Tis The Season – For a Change of Heart

I should probably preface this post by saying it is not at all strange for me to be thinking or daydreaming about all things Christmas, no matter what time of year it is. You see, I am a Christmasaholic. Even as I sit in my rocking chair on my front porch enjoying this beautiful 72 degree May evening in Kentucky; I can’t help but wish it was almost Christmas again.

My mind was repeating, the song “Pretty Paper” by Randy Travis. If you’ve ever heard it, I’m sure the unique voice of Mr. Travis is ringing through your ears with those familiar words. I slowly rock back and forth as I watch the sunset over the horses in the field, humming the holiday tune. But the rocking stopped, and I felt myself scowling as I paused on the following lyrics:

“Crowded street, busy feet, hustle by him
Downtown shoppers, Christmas is nigh
There he sits all alone on the sidewalk
Hoping that you won’t pass him by
Should you stop? Better not, much too busy
You’re in a hurry, my how time does fly
In the distance the ringing of laughter
And in the midst of the laughter, he cries….”

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My feelings of holiday spirit quickly shifted to ones of concern and sadness. How often have I been guilty of that very thing? How many times have I been too busy or distracted to notice someone I could help? I’m flooded with conviction as I think of this morning’s drive to work. It was pouring rain; I could hardly see through the windshield. Through the rapid swiping of the wipers I could see a man riding his bike in the same direction I was headed. A raincoat synched around his face and wearing a backpack; I am confident he was doing what he could to get to the school that’s a few miles down the road. The next thing I know, I am looking at him through my rearview mirror as I drive on. I could’ve stopped. I could’ve put his bike in the back of my SUV and got him out of the rain. Yes, I would’ve gotten drenched, and I had no way of knowing if he was a good person or not (you know, all the excuses I let justify me not doing the right thing). But isn’t that the point? Sacrificing for someone else?

Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God. Ephesians 5:2

My heart aches at the thought that our world, or should I say, the people in it, can be described much more accurately by the lyrics of that Christmas song than by the example set by our savior.

Think about the last time someone did something nice for you that was a complete surprise. Those moments in life when people go the extra mile to encourage and lift us up really makes us feel special. Why do their actions have that effect on us? I’m sorry to say that they probably stand out because it’s so different from what we experience the rest of the time. Day in and day out, most of us are forced to deal with people who care more about themselves than they care about others.

We have allowed ourselves to become a people who are no longer willing to carry the burden for someone else. We make every excuse in the world to justify our behavior. “I’ve got my own problems; I can’t worry about them right now.” “Someone else will do it; I just don’t have time.” Or my favorite, “I just don’t feel called to do that.” So engulfed in the business and worldly things we have worked so hard for; we are suffocating from our toxic self-centeredness as we choke God out of every aspect of our lives and effortlessly make those in need around us invisible. Just look away, don’t make eye contact…the second you are out of sight, they are out of your mind.

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These quotes from Francis Chan’s book Crazy Love are spot on:
“God’s definition of what matters is pretty straightforward. He measures our lives by how we love.” – Chan isn’t referring to how we love our families and friends. And neither is God.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments. Matthew 22:37-40

You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. Matthew 5:43

How are you doing in that area of life? How often do you find yourself showing love, compassion, and respect for those that aren’t your favorite people in the world? One of God’s greatest commandments is for us to love our neighbor as ourselves. To regard their needs and desires as highly as we regard our own. THAT is what God measures our lives by…are we imitating the life of our savior and putting the needs of others above our own?

“It is true that God may have called you to be exactly where you are. But, it is absolutely vital to grasp that he didn’t call you there so you could settle in and live your life in comfort and superficial peace.”

Chan is reminding us that God didn’t create you and me to merely exist and make our goal in life to get as much money as possible so we can be as comfortable as possible. He puts us where we are because He has something for each of us to do at that very moment. I passed that man on his bike and FAILED! God’s plan was still fulfilled. Someone did stop to help him. I drove right past an opportunity to serve and glorify God and be used by Him out of complete and utter selfishness. So He used someone else. That shouldn’t be a relief to anyone. I want to stand before a Holy God and hear Him say, “Well Done Daughter, Well done.” Not, “Is this all you did with the time I gave you.”

