Saturday, October 26, 2013


Have you ever heard the expression, "I am stuck between a rock and a hard place?"  I am not sure who spoke this famous phrase but it's has been a familiar location in my life once or twice.  Sometimes, I have wondered, "How am I going to get out of this one?"  As we clearly evaluate our surroundings, we have looked at ALL our options but we see no clear solution in sight.  With no clear direction for our problems, we begin to allow the spirit of fear to overcome us.  No matter what direction we turn, it seems as life is going to stay in the middle of Ziklag.

 As the oil is poured over David's head, I wonder what he thought of Samuel's prophetic word over his life.  Was he afraid?  Did he feel insecure?  Was he shocked?  Scripture doesn't record David's feelings on the matter.  Nevertheless, David wasn't aware of God's calling or Samuel's purpose to his house, he was faithfully attending the sheep.  David's calling was confirmed through the prophet Samuel, witnessed in front of his family, and a promised word waiting to be fulfilled.  When the Spirit of God calls us to serve the body of Christ it will be confirmed through the Word and the witness of the church.  It's never goes any other way! The call of God is always with a promise and everything in your life will be used for preparation.  David's reign as king wasn't instantaneous, so he was being prepared the moment the oil was poured.  The anointing separated him for God's work, empowered him, and left a promise waiting to be fulfilled. (I Samuel 16:13)

With only a promise and a life changing experience, David returns to be a shepherd under his father to start his preparation.  First, David had to learn the PURPOSE of a leader-it's risking your life to save others. Second, he had to learn the call doesn't come without a BATTLE, the enemy will use different weapons to wage war. (Lion/Bears) (I Samuel 17:34)  Third, he had to learn WHO to trust in this battles; it wasn't in his own abilities and he couldn't rely on others-he had to learn to trust God.  Next, he had to personal experience God's miraculous deliverance, so he gained confidence of WHAT he believes.  As his past experiences TAUGHT him, he could run towards his enemy to overtake him. (1 Samuel 17:48)

In Ziklag, David faces opposition not from his enemies but his followers - they want to kill him.  Once the "popular boy" the city sang praises about, he is now a wanted man by the king.  As the king hunting pursues David for eight years in the desert, he nearly lost it all.  He has no homeland, no close friendship, and no normal way of life, so he finds escape in the enemies camp.  David serves as a bandit under the Philistine army, he serves faithfully to destroy the Amalekites.  David was so faithful to the mission of the Philistine's he would destroy everything in sight: men, women, children, and keep the livestock.  (I Samuel 27:8-9)  So to add salt to injury, the Philistine rulers have convinced the king to dismiss David from the next assignment because of their fear of him. "Isn't this the David they sang about in their dances: "Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens thousands?"

"It's not easy to wait for God's promised to be fulfilled especially when the enemies taunt us with their songs.  If we long to be fulfill God's call upon our lives, we have to willing to go through the desert.  The desert experience will cause us to feel "pressed down" or "winding" (the meaning of Ziklag) with no shelter, resources, or anyone except God alone.  Moses was led into the desert for forty years, David was wandering for eight years, and Jesus was LED by the spirit to the desert before his earthly ministry began.(Matthew 4:1)  It can be an uncomfortable experience but it's can't be passed. It can only be passed as Jesus said, "It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that come from the mouth of God.' (Matthew 4:4)  As David and his men arrive in Ziklag, they are expecting the joyful reunion of their families, the comforts of home, and peace.  Instead of joyful reunion the men are distressed with sorrow, they have no strength left to weep. (I Samuel 30:4)  No comfort of home or possible future ahead, it's burned to the ground and their families taken.

