza delivery guy making a mistake and I got the salad dressing that I had actually wanted but forgot to order. When I remembered I forgot to change the salad dressing it was too late because he was already on his way. He delivered our order without the salad (I like salad with my pizza). He had to go back for it, but I got to ask him for the correct salad dressing. Look at that! He even said when he returned, it just so worked out so that you could get the salad dressing you wanted. Those are what I call daddy moments.

God sees us and wants to do so much in our lives. Keep pressing in. Trust Him in His Word. Give Him all things that have you worried or concerned. He will calm the storm inside of you. Even if, He can still do in a big way! I am trusting Him more and more, it takes surrendering more and more. God I am going to keep doing what you called me to do, and watch what you do with it!

John 15:9 (AMP) I have loved you just as the Father has loved Me; remain in My love (and do not doubt My love for you).

He Goes Before Us

Exodus 33:14 (NIV) The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

This week I started reading Numbers. Basically, I was suppose to have read it last week, but I skipped it and read Deuteronomy instead. This week, as I was reading Numbers, I empathized with Moses in how his heart must have been in anguish. I identified with Caleb this time.

As I was telling my youth about reading Numbers, they were like, isn’t that just a census you are reading? I told them that is what I thought at first, as to why I fought reading it. I found out that they had heard the story of why the Israelites were not allowed into the promise land from the summary in Deuteronomy, but there is so much that we see in Numbers.

In Chapter 13 we see the twelve men sent from the twelve different tribes being sent out to look at the land. They even brought back a single cluster of grapes that took two men to carry! Verses 27-29 in the Message Translation: We went to the land to which you sent us and, oh! It does flow with milk and honey! Just look at this fruit! The only thing is that the people who live there are fierce, their cities are huge and well fortified. Worse yet, we saw descendants of the giant Anak. Amalekites are spread out in the Negev; Hittities, Jebusites, and Amorites hold the hill country; and the Canaanites are established on the Mediterranean Sea and along the Jordan.

This is my guy right here! Sometimes I feel like Caleb the cheer leader. In verse 30 (MSG), Caleb interrupted, called for silence before Moses and said, “Let’s go up and take the land – now. We can do it.”

Sometimes I feel like Caleb the cheer leader.

We read on how the other men carry on how much land it is. How much stronger the other inhabitants are. The whole community get in an uproar and cry all night long. Then they go back to wishing things were like the old ways. At least in Egypt they knew how to handle those challenges. They were slaves, but they were use to that kind of life.

This is what I think of when I hear believer’s complain about having to wear a mask because of COVID. I have to admit that it is uncomfortable. I have compassion for my husband that has to wear one all day long in his work environment. I have to wear one to enter the gym, to go grocery shopping, to drop off items at the post office, etc. What it has not stopped me from doing is showing love. I still make it a point to talk to that grocery clerk. I want to be aware of God moments even in the midst of my discomfort of wearing a mask. I often think, what can God do with this?

Numbers 14: 6-9 (MSG) Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephenneh, members of the scouting party, ripped their clothes and addressed the assembled People of Isreal: “The land we walked through and scouted out is a very good land – very good indeed. If God is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land that flows, as they say, with milk and honey. And he’ll give it to us. Just don’t rebel against God! And don’t be afraid of those people. Why, we’ll have them for lunch! They have no protection and God is on our side. Do not be afraid of them!”

How do we rebel against God today? By not being where He told us to be, doing what He told us to do. Do you not think He knows that you are required to wear a mask now? I do understand the autistic and there are other medical reasons. I am not talking about that, I am talking about the mature in Christ. I am talking about how there is a watching world of unbelievers that need hope and they are watching how we walk.

Other than wearing a mask, let’s look at the fact that we are scared of the unknown because of living this way for so long. Maybe God has been urging you to get a job or even a better job. I was telling my youth that in order to have the type of life you want to live, you start acting like and preparing for it now. You want to be a successful person, you act like you are a successful person. You want to have your own home, drive a nice car, then start preparing now. Your life is only as small as your thought life brings it to be. You want to be seen as someone who can make good choices, stop ordering chicken nuggets and picking out the vegetable when you go out to eat! (OK, that might be a little pet peeve of mine).

Like Joshua and Caleb, I feel like people are about ready to throw stones at me. All I want to do is scream “stop your complaining!”

Numbers 14:11-12 (MSG) Just then the bright Glory of God appeared at the Tent of Meeting. Every Israelite saw it. God said to Moses, “How long will these people treat me like dirt? How long refuse to trust Me? And with all these signs I’ve done among them! I’ve had enough – I’m going to hit them with a plague and kill them. But I’ll make you into a nation bigger and stronger than they ever were.”

