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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.

Manifestations…am I crazy!

The past few month the desire in me has been to see the manifestations of God on earth again. You know the stuff you read about in the Bible. If Acts 1:8 says, “But I promise you this – the Holy Spirit will come upon you and you will be filled with power.” What power was Jesus talking about? Power like Elisha who called down lightning? Complete healing from touching the hem of a garment? How about the power of the shadow of Peter?

What is limiting us from seeing the blind, deaf and lame healed? From us walking in the wholeness that God desires for us?

The mindset of the flesh. We will not stop overthinking this salvation and born again thing. We are so caught up in Galatians 5:19-21 (TPT), The cravings of the self-life are obvious: Sexual immorality, lustful thoughts, pornography, chasing after things instead of God, manipulating others, hatred of those who get in your way, senseless arguments, resentment when others are favored, temper tantrums, angry quarrels, only thinking of yourself, being in love with your own opinions, being envious of the blessings of others, murder, uncontrolled addictions, wild parties, and all similar behavior. Haven’t I already warned you that those who use their “freedom” for these things will not inherit the kingdom of God!

We put ourselves under condemnation especially when you see your brothers and sisters in Christ walking in verses 22-23: But the fruit produced by the Holy Spirit within you is divine love in all its varied expressions: joy that overflows, peace that subdues, patience that endures, kindness in action, a life full of virtue, faith that prevails, gentleness of heart, and strength of spirit. Never set the law above these qualities, for they are meant to be limitless.

Law? Condemnation is part of the law.

When we try to measure up to the person next to us, that is putting ourselves under the law. When you think that just because you attend church, that is what showing fruit is, that is under the law.

From looking at these verses from this perspective I can see only one fruit of the spirit.

Love…the rest are attributes.

Just look at 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7 (TPT) for the similarities: Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; loves does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

I have felt condemnation about not living up to what people standards of what this love looks like to them. I have even had this verse and the previous verses quoted at me for not meeting their standard of love (which by the way as Christians make us look petty and does not win the other back). So how can we do this love walk?

John 15:4-10 (TPT) Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.

If we are free from the law then what are the commandments?

Matthews 22:37-39 (TPT) Jesus said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’

Galatians 6:1-5 My beloved friends, if you see a believer who is overtaken with a fault, may the one who overflows with the Spirit seek to restore him. Win him over with gentle words, which will open his heart to you and will keep you from exalting yourself over him. Love empowers us to fulfill the law of the Anointed One as we carry each other’s troubles. If you think you are too important to stoop down and help another, you are living in deception. Let everyone be devoted to fulfill the work God has given them to do with excellence, and their joy will be in doing what’s right and being themselves, and not in being affirmed by others. Every believer is ultimately responsible for his or her own conscience.

Know this about myself, this is something I am having to continually walk in.

When I read 1 Kings about Solomon and his refusal to listen to the warnings of God, I had to repent for watching a movie with my youngest that I knew we should not have watched.

When I post about teenagers, it is because I have teenagers. I have to correct and change how I do things. I do not always get this parenting thing right, but I am progressing.

Why are we not seeing the power of God move? We still have to get closer to the vine. How do we get closer to the vine? I need to get in my Word more…I need to be led by the Holy Spirit more. I need to compare myself with others less.

We cannot be afraid of judgment of those in the church when we need help to overcome what they have already overcome. I cannot hide from conviction and led it become condemnation (putting ourselves under the law). We deny we are wrong and then do not allow the Word to work fully in our lives. I have to die to myself, so that I can live free in Him! There is so much more freedom if we truly open ourselves up to what the Word wants to do in our lives.

There is so much more freedom if we truly open ourselves up to what the Word wants to do in our lives.

I believe that healing is still for today. I believe that miracles can still happen.

There is a song that I have had on repeat in my head. It is there when I fall asleep, it is there when I wake in the morning, it has been within me as I write this. It is called “This is a Move.” Click on the title if you want to give it a listen, but here are some of the lyrics:

Bodies are still being raised
Giants are still being slain
God we believe, cause yes we can see that
Wonders are still what You do.