 We have to learn, Gods Word is sufficient in our lives. It has the power to transform, empower, and to encourage us. David had to learn to STRENGTHEN himself in the Lord. David had to draw from the SOURCE of his life, God was enough to deliver him. David had a mob of men wanting to kill him, so he couldn't seek for their wisdom or support.  He wasn't going to find the support of the sheep, His support was His Shepherd.  Only in Ziklag could David learn a valuable lesson God is ENOUGH!  Yet, in all of this God had mercy upon David because his enemies didn't destroy him or his family.  Also, David and his men were dismissed from the army before anything worse could have happened.  David had men who desired to murder him, so what's are you facing today?

What are you facing in the middle of your Ziklag?  Are you standing in the middle of ashes with no hope, support, or shelter?  Are you questioning if God's promise will come to pass?  If all you have is a promise of God; it's all you need.  Besides Ziklag meaning "pressed down" or "winding" it also mean's fortress. (  You are not without HOPE!  Call upon the name of the Lord and you shall be saved!  As David inquired of the Lord, He found his fortress who strengthened him, answered him, and led the way to destroy the enemies plot.  Not only did David get his family back but everything the enemy took from him. (1 Samuel 30:19)  So, if you are stuck between a rock and a hard place, it's ok!  The rock is all you need to stand secure.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Take Me to the Cross

Recently, I was asked to speak at a youth event-a bonfire.  It was the first function for the youth group, so I was honored to attend.  Before the event, the youth pastor asked if I would speak on the topic, “Take Me to the Cross.”  So, I agreed to follow her instructions for the event. As I started to meditate on the phrase and study the scriptures, I couldn’t get my mind off a man named Simon.  Who is Simon?  Simon was the man who carried the cross of Jesus. (Luke 23:26; Mark 15:21; Matthew 27:32)  A man on a simple journey – with no agenda; he is just passing by.  He has just left the countryside, walking into a peaceful journey until he encounters Jesus.  Oh, who wouldn’t want to personally meet Jesus!  Yet, may I remind you Jesus isn’t preaching to a multitude, healing the sick, or raising the dead.  Jesus is on the road that’s leading to death, a hill called the “Skull.”  A place of death for horrible criminals to face their punishment for their crimes committed.  Yet, at the end of Simon's peaceful journey, he is placed in the center of a road to a crucifixion.

 Life will take us on several different journeys, some we don’t want to walk down.  Yet, if we truly want to walk with Jesus, we have to follow the road to Calvary.  Nevertheless, I am wondering what’s going through Simon’s mind?  Was he trying to figure out the charges of Jesus?  Why is heading to the Skull?  Although the cross is a public, humiliating, and horrific death for our Savior to suffer, He did.  Before the cross is placed in the ground, Simon got to visually see the aftermath of the beating of Jesus.  He was completely unrecognizable as a person, “Who could do this to another person?”  The back of Jesus is scared from the repeated whips tearing His flesh apart.  His face is beaten, bruised, and bloody from the thorns upon His brow.  “What did this man do?” Simon had to wonder as his eyes met the Savior’s.  As Simon carries the cross down the road, he hears the voices of others.  He hears the women weeping and wailing as they follow Christ on the road.  As he continues to carry the cross, he sees the soldiers with their swords.  The soldiers are reinforcing the decision of the government to punish this criminal.  Other voices are yelling for Jesus to be crucified but the voice of Jesus is comforting towards the women.  “How can you comfort people on the way to your death?”  Simon had to ponder.  “Who is this man?”  “If anyone needs comfort-it’s this man!”  He understands the people are divided about this man but he is asked to carry HIS cross.  Simon doesn’t know anything about the man except what the many voices are saying.  

A simple walk through the country would forever change the life of Simon.  He will always be known as the man who carried the cross of Jesus but he was a follower too.  According to Bible scholars, “Rufus” found in Romans 16:13 Paul was referring to Simon of Cyrene who carried the cross. So, although Simon had a personal encounter with Jesus it changed his life.