I underlined the “how long refuse to trust Me.” This is what I hear when a believer complains. Of course we know that God does not kill them all. It is after this encounter that we find out that only Joshua and Caleb will be entering the Promised Land, but everyone one twenty and older would not. This is when God turns the camp around and makes them wander in the wilderness.

They had to wander forty more years in the dessert. We read in Joshua how they entered the land and victory after victory given to them. This is what I want you to get. The people that had inhabited the land that was promised to them had not changed, they had probably grown in numbers. Your surroundings are not going to change unless you start to act. God has made a promise to you, but you have to do your part. Stop hiding, stop complaining, stop lamenting on what was.

Balaam was summoned by Balak to curse the Israelite camp and bless his. Balaam could not keep himself from speaking God’s words only. He feared God, more than he feared displeasing Balak. It was Balaam who spoke this revelation found in Numbers 23:17-24 (taken from out of the Message Translation), “God is not a man, one given to lies, and not a son of man changing his mind. Does he speak and not do what he says? Does he promise and not come through? I was brought here to bless; and now he’s blessed – how can I change that?

Stop waiting for God to change things. He can do so much more when we understand who He truly is! Watch your world change when you start walking out in confidence that He has already made the way. I understand there are giants out there, but like Caleb I am cheering you on! God is on our side, who can be against us!!

I want it all

What does a life look like that has come alive to God? It’s not going to be the same.The Gospel message is more than reciting a prayer to accept Jesus as your Savior.

We all desire something. The thing we desire was placed in us by God; and He has given us the choice to walk in it, but without His Son we cannot be full in it.

What is this thing that we desire?

Matthew 22:37-38 (NIV) Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment.”

That’s not the only place you will find that either.

Deuteronomy 6:5 (NIV) Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.

Do you know what those next verses say? These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.

We do the first, but lack confidence in the second part.

Acts 4:10-14 (TPT) Peter states: “you and everyone else in Israel should know that it is by the power of the name of Jesus that the crippled man stands here today completely healed! You crucified Jesus Christ of Nazareth,[a] but God raised him from the dead. 11 This Jesus is ‘the stone that you, the builders, have rejected, and now he has become the cornerstone!’[b] 12 There is no one else[c] who has the power to save us, for there is only one name to whom God has given authority by which we must experience salvation:[d] the name of Jesus.”

Here is what I want to put inside of you: 13 The council members were astonished as they witnessed the bold courage[e] of Peter and John, especially when they discovered that they were just ordinary men who had never had religious training.[f] Then they began to understand the effect Jesus had on them simply by spending time with him. 14 Standing there with them was the healed man, and there was nothing further they could say.

Do you remember the feeling of when you first accepted Christ?

Matthew 13:44 (NLT) The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field.

Now I know some of you are like, ‘now you are asking too much of me’. Really? He has not asked for all of us to sell all of our belongings. He did not tell me that.

What does Paul tell us? Philippians 3:7-16 (NKJV) But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; 10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, 11 if, by any means, I may attain[b] to the resurrection from the dead.

Let me tell you, I haven’t gotten all there yet, but like Paul: 12 Not that I have already attained,[c] or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have [d]apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. 16 Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already [e]attained, let us walk by the same [f]rule, let us be of the same mind.

One thing that I can say about myself, I am not the same person I was a year ago. I am not the same person I was 5 years ago and I sure am not the same person I was 22 years ago when I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior.

We get to a place in our thoughts and we think we are “okay” because we have a balanced life.  That’s our goal right? To have a balanced life, to raise my kids in a safe environment, where none of us are suffering. Do you know how strange that is to the rest of the Christian world? American Christianity is so different from the rest of the world. They are willing to die just by admitting they are a Christian and here we are not being bold about the divinity of Jesus so that we do not offend. We are willing to deny His power to placate someone’s feelings because that’s “Love.”

We are willing to deny His power to placate someone’s feelings because that’s “Love.”

This is the fullness of the Gospel: Luke 14:25-27 (MSG) 25-27 One day when large groups of people were walking along with him, Jesus turned and told them, “Anyone who comes to me but refuses to let go of father, mother, spouse, children, brothers, sisters—yes, even one’s own self!—can’t be my disciple. Anyone who won’t shoulder his own cross and follow behind me can’t be my disciple.

God has really been pointing out this word “refuse” to me this year. It started when I read about Solomon. God spoke to him about marrying all the women from different nations and Solomon refused to listen, that was the beginning of the end of the lineage of David as kings.

Definition of refuse: verb. Indictes that one is not willing to accept or grant (something offered or requested). Fails to perform a required action.

Luke 14:33 (MSG) Simply put, if you’re not willing to take what is dearest to you, whether plans or people, and kiss it good-bye, you can’t be my disciple. This was Jesus speaking.