We are here for You, come and do what You do
We are here for You, come and do what You do
We set our hearts on You, come and do what You do
Cause we need a move

Miracles happen when You move
Healing is coming in this room

Abide in Him…that is the secret. I have to continually abide in Jesus with the expectation that manifestations are a natural part of who He is. I have to allow the release of the Holy Spirit within me. There is a great move that God still wants to do on this earth. He loves to demonstrate who He is. Can you see it now (2 Kings 6:17)?

Could this be my real life or is it just a fantasy?

On Mother’s Day this year I preached a sermon titled “Could this be my real life or is it just a fantasy?” When God put that title in my mind it took me back to when I was pregnant with my oldest. I remembered being in the restroom at work and a coworker walked in and asked me what it was like to be pregnant. We were the same age and had been married roughly for the same amount of time. My response was that I told her that it felt “surreal.” It was a mix of fact and fantasy. Fact: My body was changing, there was life growing in me. Fantasy: What was my baby going to look like? Would I be a good mother? My baby would be a grown man in a short amount of time, would I be able to prepare him for his future?

When God asks us to take the next step in your life changing walk with Him, would you? Things are going to change. Child birth sure did not feel good while I was going through it, but the reward was so amazing!

What does a life look like that has come alive to God? It is not going to look the same. We all have a deep and earnest desire for 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.

John 14:16 (NIV) Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

What is it that of our heart’s desire? Could it be found in the first commandment? Matthew 22:37-38 tells us: Jesus replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.”

I like how it is stated in Deuteronomy especially. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and will all your strength (Deut. 6:5 NIV). Very much like how it is stated in Matthew, but the next few verses gives us a deeper understanding of what it looks like. 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 doorframes of your houses and on your gates (Deut. 6:6-9).

We do the first part, but lack confidence in the second part. What if that was not a dream? What would it look life if this was a reality in my life? It was not always like that for us. When we first accept Christ we could not wait to tell other’s about Him. This deep passionate love that God desires for us to have takes effort. It takes building within a relationship. That was why Jesus was not liked by the religious leaders of the time. These relationship that He modeled for us to have with His Father took us out of just doing a ritual into an ever growing, maturing relationship. The way I look at it is that religion is wrapped up in fear (refusing to move). Relationship takes faith, because relationships grow and change.

The way I look at it is that religion is wrapped up in fear (refusing to move). Relationship takes faith, because relationships grow and change.

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.

I am not telling you to sell your belongings, but what do we have that stands in the way of us going deeper into the relationship that Jesus desires for us.

Philippians 3:7-16 NKJV But what things were to 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 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; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed in His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection of the dead. Not that I have already attained or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid of me. Brethren, I do not count myself as apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God is Christ Jesus. Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if anything you thing otherwise, God will reveal this to you. Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.

Like Paul, I have not gotten everything that God desires for me, but I press on! I know that I have said this before, but I am not the same person I was a year ago. I am not the same person I was five years ago. As I write this and by the time it will be published it will be nine years since I stood up in front of my church and spoke for the very first time. There have been discouragements along the way. Not everything that I speak or write about will be received with an open heart. However, I press on. There is a prize to be awarded. I cannot see it and I will not receive it until I pass from this life until the next. We cannot let the circumstances of this world to keep us from attaining such things.

My oldest is now sixteen years old. I have made some mistakes while raising him. My perspective had to change because of the way that God designed him. One thing he does understand is that his mom loves God with all of her heart, mind and soul. I have put His Word before him (not beat him with it), but built him up in it. At sixteen he still kisses me before he leaves the house. He will nuzzle me with his head at random parts of the day. It is far better than I could have ever imagined or dreamed. It is a relationship that will forever grow and change.

