DON’T LOSE HEART

Have you ever gotten so discouraged you feel you can’t make it through another day?  I guess if you’re part of the human race you certainly have had moments or even days like that.

As I was watching the Patriots play against the Falcons during the Super Bowl,  I really gave up hope.  I thought there was no way the Patriots could catch up….let alone win the game!

My friend said, “Don’t worry…be a Fan!!!  The Patriots have plenty of time to win this game if they stay calm, play smart, and don’t give up.”

The Patriots were down by 28-3 (25 points!) at half time.  By the 4th quarter the Patriots were scoring!  They tied the game in the last few seconds by scoring a field goal.  The Fans went crazy!  The game went into overtime (first time in Super Bowl history) and the Patriots scored the first touchdown to win!  It was awesome!

I learned a life lesson from that game…..don’t give up hope, keep trying to do your best, and DON’T LOSE HEART.  Because hope deferred makes the heart sick (Proverbs 13:12).

The Apostle Paul tells us in II Corinthians chapter four of the struggle he and his fellow ministers had in proclaiming the Gospel of Christ.

Paul says, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed….to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us!  Therefore we do not lose heart.  Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.  For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

So….dear friends, DON’T LOSE HEART in your life troubles.  God’s got this!!!  You will come out a winner in the end!!!

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Believe the Impossible

Going into the new year I have a been doing some reflecting on the past year.

What have I done?

I have done a lot.

Attended 7 weddings. I was in 2 of them.

Became a life coach.

Hiked the tallest mountain in the lower 48.

Began discipling woman and have been discipled myself.

Experienced inner healing and have been learning how to give myself grace.

Turned 28

Partnered with M2B ministries to help missionaries with re-entry.

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God is doing a lot and I know there is more to come in 2017.

One thing that I desire this year is to have more intimacy with God. I know I need to pursue God and spend time with him. I must pray and sit and be in His presence. This is something I need to be discipled in and practice. I must turn it into a habit, a good habit. I know this will be a habit that will change my life! I want to hear God’s voice and be able to share what he tells me with others to encourage them and hear what he wants to say for my life.

This past year I have also been learning how to dream big and if my dreams don’t scare me, they are not big enough. That’s a scary statement. I think before I would never allow myself to dream so big it scared me because I figured it would never happen. But that’s not the right attitude!!! I must believe in my God to do the impossible. I must believe that he has my best interests in mind and wants the best for me. He can make the imaginable possible and that is what I am hoping for this year! I want things to happen that can only be explained in one word… GOD.

Why don’t we live like that? Why don’t we live life thinking the impossible will happen? Believing the impossible will happen!

It’s a mindset. We need to change our mindset and our focus to be on Jesus. We need to trust him and his ultimate plan for his life.

God gave me a picture many months ago of me and him standing hand in hand on a stone. It was a stone that looked like part of a stone path but all I could see what the stone I was on. As I was hand in hand with him he led me to the next stone. As put my foot out to take the next step the stone appeared.

My interpretation of this vision is that God is with me every step of the way but that he wants me to trust him and to stay present. He wants me to stay focused on where I am and not where I am going or where I have been. He wants me to take the step of faith and trust that he has something there for me even though I cannot see it.

And I believe this is true for you as well. God wants you to stay present but to trust him in the process and to take his hand and let him led you. It’s scary but great things happen when we step out and take risks.

I pray that for us going into this new year. I pray we grab onto God’s hand and allow him to led us to the next stepping stone in our lives even if we cannot see it! I also pray we stay present where we are and enjoy the moment.

Believe the impossible.

Enjoy the moment.

Trust God.

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Have you found the perfect gift yet?

I get amused with the Christmas shoppers in the Riverside Gift Shop I am managing at the retirement village.  They will come in and say they’re looking for the “perfect gift” for someone and they’ll “know it when they see it.”

gift

This month of Christmas music, programs, parties and shopping can become stressful to some people.  We have been made to feel guilty if we don’t give extra to the needs of those less fortunate.  There are the lonely people who actually hate this time of year.

But wait…..what is it really all about?  And I mean more than remembering a miraculous virgin birth of a baby 2000+ years ago.

The miracle of Jesus the Christ…..the Anointed One, is that He is fully God and fully human!!!    The doctrinal word for that is Incarnation……….and I don’t mean a flower!!!

