Enough to share

Colossians 2:6-7 (AMP) Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, walk in [union with] Him [reflecting His character in the things you do and say—living lives that lead others away from sin], having been deeply rooted [in Him] and now being continually built up in Him and [becoming increasingly more] established in your faith, just as you were taught, and overflowing in it with gratitude.

As I was reading these verses yesterday, three things jumped out at me: (1) I need to reflect His character, when I do this I can lead others to Him; (2) Being deeply rooted in Him helps me accomplish number one; and (3) This will result in me becoming increasingly more established in my faith.

John 15:1-8 (TPT) I am a true sprouting vine, and the farmer who tends the vine is my Father. He cares for the branches connected to me by lifting and propping up the fruitless branches and pruning every fruitful branch to yield a greater harvest. The words I have spoken over you have already cleansed you. So you must remain in life-union with me, for I remain in life-union with you. For as a branch severed from the vine will not bear fruit, so your life will be fruitless unless you live your life intimately joined to mine. “I am the sprouting vine and you’re my branches. As you live in union with me as your source, fruitfulness will stream from within you—but when you live separated from me you are powerless. If a person is separated from me, he is discarded; such branches are gathered up and thrown into the fire to be burned. But if you live in life-union with me and if my words live powerfully within you—then you can ask whatever you desire and it will be done. When your lives bear abundant fruit, you demonstrate that you are my mature disciples who glorify my Father!

I have to be attached to the vine (Jesus). His roots run deep! Rooted there I am going to grow. When I grow I will begin to produce fruit. The amazing thing about this fruit is that the nourishment that comes from it is meant to be shared. When I share my fruit from this vine, others will want to see where it is planted and will eventually become rooted as well. This is what increases my faith. My expectation and passion will grow. I start making more Kingdom impacts. I am beginning to reflect His character.

The amazing thing about this fruit is that the nourishment that comes from it is meant to be shared.

Whenever I think of reflecting God’s character it makes me think of His glory. We are to glorify His name when we pray, when we worship and when we talk about Him in the streets. It also makes me think of Moses and how his face glowed after being in the presence of the Lord. I came across this verse, 2 Corinthians 3:13 (AMP) and we are not like Moses, who used to put a veil over his face so that the Israelites would not gaze at the end of the glory which was fading away. The glow from Moses face would eventually fade. Then we go a few verse down, verses 17-18 (AMP) Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty [emancipation from bondage, true freedom]. And we all, with unveiled face, continually seeing as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are progressively being transformed into His image from [one degree of] glory to [even more] glory, which comes from the Lord, [who is] the Spirit. I am no longer bound to my mistakes and my short comings. I like how it says that we are “progressively being transformed.” This year my goal is progress. Part of that progress is coming out of my comfort zone. I am an introvert by nature. I feel awkward when I have to start a conversation ( I feel like our teenagers today who do not know how to answer a phone). When I see the fruit of what my God encounters do bring, it increases my faith.

I want to lead others to a fulfilling relationship with the Father like I have. In order to do that, I need to reflect His character. I need to be attached to the vine (Jesus). Growing in God is so very rewarding. Giving nourishment to others will increase your faith. The Holy Spirit will draw those to you, but He cannot do that if we refuse to leave the comfort of our homes. This is me too. I need to get out more and I need to step into more serving opportunities (outside of my church). Fruit is meant to be shared. People need to see that it is not perfection He is after, it is progress. They need to see me mess up and depend on Him in my recovery. His glory does not fade anymore, like it did from the face of Moses, it radiates through me because I am in Christ (whose glory never fades).

I pray this encouraged you today. Wherever you are in your walk with Christ, know that we should never feel pressured to be at any faith level, just keep making progress. Keep growing. Stay rooted in Jesus, He is the vine. Take a step to give nourishment to others, it will increase your faith when you see fruit growing in their lives.

Please feel free to message me at amanda@desiringformore.org if you need prayer.

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.

Inward Reflection

Psalms 42:6 (NASB) Why are you in despair my soul? And why are you restless within me? Wait for God, for I will again praise Him. For the help of His presence, my God.

