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Waiting for the door to open

When God closes a door….

We don’t usually talk about what we’re supposed to do after that – how we are to occupy ourselves after a door is closed. No, what we’re used to hearing, what we WANT to hear, is “…another one opens.” And, yes, it generally does!

What, though, do we do in the in-between time? The pastor that I had growing up frequently said “It’s what you do in the in-between times that matters.” For instance, it’s easy to praise Him when the proverbial door has opened wide and you’ve been ushered in. It’s easy to lift your hands and sing praises when He’s opened up a window from Heaven and poured out blessings.

It’s even pretty easy – moreso for some – when all hell is breaking loose because it’s all you feel you can do. You lift your hands, calling out to Him, trusting Him, because there is nothing and no one else.

When you’re just waiting, though, it’s a little different. Some of us long-time Christians call it “being in the desert.”

When God closes one door and has yet to open the next…

I tend to refer to this time, not as a desert, but I say, “I’m in a holding pattern.”

I don’t feel dry, after all. I simply feel like I’m in the waiting room. I know where I came from. I’m pretty sure of where I’m going (at least the direction).

I’m just not sure where the door is; or, if I do know the location, if I should open it yet. Maybe the window is shut to me for now.

The way I figure it I’m in the lobby for either of two reasons: 1) I’m not ready; or, 2) my destination is still begin prepared.

I have no way of knowing whether or not my destination is still being prepared as I’m not yet there. That leaves me with two options: 1) complain about being in the holding pattern for so long; or, 2) prepare myself so that I’m ready for whatever is behind that door.

Let’s look at it this way: I’m at the doctor’s office. I’ve been waiting for an hour. I can lose my patience, make a move to push things along faster (e.g., “I want to see the doctor now!”), only to find out that the doctor hasn’t seen me yet because he’s waiting with a patient that has just had a heart attack and is currently awaiting an ambulance. Essentially, I’ve made a fool of myself. The doctor is saving someone’s life while I’m yelling like a petulant child.

I sometimes feel like that’s how God sees us but His grace abounds.

I can try all of the various doctors on the street until I find one that will see me immediately. Yes, my temporary need – that of being seen, has been met; but, since I’ve ended up in a cardiologist’s office, I’m probably going to walk out no better than I was before because my problem was a broken bone.

Now, I’ve wasted the cardiologist’s time, my time, God’s time, and the original problem – my broken bone – has acute pain. Clearly, I didn’t choose well that time either.

What about this? What if I sit in the lobby patiently, with a good attitude? I pull out a notepad and begin writing down what I would like to discuss with the doctor. I might even open up my smart phone and look up all of the information available to me about this bone.

I’m prepared. I’m prepared to share my concerns, my options, my questions with the doctor. I’ve gotten so involved with my studying and preparation I didn’t even realize it was my name that was just called. “Coming right now!” I eagerly say.

“I’m so sorry for the wait,” the nurse will say; and, I will respond, “Oh, no sweat! I didn’t even notice the time, honestly. I kept myself busy figuring out what I wanted to talk to the doctor about.” The nurse is pleased now because I’m the fourth patient since the heart attack victim; and, I’m the first to not complain.

I go in and speak with the doctor and he’s pleasantly surprised that I’m prepared. I’ve saved his time. I understand the use of that bone and how this injury is going to effect me. I understand the hard work that lies before me. I know there’s going to be self-discipline involved and patience. These are two traits that I have already learned and practiced while sitting in the lobby!

Why do I share this scenario? Because, what are you doing in the waiting room?

What are you doing while in the waiting room?

Are you preparing yourself for the door to open? For your name to be called?

“…Have the belt of truth buckled around your waist, put on righteousness for a breastplate, and wear on your feet the readiness that comes from the good news of peace. Always carry the shield of faith, with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the Evil One. And take the helmet of salvation along with the sword given by the spirit, that is, the word of God…” (Ephesians 6: 14-17)

You see, we have a lot of preparation that has already been directed to us, assigned to us. These are our “Initial Patient Forms,” if you will. This is our prep work, the work we do, before we are called.

These forms are our foundation to our file. All other treatments and decisions will be based on what these documents say about us: our medical history, our current history, etc.

Your battle readiness is based upon your foundation of His word. Whether you can weather the storm is determined greatly upon how you fortified your soul.

God help me to do my homework during the holding pattern.

I want my “current state of health” to say things like, “She is surrounded by truth, covered in righteousness, and constantly sharing God’s good word. She walks in faith that cannot be extinguished in any situation. She is covered in His salvation and walks in God’s anointing at all times. She knows His word, lives His word, and is full of His word.”

What will your “current state of health” say?

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Blinders

I want you to imagine a horse with blinders on. Blinders are used to keep the horse focused on what is in front of it. Since the horse can’t see everything in it’s peripheral vision, it keeps the horse from becoming distracted or scared.

The horse looks towards the end of the row – it’s goal. So, for instance, if a dog runs up from the house, the horse will hear it; but, the horse will stay the course. If a snake should come into its path… it will tread on and over it; because, the horse’s goal is in sight – nothing else.

I would like to encourage you to first ground yourself in God’s word, assuring that you are walking as Christ did (1 John 2:6).