Peace, Love and Jesus

1 John 4:18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives our fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

As I read the first four books of the New Testament I saw a theme on what Jesus taught the disciples. He taught them about love and having faith. Peach and love go hand in hand. You cannot have faith and not love, and you cannot have peace without faith.

Lisa Bevere in Without Rival states: Fear is costly. It will steal your thoughts, your dreams, your relationships, your finances, your faith and your hope. Love is constant, it is supremely generous. It seeks to restore your relationships, your dreams and your hopes.

Let’s look at 1 Corinthians 13, you know the verse we quote at each other when we talk about the love walk. Let us do a little something different. Let us replace love with fear.

Fear is impatient and unkind while it envies and boasts; it is arrogant and rude. Fear insists on it’s own way; it is irritable and resentful; rejoices in wrong doing, rather than in truth. Fear bears nothing, believes nothing, hopes nothing, endures nothing. Fear will end.

When I inserted fear here, I saw some attributes of my self that I did not like. So I started saying this over myself daily:

Amanda is patient (suffers long). Amanda is kind. Amanda does not envy. Amanda does not boast (or parade herself). Amanda is not proud (puffed up). Amanda does not dishonor others (behave rudely). Amanda is not self seeking. Amanda is not easily angered (provoked). Amanda keeps no records of wrongs (thinks evil). Amanda does not delight in evil (rejoice in iniquity). Amanda rejoices in truth. Amanda always protects (bears all things). Amanda always trusts (believes all things). Amanda always hopes. Amanda always perseveres (endures). Amanda never fails.

I did a study not to long ago with my youth. My study Bible expounded on this verse a little more for my group:

Love "suffers long" means that God's love has patience with imperfect people.
"Love does not envy" means that real love wants other people to get ahead.
"Love does not parade itself" means that Bible love doesn't put on a big show in order to impress others.
Love "is not puffed up" or "proud" refers to the fact that people who walk in God's love do not have big heads.
Love "does not seek it's own" means that it is not self-centered and selfish but instead looks out fo the needs of others.
Love "is not provoked"; it is not irritable under pressure. Still working on this one!!
Love "thinks no evil" means it doesn't keep a record of wrongs done to it and is constantly forgiving.
Love "does not rejoice in iniquity" and does not rejoice in the mistakes and failures of others. The "God don't like ugly" statement makes my skin crawl.
Love "rejoices in the truth" means that it believes in what is open and hones.
Love "bears all things" is the kind of love that defends and hold other people up.
Love "believes" the best about other people.
Love "hopes all things" means that it never gives up on people.
Love "endures all things" is love that perseveres and is loyal to the end.

When I read this, it made me think of Philippians 4:8, Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of a good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – meditate on these things.

Have you had a hard time choosing to meditate on these types of things? You know it is a choice. When we choose not to meditate this way about our situation or about people then we choose fear, the opposite of peace. Which means we choose not to love.

Do you know how I know I am not walking in His perfect love? When I do not have His peace. The peace that you can have by taking a nap in a raging storm (Mark 4:37-38).

Do you know how I know I am not walking in His perfect love?

When I do not have His peace.

Philippians 4:6-7 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, with surpasses all understanding will guard our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Your requests are made known to God, not Facebook, Instagram, Snap Chat, Tik Tok, etc.

Then we do verse 8 (think only on the pure, lovely, virtuous), and verse 9 is our promise: The thing which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.

I have to make a choice in my mind and heart to love. I can walk in peace during the storms. The storm is where my destiny will be revealed, and I want to walk in my destiny! How many, like myself, see an area of the love walk that we can work on? It is okay that we still have work to do. It means that we have a destiny. He created us for good things and He is preparing us just for that (Ephesians 2:10). This mess that I got into will be used one day to lead others to Jesus. Remember love endures all things and is loyal to the end.

1 Corinthians 13:13 And now these three remain, faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Bread tastes so good!