I like how David talks here, that he is going inward as to why his soul is in despair. An inward reflection is the stance he decided at this moment. Right now we are preparing to teach a series in our youth on how our emotions and memories are often tied together. They can, if we allow them to, define who we are. David had very high highs and some very low lows in his writings, but God still refers to him as a man after His heart. David was full of emotions, sometimes in his writing you can tell he was led by them. He had to make a conscious decision to allow God to lead in the midst of his brokenness. There are times you can see great strength coming out at the admittance of his weakness.

There are times that we try to come out of the despair by ourselves. We will go and tell those around us who will listen so that we can get a sympathetic hear. We try to numb it with watching videos. Some use substance to take away the pain. Even in our frustrations and in our pain, the one we can run to is our Father. Especially when you are angry, tell Him, He knows your heart anyways.

Ephesians 5:2 (TPT) And continue to walk surrendered to the extravagant love of Christ, for he surrendered his life as a sacrifice for us. His great love for us was pleasing to God, like an aroma of adoration – a sweet healing fragrance.

When I think of healing I do not always think of a physical need for healing. Some of our wounds are not able to be seen. Mostly I think of emotional healing. I do not like the way I react sometimes. In order to get to the root of that wound, I find that surrendering to the extravagant love of Christ, the one that we are told is there, I have to allow it to surround me. We can receive Christ as our Savior and not really receive this love. Some of us think that we are not lovable. We thank Him for saving us from hell, without realizing all that He wanted to restore within us. I walked this way for years. I truly realized what freedom felt like when I, that I do not have to be surrendered to my wounds, that I can receive a healing deeper than my physical needs.

I want to tell you that it is okay, not to feel okay sometimes. Charles Spurgeon once said, “I have a great need for Christ. I have a great Christ for my need.” He will not just take away the pain though, He wants to bring you through it. There is growth in that process. There is an understanding that happens so that we can love others when they are going through things. I have learned that in my hurt, I have hurt others. I have kept people at a distance so that I would not get hurt again. When I get to the root of my hurt, I can start to heal.

“I have a great need for Christ. I have a great Christ for my need.”

Charles Spurgeon

I was talking with the other youth leaders and told them that one of the reasons that I seemed so stand offish, not approachable, in my early years of leadership, was because I felt like I had to be perfect growing up. In turn, I would often snap real easily at people if I felt like they were lazy or messy. I was the oldest of three (ages five and three, my sisters are twins) to a single mother. My mother was nearly twenty four when she left my abusive father. When we finally got a place of our own, I felt pressure to make sure things were taken care of. We had chores, like all children should, but to a single mom who was trying to better herself, there was not much availability to have a messy home. Everything was always put away. Dishes were done immediately. My sister use to talk about how clean my house was when she would come over. I do not stress about it like I use to. I do the dishes in the mornings now (well sometimes). My sisters were younger and it seemed they did not “care” as much as I did, or maybe did not notice, that these things stressed my mom out. Later, I realized that I inherited that stress. This is at no way a fault of hers, it was something that I did not know how to process as an eight year old. Now that I am an adult, and with ability to surrender into His extravagant love, I can get to the root of why I stress. I did not like feeling that way, why God do I despair? He will help you work through to the root, if you let Him. I still tense up about some things, but I am getting better. You may need to talk to someone who specializes in this, that is perfectly okay. I would just encourage you to find someone who is grounded in pointing you back to Christ.

In Isaiah 9:2-7 (MSG) it talks about the promise of Christ, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. For those who lived in a land of deep shadows—light! sunbursts of light! You repopulated the nation, you expanded its joy. Oh, they’re so glad in your presence! Festival joy! The joy of a great celebration, sharing rich gifts and warm greetings. The abuse of oppressors and cruelty of tyrants— all their whips and clubs and curses— Is gone, done away with, a deliverance as surprising and sudden as Gideon’s old victory over Midian. The boots of all those invading troops, along with their shirts soaked with innocent blood, will be piled in a heap and burned, a fire that will burn for days! For a child has been born—for us! the gift of a son—for us! He’ll take over the running of the world. His names will be: Amazing Counselor, Strong God, Eternal Father, Prince of Wholeness.
His ruling authority will grow, and there’ll be no limits to the wholeness he brings. He’ll rule from the historic David throne over that promised kingdom. He’ll put that kingdom on a firm footing and keep it going with fair dealing and right living, beginning now and lasting always. The zeal of God-of-the-Angel-Armies will do all this.”