This is one of the mysteries of Almighty God.   In His Son, Jesus, God became a human man to save us ultimately by shedding His blood on the cross, dying and arising from the dead, without ceasing to be God.

Philippians 2:5-11    Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.  And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even death of the cross.  Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

WOW!!!  That’s quite a bit to comprehend.  It’s so “far out there” our human minds cannot figure it out……not possible….don’t go there!!!

It is child-like FAITH which is a GIFT from God to receive THE TRUTH.

If you are struggling with the reality of who Jesus is, and that He is more than a baby in a manger, ask God to give you the faith to believe.  Be honest with God, He knows the thoughts and intents of your heart anyway.  Don’t try to figure it out…..just know that God loves you with unconditional love.  Once you realize that great love through Jesus Christ you will never be the same again!

The celebration of Jesus’ birth this week will give you JOY and an INNER PEACE that is unexplainable.

JESUS CHRIST IS INDEED THE MOST PERFECT GIFT TO YOU!!!

Romans 6:23  The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

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What are the desires of your heart?

Do you have desires deep in your heart that some people might not even know about?

Do you have hopes and dreams that are buried deep that you are even afraid to acknowledge with the fear they may never come true?

I love this verse

“Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalms 37:4

DELIGHT in the Lord and HE with GIVE YOU the DESIRES in your heart that you and him may only know about. But he knows. He knows your heart and if you spend time with him he will deliver.

“The plans of God are only revealed in the presence of God.”

I am reading through a prayer challenge book called “Draw the Circle.” It is by the same other who wrote “Circle Maker.” He talks about praying circles about your hopes, dreams, desires, and wants. It’s about being persistent and trusting that God will provide. Sometimes he doesn’t answer our prayers the way we want him too but he answers them in a better way. Sometimes the answer is no, and sometimes it’s yes. With that he has our best interests in mind.

He knows the deep desires of your heart and he wants you to pray into them. Sometimes patience is required because things don’t happen on our timing but in God’s. And that’s how it should be. He knows all the details. He sees everything we cannot see. Imagine trying to do a puzzle with your eyes closed and some of the pieces missing. You will never be able to complete it. But God has all the pieces lined up in front of him and he can see everything! So why are you not trusting him with all that you are and the desires and dreams of your heart. He knows what they are, but he is wants you to pray into them.

Pray circles around your desires. I am doing that now and I am writing it down. Writing your prayers and desires down is helpful for later when you can go back and see how God connected the dots and how he answered your prayers! He most likely will answer them in ways you are not expecting.

“When we pray regularly, irregular things happen on a regular basis.” (Draw the Circle).

Seek God’s face every day. Bring him your hopes and dreams and desires. He has a plan! You must be patient, trust him, but take action by praying!

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You Never Know…..

Not to be morbid, especially at this joyous time of year, BUT….

None of us were born with an expiration date printed on our skin. We NEVER know what day will be our last day, what words will be our last words.

A few days ago on my drive home from Thanksgiving break with my Mom in Florida, I had to stop for two hours and put my car in park on I-95. Thousands of cars were backed up in a stand-still at the Georgia/South Carolina border waiting for a crash to be cleared. It turns out it was fatal. Those people had no idea when they woke up that morning that it would be their last. I wonder if the last words they said to their loved ones were good ones?

Upon my return to Charlotte I found out that my godson’s 35-year old baseball coach had a seizure, fell and hit his head and died – on Thanksgiving Day. He left his wife and two young children with no warning. None of them woke up that morning thinking it would be his last. I hope their last moments together were positive ones. What an unexpected tragedy.

“In your anger, do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.” Ephesians 4:26

I have failed at this at times, as we all have. But, my Mother engrained this in my mind and my heart, and for the most part I do not allow myself to go to sleep or to part ways with loved ones after an argument or disagreement without at least agreeing to talk later and letting them know I love them. For we must always be prepared. We are not guaranteed tomorrow.

The election has been a time of division among many families and friends, and now we are in the thick of the holiday season. The holidays bring joy and many people together, but they are also times of grief, pain and isolation for some. Let us remember to speak life to all we meet – and especially to remain in good relationship with those closest to us, regardless of our differences in opinion.

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. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:29-32

Speak life today. Forgive. Do not hold on to the things that bring bitterness. Be kind and do good. For you never know what day will be your last.

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THANK YOU, LORD

In reading the Scriptures listed under the thanksgiving title in the concordance, I notice that most of them begin with an admonition to be joyful and sing!