“Do you know that nothing you do in this life will ever matter, unless it is about loving God and loving the people he has made?” – I don’t think Mr. Chan needs my help explaining this one at all, do you?

Tounge-Tied

I find it interesting to find out what dictionaries give as a definition of things we already know. Sometimes they have things I never knew.  Take the word “tongue” for example; The Merriam Webster Dictionary states this: “a fleshly movable muscular process of the floor of the mouths of most vertebrates that bears sensory end organs and small glands and functions especially in taking and swallowing food, and in humans as a speech organ.” So in this definition, the last part caught my attention, “in humans as a speech organ.” I don’t know if I ever considered we have an “organ” for speech.  Now, when I hear the word “organ” I automatically think of an instrument that makes beautiful music, not necessarily an organ like our lungs. 

Now, if the person playing the organ is experienced, they play beautiful music, but if someone plays it and doesn’t have a clue what they are doing it sounds like cats running across the keyboard. So, this got me to thinking about our tongues and if we are using them to make beautiful music or ugly sounds.

There are several scriptures about our tongues. Seriously, get a concordance and look the word tongue up, and you will learn a lot about what God says about our tongues.  One that comes to mind is Proverbs 15:2-4 (there are a lot about tongues in this book) “The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, but the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness. The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good. A wholesome tongue is a tree of life, but a perverseness in it breaks the spirit.” Another one is Proverbs 21:23 “Whoever guards his mouth and tongue keeps his soul from troubles.” One more Philippians 2:11 “and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Now, I hope and pray that the tongues we are using to tell others that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior, is not being used to “break the spirit,” or get our “soul in trouble.”  I pray each one of us is making sweet sounding music with our organs; but if this is something you struggle with ask God to take control of your instrument. Ask Him to help you to control it and only use it to make great praise music for this world to hear, and to tell others that Jesus is Lord of Lords!

If you do not know Him as your Lord and Savior I invite you to stop reading right now and take this opportunity to confess to Him you are a sinner and you need Him to come into your heart and save you. It will be the best thing you will ever do, and it is a life changer!!

                                                                                    God Bless,

                                                                                    Rhonda Lange

“Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”

God Sited

Today I want to start out by opening up first thing in prayer. Let’s prepare our hearts for what God is leading through my post this morning.

Dear Heavenly Father we come to you in preparation for what this post represents of you this morning. How you want to allow others to get engaged with you this morning. Lord you know I understand my place in this ministry and I gladly accept what you are doing to help me grow closer with you. Lord I pray that in the midst of these posts we together help others see you. Father God Thank You for always showing up and showing out in my life and others around me. There isn’t an ounce of my day that I don’t recognize your divine appointments or mercy. I am grateful that you loved us so much, that you sent Jesus to die on the cross, so we can have everlasting life. Help us to be aware of your presence and be joyful in it. We praise your Holy Name. Amen!

Below is where I got this Blog post inspiration from. I encourage you to give it a listen.

https://www.desiringgod.org/messages/ten-aspects-of-gods-sovereignty-over-suffering-and-satans-hand-in-it#full-audio

God is sovereign! I hope you realize that. In the magnitude of aw….because no matter what your circumstance, he still remains the ruler of the universe and has the key to unlocking its adventure.

I’ll give you my interpretation.

Yesterday for example…. I was asked to join a conference meeting with a friend to support her ministry Women of Worship. I was given little information regarding its purpose. My goal initially was to speak of the ministry that is dear to my heart and give it an introduction in hopes that I could get the ministry plugged in the area. It’s outside our country and it’s hard to get the support it so needs when others are not familiar with what is going on outside our countries borders. Imani Milele Children Minisrty from Uganda Africa is a fantastic organization to partner with because of their faith but more over because they are humans needing help to sustain a life in this world. So I thought that I was only going to be a voice for them. Advocating for their mission. Goodness was I wrong.