There are no limits to the wholeness He will bring. I like that. However, it does not leave out my surrender to to the process to receive that wholeness. Jesus knows what it feels like to be hurt and to have to work through the emotions to process that hurt, so in turn He could walk in perfect love. It is a process. It is okay in that process, like David, you feel despair. On the other side is immense joy!

John 15:11 (NLT) I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!

If you need prayer or someone to encourage you please feel free to email me at amanda@desiringformore.org.

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.

Pressing On

Philippians 3:10-14 (AMP) And this, so that I may know Him [experientially, becoming more thoroughly acquainted with Him, understanding the remarkable wonders of His Person more completely] and [in that same way experience] the power of His resurrection [which overflows and is active in believers], and [that I may share] the fellowship of His sufferings, by being continually conformed [inwardly into His likeness even] to His death [dying as He did]; so that I may attain to the resurrection [that will raise me] from the dead. Not that I have already obtained it [this goal of being Christlike] or have already been made perfect, but I actively press on so that I may take hold of that [perfection] for which Christ Jesus took hold of me and made me His own. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider that I have made it my own yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the [heavenly] prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

These are some of my favorite verses to use in continuing with progress. If we are going to be truly like Jesus then we are going to have to bear some of His sufferings.  I have to press on and be the person that Jesus died for me to become.  We have been anointed for the hard stuff, we are not like the world (always wanting it easy).

John 10:10 (AMP) The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows].

Know who our real enemy is.  Yes our battles belong to God, but that does not mean that He does everything for us.  Remember faith without works is dead!  There is something that God is going to tell you to do. New wine cannot be put into old wine skins.  New power cannot be put into old ways.  God does give us grace, but grace does not mean that we are to sit back and let God do everything.  God wants us to partner with Him to see everything come to pass.  If you do the work, you will remember where things are. This is why it is important for you to read and study the Bible for yourselves.

1 Peter 1:3-7 (AMP) Blessed [gratefully praised and adored] be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant and boundless mercy has caused us to be born again [that is, to be reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, and set apart for His purpose] to an ever-living hope and confident assurance through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,  [born anew] into an inheritance which is imperishable [beyond the reach of change] and undefiled and unfading, reserved in heaven for you, who are being protected and shielded by the power of God through your faith for salvation that is ready to be revealed [for you] in the last time. In this you rejoice greatly, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, which is much more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested and purified by fire, may be found to result in [your] praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

There is a difference between knowing about God and really knowing Him.  You have to make an EFFORT.  Start now doing the things that you struggle with, because you know you should be doing them (to have the life you really want).  We need to start loving people the way Jesus loved them. 

There is a difference between knowing about God and really knowing Him. 

Luke 6:30-36 (AMP) Give to everyone who asks of you. Whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back. Treat others the same way you want them to treat you.  If you [only] love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.  If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.  If you lend[money] to those from whom you expect to receive [it back], what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners expecting to receive back the same amount.  But love [that is, unselfishly seek the best or higher good for] your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; for your reward will be great (rich, abundant), and you will be sons of the Most High; because He Himself is kind and gracious and good to the ungrateful and the wicked.  Be merciful (responsive, compassionate, tender) just as your [heavenly] Father is merciful.

We do not do things for people with the expectation that they are going to do something for you.  If we keep a good attitude and stop holding people hostage (really your are only hurting yourself) there is no way the devil will keep you from being blessed.  We are anointed for hard!  Just because it is hard does not mean it is of the devil.  Remember Jesus sent us a helper.  If you do what God tells you to do, your reward will be exceedingly great!  Let’s start with working on our part time obedience and get into full time. 