What can we learn about Simon’s journey?  Eventually in our lives we will encounter the life of Jesus, we will either choose to be a spectator of the events of Christ or become a devoted follower.  What we must understand, God calls us out of the crowd to make a public choice about Him.  WHO DO YOU SAY I AM?  Which voice will lead your path?  Will it be the mockers who didn’t understand?  Will it be the followers who walked closely behind?  Sadly, some chose to sit with the mockers to gamble their eternal destiny.  Besides mocking the mission of Christ, they mock Him directly to His face.  Although they mock Him, He longs to forgive them.  Others walk with Jesus closely behind him; they truly know WHO He is.  As they walk with Him, they suffer with Him.
Calvary does demonstrate the love of the Father but it also demonstrates the cost-death. 

We can’t follow Christ without their being a death to sin and to self.  So, we can’t have the abundant life or eternal life without believing in Jesus.  Besides dying at salvation, it’s a continual journey to die on a daily basis so the will of God is done.  (I Corinthians 15:31)
     Simon was passing by but he was called out of the crowd-to follow Jesus.  It’s a personal journey down the road to Calvary, only the footprints of Jesus and yours.  It’s a personal and public declaration to the world-not for popularity.  If we are to follow Jesus, we are to follow Him to Calvary.  At Calvary, Jesus suffered a public, shameful, and horrific death to publicly carry my penalty, shame, and sin.  He publicly demonstrated His love for us, so why is it so difficult for us to publicly demonstrate our love before the world?

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Old Fork in the Road

As we journey in this life, we will eventually come to the old fork in the road.  As we stand gazing down each path, we can start to feel overwhelmed about the choice we have to make.  Whether the decision is about getting married, selecting a career, or moving to a new location for better opportunities-it’s VITAL to seek God’s face for every important decision for your life.  One of my spiritual mentor’s, my Aunt Elaine said, “Never go where the peace of God isn’t leading you.”  Although this statement is quite simple, it’s guided me during through some critical decisions in my life, especially in recent events.

When we have the peace of God in our lives it will keep our hearts and minds at ease.  Peace should rule our lives, so we can walk confidently with God regardless of the circumstances ahead. 

 "And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:7 

Our faith begins in a relationship with God, grows in the grace and knowledge of Christ, and ends with the reward of those who keep the faith.  So, if it begins and ends with God, so why would God stop in the middle of the journey? “I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way thou shall go: I will guide thee with mine eye.” Psalm 32:8

Recently, I had the privilege of preaching at my home church, I was so excited to pour back into the church family who lovingly supported me.  I couldn’t wait to share updates with all my family and friends about what God was doing.  Yet, on the other hand I was deeply saddened about where my life was, especially in ministry.  I felt as if I was a disappointment to everyone, even God.  A few days before my departure, my husband started teasing me about moving back to Maryland.  Honestly, it wasn’t even a decision I would consider because I knew God’s call for my life.  As I boarded the plane, my heart stayed focused upon “my expectations” for this phase of my life.  In my eyes, I failed miserably.  Nevertheless, God was testing my heart, drawing me deeper, and spoke directly into my life during this trip.  It wasn’t what I expected but it was what I needed, a timely word from God. “Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a word spoken in right circumstances.” Proverbs 25:11 

Upon arriving at the airport, I was greeted by my biggest fan, my mother who lovingly kissed my face.  As she promised, she was going to “spoil me” during my visit at home.  She didn’t go back upon her promise; we enjoyed a wonderful meal at Olive Garden-one of my favorite places.   Although dinner was short, we were expected at the pastor’s house for dessert, so we drove to their home.  Upon arrival, I wasn’t sure what to expect during this visit.  As I was getting acquainted with the pastor and his family, enjoying the dessert and fellowship with godly people-God arrived in the midst.  In the middle of dessert, the pastor and my mother laid their hands upon me and started praying for me.  As they prayed for me, the Holy Spirit spoke prophetically into my life through the pastor.  It was a timely word spoken directly to my heart and changed my outlook of “my expectations” for my life.   Yet, God was testing my heart!  After Sunday night service, I thanked the pastor for allowing me to share the Word of God.  We had a brief conversation, encouraged each other and he asked me if I would consider being his Associate Pastor.  I advised, “I wanted to fast and pray before my answer and to speak to my husband.”  What was I tell my husband? 

