The Choice

There’s something about waiting for an appliance repairman to show up that has me feeling captive. I spent the better part of the day today wondering exactly when during the 10am to 2pm window he would arrive. He finally called at 1:55 informing me he’d be there in about a half hour. Oh well. Day lost. Or was it?

Usually, I spend this time frustrated that I can’t leave the house, or trying not to start something big because I may have to run to answer the door. There was plenty to do. Laundry & the ever present tidying up beckoned for my attention. But today I heard a still, small voice inviting me to quiet myself and spend the time in Bible study and prayer. I’m a bit embarrassed to admit I struggle with calming myself long enough to hear from God. With 3 business ventures to pursue, I am BUSY. But you know what? Today was different. Today was good. So good.

“Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, O Lord.” Psalm 89:15

It’s so easy to forget that God longs to spend time with us. There’s nothing he’d love more than to have us seek his presence in our lives. In this journey towards more intimacy with God, I’m learning that sometimes he boldly provides that time and waits to see if we will use it to pursue a deeper relationship with him. It’s still our choice.

“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” Colossians 4:2

Today, I had a few hours of what could have been limbo, but instead I made the choice for spending time with Jesus & the rest of my day has gone well. There’s a peace in knowing God is in control and he’s got my back. A cup of coffee, a good Bible study book and some quiet time while chatting about the future and handing over the reigns for my business and family needs is so refreshing.

I highly recommend it.

Books and a coffee cup on a wooden table

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Another Year Gone By

Another year has gone by. How did that happen?? Seriously! This past year has gone by so fast! It seems like I just got back from my 11 month trip but that was over a year ago now. So much has happened since then and God continues to amaze me.

 

When I came back from the World Race, I wanted to continue living a life of taking risks and living in boldness for Jesus. It hasn’t been easy, but as a look back in this past year I see God’s faithfulness and persistence. And when I look at the times I was obedient and took a risk, I was blessed beyond words and God was with me and gave me the strength I needed. He continues to blow my mind and blow my expectations out of the water!

 

Here are some of the things God has taught me this past year:

 

God hears us and answers our prayers, even if they seem small (I was shopping for a bridesmaid dress for hours and then I prayed and God told me to go to a specific store and I found the dress I needed in the exact color I needed it in! WOW!).

 

God wants us to pray specific prayers.

 

God does miracles and uses people like you and me as his hands (God used me to pray healing over a friend’s knees who were in pain and he healed her! WOW!).

 

God gives us strength when we are weak (I did a 3 day fast only drinking water and I had so much energy and joy it only could have come from God!).

 

God ALWAYS provides.

 

When we take a leap of faith, God will catch us and walk with us.

 

God loves to make us laugh (I laugh when I experience the Holy Spirit!).

 

God is always there to comfort us. When we cry, he cries.

 

God cares about what is important to us.

 

God stands in front of us with open arms waiting for us to run to him.

 

God is continuing to teach me how to see people through his eyes and when I do I see them as his children.

 

God gives us His light in order to be tangible lights to been seen by people in the physical realm.

 

God LOVES me and He LOVES you UNCONDITIONALLY.

 

 

As you move forward into this next year, take time to sit and think of the ways God has shown up in your life in the past year and thank him. Make a goal for yourself in this next year to step out in faith and live more of risk-taking life for Jesus. You will not be disappointed. : )

 

Happy New Year!

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(On our way home from the World Race around this time last year,

November 2014)

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God is in the Details

There are some crazy stories in the Bible, aren’t there?

If you grew up in church like me, you were puzzled about many of them. One in particular I remember was found in 2 Kings chapter 6 about an ax head breaking off the handle and sinking to the bottom of the river. It was borrowed, which made no hope of retrieval even worse, I suppose. But when the man who lost the ax head went to the prophet Elisha and told him about it…

The man of God asked, “Where did it fall?” When he showed Elisha the place, Elisha cut off a piece of wood. He threw it into the water at that place and made the ax head float. Elisha said, “Pick it up.” The disciple reached for it and picked it up. (2 Kings 6:6-7)

End of story.