While listening to the PowerPoint I could feel tears filling up in my eyes. The director of W.O.W Ministry was on point about the churches responsibility in the communities and how we have allowed the government to take over the areas that the church is responsible for. That we are missing the mission of reaching people for Christ and ultimately leading them to an undesirable place. We are so caught up in our own lives that we are missing the point of Jesus’s entrance and exit of the earth. Do you hear what I’m saying? We are failing miserably.

Listening to the examples of whom has been a recipient of the “access to God” I’m going to call it of the ministry W.O.W, a young woman sat listening and occasionally speaking. She was doodling a picture of a beautiful woman wearing a crown with the W.O.W logo. She was beautiful herself. The spirit of God was in her. You could tell though that she had been hurt deeply. She was the product of a life cycle that many are. The one where life feels as though it’s all consuming dysfunction is endless.

She had been listening to what the Devil was telling her in her mind. So she made up her mind that she wasn’t worthy of a good life. She was making one bad choice after the other. Than a woman of God was placed before her ( Courtney Hamilton W.O.W Leader)…. literally, she is seeing her worth. Turning completely away from her old self. Going from “I’m not worthy of mothering my child” to now saying “God is my refuge and he will build me up, he will help me raise my child.” Listening to her speak of the past to present situation was inspiring. She is a former foster child and so am I. I’m almost 20 years older. I was that girl to an extent. I know exactly where she is at.

A Pastor asked the women of worship director ” what is the end Goal for the ministry?” I raised my hand. I said “it’s me.” To be the hands and feet of Jesus, help others come to know him, help others to be able to see that their circumstances didn’t define who they are to become through the works of Christ in them. It was a divine appointment and the Holy Spirit saturated the room. He strategically placed each one of us at that time to shine on his great works. Goodness you had to be there.

(Read James 1:2-27)

In our lives we tend to loose focus of what our purpose is. We loose sight by our difficulties. By the loss of loved ones, natural disasters, sicknesses, financial obstacles, I mean, the journey through distractions from God are endless. Understanding where they stem from is important and who is in control. Satan is real y’all! He is here to kill, steal, and destroy. The best news is that GOD IS REAL TOO! He is SOVEREIGN! The KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS! He is able to move us by our willingness to let him into our lives through having a personal relationship with him. He desires our hearts. After all, we owe him that for all he has done for us, right!

The things God has done for me are phenomenal! He took an orphaned girl and turned her into a “Daughter of a King.” I’m God’s princess and I’m not looking back. He has shown me that through his vision for me that I am worthy and able to overcome many obstacles and I’m here to tell you, you can too! Just know who is the ruler of them and who is the enemy! Call out to Heaven while rebuking the Devil. You have his power and authority to do so. Take up the armor he has equipped you with. Things in this life are temporary. Joy comes in the morning.

(Read Hebrews 12:7-12)

Be Enlightened! Be Encouraged! Know you are Blessed! Love Like Jesus…by this they will Know!

“Let Your Light Shine”

This past weekend I had the pleasure to join 30+ women in a spiritual journey that honestly has no words to describe except anointed! Before I try to describe how wonderful my journey was, let’s get started by saying a quick prayer.

Heavenly Father you are so Good! How amazing you are for all the things you show us each and every day through your works in our lives. Thank you God for your provisions in our lives. For always doing what is ultimately best for our walks alongside you. Life is unexpected and unpredictable but you are always there to build us up when we can’t seem to see past our adversity. Lord God I lift up each individual taking the time to read each blog that has been brought to life here in this blog space. I ask that the words be used as encouragement and that the light of Jesus shines through. In Jesus mighty name, Amen!

Thursday April 11, 2019 I started my journey to Emmaus. If you have never heard of the Walk to Emmaus, let me shine a bright light to help you understand it’s soul purpose. It’s a spiritual adventure that equips you to walk closer with God. It works from the inside out. You have no choice but to face the issues on hand that are keeping you from being your absolute best for God and the individuals that need to see God in you. Take a look at the link below.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=PvS8AJOZs4s&feature=youtu.be

Incredible right! How can you not make a decision to go on a spiritual journey? I know how.