Then know this, “Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.” (Luke 10:19-20)

Don’t take the time to rejoice in your authority. Stay the course, focusing on God. Keep your blinders on. Once your with our Heavenly Father, look back and witness the trail you took in life and how it’s littered with snakes and scorpions that you were never even aware of; because, you were too focused on your goal, the end of your row, your God.

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Christmas Gift Ideas for Kids: Billy Graham’s God’s Good News

I received this book (no money) for my honest review and that’s what you always get!

Billy Graham remains one of the foremost pastors in America’s history, and parents, grandparents, pastors, teachers, and more will want this lovely edition of God‘s GoodNews for the children in their life to show them the way to the cross and to help them begin a lifetime of following Christ. God‘s Good News is a collection of more than 60 favorite Bible stories told in actual Bible text from the New King James Version, including Noah, Joseph, Moses, David, Jesus, and the disciples, and each story is equipped with a takeaway devotion from Rev. Graham. The takeaways will help children focus on God’s Word, apply it to their lives, and begin walking with God and sharing the good news from an early age. The striking artwork from Scott Wakefield will help children connect with the timeless Bible stories and messages from Rev. Graham.

Christianity is good news. . . . When we open up the Bible, it is good news from cover to cover. It’s the good news that God loves us.

—Billy Graham

This book is yet another part of the amazing legacy that Reverend Billy Graham leaves behind – him ministering, through book, to the next generation.

Graham starts this capturing Book by talking about what he always talks about – God’s love and how “it passes knowledge.” Graham was big on talking about how much God loves us and that tone is set from the very beginning in this book.

Separated – just as the Bible is – between Old and New Testaments, this story and devotion book prepares the youngest for independently reading the Bible.

Meanwhile, Scott Wakefield’s illustrations are making every story come alive in your child’s mind! His artistic interpretation, while beautiful, is realistic enough that the illustrations do not deviate from the Word while still being child-friendly.

Throughout this story and devotion book, your children will hear words directly from Billy Graham’s writings as well.

I highly recommend this book. I know that shouldn’t surprise most of you as it is the works of Reverend Billy Graham. His legacy and history, though, do not just give him an automatic seal of approval by me. Going through this book, I am very impressed with the stories that were included.

So many children’s devotionals include stories such as Adam and Eve, Noah, Esau, Jonah, and others. Many, however, do not include the Tower of Babel, Jacob’s ladder, Rahab, Gideon, Samson, Ruth, King Solomon, Josiah, Zacharias, the sermon on the mount, Zacchaeus, the prodigal son, the widow’s coins, Stephen, and many, many, more. This story and devotion book has more than 60 of them in it!

If you want to know what a child’s honest first thoughts are of this book, before you buy it, watch this short video:

https://youtu.be/pNTE6KfRFZM

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Bible Review & Giveaway: (in) courage Devotional Bible

*I received this book for an honest review and that’s what you’ll get. No money was exchanged.

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I was asked to review the new (in) courage Devotional Bible by Holman Bibles, written in the Christian Standard Bible translation. For those of you unfamiliar with CSB (Christian Standard Bible), don’t feel bad. It’s still fairly new. “It is a modern English Bible translation of the Christian Bible. Work on the translation was completed in June 2016, with the first full edition released in March 2017.”**

“The Christian Standard Bible (CSB) is a major revision of the 2009 edition of the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB). The CSB incorporates advances in biblical scholarship to improve upon translation decisions, word choice, and style. It also removes some of the novel features[which?] of the HCSB, based on feedback from Bible scholars, pastors, and readers.
The HCSB was translated by an international team of 100 scholars from 17 denominations. The HCSB New Testament was released in 1999, and the entire translation was released in 2004.
Work on the CSB revision was undertaken by the Translation and Review Team, a trans-denominational group of 21 conservative Evangelical Christian biblical scholars. Backgrounds represented include Southern Baptist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, conservative Anglican, and non-denominational Evangelical churches.”[4]

To put it short, Holman Bibles has taken the Bible and tried to make it easily readable without leaving out or discounting the Word Itself. My personal opinion is that this is a great starter translation. I have a 16 year old little cousin that is receiving one of the CSB Bibles from me as a gift soon. I truly believe this is a great translation for those who find it hard – for whatever reason – to sit down and delve into God’s Word.

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I often say this to people: I don’t care which translation you read so long as you start reading. A lot of people freak out when I say that but here’s my philosophy: if you’re really hungry for God’s Word, you’re going to want to know more and delve deeper. People can experience a church and walk away. People can experience Christians and walk away. A person doesn’t experience the true text of God, with a hungry heart, and merely walk away. They don’t have a true encounter with God and walk away. I’ve yet to meet one. So, my belief is that most Christians that hunger for God and His word will do as I did – they will evolve as their relationship with Him does. I didn’t start reading KJV.

I know. That’s shocking for many of you. Settle down. The fact is that when I was 16 it wasn’t doing it for me. The first Bible I actually read was The Precious Moments Bible. Know what translation that was? NKJV. That’s right – New King James Version; and, I really didn’t start delving into until I was around 15 or 16. If I had access to something like CSB, I would’ve delved much sooner.

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The beauty behind (in) courage Devotional Bible is that in this era of creative Bible journaling, Bible distributors are beginning to realize that many of us want to make notes and do devotionals within the one book. In a sync-my-phone-with-my-laptop-and-ipad world, we seek to simplify. Honestly, I like this because seeking God and reading about Him should be simple. Life is complicated, seeking Jesus shouldn’t be. 9781535924955.in01 (1)

The CSB (in)courage Devotional Bible invites every woman to find her story within the greatest story ever told—God’s story of redemption.