Cue my mother, Gladys. Great preacher that she was, and confused child that I was, I have a beautiful understanding of this passage these days. It wasn’t because of a sermon she preached, but a real life incident where God showed himself to be the same God today as back in the days of the great Kings of Israel. Many, many years of hearing the story told over and over again has solidified my belief that God cares about the details of our lives.

I remember her being so excited about planning a series of outdoor meetings one summer in the church parking lot, calling it “Brush Arbor Days.” This was in the early 1970’s – the beginning years of the Jesus Movement, and since we were in Southern California and had access to these things, she booked a few bands out of Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa, along with some gospel singers from Los Angeles, set up a stage and chairs in the church parking lot, and planned several nights of summer revival for the community.

As you can imagine, this involved needing a lot of sound equipment our little church didn’t own, so it was borrowed. One night, as things were being set up, the crew noticed a box of microphones missing. Without missing a beat, my mama recalled the scripture in 2 Kings 6 where God floated a borrowed ax head and got a group together to begin praying to float the ax head. They prayed fervently for those stolen microphones to float back to our little church before it was time to return them, or have to pay a big price. And you know what? That box was left at the church steps with an “I’m sorry” note. I can only imagine the story from the other side – how did the thief know that box must be returned?

For the rest of my life, I have remembered this story about the time God floated the microphones. God cares about the details.

Just last week a friend sent me a text asking me to pray for her daughter whose laptop had been stolen at school. Her request was that her daughter would learn through this experience how God works in the details of our lives. As I prayed for this situation, my mind returned to those microphones so many years ago, and the story in the Bible about the ax head floating to the top of the river.

And you know what? God floated that laptop. He cares about the details.

 

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KNOW HIM AND MAKE HIM KNOWN

My sister, Tami, wrote about prayer in the last blog entry, and she mentioned she had not been specific in focused time prayer.  I, too, have prayers flying upward throughout the day and night, and only once in a while for any amount of concentrated time.  I tell you, we are never too old, or have been a Christian for so long that we cannot refine our intimate time with our God!!!

We all need the reminder that we are in a spiritual war, and should take our time with God in prayer and Bible study seriously.  So, my entry today is to encourage you to get into God’s Word.  His Word reveals His ways to us, Who He is, what He expects from us, and How much He loves us.

When my daughter, Kristin, went to Charlotte Christian School, their motto was “To Know Him, and Make Him Known.”  How can we know God and His Son, Jesus, if we don’t spend quality time with Him?  We all KNOW ABOUT HIM, but my question to you today is, DO YOU KNOW HIM?

Time spent with a family member or a friend is usually a “set aside” amount of time.  Will you “set aside” time to READ God’s Word, pour out your heart to Him in PRAYER, and then LISTEN listen to Him?  The amount of time you give to God is a very personal thing for each one of us.  No one can give you a schedule to follow…….that is between you and God.  But, the end result of your diligence is not how much you study His Word, but the application of it to your life.  How is spending time with Him changing you?

The Holy Bible contains everything we need for knowledge of salvation and godly living.  Did you know that the Holy Bible is the most popular book ever written? Over five billion copies world wide have been sold….and the second most copies sold of any book is two hundred million of “The Tale of Two Cities”.   Amazing, right?

King David loved the Word of God as the first five books of the Bible were written on scrolls. He wrote in Psalm 119, many verses about how he loved God’s Word………

You have laid down precepts that are to be fully obeyed.  I will praise you with an upright heart as I learn your righteous laws. I will obey your decrees.  How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word.  I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. I will not neglect your word. Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law .Your statutes are my delight; they are my counselor. Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light for my path.”

Wow! And David only had the first five books of the Bible to read!  We have the  entire Word of God to guide us, give us wisdom and understanding, and to convict us of what is displeasing to Him.

Thy Word

How can we let our Bibles sit on a shelf until we take them out to carry to church? My plea to you today is to get to know God by getting in His Word so you can KNOW HIM AND INTRODUCE YOUR BEST FRIEND TO OTHERS!

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Where’s Your War Room?

I’ve been doing it wrong.

Prayer, I mean.

Don’t misunderstand. I pray. Life’s bumps and bruises have taught me to pray without ceasing at times, that’s for sure. There’s a place for whispering prayers constantly as you go through your day. But I had neglected to remember there’s more. So much more.