For years I avoided going even though the Lord kept sending people to remind me he was calling me. I said no, not right now because I was waiting on someone else, I am too busy, my family needs me, read between the lines of your own excuses. The thing is, I was being disobedient. I’ve known for years that I had been called and my own fears kept me from growing spiritually. Kept me from having freedom from my captivity that inquired over all the years of my life.

I’m a spiritual individual that plugs God every chance I get. Yet, I was failing at the magnitude of it. I truly didn’t quite understand the intensity of my influence in the community and my family as I do now. I confess that I didn’t always express the behavior and example what I could have, had I been free from the bondage keeping me from responding the way I needed to through the adversity I faced. For that I ask for forgiveness. I am sorry. I know that after this past weekend I am forgiven for failing to shine the light on Jesus the way he deserves it. Failure brings humility. Let’s agree that it promotes change. Change to want to do things a better way than before.

I was asked what did I learn from my experience this weekend? At the closing ceremonies I said that I learned that we all are from different denominations, different races, and we all have the same goal. We are all chasing the same God. God isn’t discriminatory, he is a just God ready to walk along side each of us differently but in ways that we can relate to one another through the ups and downs life has to offer. He is constantly pursuing us and extending his hand out to show us how capable we are if we trust his way over our own. He literally wrapped his arms around me this weekend for the second time that my head was clear enough to feel it. It was indescribable!

Throughout the weekend God placed some really amazing women, who were complete strangers in my life that I’d like to say are my newest best friends. Each story we each had, we all knew something about because a part of our own personal journeys paralleled each other’s. The meetings were ordained. God knew we would be together, at that moment with each other, at the exact moment we needed it.

My Name is Cassie Fowler

Purchase Area Walk to Emmaus #138

Where I sat at the table of Sarah

I worship at “Gospel Mission”

(Church of Christ) inside joke!!!

These pictures were taken early in the weekend but I promise our smiles were much bigger and brighter the day we were going home. Even after being exhausted I could smile ear to ear with what I had experienced.

Goodness in reflection of this past weekend from the worship songs, to the agape team, the wonderful food, the chapel time, quiet time, story time, prayer time, pastoral influences and communion…. if you haven’t yet experienced this, please do make a commitment to go. If you have questions just leave me a message. I’d love to help you find the perfect walk for you. Emmaus was the light I needed in my journey and I guarantee you would agree with me after you experience the same as I did. The weight is gone! I left it at the cross! It’s no longer mine and I’m not picking it back up!

In conclusion to this post I hope that I’ve enabled the desire in your hearts to want to know more about the Walk to Emmaus. You will be richly blessed by the experience. Take my word for it, I am forever changed by my adventure to Emmaus. I will choose to be a light that will shine ever bright.

Be A Light! A Bright one, not a dim one.

Read Luke 24:13-35

Be encouraged, Be Grateful, Be Thankful, Be Blessed because you can and Are! May God continue to show you, through his works, the lamp to light your feet!

De Colores!!!

“Excitement Of The Game”

By Rhonda Lange

Well it’s that time of year when football is over, basketball is over, and now it’s time for baseball. I’ll be honest with you, I am not a sports fan; but I do know it is exciting to watch. Sometimes, I think, a little to exciting; because something about a sporting event makes us lose our minds. We rush home to watch a game, stay home to watch a game, we will make sure nothing gets in our way to go to the games, we will even schedule other events around a game. And oh my, if our child is the game we really lose it sometimes. We get so caught up in the excitement, we will sometimes act and talk ugly. I read the other day that an official of a game was attacked by a coach, Wow!

It is a fun exciting thing to watch; but what does this really do for the community, state, or even the world? Not much, the game doesn’t affect anything except the team’s chance for a championship –then what? What do our actions affect at this event? It can affect a lot.

What if we were to take all this excitement we have for our sports, or whatever we are excited about (camping, fishing, boating, hunting, shopping, etc); and put it into our love for Jesus and His people? I wonder what that would look like to our families, communities, churches, and even the world? What a difference we could make, if we did this. Now, that would be a game to watch; however, this is no game! This is the time for us to let people see how much we love Jesus – show Him to the world and don’t keep Him to ourselves.