I love to bake. Preferably, I cook most of our meals in the oven. During the Covid-19 stay at home order in Alabama I learned how to make many new dishes. One specifically was a banana nut bread. I had a recipe I had used before, but I went on a search for the most moist and delicious one out there. Of course once I found it I had to share with all who were interested in my new recipe. It is called “Moist and Delicious Banana Bread.” I told a friend and she was like, is it really though? I said yes and let her sample a piece. I did mess up one batch by putting baking powder instead of baking soda.

Anyways the way I talk about my new found recipes was the way I think the apostles (Jesus’ disciples) were like when they came to tell them about their latest mission in Mark 6. I am going to start us off with verses 30-31 and use the Passion Translation: The apostles returned from their mission and gathered around Jesus and told him everything they had done and taught. There was such a swirl of activity around Jesus, with so many people coming and going, that they were unable to even eat a meal. So Jesus said to his disciples, “Come, let’s take a break and find a secluded place where we can rest a while.”

Jesus was very hands on with training His disciples and then He would send them out to put into practice what He taught them. Jesus would often use every day situations to reveal the heart of His Father.

Mark 6:32-36 They slipped away and left by sailboat for a deserted spot. But many of the people saw them leaving and realized where they were headed, so they took off running along the shore. Then people from the surrounding towns joined them in the chase, and a large crowd got there ahead of them. By the time Jesus came ashore, a massive crowd was waiting. At the sight of them, his heart was filled with compassion, because they seemed like wandering sheep who had no shepherd. So he taught them many things. Late that afternoon, his disciples said, “It’s getting really late and we’re here in this remote place with nothing to eat. You should send the crowds away so they can go into the surrounding villages and buy food for themselves.”

How often do our bellies like to do the speaking for us? There have been days when I worked full-time at my church’s day care (well I was doing more than one job) that I did not break to eat or drink. I had the hunger pangs, but yet there was so much to still do. At the end of the day I would be irritable, it was because I was not taking the time to feed myself. Think about that as we see what Jesus’ response was.

Mark 6:37 But he answered them, “You give them something to eat.” “Are you sure?” they replied. “You really want us to go buy them some supper? It will cost a small fortune to feed all of these thousands of hungry people.”

“You give them something to eat.”

Jesus was testing His disciples here. How much were they getting from His teachings. He told them to feed the people. The first thing they think of if money. Is that not just the way we are too? God tells us to support our church and other ministries and we say well I will just give money, or “all they want is my money.” There are times He tells us to sow financially, but there are times He tells us to do.

Mark 6:38-42 “How many loaves of bread do you have?” he asked. “Go and see.” After they had looked around, they came back and said, “Five-plus a couple of fish.” Then he instructed them to organize the crowd and have them sit down in groups on the grass. So they had them sit in groups of hundreds and fifties. Then Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, gazed into heaven, and gave thanks to God. He broke the break and the two fish and distributed them to the disciples to serve the people – and the food was multiplied in front of their eyes! Everyone had plenty to eat and was fully satisfied.

Jesus told them to feed the people. Their first instinct was to look at the lack of money, but Jesus wanted them to look at what they had. This was not the first time we see a miracle of bread to feed. In 2 Kings 4:42-44 we see Elisha knew the heart of God: Then a man came from Baal Shalisha, and brought the man of God bread of the firstfruits, twenty loaves of barley bread, and newly ripened grain in his knapsack. And he said, “Give it to the people, that they may eat.” But his servant said, “What? Shall I set this before one hundred men?” He said, “Give it to the people, that they may eat; for thus says the Lord: ‘They shall eat and have some left over.'” So he set it before them; and they ate and had some left over, according to the word of the Lord (NKJV).

When we feed on the nourishment that Jesus gives us we have more than enough to feed His people. Jesus said that He is the Bread of Life. Sometimes we lack confidence to do what He tells us to do because we have not been feeding enough. We have to make sure we do not get too fat on it, because we all know how good bread tastes!