Well…….I like that for sure!!!

When I am weary or discouraged and I start singing, or listening to praise music….the joy and thanksgiving in praise wells up within me.

I love God’s creation of animals and natural places in our world. Do you think they thank God for their existence? Ha! That may be taking it a bit too far! However, the “trees of the field clap their hands”  in praise to God, and, if we don’t praise Him, even the rocks will cry out!!! He provides food and water for His animal creations! The seas roar and the stars sing!

These alive plants and animals……all of earth and the heavens know who their Creator is. And God cares so much for His creation He even knows and cares about the little sparrow that falls.

HOW MUCH MORE HE CARES FOR YOU!!!

GIVE HIM THANKS…..FOR HE IS GREAT, AND GREATLY TO BE PRAISED!!!

Psalm 100  “Make a joyful shout to the LORD, all you lands! Serve the LORD with gladness; come before His presence with singing. Know that the LORD, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;  We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name, for the LORD is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations.”

Karen at Cannon Beach ~ Haystack Rock

Karen at Cannon Beach ~ Haystack Rock

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Choose Joy

Last week a friend and I got together and I had worship music playing in the background. She was talking and sharing with me all that God had been doing in her life recently. She was in such awe of God and how he had been providing for her and showing up in unexpected ways.

As she was sharing with me I felt God say, “Praise me. Thank me. Worship me.” I stopped her and said, “God wants us to praise him and thank him for his goodness.” I turned the worship music up and little did I know what would happen next.

We were sitting on my couch worshipping God and I felt so at peace. I prayed aloud praising and thanking God for all he has done for us and she did as well. After praying I got hit with laughter. I began laughing uncontrollably. I was laughing so hard I was crying. Shortly after I began laughing, my friend sitting next to me began laughing as well, so hard she was crying. Every time I would touch her, I laughed even harder. The Holy Spirit was in the room and present in both of us!

As I was sitting and laughing God was telling me things. He told me

“I have big plans for both of you.

“Trust me.

“Keep your focus on me and I will show you where to go next.

“I know the desires of your heart.

“Trust me.”

It was beautiful! Although I was laughing I felt such peace and comfort.

Last night this same friend and I were talking and she was sharing with me that she has been experiencing so much joy and she doesn’t want it to ever leave her.

I asked her this question, “What are you doing now that is causing you to experience that joy?”

She answered with, “I am praising God no matter what and thanking him and keeping my focus on him.”

I responded, “Well, joy is a choice, and when you feel like you have to choose joy more than ever at a certain point, do the things you are doing now. Praise God, thank God, and keep your focus on him.”

I say this to you as well. Joy is a choice. You must choose joy every day. No one can do that for you. It is your responsibility. If you are struggling with choosing joy, praise God in the midst of the storm, worship him, put on worship music and sit in his presence. Allow the Holy Spirit to touch you. It’s not scary, it’s comforting, and renewing!

“The joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10

choose-joy

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WHAT IS TRUTH?

We are soon to take our responsibility as United States Citizens to vote locally and for the President of our United States of America.  This is a serious time and each one of us must be informed of the issues, weigh our decisions carefully, and ask God for wisdom in our choices.  We are listening for TRUTH but all we hear are false promises.

Two thousand years ago the Jewish people under the harsh rule of Rome thought Jesus would be their King.  They hailed Him as their Messiah who would rule them justly and throw over the oppressive Roman government in Israel.  As they discovered in one week….He said His Kingdom was not of this world.  They called Him a blasphemer because He said His Father God sent Him. They wanted to kill Him!

But when Jesus was brought before Pilate to be questioned, Jesus answered him (John 18:36-38) “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not here.

Pilate therefore said to Him, ‘Are You a king then?’  Jesus answered, ‘You say rightly that I am a king.  For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the TRUTH.  Everyone who is of the TRUTH hears My voice.

Pilate said to Him, ‘WHAT IS TRUTH?”

Are you asking the same question today?  We are hearing and believing lies every day.  Satan’s language is lies….that is his native tongue! (John 8:44)

Romans 1:25 says wicked men exchanged the TRUTH of God for a lie.

The only absolute TRUTH is Jesus the Christ, who came from the Father full of grace and TRUTH. (John 1:14)  Jesus speaks the TRUTH.  He is quoted as saying “I tell you the TRUTH” thirty times in Matthew, thirteen times in Mark, eight times in Luke, and thirty seven times in John.