Look back at the second part of John 10:10 . “I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows].” Jesus said that you may have and enjoy your life.  When I lost my job a few years ago I immediately went out to look for another. I felt better about myself when I worked. When I made a contribution. Or that is what I thought.  It takes a lot for me not to have a “job.”  I am where God needs me to be right now.  I am in a season of rest, but that does not mean I am not putting my hands to anything.  I get to spend hours in the Word now. 

I know have the freedom to schedule trips to go on conferences to hear more of the Word. I can now meet people in the middle of the day to meet their needs in a practical way, How much do you think it pleases the Father that He sees his children desire to set aside their time, finances and other resources willingly.

God wants us to enjoy the life He has given us.  There is power in confessing the Word.  As long as I have human flesh I am not going to do everything right all of the time.  God looks at our hearts. I am loved by God.  I am anointed.  I am talented.  I am growing Spiritually every day.  I am walking in God’s will.  I am going to do something great with my life.

Everyone of us has an equal opportunity in God.  If you believe, Him he will do these things…He did not say how long we had to believe. Keep pressing on! Remember it is not on your own strength, He sent us a Helper!!

Available

2 Timothy 2: 1-7 (NKJV) You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.  And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.  You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.  No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier And also if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules The hardworking farmer must be first to partake of the crops.  Consider what I say, and may the Lord give you understanding in all things.

This was the verse the minister used at my grandfather’s funeral this past week. He grew up in Cooperstown, New York. His father was a farmer. His home was just blocks away from the Baseball Hall of Fame. My grandfather enlisted in the army and made his way to the rank of Command Sargent Major, the highest ranking of the enlisted soldiers. He also earned a spot in the elite, the Green Beret. I could see all of these qualities in why the minister would use this verse.

When my mom left my dad (it was what really needed to happen, no woman should stay in abuse out of fear), she had no where to go. She had three girls under the age of five. My grandparents took us in. My aunt was a teenager in high school at that time. My grandmother worked at a Family Dollar and my grandfather worked in the boiler room of the plant at night. Here they were giving my mom a new start.

Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.

2 Timothy 2:1

As I look back, my grandparents did not have a lot of money. They did not lavish us with gifts. They did lavish us with their time. I have so many wonderful memories of the time we spent with them. Yes, they disciplined us. No, they did not spoil us. They did spend time with us and help raise us. We were living there when I went for my first day of Kindergarten. My grandfather took me on my first date to see “Pinocchio” at the theater downtown.

Friends were always welcome to come over. The neighborhood kids knew who my grandparents were. My elementary school friends remember coming over and playing in their pool. It was a sad day for us when the house was sold a year ago. We can hold onto the memories though.

I am reading Bob Goff’s book Dream Big: Know What You Want, Why You Want It, and What You’re Going to Do About It. There is a section in the book that says, “availability is your secret weapon.” He writes, “Being available isn’t about giving yourself away recklessly or wearing yourself down to the point where you have no energy to do your own work. It’s about keeping yourself open to the world around you so you don’t fall back asleep.” This was perfect for me to read because fighting the slumber is a real battle. I like routines. It is part of my comfort. However, having a routine can make some seem unavailable. I want to be more available to opportunities and to people this year. This book reminded me that Jesus did not hide from people. Rejection and insecurities have made it okay for me to hide. I do not want to hide anymore. Time is the most valuable gift you can give people. Be true during the time you give. Do not expect anything in return. Use it to build others up. Be bold and courageous, even when you make yourself available.

I want to make myself available to you. You can contact me on Facebook Messenger or via email. I would love to hear from you and pray for you this year.

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!!

Go Completely Through the Gate

Jesus tells us, “I am the Gate” some translations say He is the Door. John 10:9 (TPT) I am the Gateway. To enter through me is to experience life, freedom and satisfaction.

For far too long the church has represented a life of mundane. No excitement, without vibrancy. A standard set on restrictions and rules. I believe that is why we went into the extreme of the “Friendly Seeker.” Do you know how much freedom I have experienced in Jesus? So much joy, and I did not need a church program to experience it. It was revealed to me through me seeking a deeper relationship with Jesus.

Jeremiah 29:13 (AMP) Then (with a deep longing) you will seek Me and require Me (as a vital necessity) and (you will) find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.