Deut 6:5 says “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength“.

Psalm 119:165 says “Great peace have those who love Your law; and nothing causes them to stumble”.

Matt 5:43-44 says “You have heard that it was said ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy’. But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you”.

John 13:35 says “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another”.

(Deut 6:6-8; Psalm 31:23; Matt 15:12-14; Romans 13:10; 1 Corth 13:4-7, 13; and 1 John 4:12, 21)

Let’s show our families, communities, and this world what Jesus’ disciples look like, so when we are at a game, camping, fishing or whatever we usually put before Him; put Him first, remember His commands, and let’s put our Love for Jesus on and love others as He loves us. When we love Him with all our hearts, soul and strength; our words and actions will fall into place. Remember, scripture also tells us, what is in our hearts will come out of our mouths, so lets be sure that is Love and kindness.

*NKJ version used for these scriptures

Babies Breathe

First let’s pray as we set this notion in motion. Heavenly Father we come to you with the blinders off. We expose the darkness for its true value. Lord help us to recognize the devil at his schemes. He will not kill, steal, and destroy if we don’t allow him to. Give us the wisdom to stop him from doing harm to our relationships with family, friends and the community we live. God we know where our help comes from but we need the nudge at times to remind us to look up, to get down on our knees and pray like we have never before. Beyond just praying is the believing part. You can, you are able and you will see that the very best is completed with the most Love shown. We are undeserving. Thank You for forgiving our sins. God you are so Good. Thank You Jesus for your life and for becoming our Savior. In your precious name, our gratitude which is insufficient, we say Amen!

Taken from a recent article on the Desiring Gods page “Motherhood is Victory (Article by Rachel Jankovic) I had to pull a portion of it because I’ve been in battle with the “dragon”. He is trying to conquer in my household with devouring my daughter. She is a 13 year old who has zero clue as to what she is facing. What Mother’s go through to save their children from the viciousness of this world they have to live in. Well, most caring God following Mother’s I mean. Not all woman raising children had a mother to show them the way they should go. I pray that this message be of encouragement to another mother or even a daughter who didn’t have a mother to be there at war with Satan with her but she can for her own one day.

(Insertion: The portion of the Article by Rachel Jankovic that inspired this post.)

“It is natural and good that we delight in the little things with our children. God didn’t command mothers to rejoice over elbow dimples and the smell of a new baby’s head. He didn’t tell us to smile over them while they sleep, or to love the way they look in footie pajamas. He didn’t tell us these things, because He didn’t have to. That is the natural love of a mother for her children.”

Wow!!! Did you catch the wow moment? I did. That is the “Natural Love of a Mother for her children”…that part intrigued me the most. There is an urgency as a Mother to be at the for front of our children’s achievements and failures. Is that only to show how much we want to control their every move? Asking your teenage daughter that question would prompt the answer, yes. However we know better. She only knows her situation and believes it’s way worse than you experienced as a child. I laugh at the argument that happens when she tries to plead her case. I will admit that life in my home is pretty normal to our standards. We don’t curse, or watch just anything on television, we sensor what our children see, do and get involved with. I’ve gotten the silent treatment or a look cause I don’t allow my child to do things that other parents allow. I’m fine with it. I have had to handle much worse.

God has a sense of humor. He brought my husband and I together. I wholeheartedly believe that God strategically put us together for 2 reasons, to watch us try to blend a “leave it to beaver family” with a “rosanne & facts of life Family” for comedic purposes and triumphant purposes. He needs a laugh and also a “good cry” for how hard we work for his Glory! Let me tell you trying to blend both family dynamics is not easy. I fit in the Rosanne category of family. Except add the “Facts of Life” in there too. Raised with my biological mother until age 13, I was seasoned in a lot of unfortunate situations, then “a ward of the state” until age 18, that have made me into the person I am today. I see life so much fuller view than the way I’m raising my children. I tell them stories and even give them a taste with what I experienced by sharing people with them who were in my life in those dark times. We are involved with our community trying to share what other people go through by the work of our hands. We have extended our provisions beyond our own backyard in hopes that they understand the magnitude of blessings they have. Our family has grown over the years by some amazing individuals that call us their family. Our children won’t be blind when they go it alone. When they spread their wings and learn to be an adult in this great big world.