As you study God’s Word, 122 women from the (in)courage community come alongside you with 312 devotions, sharing stories of how God’s story has changed their lives. Because of His grace, they have found beauty in the brokenness and hope in the hard. With each devotion, they sing the praise of the One who has authored their story.”

Some of the features that are included in the (in) courage Devotional Bible are:

  • 312 devotions by 122 (in) courage community writers – women just like you and I
  • 10 distinct thematic reading plans
  • 66 book introductions connecting each book of the Bible to the whole biblical narrative
  • stories of courage from 50 women of the Bible
  • journaling space
  • topical index
  • two-column text
  • them verses
  • specialized presentation page

Not sure you want it just yet? Easy, you can actually download a sample!

If you are not quite sure if this is for you, I want to encourage you to consider picking a woman in your church – maybe a young woman or a new-to-Christ woman – and gift them this Bible. That’s what I’ve decided to do with my copy. The Lamb’s Book of Life has recently acquired a new name within it and I want to gift her this to show her how loved she is and to give her a stepping stone closer to Christ.

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**https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_Standard_Bible
[4]“Holman Christian Standard Bible: Original Translation Team and Translation and Review Team” (PDF)A PDF document containing the full list of original translators of the HCSB, and translators of the CSB.
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What 50 Years of Marriage Looks Like Today

Many people asked that I share what I said at my parents’ 50th Wedding Anniversary party. It was truly an amazing evening. The awe and happiness had nothing to do with the decorations nor the food. Most all of us were simply in awe of all that my parents had accomplished through Christ and inspired that we can, too!

First, the following is the speech I wrote and recited.

I understand that many of you won’t read this much (“It’s too long!” I said it faster than you’ll probably read it! 😂🏃🏾‍♀️); but, I also understand that there are many among us that need to hear the words within this and know that all things are possible with Christ who strengthens us!

…For those of you still getting to know me, you’re about to find out how – using my parents – God took me from a single mom of a 2 year old at 20 to a woman married to the man God made specifically for her for 12 years.

I could go into great detail but instead I’m going to take this opportunity to tell you some of the principles that I learned through my parents marriage that allowed me to recognize when my future husband found me and that he was indeed my future husband.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 talks about the value of a friend:

9 Two are better than one, Because they have a good reward for their labor.

10 For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, For he has no one to help him up.

11 Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; But how can one be warm alone?

12 Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him.And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

Possibly only those of us who have been married for at least a decade know why I would bring up friendship at a wedding anniversary party. You see, marriage…true GODLY marriage is built upon God, trust, and love. With those three principles amongst them how could two people not be or become the very best of friends. My parents have always had many friends such as many of those here this evening. No friend, though, has ever surpassed the title of “best friend” with either of my parents except for the spouse sitting alongside of them. My parents taught both my brother and I at an early age that there was simply no pitting one against the other – they were and are a team. Two are certainly better than one. “For if they fall, one will lift up his companion.” I was not a witness to many incidents of either of my parents falling. I don’t believe this is because they haven’t fallen because being 40, myself, I know that realistically that’s simply not possible that they did not fall. No…I truly believe that my parents simply caught one another before the other ever hit the ground. They were just that in tune with one another.

I have seen my parents go through the struggle of losing friends, the struggle of losing parents yet to Heaven, the struggles of Satan‘s attacks against their family. I’ve seen my parents go through the journey that is parenthood. I have seen the stresses of bills, air conditioning units going out, cars breaking down, their church breaking apart, and even a child running away.

Yet through it all, they were and are a threefold cord just as in Ecclesiastes 4:12. My mom is a strong piece of twine. My dad is an equally strong piece of twine. But until we all recognize that it is taking those two pieces of twine and wrapping them around that third piece, we will never truly attain what is God seeks for us to attain in our marriages. Because it is most definitely God that is the third of that threefold cord. And, every time my dad could be heard praying in the den… every time my mom could be heard on her knees in her bedroom… There was never any doubt in my mind that they were and are a threefold cord wrapped around God.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 is a passage we all know so well. “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.”

I want to talk about “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.” You see, God will truly never give you more than he is prepared to equip you for and, man, did He equip my parents. One of their children was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome at a time when no one had a clue what Tourette Syndrome was. Their other child was diagnosed with severe clinical depression at the young age of 16 which disrupted not only that child but the entire family. I can tell you that there are many adjustments, many battles, many hurdles. Yet, I will say that Love (that is God) bore it all. He bore all of the things. Love caused my mom to believe when she prayed and her prayers availed much. Their love hoped for all things – even the complete restoration of our family of which God provided. Love surely endured all things during that season. Love covered a multitude of things like words that can’t be taken back, actions that had consequences. And lastly, that love never ended – even to this day. That love has only grown stronger. Only the love of Jesus, the authentic love that is God, can do that.

1 John 4:16 says, “So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” and Colossians 3:14 says, “And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” My mom and dad showed me that God is love and if we would simply “put on love” and abide in Him – everything would come together in perfect harmony. That principle has been a strong one that has bound my husband and I together in the very toughest of times. It is a principle that has taken four individuals and turned them into an unbreakable family unit. No matter what the family went through….my parents always abided in Him as will David and I, as will Jocelyn and Elijah.