John 14:12 says, Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do….” My husband used this scripture right here this past Sunday. God has had me on the word “refuse” for a while. “Refuse” is the opposite of “will do”. When we say to Jesus, “I will do,” this is what He is expecting…“the works that I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” He has given us the ability to get revelation from the Word of who His Father is. He did everything His Father did on earth, so that means we can too. Miracles can happen. We can feed people! Look around with what you have and use it!!

See a Victory

My husband I pastor a church in Opelika, Alabama. If you are not from the area, you probably mispronounced that city. It’s pretty funny that God brought us here, because my husband was born here, but never lived in this city until he turned thirty. When we took over the church from his parents we set out and wrote down what God was telling us the vision for the church would be.

The vision statement He gave us was, “We exist to touch the world through our community.” Habakkuk 2:2-3 in the Message translation says, “And then God answered: ‘Write this. Write what you see. Write it out in big block letters so that it can be read on the run. The vision-message is a witness pointing to what’s coming. It aches for the coming – it can hardly wait! And it doesn’t lie. If it seems slow in coming, wait. It’s on its way. It will come right on time.'”

“We exist to touch the world through our community.”

Connect Church Vision Statement

We were so excited for what God was going to do in our church. This was not a starting from scratch church plant. That did not mean were were not faced with challenges. Our heart was to empower the church for ministry. This is how we were going to reach our world. Empower them to see the importance of their community, so that we could reach this world.

First book we read as a church was Greater by Steven Furtick. Our desire was to see the church get excited for the greater. One of my favorite quotes from this book was, “Most believers are not in imminent danger of ruining their lives. They’re facing a danger that’s greater: wasting them.” We envisioned a church that saw the importance of reaching the lost. We may have been a bit too pushy. Not six months into this leadership shift did we get push back. We were told that we could not expect them to love “our baby” the way that we do. The vision had not been received and it stung. It took my husband and I a few years, and the church too, to overcome such a blow. Did that mean that the vision God gave us was not for our church. No…it just meant we did not lay the foundation properly.

We have to watch our hearts in this season of vision casting. Do you know that you have the power to extinguish someone else’s dreams? It is not your job to judge if that persons dream will succeed; it is not your dream. You are however, not suppose to speak against it.

Ephesians 4:9 “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

God put a vision for our church, but we knew that things had to change in order for us to see that promise. We decided to put our property up for sale. We were sitting on twenty acres, with almost fifty thousand square feet of building and that meant our overhead was between twelve to fourteen thousand dollars a month. We were not a church that could sustain that much overhead and sow into our community.

We walked away from the sale with no profit. Nothing to start fresh with. Did that mean God did not give us that vision still? No…it meant we had to trust Him more. For the past one and a half years, God had been healing our hearts from the words that stung us those five years ago. He has been building upon a foundation in His Word. Our church, and I believe churches around the world, are waking up! There is a fire and a hunger in the church like we have not seen in the past two decades.

Ecclesiastes 11:4 “He who watches the wind (waiting for all conditions to be perfect) will not sow (seed), and he who looks at the clouds will not reap (a harvest).” (AMP)

That vision for Connect Church is still there. God has given us a BIG DREAM! However, in order to see that come to pass we need to sow into other’s dreams. We are sowing into the construction of a church in Uganda. Right now we are not meeting in our own building. We are renting from another church and have a one thirty service. We could get comfortable here. Our church members are growing so much spiritually that we are loving this call of being their pastors. That discouragement is now a distant memory. There is life again! We are seeing victory in their lives. God is not done with us yet…there is still that vision.

We are also giving like never before into local organizations and ministries. Deep down there is still a desire to do and reach more. You may not be leading a church but you are called to ministry.

I have a vision for loved ones lifting up their hands in worship, completely surrendered to our Father. I envision our children worshiping whole-heartedly. A fire is burning in our young people (Jeremiah 20:9)! When people walk in the doors of our church I envision the chains of bondage breaking off of them, that they fall so in love with God they cannot walk out the doors the same.