In her book, Fervent, Priscilla Shirer explains, “If all we’re doing is flinging words and emotions in all directions without any real consideration for the specific ways the enemy is targeting us and the promises of God that apply to us, we’re mostly just wasting our time.”

Ouch.

She continues, “Prayer is the portal that brings the power of heaven down to earth. It is kryptonite to the enemy and to all his ploys against you.”

I don’t know about you, but I’ve had some ploys aimed against me lately. Big ones. I found myself feeling the need to pray harder, but not really knowing HOW. Then I was at a Propel Women conference and heard some talk about a movie called War Room. Huh. It stayed at the back of my mind until I noticed it was playing at a local theater recently. And I did something I’ve never done: I took myself to the movies. Alone. On a Tuesday afternoon.

I went with an open mind and a willing heart. And God met me there. He used a movie to teach me an important lesson: big needs require big prayer, and big prayer requires intentional strategy. I grew up in the church and I’ve never heard this concept presented in this way before, with detailed specifics and ideas. We are doing battle with unseen forces. Powerful forces, yes. But they are defeatable forces… if we are smart about it.

 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12 NKJV

Photo credit: David Whitlow, courtesy of AFFIRM Films/Provident Films

Photo credit: David Whitlow, courtesy of AFFIRM Films/Provident Films

We are often blindsided by this kind of opponent. We just don’t see the attack coming. And when we are in the midst of the battle, too often we just fling little prayer arrows here and there in a feeble attempt to get some traction and keep the enemy at bay. It’s what I did.

I was doing it wrong.

When I picked up that copy of Fervent by Priscilla Shirer, the subtitle made me steel in anticipation: “A Woman’s Battle Plan for Serious, Specific, and Strategic Prayer.” I’m studying. I’m preparing for battle.

The enemy better watch his back. I’m coming for him.

(Guys, don’t take this the wrong way, but sometimes a woman needs specifics about how to pray for our unique situations… you should check out The Battle Plan for Prayer: From Basic Training to Targeted Strategies by Stephen and Alex Kendrick, producers of the War Room movie.)

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There’s Still Grace

Grace

There’s Still Grace

When I fall so far I can’t get up,

He comes along as I lift my cup

He forgives and fills me

There’s still Grace.

You can’t fall so low but what He’s there,

If you will let Him, He’ll answer your prayer.

Your own failures don’t limit Him.

There’s still Grace!

Grace that will lift you out of your sins.

Grace that will give you His Peace within.

Because of His cross and the Price He paid,

There’s still God’s Grace.

This isn’t good…I know it. Just doodling around one day, and thankful that for all of us, He has unlimited Grace.

(Note from Tami: Oh, mama! We think this is just beautiful & we are so happy you showed us the way of grace and love with how you lived your life.)

There’s Still Grace was written 4/4/2005, when Gladys was age 86.

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Be YOU

When you look at yourself in the mirror, what do you see?

Do you see all your flaws? The mistakes you have made? Wish you were someone else? Wish you looked a certain way? Had a certain car, house, you name it!

 

The world we live in is full of lies and pressuring us to be someone we are not. To the world it’s all about how you look, how you act, what kind of job you have, how much money you are making. But that is not what is important at all.

 

Do you know what God sees when he looks at you?

He sees you as beautiful, as his child, worthy. He created you to look a certain way, to be unique, to be the only YOU, one of a kind. He created you to be different. He doesn’t care how much money you make, or what you look like. All he cares about is YOU.

 

I pray that you stand in confidence as the person you are.

I pray you walk in boldness and stand out because of the one who loves you and who lives inside of you.

I pray you are a light to this dark world.

I pray you find what you are passionate about and run after it even if you are ridiculed in the process.

I pray you stand strong in your faith.

I pray you are who God created you to be and no one else.

 

Don’t let the world define you. Your identity is found in Jesus.

 

Be the YOU God created YOU to be. And smile when you look at yourself in the mirror knowing the God above loves you and made you just the way you are for a reason.

 

“Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.” Psalm 100:3

 

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” Psalm 139:14

 

“He has made everything beautiful in its time.” Ecclesiastes 3:11

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Dream BIG

Something I am learning is how to dream big. Dreams that are so big they are impossible without God!

big dreams

In January, God told me to dream big and I have been trying to figure out what my dreams are ever since. In figuring out my dreams, I am realizing what my passions are.