For just a moment I want to give you a little piece of insight into who Charles and Valree Miller are:

Song of Solomon 8:7 says, “Many waters cannot quench love, Nor can the floods drown it. If a man would give for love All the wealth of his house, It would be utterly despised.” If you asked my parents what they would go back and change, they would say nothing. There is no thing on earth that can quench their love nor is there a thing that can drown it because it is a perfect love forged in the fires that this world has forced them through and – just as the Bible references many times – their love has been refined and come out gold.

Proverbs 18:22 says, “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord.” The day my dad set his sight on my mom (or rather her legs as he would tell it) that day at the phone company so many years ago, he didn’t know to what extent but even then he knew he had found a good thing. Since then, He – as well as the rest of us – have obtained favor from the Lord because of her. Whether it has been her never questioning my dad anytime that he said God had spoken to him, whether it was any time my mother needed to speak confidence into my brother or I, whether it was the need of any family member that my mother would race to meet… Because of her we have obtained favor.

John 15:12-13 says, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friend.” That verse reminds me of the time that my father told me that He had God’s ear. He had obtained an honest-to-goodness audience with God Almighty and God asked him what he wanted. Did my dad ask for the bills to always be paid? For a promotion? No. He said he wanted my mother to have her promotion. He asked that she have His blessing on her career in Home Interiors and my mother received it that same day. My mom went on to earn everything from grandfather clocks to diamonds all because she was walking in the favor of God that my dad had asked for her. Her customers not only respected her but they loved her and many still treat her as family. What greater love is this?

When I was a single mother I quickly went to God and said, “You have to be everything now! You have to be my best friend, my Father, my Helper, my daughter’s Father,….everything!” Why? How did I know to run to Him immediately? Because my parents had taught me Psalm 143:8 through their own actions so very early on in life: “Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life.” Their lives are a testament that if you so choose to entrust your life to God, He will never fail you and you will reach heights you never imagined.

So, (to my mother and father) “Let your fountain be blessed, And rejoice with the wife of your youth. May the Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace. And may we all follow in your footsteps.

Second, I kept hearing the same word all night – sweet.

I want to make sure I say that because if you look in God’s Word you’ll find two things: good things are like a sweet aroma to Him and He likes sweet incense; and there are many, many, things of God that are sweet.

What a wonderful testament to hear, and feel, throughout the evening – that my parents were “so sweet!” I imagine God found them very pleasing, especially on this particular evening.

https://youtu.be/jhRmtpZbC60

*The topper on that cake was from my mom’s mom and dad’s 50th anniversary!*

I want to encourage you today to always choose the sweet way.

Finally: legacy.

Their daughter spoke of God.

Their granddaughter honored them by singing beautifully.

Their six-year-old grandson recited John 3:14-19 by memory.

Praise God His promises are Yes! and Amen!

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Book Review & Giveaway: Young Whit & the Traitor’s Treasure

* I was given this book, no money was exchanged, for my honest opinion of which you always will receive from me.

Young Whit & the Traitor’s Treasure is an Adventures in Odyssey book by Phil Lollar and Dave Arnold. It’s the first in the Young Whit series!

“This Odyssey book series explores the history of the much-loved character John Avery Whittaker. The series introduces newcomers to the larger world of Odyssey. For readers who are already Odyssey-philes, the novels provide the history of the franchise’s most important character.

Whit and his family (father, Harold; stepmother, Fiona; half-sister, Charlie) have just moved to Provenance, NC, in the middle of the Great Depression. Harold will be teaching at nearby Duke University. Not-quite-10-year-old Johnny soon makes a friend in Emmy, who lives across the street and joins him in his adventures. At his new school, he encounters a bully who makes his life miserable, and he makes a new friend in Huck, the custodian. Both of them play key roles in the mysteries and action.

The central mystery in book 1 involves Confederate gold missing since the end of the Civil War and the question of whether Johnny’s ancestor was the coward and thief who stole it, as everyone believes.”

My six (soon to be seven)-year-old immediately loved this book. The preface saddened him. The first chapter grabbed hold of his total attention. By chapter four, he was reading himself just to get more read!

While I would say this book is more targeted at 10 years and older, don’t discount younger ones if my son is any evidence. Every night he wants the next chapter.

The thing that I think I like the most about this book is that I have seen it touch the heart of my son. At such a young age, most boys are emotionally immature. I have seen signs of his heart growing and his sensitivity coming to awareness while reading this book. It’s been a beautiful process to watch.

I love that people such as Focus on the Family appreciate celebrating boys being boys (and girls being girls) all while encouraging them to be their best in Christ Jesus.

So, if you’re young adventurer needs or wants a new book to add to their library – that you know you can trust to be safe for their hearts and their minds – I greatly recommend this book. I plan on buying the entire series book by book.

Bible

Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.

No. I’m not going to talk about Nike, nor am I going to talk about Colin Kaeperinck. Though, I will admit, as a childhood athlete, a football fan, and a former military dependent I could say plenty. I’m going to do what I wish many would do – NOT make this about me.

Believe in something.

My first problem is with “something.” So…just any ol’ thing? Can I believe in unicorns? Leprechauns? What if we get serious here… Can I believe in racial supremacy? A one-world government? I mean “something” is a very general term when you’re talking about a message that is going around the entire planet!