I know that is not a popular place to be in this day in age. We could not be true pastors if we do not take this to heart.

Acts 20:26-27 (TPT) If any of you should be lost, I will not be blamed, for my conscience is clean, because I have taught you everything I could about God’s eternal plan and I’ve held nothing back.

I have been hurt in the church. I know what it is like to have people say things about me that are not true. That does not mean I have a right not to do what I am gifted in.

In March of this year, right when Covid had caused the nation to go into Stay at Home Orders, I decided that since I could not go to the gym that I would start to hike. It would help me keep in shape. Now I am heavy in the bottom area. I have not had a thigh gap since I got pregnant with my oldest. My body is just not made that way. So I over compensated for the weight displacement and pulled my calf muscle (the top part). In turn that caused my knee to become inflamed and I could not bend it. I had to let it rest and apply ice and heat intermittently. My goal was not just to get it to feel better, but to get it to where I could exercise again.

The same is when we get hurt in the body of Christ. I cannot allow it to stop me. The Word of God is there to cool my spirit man to bring healing. The Holy Spirit gets my spirit man on fire to do the works of the ministry. I need both in my life. If I do not allow both to work, then I am in danger of becoming lukewarm and then I refuse to move.

A refusal to be moved!

Let’s look some dangers that we can be in:

  •  “I like hearing stories of those who do radical things for Christ, but that’s too extreme for me to do.”
  • “I do not want to be rejected or thought of as weird, so I am not going to share my faith.”
  • “I am willing to give only when I know I have enough to meet my standard of living.”
  • “I love God, but that kind of devotion is asking too much. That is only for pastors, missionaries and radicals.”

Ask yourself: Has your relationship with God actually changed the way you live? Do you see evidence of God’s kingdom in your life? If not make up your mind right now that you are going to allow God more access to your life.

My husband was using these next scriptures in a recent sermon, I was leaping with excitement in my heart for these Words for the church. I believe they were prophetic in more ways that you could even know:

Ezekiel 37:1-3 (AMP) The hand of the Lord was upon me, and He brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of the valley; and it was full of bones. He caused me to pass all around them, and behold, there were very many [human bones] in the open valley; and lo, they were very dry. And He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord God, You know.” 

These dry bones could be you and I when we do not proclaim the Word of God in our lives. When we refuse to get in His Presence. When we refuse to get in His Word. When we refuse to speak His Word only. They were not always dry bones.

Ezekiel 37:4-6 (AMPC) Again He said to me, Prophesy to these bones and say to them, O you dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord God to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath and spirit to enter you, and you shall live; And I will lay sinews upon you and bring up flesh upon you and cover you with skin, and I will put breath and spirit in you, and you [dry bones] shall live; and you shall know, understand, and realize that I am the Lord [the Sovereign Ruler, Who calls forth loyalty and obedient service].

Hear my heart: 2 Corinthians 6:11-13 (MSG) Dear, dear Corinthians, I can’t tell you how much I long for you to enter this wide-open, spacious life. We didn’t fence you in. The smallness you feel comes from within you. Your lives aren’t small, but you’re living them in a small way. I’m speaking as plainly as I can and with great affection. Open up your lives. Live openly and expansively!

God is not the one fencing us in.

Lisa Bevere in Lioness Arising writes, “But the lioness did not move outside their enclosure until their hunger exceeded their desire to be safe. In the same way, our lack of vision or hunger for something more can limit and restrain us from stepping out into the wild. We are emboldened and held captive by how we see ourselves, our world, and our God. The world ‘out there’ can look daunting if you imagine it a dark, scary place.”

1 John 4:4 (NIV) You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.

What is stopping your from stepping out into desiring more for God in your life?

Do not let these things keep you from having freedom:

  • Lack
  • Fear
  • Shame
  • Sickness
  • Hopelessness
  • Anxiety
  • Anger
  • Hurt
  • Offense
  • Disappointment

Ezekiel 37:10 So I prophesied as He commanded me, and the breath and spirit came into [the bones], and they lived and stood up upon their feet, an exceedingly great host.

Know His Word, Speak His Word. Desire everything that God has for you! He wants to give it to you!! He wants you to be full in Him. He wants you to be made whole. The power to do it is still on earth today.

A mother’s heartbeat

Deuteronomy 6:5-7 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and will all your soul and with all your strength. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.

Do you feel pressure that I need to ensure my child’s salvation? I know as a pastor, I do. I feel pressure to make sure my children do not mess up, especially in public, or let’s say I use to. As a pastor it can often seem that you are in a glass house, put on display for everyone to look into. However, just like everyone else we make mistakes and our lives are messy. I have learned to embrace that glass house. My husband and I decided when we were going to take on the lead pastor role that we were going to be transparent (there are things that we do keep private) but if God tells us to tell of our struggles, then we are. To put on airs that we do not have struggles would be a lie to what Jesus did on the cross for us.