Can you know see the victory? Can you envision the promise? I can. God gives you the dreams and He is intentional of what He puts in your heart to accomplish. Trust God. Remember He is an amazing architect. He created this world that you exist in. He is the “Everlasting to Everlasting.”

“I pray with great faith for you, because I’m fully convinced that the One who began this glorious work in you will faithfully continue the process of maturing you and will put his finishing touches to it until the unveiling of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6 TPT

Peace Even During Difficulty

Nearly two years ago I was terminated from a job that I no longer felt joy in going to. Honestly I should have left a year and a half before. However, I stayed not listening to God, because I could not see how we could have all the luxuries we do now without it. I know it was selfish! It was a huge mistake and the mistake that I made (as unintentional as it was) was a huge blow to my character…so I thought.

What did I do when confronted with this blow? I spent the first week in the word NON STOP! I read books on dealing with rejection. I dove deeper into my Bible. I even pulled out my old study Bible from m when I first accepted Christ, at the age of eighteen. I played worship music for hours!!

Peace did not leave me in that transition. Why? I was ready to leave that job, I was the one holding onto it. It was my fault that I put myself into that situation. I was bound and determined that I was going to hold true to His Word. Romans 8: 28 says, “So we are convinced that every detail of our lives is continually woven together to fit into God’s perfect plan of bringing good into our lives, for we are his lovers who have been called to fulfill his designed purpose.”(TPT)

God was going to get the glory for this! I did not hide. I did not fall into depression. I did not blame anyone for my circumstances. Did I have moments? Um…I am not perfect, of course I did! They were only allowed to be moments though. Jesus left us a promise:

“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27)

People today define peace as long as things are going their way. We hear “World Peace” as in reference to ending of wars and no crime. Peace is defined in this manner as “Stress-free state of security and calmness that comes when there is no fighting or war.”

Jesus left us a supernatural peace though. A peace that will be there even in the midst of great difficulty.

2 Peter 1:2 (with emphasis added), “May grace (God’s unmerited favor demonstrated through power on your behalf) and a peace (a state of perfect well-being, all necessary good, all spiritual prosperity, and freedom from fears and agitating passions and moral conflicts) be multiplied to your through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.”

There was a time when Jesus was at peace and those that were with him were not. In Mark 4:35-40 we can see that Jesus is with the disciples on a boat and a storm comes up. Jesus, however, is sleeping through it… the disciples were not. Right away in verse thirty five Jesus tells them, “Let us cross over to the other side.” Then He grabs a pillow and takes a nap. Do you not think that Jesus knew that a storm was coming?

Do you not think that God knew a storm was going to come into your life? He knew I would be terminated. Why is is that when things like that happen we going into a lament and shout out to God “Why me?” Then we withhold ourselves thinking we will ease some stress.

I once read a tweet that said, “Today in church a Pastor said this: If you can trust a puzzle company to make sure every piece is in the box to complete the puzzle, then why can’t you trust God that every piece of your life is there for a reason?”

Ephesians 2:10, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”

God knows the beginning to the end, not just about earth, but about our individual lives as well. Can I stand in peace through trials?

Lisa Bevere wrote a book called Without Rival. Here are a couple of quotes I pulled out during this time in my life: “Moses learned that destiny is revealed in seasons of confrontation rather than season for comfort.” “The anointing set you apart, but confrontations, storms and trials will set you up.”

“Moses learned that destiny is revealed in seasons of confrontation rather than season for comfort.”

Lisa Bevere

Remember that in times of trials you can hold onto His peace. You are not shouldering this alone.

1 Peter 5:7, “Pour out all your worries and stress upon him and leave them there, for he always tenderly cares for you.” (TPT) The New King James Version tells us to, “cast all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” Whether you lay it down, or you throw it to Him, He cares for us so much that we do not need to feel like the trials are just for us alone. He knows the path to go through them and He will walk every step with us, knowing this we can be at peace.