Something, by definition, means “a thing that is unspecified or unknown.” If this world needs anything right now it’s certainly to know what, or WHO, they should believe in.

We live in a world where people are believing in themselves, politicians, governments, celebrities, and more to literally solve all of their problems.

You cannot solve all of life’s problems.

Your president can not solve all of life’s problems.

Your government causes more problems than it solves.

Celebrities don’t know or even understand most things you would consider a problem!

Now, you want to believe in equality? That’s great! You want to believe in peace? Awesome idea. You want to believe in others’ beliefs not being forced upon you? Me, too! You want to stand up for taking care of your fellow man? Most of us would probably agree.

Guess what? All of those things Christ would agree with too!

“What?! No! Jesus hates different people! He wants to make me into something I’m not and unhappy!” you may say.

You couldn’t be more wrong. Jesus talked to a woman at a well that would normally be treated like a dog. Not only did he partake of water from her paws…hands but He went on to offer her a solution to her life’s problems that included self-respect and love.

Peace? When Christ was about to be dragged away and punished for crimes He had not committed, His friend cut off the ear of one of the oppressors and Christ said, “Yeah! We can take’em!” No. Christ replaced the soldier’s ear, healed him, and chastened his friend.

“But…He wants to shove Christianity down my throat!” No. Actually He doesn’t.

See? His idea was to just keep going until you find someone receptive.

“Well, I’m more about worrying about others rather than myself.” Well, settle down Sanctimonious Sally because so was Jesus. Don’t believe me?

John 13:34

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.

1 John 4:19-21

We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.

Philippians 2:3-4

Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

1 John 4:7-21

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. …

1 John 4:11

Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

Matthew 5:43-48

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? …

I think you see where I’m going with this. The whole Bible is about love because God IS love!

Remember…

So, now that I’ve strategically shot down all of that, let’s talk about the rest.

Even if it means sacrificing everything.

Really?

I can’t.🤦🏻‍♀️ No, wait. I can. I actually, really, can.

Sacrificing everything?!

Sacrificing friends is part of life. It’s sad but true. As you change, many will fall by the wayside.

Sacrificing endorsements? How about never able to get anyone in earthly power to endorse you.

Sacrificing your career? How about sacrificing YOUR LIFE?!

How far have we fallen when we really think that a guy who makes millions and then millions more in endorsements is “sacrificing” ANYTHING?!

Jesus Christ was and is sinless yet He heaped upon Himself the sins of the entire world, was persecuted and made fun of, sneered at by His own hometown, and still He healed and delivered those that would crucify Him. He didn’t stop there, though! He took the ultimate punishment doled out. He had His flesh shredded, thorns shoved into the crown of His head. He was spat on, kicked. He was bruised, beaten, and had a spear shoved in his side. He had nails hammered into his wrists and feet.

He had His clothes ripped from Him and a mocking sign put above a His head. He died with no dignity whatsoever though He died for us!

How dare we think we know anything about sacrifice?!

So…

If you want to believe…believe in the One who has always believed in you – Jesus.

Even if it means sacrificing everything, because it very well could.

…and the list goes on.

I don’t care about shoes. I don’t care about headbands, shirts, basketball shorts, or Jordans. I believe in Jesus. Even if it means sacrificing everything.

http://youtu.be/wWl27j3V-rA

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Even so…

In the NKJV of the Bible the term “even so” is used 36 times. Do you know what “even so” means? It means “in spite of that.” It means “nevertheless.”

It’s a term that, when inserted, can flip the script on any situation in your life!

Watch this: “I see no end to this financial strain we’re under…EVEN SO my God is Jehoveh Jireh and has provided for me so far. I’ve never gone hungry.”

How about this: “My husband left me and my child, and I haven’t got a clue what tomorrow brings…EVEN SO my God has brought me safe thus far and He will take me forward, never leaving nor forsaking me!”

“This world seems like it’s going straight to hell. Sin is widely accepted as the norm. The value of life is no longer a consideration. EVEN SO nothing catches my God by surprise and His word has revealed to us that all of these things would come to pass; so, we WILL be diligent. We WILL soldier on. We WILL change lives. We WILL be about our Father’s business!”

I encourage you to add “even so” to your vocabulary today. I challenge you that every time you catch yourself, or someone else, worrying or complaining say, “Even so…” and watch how God can turn around lives right before your eyes. For we are a sinful lot that would be lost, EVEN SO…

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Review & Giveaway: Not My Jesus

This book was given to me (no money was exchanged) for my honest opinion and that’s what you’ll get! I am not an affiliate and receive no money from this or any purchases.

Warning: this book is not for the faint of heart. If that front cover doesn’t get that message across, nothing will! 😂

I began explaining the book to my first-grader (mainly because of the cigarette) and he wound up taking over saying, “Plus, Jesus was brown, with brown eyes because He was Jewish!” #HomeschoolWin

Ever heard the hashtag #NotMyPresident? If not, you’re probably not reading my blog and therefore I don’t need to explain😅. If you have, then you know that many have voiced their negative opinions of our current president by tagging their statements with #NotMyPresident. Bob Fabey, an Anglican priest, plays off this notorious hashtag with his book titled Not My Jesus.