There are things in our lives that fight for our attention, that want to be our vital necessity. I made a decision when I accepted Christ, that I was going to be all in. It was not going to be an “I love Jesus” , but I still do these things because Jesus paid the price for my sins mentality. I actually talked to a guy a few years ago and asked him, “Why did Jesus die for us?” His answer, “He died so that I can sin.” This was so very sad to me, because he was an attender of a mega church in our area. How has the message of Jesus not caused a desire for us to change, to want to be holy as He called us to be?

I was reading a book called Adamant by Lisa Bevere this week and ran across this passage: 2 Peter 1:3-4 (ESV) His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promise, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.

He came so that we can overcome sin in our lives. His grace is there because He knows what it is like to be human and to have those desires.

Ephesians 4:17-19 (ESV) Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the family of their minds. They are darkened in the understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy practice of every kind of impurity.

In that day there were “sins” that were culturally acceptable. Going into sex shrines was culturally acceptable, but does that mean it would be okay after they came to know Jesus. That was the question I asked myself when I accepted Jesus into my life. I was eighteen, engaged to be married and was having a sexual relationship with my fiance. Culturally this is acceptable. It is encouraged now to live together before considering marriage. Deep down within me I felt a desire to make Jesus my everything. If I was going to say Jesus is my Lord, I had to make a change or that relationship with my new love (Jesus) would only be shallow. I did not want to just dip my toe in the water, I wanted to get a good swim in! I went to my fiance (now my husband) and told him, “If we are going to do this relationship with Jesus thing, we are going to do it right, we cannot have sex again until we get married.” He was on board, however, if he was not I was prepared to walk away from him.

Deep down within me I felt a desire to make Jesus my everything.

When I met John I was so very lonely. I prayed, without having a relationship, that God would send me my husband and I would serve Him the rest of my life. I did not know what I was praying, but God did. Neither John nor myself were in places to be serving God with our lives. I wanted to be loved so much that I was the one who pursued the intimate physical relationship. That was why when God spoke to my heart that Sunday night I was going to be all in. He told me that the pedestal that I had put John on, the one that I sought my love from, was where He belonged.

I am here to tell you that I made many more mistakes. God had to work on things in my life like anger, resentment, unforgiveness, wanting to get my way and wanting to pitch fits. I did not look perfect and still do not. Lisa Bevere put it so eloquently in her book, “As we read the Word, we pray that the Holy Spirit will reveal any areas of conformity and compromise that we may be tolerating out of habit or ignorance.”

When I look at Jesus as my Gate, I do not look at a door that wants to hold me in. It is like a new garment to me. In that garment it is full of grace. Grace that tells me that I can make it, that I do not have to be ashamed of my past, that in Him is where I find true love and fullness of joy.

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!

It is time that we submerge head first into the life that He wants us to live. One of my favorite verses: 2 Corinthians 3:18 (TPT) We can all draw close to him with the veil removed from our faces. And with no veil we all become like mirrors who brightly reflect the glory of the Lord Jesus. We are being transfigured into his very image as we move from one brighter level of glory to another. And this glorious transfiguration comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

It is a process that we allow Him to transform us. I am not where I want to be, but I am not where I use to be. Through this Gate, my view, my world, has become so much larger! I am no longer fenced in to that sin desire. He has set me free from the captivity!

Football and reflection

As I have said before we live in Alabama. My husband and I moved to Alabama when we married. I was raised in Columbus, Georgia…where we are is roughly thirty five miles from where I grew up. We love living in this small town! We are right in the middle of college football country!!

I did not grow up watching college football, but my husband did. He grew up in Belize, Central America. His parents were missionaries and they would come back to the United States to itinerate (raise money to go back and live on the mission field). On one such session it was Iron Bowl weekend and the host family were big Auburn fans. The Iron Bowl here is a rivalry game between Alabama University and Auburn University (two big college teams in the same state). My husband, not being raised in the states, did not get exposed to much college ball (he may have been eight at this time). The other family’s kids asked who he was going for Auburn or Alabama? Having been born in Alabama, he said Alabama (not realizing both teams were in Alabama). They won that year and he has been a lifelong fan since. It started a love for college football for him. Our boys have been raised on it.