 

My passion is to be a life coach. I want to be someone people can come to, to encourage them and help them along their life journey to create goals and accomplish those goals and attain the dreams they have.

 

While I was on the World Race, I had the opportunity to walk alongside people on their journey, encouraging them, asking them needed questions, pointing them toward their end goal or reminding them to stay focused on the present and I LOVED it! It wasn’t until my World Race coach told me I should become a life coach that I knew what I was doing and what I loved actually had a name and a profession! Who knew?!

 

With discovering my passion I am learning how to dream. I want to have a career in life coaching and make it my own. I also want to have a beach house where people can come for a place of rest and enjoy God’s beautiful creation. Sitting on the back porch with a cup of coffee in their hand while looking out over the ocean and sitting in the peace and presence of God! Doesn’t that sound wonderful?

I know I can dream bigger. I know this is only a fraction of the dreams I can have with God on my side.

Are you a dreamer?

God wants us to dream. He wants us to do big things for his kingdom. We must believe that anything is possible with God by our side.

 set a Dream

In Genesis 12:1-3, God tells Abram that he will bless him and his name with be known among the nations

“Now the Lord said to Abram, ‘Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’ ”

 

God didn’t say it would be easy. Along the way to your dreams you will have people who will try to bring you down and stir you away from your dream. They will make fun of you, be negative, but don’t let that come between you and your dream!

 Confidence

Proverbs 16:3 “Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.”

 

Have dreams, and make sure they are according to God’s plan. How do you do that, you may ask? Well, ask him! We can talk to God like we talk to a person standing right beside us. We have access to him 24/7. Sit and be still and listen to the voice of the Lord. He will tell you what to do. And if you spend time with him and delight in him, your heart and his heart will be in tune and his desires will be your desires.

 

Psalm 37:4 “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

 

DREAM GOD-SIZED DREAMS!

You can do it!

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May the Lord bless you…

Blessing

May the Lord bless you.

May you carry the glow of his presence with you.

May he meet every need in your life.

May he provide you richly with the abundance of his blessings.

May the Holy Spirit be your helper,

who comes alongside of you and ministers to you

the things that are of God,

For those things do not ever pass away.

May you walk in glorious victory,

and may there not be those days when you say,

“It’s dark today”…

But may there always be the light of Christ

shining in you and through you.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

~ Gladys Johnson, 1987

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Facetime with God

Matt: I really like praying. It’s like Facetime with God, but you don’t need the app, or even a device. 

What a profound statement from my 7 year old godson. He said this to his Mom just earlier this week.  

It seems to me that many of us feel that we do not have direct access to God. Like we have to speak to a third-party because we are not worthy, or because we think someone else has a “better line” to heaven. 

I have a friend who always asks certain people to pray for her requests because she believes they have the “Watts Line to Heaven.” In fact, we all have that. Our direct line to heaven to speak to our Creator God is through His Son Jesus Christ. His sacrifice for EVERY SINGLE one of us bridges the gap of separation from God that our sinful nature causes. All we have to do is accept this gift of reconciliation.  

Do you remember reading in the Old Testament about the Priests who could only enter the Holy of Holies on certain days and had to be absolutely pure to enter without dying? There was a curtain there that separated the Holy of Holies, where God’s Presence rested, to protect the people. When Jesus died on the cross, that curtain ripped apart from the top to the bottom – signifying the new open line of communication between God and man. Matthew 27:50-51 “And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom, the rocks split, and the tombs broke open.” NIV 

Every one of us has this opportunity to speak directly to God. Prayer is sometimes viewed as just a set-apart time of quiet kneeling and fancy words. There is of course a time for that. But, praying is really just talking to Him. You can’t have a relationship with another human being without communicating your thoughts, feelings and love to them. The same is true of your relationship to God. Just talk. Anytime. He is there. He is listening. And be sure to pay attention, because He is sharing and talking to you as well.  

You don’t need a special app for Facetime with God. If you have accepted Jesus as your Savior, then your communication to God is direct – heart to heart, soul to soul, mind to mind.  

meeting Luca!

Go ahead. Start listening, and start talking. 

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