This book is not about politics. It’s not about hipsters, cell phones, smoking, nor homosexuality. It is about who Jesus is not and who He is. More importantly, it’s about who Jesus is … to you!

I recently asked, on my Facebook page, “Who is YOUR Jesus?” These are some of the responses I received:

“The Way the Truth and the Life, never changing, never failing….. I do have to say “Your” Jesus…. is The Jesus… He can’t be changed to fit my needs or my wants/desires.” – Dawn L.

“My Deliverer! I’m so blessed that my Jesus thought enough of even me to sacrifice Himself and I will do my best to live my life to honor Him. Thank God for grace!” – Sabrina M.

“Interesting and difficult prompt. I would say that “my” Jesus, the one I normally think of, is less passionate, less humble, less concerned about me, less confrontational, and less interesting than the Jesus that I encounter in reading, meditating, and praying.” – Patrick M.

“My deliverer and strong tower, yet my precious God who holds me in every instance of my life. He never fails and is always there when I need him, gently leading and guiding. I love my Jesus!” – Sue G.

“Love.” – Victoria R.

“My Jesus is a radiant light that guides me on my path. He’s my savior, my redeemer, and His love knows no bounds. Even when I’ve gone astray, his mercy and love pulls me back in. ” – Tiffany R.

“Creator – through Him everything was made that is made. Healer – by His stripes we are healed. Savior – no one comes to the Father but by Me. Redeemer – full of grace and truth (John‬ ‭1:14‬). He has redeemed me from the bondage of sin and given me life everlasting and joy unspeakable and full of glory.” – David M.

For myself, Jesus is so much. He is an incomparable friend, yet one that holds me accountable. He is grace and mercy, yet soul-jarring conviction. He is healing and provision, yet also guidance and wisdom.

Fabey starts right out the gate, grabbing you by the ears, describing many people’s versions of who Jesus is. He even references the now infamous Talladega Nights prayer many of us know where Ricky prefers his Jesus to be 8 pound, 6 ounce, newborn infant Jesus.

He goes on, after describing everything from Santa Jesus and black Jesus to judgmental Jesus and blonde Jesus, to share some “Jesus tweets.” Many of these “tweets” will be shocking to a lot of readers. What’s sad is that they should not be. Because Fabey is doing nothing more than quoting Jesus from the Bible.🤷🏻‍♀️

Fabey challenges his readers:

“We frequently see Jesus as of looking through a keyhole, unable or unwilling to see a bigger picture. In fact, the sad truth is we make Him out to be what we want. In short, He looks like us. He carries our wants, wishes, ideas, and leanings with a spiritual spin. This gives us the divine right to feel, act, or think the way we do because Jesus did it that way. He is used to justify our biases and, in turn, becomes nothing more than a caricature of the flavor of the day – our preferred flavor.”

After reading this book – a book full of humor, sarcasm, bluntness, reality, and truth – I was left with the question, “Who is this book intended for?” Is this book for mellenials, the confused, new in Christ, people looking for a laugh? After all, Fabey goes off the rails if you compare his book to mainstream Christian books. I can’t imagine anyone of my grandparents snuggling up to this one. He doesn’t mince words nor does he cater to sensitivities. So… I simply emailed Fabey and asked.

His response:

“I am targeting the millennial crowd. Especially the de-churched.”

Honestly, his response gave me a lot more peace about this book. Millennials (many but not all) have developed during a time of segregation. There is now segregation of thought, belief, feelings. Fabey actually addresses this in his book and how detrimental it can and will be. This is one of the points that he makes that I wholeheartedly agree with – that at one time we could simply agree to disagree. Now, if we disagree we can’t be friends. We’ll take our ball and go home. No, it’s not as simple as that but in some ways…it is.

For instance, it’s very difficult to understand how one person can know that there is a living being inside of someone else and be OK with the killing of it; yet, if I shut down all dialogue with them how will I be any different from those that would simply turn a blind eye? Am I not to open up a conversation with those people on how precious that life is, possibly changing their minds into a direction that is not my perspective but that of Christ’s?

He talks about the power of “Othering.” Othering is when we have a “Oh…them 😒” mentality.

Fabey, I believe, is trying to redirect a generation from the “My Jesus is okay with me just as I am” mentality to the truth of Christ and who He was (and is) that day He met a woman at the well.

Let’s be honest: Christ called her out. She was living a life many would call a Jerry Springer life and Jesus called a spade a spade. He didn’t leave it there, though. He gave her hope and a reason to change her life. That is who Jesus really is – He is truth even when it hurts but He’s also grace and love. The problem, as Fabey points out, is that many want one without the other – truth and judgment (without grace) for their oppressors, or grace and love (without truth) for themselves. That’s simply not who Jesus is.

So that being said, if it takes Fabey being somewhat controversial or “in your face” to get a dialogue going about who Jesus really is, then who am I to say that his delivery is shocking or insensitive?

In all, I wouldn’t say that I disagree with Fabey. I would say we share different perspectives about a few things and we would certainly differ in our delivery. I can imagine that we would have a very colorful and interesting conversation over coffee if he and I were to sit together.

I found myself disagreeing with Fabey, or at least the way he conveyed something. Some of his views and opinions are pretty extreme to me. Yet, many times I found myself saying, “Yes! Exactly!”