I am telling you this because now my youngest has a passion for football. He has been playing full contact since he was five years old. He is now thirteen and plays travel ball with a team called the Opelika Dawg Pound. He opted out of his first year of middle school football because this would be his last year to be eligible to play with a team that he was there at the conception of. Our children know what loyalty is. This year has not been easy for him. He loves to be on the defensive line, he loves to hit!

This year he played center, that is an offensive line position that snaps the ball between their legs to the quarterback. This is a skilled position, that takes effort. Most of the time the guy across the other side of him is almost twice his size ready to knock through him to get to the quarterback. So not only does he have to make sure the snap is not crazy, he also has to push the other team’s player away from him to keep him from his quarterback to make the play.

This weekend were were in Chattanooga, Tennessee for the Choo Choo Bowl. Our boys got up and on the road at five thirty in the morning, only to play their game at five thirty in the evening. This was along day for our boys. Eli had some high snaps that day (but he was not aware of it). It was not until the end of the game that one got a little wild and the quarterback missed it. The quarterback let him know then. We lost our first game and the chance to be in the championships. Eli got in the van defeated. He blamed himself for the loss. How heartbreaking for a mother to hear her son sobbing because he felt the weight of the team on his shoulders. His dad told him his snaps were a little high. Eli said no one told him…but he still took responsibility. So the next game Eli adjusted. His snaps were perfect. Our team dominated the next two games and we walked away in third place for the weekend. The first game was not lost because of bad snaps, but he knew he did not do his part. He adjusted!

How heartbreaking for a mother to hear her son sobbing because he felt the weight of the team on his shoulders.

I am a boy mom and when I read about sons being born in the Bible it makes me weep. I was reading Luke last week The first chapter talks about the conception of John the Baptist and Jesus. Elizabeth was Mary’s aunt. Elizabeth being greater in age, it was a miracle for her to be with child. Zachariah was in disbelief when the angel of the Lord came to him to tell him about this child that he was made mute until after his son was born. Actually it was eight days after he was born that he was able to speak again:

Luke 1:65-80 (MSG) A deep, reverential fear settled over the neighborhood, and in all that Judean hill country people talked about nothing else. Everyone heard about it and took it to heart, wondering, “What will become of this child? Clearly, God has his had in this.” Then Zachariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied, ‘Blessed be the Lord, God of Israel; he came and set his people free. He set the power of salvation in the center of our lives, and in the very house of David his servant, just as he promised long ago through the preaching of the holy prophets: Deliverance from our enemies and every hateful hand; Mercy to our fathers, and he remembers to do what he said he’d do, What he swore to our father Abraham – a clean rescue from the enemy camp, so we can worship him without a care in the world, made holy before him as long as we live. And you, my child, “Prophet of the Highest,” will go ahead of the Master to prepare his ways, present the offer of salvation to his people, the forgiveness of their sins. Through the heartfelt mercies of our God, God’s Sunrise will break in upon us, shining on those in the darkness, those sitting in the shadow of death, then showing us the way, one foot at a time, down the path of peace.’ The child grew up, healthy and spirited. He lived out in the desert until the day he made his prophetic debut in Israel.

When I read this I wept. This was a child born to proclaim and prepare the way for Jesus. Such a heavy weight for a child. I wept knowing how his life would end, his head placed on a platter for a snide and vengeful woman. No matter what the end was for John the Baptist, he was focused. It makes me think of Philippians 1:6 (AMP) I am convinced and confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will (continue to) perfect and complete it until the day of Christ Jesus (the time of His return).

What has this weekend taught me? Whatever part I play in the purpose God has for me is important. If I am not where God told me to be, doing what He called me to do, with the people God called me to do with, I am out of my place. This week starts Advent. It is a time to reflect of the birth of our Lord, Jesus. I remember the joy of holding my sons for the first time. They are teenagers now, I still wonder what God has in store for them. I look at their personalities. I take joy when I see characteristics that reflect Him. Take time today and look for things that reflect Him! Look for daddy moments. “Through the heartfelt mercies of God, God’s Sunrise will break in upon us.” How wonderful!

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.