Do not come down until you are ready!

From Nehemiah 6 MSG “I’m doing a great work; I can’t come down. Why should the work come to a standstill just so I can come down and see you?” “They were trying to intimidate us into quitting. They thought, ‘They’ll give up; they never finish it.’ I prayed, ‘Give me strength.'”

It is hard when other people do not meet your passion. There are countless men and women in the Bible that God gave them instruction and people questioned whether they even heard God at all.

Moses is one of my favorite people in the Bible. I can so relate to him! I probably would have reacted the same way to all of the grumbling and complaining as he did in Numbers 20, when he struck the rock, afterGod told him to speak to it. I might have even taken out a couple of people when going for that swing too! Not really, but you know he was thinking it.

In return Moses would not be able to join in with the others in entering the Promised Land. However, he still makes it into the Hall of Faith found in Hebrews 11.

Near the end of Moses life he writes the book of Deuteronomy. In this book he recites over and over the escape out of Egypt and their time in the wilderness. He was so adamant about teaching their children, and for generations to come, all that had happened (Stephen even stands before his accusers in Acts 7 reciting much of this). This all occurred after he was told he could not bring the people into the Promise Land.

Above all, Moses desired God’s presence more than he desired to enter the Promise Land. He was seeking His face. In Exodus 33:18 Moses asks: “Please, show me Your glory.”

Moses desired God’s presence more than he desired to enter the Promise Land.

Exodus 33:21-23 God responds, “Here is a place by Me, and you shall stand on the rock. So it shall be, while My glory passes by, that I will put you into the cleft of the rock, and will cover you with My hand wile I pass by. Then I will take away My hand, and you shall see My back; but My face shall not be seen.”

Moses kept going up to the mountain to commune with God. He face would shine so bright after his encounters. Don’t you think while he was up there he could see the Promise Land knowing he would not enter it. Or did he…

Matthew 17:1-3 “Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, let them up on a high mountain by themselves; and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became white as the light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking Him.”

Moses appears with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration, which happens to be in the physical location of the Promise Land. When he desired to see God before, he could only see His back, but now he sees Him face-to-face.

Moses did not give up going on the mountain top and neither should you. Jeremiah 29:13 “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

The Enough-ness of Christ

There are days that I do not feel like I am enough. I have two teenage boys and a husband that works swing shift (every four weeks he rotates from first, to third, to second shift), as well as, we pastor a church together. Early on when he took a job at the plant it was really tough on the boys not having him home during second shift. He would come home after we went to bed and get up after they went to school. I made a lot of mistakes trying to do it on my own at the start.

Galatians 2:21 says, “So that is why I don’t view God’s grace as something minor or peripheral. For if keeping the law could release God’s righteousness to us, the Anointed One would have died for nothng. (TPT)”

God never called me to be enough. Not for my kids, not for my husband and especially not for my church. He called me to be loved. It is in the awareness of my weakness, the more I need His grace. My shortcomings remind my children to keep they eyes fixed on God, not on me. When I struggle it is a glorious display of God’s greatness, not my own.

My shortcomings remind my children to keep they eyes fixed on God, not on me.

We feel pressure to pack the Pinterest perfect lunches, to throw them the most lavish parties and to shower them with the most expensive gifts. We feel pressure to perform for the approval of God. There is pressure to pretend to have it all together and we hide behind closed doors when we do not.

As the Body of Christ we have not done so well at accepting ourselves, therefore, not accepting each other for all of the flaws we have. I cannot be the only one who thinks they have failed when we do not reflect His heart to our children. We cannot give grace, when we have not received grace ourselves.

Charles Spurgeon once said, “I have a great need for Christ. I have a great Christ for my need.”

When we find ourselves crumbling. When we are trying to hold it all together on our own, that’s a good indicator that we have forgotten Christ as first place in our lives. He is the “image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created…and in Him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:15-17)”

God is the One holding it all together. Not us!