One such example is when Fabey references Matthew 13:38 where Jesus is calling people weeds that can potentially choke things or other people out. They – weeds – grow in the wrong place. If you’re in the wrong place you’re a potential problem. You need to know where you belong otherwise you are going to “clog up the works.”

His book takes you from who you may think Jesus is, through a journey of how dangerous misinterpretation can be and onto the promise and potential of who you – and this world can be – if we can grasp who Jesus truly is.

I would agree with Fabey that this book is for millennials and the de-churched. I would add that this is for the prideful, somewhat close minded, those that are absolutely convinced that their mind cannot be changed. This book is for the Christian and the unbeliever. I would also say that this book is for people who simply like to see different perspectives. This book is for groups who like to just talk about Jesus and how this generation, or world, relates to Him today.

*I would probably not give this book to someone brand new in Christ as many of the topics are for people who are already at one extreme or the other, not someone who is in a transitional period with God.

There is a lot of information packed into a very small book. This is not just a book of flash and fancy but a book that is referencing who the messiah is, how important He really is, why Jesus is the way that He is.

If you read this book, I cannot wait to hear your take on it! I would definitely say that this is a book club book. This is a conversation starter to be sure. With such topics as, “Who is your Jesus?” “Which generation should we turn back to?” “Are our Jesuses the same?” “What is truly a zealot?” I could go on!

Can’t wait to see if you’ve won? Buy it here…

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Hearing God In the Now…

Buckle up…this is a long one and I’m probably going to ruffle some feathers.

I am overwhelmed with the repeating words, resounding in my mind like a trumpeting horn, “not my will, but Yours be done.”

I’m increasingly concerned with the people of God, their leaders (not just pastors, but leaders, teachers, praise team members, etc.) especially, not being led by God in the NOW. I will explain my use of “in the now” in a moment.

Jesus Christ – Himself – said in Mark 14:36, “…Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou will.”

Christ knew ALL things were possible; but, He did not want it to be His way. He wanted it to be God’s way. I’m sure Christ, in his infinite wisdom, could have constructed a great way; but, it would not have compared to God’s PERFECT way.

How did Christ know what God’s way was? He didn’t have a Bible to finger through and find the section on “fearing for your life and carrying the weight of the sin of the world on one’s shoulders.” I’ll tell you in three simple words, though He be a very complex and overwhelming being: the Holy Spirit.

Matthew 3:16 tells us very clearly that Christ received the “Spirit of God.” It says, “As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him.” In the English Standard Version it says, “the Spirit of God descending like a dove and settling on him.”

There is such a thing as a “rhema” word. I really like the way James Rae explains the term “rhema” on Sharefaith.com. The word rhema means, “an utterance.” It’s used to refer to a word received that applies to your current situation or need. He goes on to say, “With this understanding, Christians can count on the written words contained in the Bible to have deep and personal meaning to their lives. And it is the Holy Spirit who enlightens believers when reading a Scripture, with the goal of imparting wisdom, knowledge or understanding in order to have an immediate impact.”

Not every Christian is fully aware, but rather it’s tucked away in their subconscious, that the Bible has been translated many times before you get your handy-dandy Message version. Keeping that in mind, also be aware that there are words in our language that cannot be interpreted in other languages; because they have no word for it and that works vice-versa as well. The word “rhema” is one such word. The best way we can put it is as James Rae does when he says that it is (forgive my abbreviation) an on-time utterance.

Now, if we are to refer to Matthew 4:4, where it says, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word [rhema] that proceeds out of the mouth of God” and In John 6:63 where Christ confirms the use of this rhema revelation by saying, “The words [rhema] that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life,” then each Christian has an imperative, possibly life-changing, question they must answer for themselves.

Do you believe God speaks today?

Notice I did not say, “Is His written word speaking to you, today?” That is understood, it’s a given. His word is always fruitful, always valid, and will always speak to someone willing to hear it.

Further, as a side note to avoid any confusion, I would like to add that a rhema word, whether delivered by reading the Bible, the utterance of tongues, or a word dropped into one’s heart or mind, will NEVER contradict God’s written Word. If it does, that’s not God.

In 2 Timothy, Paul says, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” So, please do not for even a moment assume that I am saying anything other than exactly what I am – that God speaks through us through His written word but ALSO through His Holy Spirit, TODAY. That is to say He speaks to us in addition to His written word. The Word of God is just as valid today as it was when it was first being chiseled and penned; and, a word given by the Holy Spirit – by whatever method – is equally as valid.

The key ingredient that we must not miss, though, is “rhema.” Why would God speak a rhema word? Because you need to hear it NOW!

He is not a God that sits atop a thrown, inaccessible to His children. Your earthly father would be called “a dead beat dad” if he never spoke to you. Wouldn’t he? How much more of a father is God to us than our earthly father? If we know how much greater a father He is, then we should logically assume that He would want to speak to us, currently – now, in our every day endeavors.

To give a more specific example: If I were standing on a ledge ready to jump and my dad, saw me, he would lovingly tell me that he was there for me and that I didn’t need to give up – he would help me through whatever was going on. How much more would my God do?

I’ll tell you. When my daughter was a toddler and her father and I were going through a lot, life became very overwhelming for me. The only person who knew that I had seriously considered taking my own life was my husband. Long story short, I was at the end of my rope and sat, numbly, in a pew one Sunday as a visiting pastor preached a good sermon that had nothing to do with what was going on in my life. At the end of the service, though, he called everyone who “desperately needed a touch from God” to come forward for prayer.