When Jesus was teaching His disciples, He knew He was going to die, raise from the dead and ascent to His Father in heaven.  He told them He was going to leave them…and they were afraid!

He said, (John 14:1-6)  “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.  In my fathers house are many rooms, if it were not so I would have told you.  I go to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.  And where I go you know, and the way you know.  Thomas said to Him ‘Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?’ Jesus said to him, I am the way, the TRUTH, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

That is a promise…..and God does not break His promises!!!

Jesus also said (John 8:32)  “You shall know the TRUTH and the TRUTH shall make you free.”

NOW YOU KNOW WHAT TRUTH IS!!!

Thy Word

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If there is a God, why is there struggle and pain in this world?

If there is a God, why is there struggle and pain in this world?

This is a question that is asked frequently. People have a hard time wrapping their minds around the fact that if there is a so called “God” who is loving and caring why would he allow people to go through such horror and pain?

Consider this…

God gave us free will. He is not demanding us and calling out orders from heaven. Of course, yes, He does have a plan for us and wants us to live a life of love, but he does not force us to do so.

It started in the Garden of Eden. God said to Adam and Eve they could eat from any tree in the garden, except for the Tree of Knowledge. They were given choices. They were given the free will to decide which tree to eat from. When they decided to eat from the tree of knowledge, God was there but he did not force them away. He allowed them to make that decision.

In Genesis 2:16-17 it tells us, “And the Lord God commanded the man, ‘You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.’”

The opportunity was given to them to make a decision but he also told them what would happen if they chose a certain tree.

“Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”

“The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”

You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (The devil’s temptation to make the wrong decision)

“When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it (her decision). She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it (his decision).”

Genesis 3:1-6

There is evil in this world, and the evil was in the garden. The devil came as a serpent and tempted Adam and Eve. They gave into that temptation and in their own free will chose to eat from the tree of knowledge. They were given a chose. God wasn’t forcing them to choose what he wanted them to do. He stood back and allowed them to decide.

There is evil that we face now. Things happen to people that are not deserving of it. People are robbed, raped, murdered and they didn’t do anything wrong. How can God sit back and watch that happen?

It breaks God’s heart to see his children struggle, in pain, hurt. During those times of pain, what do you do? Do you search for anything to help you? Are you desperate for an answer, comfort, someone to take away the pain?

God is waiting with open arms for you to run to him. To cling to him. To cry out to him. To ask him for help. I don’t believe it’s a matter of God allowing bad things to happen because there is evil in this world, but he does wait for us to make a decision to draw near to him during those times. Following God does not mean life will be easy and nothing bad will ever happen to you, but it does bring you comfort and peace knowing the ALL POWERFUL GOD is on your side and fighting for you. He will bring the enemy down. He already has, but we as humans are tempted and create a way for the devil to get in and torment us. God never wanted that to happen, but he gives us a chose——to follow him, or to follow the ways of the evil one, the ways of the world.

What do you choose?

807a28c94045772dc0c9119335067ee6 Psalm 23:4

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LOVE Your Enemies

Ouch. This is a tall order.

But, Jesus Himself tells us to pray for and love our enemies. UGH.

“But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” Luke 6:27, 28

At this time of great political dissension in the USA, not to mention riots, hate crimes, and general unrest, it is pertinent that we as Christians not only remember these direct words from Jesus, but that we actively participate in them daily. If there has ever been a time to love and pray for our enemies, it is now.

Our enemies range from ISIS to the “Frenemies” that permeate our daily lives. From that deadbeat Father that refuses to pay child support and tries to intimidate, to the head of a country who threatens nuclear war. Jesus makes no distinction. We must love and pray for them all.

Without fail.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

We did not deserve it, but He loved us anyway. And He loves us now and forever despite our constant shortcomings. We must think of loving our enemies in this way. We expect nothing in return, but give the unconditional love of God to those who don’t deserve it. It is only when we can turn our hearts from hatred to this kind of love that we can truly pray for our enemies and hope the very best for them – that they will also come to know the love and salvation of God on a personal level that will change them from the inside out.

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Regardless of our political views, we are to pray for our President and the leaders of the nations. Regardless of our personal disappointments and hurts, we are to pray for those who mistreat us.

This is truly a challenge. Will you take it with me? Will you commit to this kind of prayer and love? The world needs us now. Let us stand by humbling ourselves on our knees in authentic prayer and love for all.

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