Goodness it’s my mission to be the person that they needed but not always desired. One day I know I’ll be appreciated but for now I’m standing firm with the foundations that have been set up for me by the knowledge I earned through my life. No apologies here. I’m proud that my “Natural instinct” to be the Loving Mother I am is being fulfilled by God each and everyday.

It’s not easy though. Since I didn’t get the same as a child I fail every day. I will raise my voice, not say the right things, close my mind off to avoid truth from what is being exposed, y’all I’m human! Can you relate? My flesh takes charge sometimes and I completely regret it. The thing that makes it all better is the relationship I have with Christ. It’s not below me to apologize when I’m wrong. It’s difficult sometimes to say I’m sorry but I can, I do say sorry. It’s important to show your children that you are not perfect. If you don’t than your going to have a hard time getting them to Love Jesus as much as you do.

There is nothing more precious than watching a new born baby take their very first Breathe outside of the womb. So let me tell you if it hasn’t been easy in life to Love people because of the continuous disappointments you have incurred, turn your heart upon the only Father who Loved you unconditionally. He is rooting for you and was from the day of conception. You didn’t have a choice in the beginning but you do in your ending. Your Breathe is sufficient enough to be valued as a gift from heaven. Take every one with gratitude and purpose to bring Jesus to life for every soul you come across. He died for you. Believe in his life, truly initiate his will over your own will, but most importantly live with a purpose that glorifies him.

Ephesians chapters 5 & 6 read and be empowered!

God Bless You and Your Families!

How’s The View?

I think most people will agree with me when I say that experiencing a moment, or multiple moments, of conviction, can be one of life’s best teachers.  You know what I’m talkin’ about right?  That second you want to crawl in a hole because you’re feeling smothered in guilt, remorse, shame…need I go on?

ashamed I am sure it doesn’t take long for us all to recall those, not so fun, life lessons.  Whether we impulsively stuck our foot/feet in our mouths, blew a situation out of proportion, or continue to fail at that one thing you’ve been trying to work on; if you’re a follower of Christ, His Spirit will quickly begin to weigh on us.  I can just picture His Holy Spirit standing in front of me with His arms crossed while tapping His foot out of frustration until I have that Ah Hah moment of, “Yeah, I probably shouldn’t have done/said that.”

I had just such an experience this week.  Several of them, I’m sure, but one that is really tugging at me.  I have been struggling for about a month with kidney stones.  I was passing seven at one time, had surgery to have a stent placed, and finally began feeling better last week as I was starting to recover.  By the end of the week, I could tell I was passing more.  I went to the doctor, and they did see multiple stones.  Good times (deep sigh).  Ladies and gentlemen let the pity party begin!

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Can’t you just hear the thoughts I was having…”Why is this happening to me again? What did I do to deserve this? Wah wah wah…” Poor pitiful me.  I could feel the frown on my face.  All while sitting in my air-conditioned home, on my comfortable sofa, reclined with my heating pad, my fourteen-year-old daughter making my plate of food, and watching all the Netflix my little heart desires.   Sounds hideous, doesn’t it?

I have been blessed with the opportunity to go on two mission trips to very poverty-stricken areas in Uganda over the last couple of years.  Each time coming home feeling terrible about how so very spoiled we are as Americans, and we don’t even know it.  We don’t realize how ridiculous we sound to people around the world when we complain about standing in line too long, and wi-fi being too slow, and “I don’t really feel like eating there…”

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 I would get so aggravated when people would moan about their “first world problems”, yet here I was, doing just that.  I realized it while I was sitting through our weekly Women’s Bible Study group discussing missionaries over the centuries that have literally sacrificed and lost everything to be obedient to God.  One, William Carey, traveled to India in the 1800s with his wife and children.  While there, one of his sons and his wife died.  He continued to serve the Lord through it all, and His ministry impacted innumerable lives.