John 6:44 says, “For no one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them to me, and the last day I will raise them up.” I cannot live out the salvation for my children. They have to come to Him by the drawing of the Holy Spirit. I am free from the pressure that we have to make all the right moves, but that does not mean I do not have a responsibility. Deuteronomy 6 says that He has to be Lord over my life. He is Lord! When I am moved by my mistakes as a mother, the behavior of my children, their mistakes, then that has become my Lord.

My kids will not come to Christ solely on their own initiative, and they certainly will not come to Christ solely on mine. It will be only through the Father giving them the desire to come to Christ. The Father must draw my children to His heart. I cannot push or plead them there. Rather, He pursues them and woos them to Himself. (From Mom Set Free by Jeannie Cunnion)

I have the honor and responsibility of guiding my children in truth and teaching them that Jesus is the way, the truth, the life, and the only way to the Father (John 14:6) – but I cannot make them believe it. Only God can work in their hearts.

1 Corinthians 3:6-7 I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants not he one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.

Philippians 1:6, 9-11 I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns…I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return. May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation – the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ – for this will bring much glory and praise to God.

We are given the assurance that it is God – not us – who began a good work within our children. It is God, not us, who will continue that work in our lives. He will not give up on them, even when they deserve to be given up on (just like we were).

I am confident and trusting that God is already doing what He wants done in my children. He is not depending on me to be their Holy Spirit. He is the one helping them obey. In fact, His grace is what gives them the desire to obey Him.

I can model them the freedom and joy that comes from obeying God’s Word, but I cannot make them want it. It was when I allowed the changed to happen in my inwardly that it became to show outwardly. That is what drew my sister to follow Christ. I was eighteen when I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. If I look back on how I had acted as a teenager, I would be so ashamed, if I did not know who I was in Christ now. I have to look at my children the same way. Christ, not me, is the one that will redeem them.

If I look back on how I had acted as a teenager I would be so ashamed, if I did not know who I was in Christ now.

If we go back just a little before the verse to Deuteronomy 5: 6 it says, ” I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” Then He gave them the Ten Commandments. Before He commanded them to love and obey, He first reminds His people of His nature, of His character, and of His rescuing grace. In other words, He is showing how His redeeming love was not predicated on their love and obedience. He rescued them first.

Covid-19 has been hard on our world. It has made us look at our relationships, our circumstances, and our resources in a new way. I have two boys at home. I have the privilege of being a stay at home mom. My kids are older, twelve and sixteen, so they do not require a lot of supervision. That does not mean that they do not require my care. One of the struggles of raising a teenager in this day in age is getting them outside. Thankfully, both are athletes so they have to do certain cardiovascular routines to keep up with the positions they have.

My children see the importance in my getting in the Word on a daily basis. I model that behavior. When school started back this year I altered our morning routine to do a small devotion together and pray before they leave for school. My children can tell the difference in me when I do not make the time to get in the Word. I am transparent with my struggles so they can be transparent with theirs.

We went through a hard time with my oldest not too long ago. He did some things that we could have been ashamed of if we taught religion. Since we model a relationship we were able to model redemption. He was punished, but not shamed. We lifted him up and did not tear him down. In result, he became more loving and trusting of his parents. I am not trying to say we are perfect, because if it had happened a few years ago we would not have responded the same loving way. We have allowed God to be Lord over our lives and with that so much grace has poured out through us to our children. We did not hide him away. We encouraged him and he drew deeper in his relationship with God. He still makes mistakes. He does things that no I do not approve of, but like us he has free will. He honors us as we honor God. We model honor in our home.

This is my heartbeat as a mother: To know that my children do not have to be perfect to be loved. They do not have to meet my expectations on what their relationship with God should look like. They, like me, are growing. My Father is the one who will draw them closer. It is when they choose to make Him Lord (it is a choice). I have to be patient just as He was patient with me. We do not give up, it is never a set back, it is a reason for me to grow deeper in my own relationship. My children are a gift, but I have to choose to put my trust in Him to be the Lord of their lives. No matter their choices I will not lose hope. If they run, He will be there to redeem and restore them, I will be here to love them.

If your child is running from God, know that you should not feel ashamed. He is not. He is a God of compassion and grace. We are the ones who are flawed, He is not. If you made a mistake, it is okay, He can still redeem. Do not give up, do not grow weary, put your trust in Him. I know that I will probably have more heartaches ahead of me when it comes to my children. Take courage, know that we are not in this alone. He said He would always be with us. He will see that everything is completed.

Ari (my oldest) and me at the gym!