I will be honest, I didn’t even really realize I was standing at the alter until I looked up and saw that I was there with my husband at my side. I waited, silently crying, for this visiting pastor to come over, pray for me, and for me to walk away disappointed. After all, I had lost all hope. I wasn’t in that place where you run to God expectantly. However…we froze, stunned, as this man laid his hands on my head, began praying, and then suddenly paused and then lowered his voice and said with authority, “And, devil, I rebuke this demon of suicide plaguing this daughter of God! She is a child of the King!”

As the weight of the world and all of my hurt – feeling as if I was not even a blip on God’s radar, washed away. The Holy Spirit descended upon me in such a powerful way that I can truly say that I will forever remember how soothing the Balm of Gilead truly is.

You see, in that moment God knew that the only thing I needed to know was not how to fix my problems, where to find direction in His written word, but simply that God was aware and was there with and for me.

That pastor spoke a rhema word, given to him by an utterance of the Holy Spirit, that FOREVER changed my life. Sure, the devil tried to tempt me with suicide again. The thing is, not only has it never been a temptation since receiving that revelation; but, whenever depression descends upon me, I remind myself that God is aware and watching me, with love, knowing that through Him I have the power to get out of bed and put one foot in front of the other.

Why did I tell you all of that? Because a rhema word is what this world needs. This world is suffering from problems never before conceivable to mere man. Now, more than ever, we need to hear from God.

Please note that I did not say that we need another prophet. Prophets are great (when authentic) yet they come and go. Some are false and some are as true as the day is long. You don’t need a prophet, though, to hear from God. God is just as accessible to you as He is to anyone else. When apostles laid hands on people, the Holy Spirit was not coming from them. Acts 19 tells us that when Paul laid hands on some believers from Ephesus the Spirit came epi, upon them, not dia, through him.

We were given this wonderful gift of the Holy Spirit, from God, so that we don’t have to walk through the desert following after a prophet to whom God only speaks to. The only thing you need to hear a rhema word from God is to have the Holy Spirit residing within you.

A prophet has to be followed; but, God is accessible everywhere at all times. Didn’t Christ say in John 14:12 “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me, the works that I do he will do also, and greater works than these he will do, because I am going to the Father”? We can hear from God just as Christ and his apostles did.

I’m always blown away when we read that Christ – Himself – and His apostles did things a certain way but we seem to either think it’s beneath us, we’re too smart to have to do it that way, or we’re just too careless to assure that we’re doing it His way – that the very foundation of our every day lives be constructed in His way. I want to repeat that: “to assure that the very foundation of our every day lives be constructed in His way.” The very basis of our foundation should be believing that God manifested Himself into man; He died for our sins, so that we could live again; and, He sent us a comforter, the Holy Spirit, that should reside within us to direct our paths. Why are we skipping the third part? That’s like leaving the water out of the concrete mix and then wondering why it’s not setting up properly!

In Acts 19:1-7, Paul met some disciples of John the Baptist. He thought that they were believers in Christ, after hearing their talk of repentance. Paul, sensing something was missing, asked them the question, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” This passage, and others, proves that Paul believed that it was possible to be a believer in Jesus without receiving the Holy Spirit. If receiving the Holy Spirit was automatic upon receiving salvation, then why did Paul ask, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”

Christ, during his ascension, told us that he would leave us “a Comforter.” If Christ said He was leaving us a Comforter, we need this Comforter!

Why would the Bible refer to the Holy Spirit as a “comforter?” What is a comforter? A comforter is “a person or thing that provides consolation.” “Consolation” is defined as “comfort received by a person after a loss or disappointment, a person providing comfort to a person who has suffered.”

Allow me to take you back to the beginning of all of this where I referenced Christ’s illustration of choosing God’s way over His. A counselor can be a wonderful person to go to who will have good ideas of what to say to you; but, I want you to think about how much more your grief would be sated if you heard from the one person who actually knows exactly what to say to give you a peace that passes all understanding. I want you to consider how awesome it would be to have access to someone who is so inundated with the Holy Spirit that, if you’re too blinded by grief, confusion, hurt, etc., they can be a conduit of God to deliver a rhema word to you just as that visiting pastor did for me that day.

Yes, His written word can be a comfort to us, guidance, and more; but, Christ was leaving with us a living Comforter, in addition to a written account of His words.

We need to receive the Holy Spirit because God is a personal God – a God that wants to tailor His conversation specifically to you, not merely give you a generic word that you can apply to every situation.

Again, he is just as accessible today as he was 2000 years ago. The only question each of us needs to ask ourselves, and our leaders, is why are we/they not following a path set before us paved by His rhema word in our lives? Why are we following a generic path that we have drawn based on the few things we have assumed we fully understand from His written word. Our senior pastors, associate pastors, worship pastors, youth pastors, children’s pastors, counselors, Sunday school teachers, praise team singers, praise band members, missionaries, …all of those people that would teach the Church about discipling should be anointed by the power of the Holy Spirit and be in such constant communication with God that they have vision, words, and specific application to add to His kingdom. Just as they should have this, so should each and every one of of God’s children.

In conclusion, I just want to finish out a word from THE Word, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.”