The way I would have seen that situation if it was me, I’m afraid, would be a much different view than what he saw.  Through the pain, sacrifice, grief, and struggle, he saw the path that God had laid before him from the beginning.  He could see the lives that would be touched, and the Glory God would receive if he persevered.  His view was filled with the desire to show Christ to a lost world, the faith that knew God was in control, and the expectation of Him to do something absolutely amazing with his situation.  Not only that but what a testimony for people to witness a man walking out His faith in such a way.  We claim to have hope, but so few of us show it when the rubber meets the road.

As we read Carey’s story, I could feel myself sinking in my chair.  How much had I complained that day and the days before?  My view was filled with self-pity and impatience.  I was focused on my circumstance instead of fixing my eyes on the One that was in control of it.  I lost sight of all the blessings that fill my life that I know I don’t deserve.

With that being said, I type this with a smile on my face (while sitting on a heating pad 😊) because I am so very thankful for God’s sanctification process through conviction.  NOT CONDEMNATION.  That’s a whole other topic that I won’t get into tonight.   I am thankful for the tests we must go through, whether I succeed or fail.  I am thankful for conditions that He allows me to endure in order to continue to mold me into the person He created me to be.

Consider changing your view to one that sees struggling in the Christian life as a temporary privilege.

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance.  And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.  Romans 5:3-5

Love is a Fruit

Love, what a word. It is a great word, over used, but a great word! Love is also suppose to be an action, not just a word.

Let’s look at this word “Love.” The Holman Illustration Bible Dictionary defines “love” as: unselfish, loyal, and benevolent intention and commitment toward another. These are hard for us sometimes.

There are a couple of Hebrew words used in the Old Testament for this word “Love” and they are: ahavah – which can be used of human love towards oneself, or another person (Jer 31:3); and the other is chesed – which is covenant love.

There are a few Greek words for “Love” in the new testament and they are: eros – erotic or sexual love; phileo– tender affection, such as towards a friend or a family member. It’s used to express the Father God’s love for Jesus (John 5:20), God’s love for an individual believer (John 16:27), Jesus’ love for a disciple (John 20:2). It’s not used for a person’s love towards God; and then there is agapao – used by believers to denote the special unconditional love of God and is used interchangeable with phileo to designate God the Father’s love for Jesus (John 3:35), God the Father’s love for a believer (John 14:21) and Christ’s love for a disciple (John 13:23). Love is a fruut of the Holy Spirit (Gal 5:22), it is not directed toward the world or the things of the world (I John 2;15, 16). The ultimate example of God’s love is the Lord Jesus Christ (John 13:34, and 15:12). Jesus is LOVE! (I John 4:8) God is LOVE!

There is no love like God’s love! He loves the un-loveable and undeserving. Can we say that we do this? Do we love our enemy, the person that caused us the pain and hurt us, or made us mad? God does – He loves each and every one of us; so much, He sent His son to wash away our sins and save us so He could be with us.

Jesus showed love to the soldier that came to take him away by healing his ear after Peter cut if off (because he was mad at the soldier for trying to take Jesus). So that person we don’t like because they hurt us or made us mad, the one we just can’t stand to be around, or the one we turn our noses up at – God loves and He COMMANDS us to do the same. We make the excuse sometimes, that “I’m not God, I can’t do that”; and that’s true – we are not God. So why do we try to be Him when we are judging people, or gossiping about people. If we are true believers in Christ then we can love like Christ because He placed His “Helper” in us when we accepted Him into our hearts. He sealed the Holy Spirit in us, so we have His power to love as He loves. We can’t do anything God asks us to do without His help, and allowing Him to do it through us. We need to ask God to change our hearts and eyes; so we can love and see people as He does. If we are sincere when we ask Him to do this, He will be faithful to change us; but we also have a teachable heart. Because when He changes us, He may ask us to show love to the one person we thought we couldn’t stand to be around.

Remember, we don’t know what someone else is going through or what they are dealing with in the life; but God does and he may just use us to reach that person. If we listen and follow what God tells us to do, He’ll do it through us, not us. Then we will start seeing our fruit start growing. if every one of us loved as God commands of us, oh how different this world would look.

Let’s pray for hearts and eyes like God’s, so we can start loving our neighbors and our enemies, and start making a difference in our communities. If we all start there then maybe all the communities would soon join together and a true Unity will start. Let’s start growing our fruit.

DON’T MISS IT

DON’T MISS IT!

“Ladies and Gentlemen, we are surrounded by insurmountable opportunities.”  (unknown author)

Isn’t it just like us, humans, to overcomplicate things?  I have recently had a realization that is going to change the landscape of my everyday life.  God has already revealed His plan for my life. And yours!!  And yet I, like many believers, have spent so much time making “doing His Will” way more complicated than it actually is.

Over the last several years, I have been blessed with the opportunity to be a part of some incredible works.  I have participated in two mission trips to Uganda where I witnessed God’s glory in a way that forever changed my heart and how I see the world.  I have watched our church family here in Kentucky transform into a church determined to spread the gospel as far as it can reach.  After seeing so many miraculous and wondrous acts of God, I allowed myself to be convinced that that was the only way He could use me.  In the “Big Stuff.” You know, the important stuff like mission trips, and church planting, fostering children….so I sat and prayed, “God, show me your will!”  “Lord, I just want to do Your will, please reveal what you want me to do next.”  “God, I’m still here…waiting for you to tell me the next big thing….” (crickets, lots of ‘em).

He was listening, He always is.  He was just waiting for me too.  So, to give me a little nudge it the right direction, he sent my friend Akim from Uganda to shake some sense into me.  He came all the way to Kentucky in the middle of winter to visit the non-profit organization he works with here and in Uganda.  I grew very close to him on my trips there and was thrilled to have him come and speak at our church about mission work.   As we were standing around catching up, he asked how I was and what I had been up to the last several months.  I responded with something like, “Oh, just going to work and church and chasing my teenager around.  I have been praying for what God wants me to do next.  I am seriously considering quitting my job to go into full-time ministry.”  My tone must have been dripping with a bit of frustration. I could tell by the look he gave me when he asked, “Quit your job so you can what? Be in full-time ministry? Are you not in full-time ministry everywhere you go as a believer in Jesus Christ? Does He not have you right where He wants you in order to make the biggest impact at this very moment? Are you surrounded by more people that need to hear the gospel at your work or at your church?”  Oh, how I wish you could read that in his soothing Ugandan accent just as I can hear it in my mind.  I wonder if I looked like how I felt at that moment.  You know that feeling where you want to crawl in a hole and cover yourself up?  Even as I type this, I am shaking my head.  Praise the Lord for His patience with us and the gentle nudges He gives to remind us of His Word and promises.

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The Great Commission wasn’t meant for special occasions, huge church events, and mission trips.  We are called to be everyday missionaries on the lookout for the opportunities God places in front of us, big and small. Everyday missionaries are those who practice life on mission where God has placed them.  As followers of Jesus Christ, our lives have a mission. God has a purpose and plan for us. In fact, He wants to do more “in” us and “through” us than we can even imagine. But it is not about us—it’s about Him. EVERYTHING we do—our jobs, our parenting, our words, our actions, our life’s mission—should be done with the intention of bringing glory to His name.  Never missing the chance to shine a light in this dark and fallen world.

1 Corinthians 10:31— “… Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for God’s glory.” (ESV)

We are everyday missionaries, and God has created each of us in a special way to take part in His plan. From high school students to retirees, from stay-at-home moms to CEO’s, we each have a part in the greatest story ever told. This is a story about an extraordinary love.  Too many people think that only “extraordinary” believers can be used for Christ.  God has called each of us to live a life on mission wherever we are – no matter our age, occupation, biblical knowledge, or busy schedule.

He’s asking us to see what He sees. Opportunities within our realities.

DON’T MISS IT!!

Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it. 1 Peter 3:15

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