As the next several weeks unfolded I continued to seek the Lord’s face, sought godly counsel, and made a list of pro’s and con’s.  Yet, I finally asked God to “open the door and close the door to what He wanted” so I could walk clearly.  As I waited upon God the door was closed at the moment to go back home.  As I was listening to the results of various decisions, my heart was completely crushed.  Why would this great opportunity arise?  Why would God speak so clear with a timely word?  We must remember the greatest call of all!  As Christians, our goal is to simply grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ.  It's not about titles or callings; it's simply to know Christ in the fullness of the Spirit.  Sadly, we can get so sidetrack with life’s responsibilities that we neglect the reason for living-to know God! 

It’s only through loving God will our purpose be made known; His perfect will come as a result.  We can't force the will of God into our lives; we have to allow God to open doors for us.  Until God opens the door to His perfect will; rest on His perfect Word spoken in your life. "Then Job replied to the Lord : "I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted." Job 42:1-2   One of the reasons it's so important to have the Word hidden in your heart, so you learn to encourage yourself. The Word hidden keeps us from sin but it also builds our faith to endure any test, especially if we stand alone. 

While tending the flock David is completely unaware of the prophet of God coming to Jesse’s house.  He is working faithfully in his father’s field; he doesn’t understand why he is being called out.  As Samuel anoints David with oil, he receives a prophetic word about his life. After this prophetic call, David returns to being a shepherd, he wasn’t escorted to the throne.  At the moment of anointing, David was being PREPARED for the call of God not only to be king but to be the man after God’s own heart.  David didn't force his way to the throne, he waited on God's timing and promise.  His heart of worship led him to the palace but it wasn’t the RIGHT MOMENT to rule; he was used to comfort a tortured king.  As David was faithful and gained the trust of the king, he was led into battle.  It wasn’t just a battle against his enemies but his family, King Saul, was his father-in-law.   As David won battle against his enemies, his calling became evident to all; God’s anointing will be recognized.  Yet, David wasn't lazy while he waited he served his father's flock, played harp for the king Saul, and in battle. Yet, it was all used to equip David to be King, so be faithful with your hands and heart. 


1.       When the call of God is summed; it’s time to realize EVERYTHING in your life is being used for PREPARATION.
2.       God’s purpose can’t be stopped for your life; He is the author of it.
3.       WRITE DOWN spoken promises to build yourself up when life’s circumstances are not clear, family isn’t supportive, and rejoice on the day of God’s timing.
4.       God’s call doesn’t come without a battle, so BE PREPARED for warfare against the enemy.
5.       REST IN GOD where you are; God will open the doors at His appointed time.
6.       REALIZE your greatest call is BECOMING CHRIST LIKE; not the title you carry.
7.       While waiting SERVE FAITHFULLY with the responsibilities you are given.

When the fork of the road seems to overwhelm you; go to the road map-the Bible.  God will make His will clear but be willing to walk in whatever direction He asks.  If there is a check in your spirit, it’s time to stop what you are doing and listen.  If you have heard directly from God which direction to take; don’t fear it!  He is walking each step of the way because He leads us in the path of righteousness for His name sake. (Psalm 23:3)

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Search and Rescue

How can a small creature destroy the complete peace of an entire household?   A creature so small I have to search with a magnifying glass to verify it exists.  Oh, my mission is quite simple: this creature will be exterminated!  It will be exterminated without any evidence of ever being and its offspring terminated.  How can I say something so terrible?  Any parent will completely share my passion for destruction of this creature named “head lice.”  It’s no pleasant experience to have this un-welcomed guest in your house.   It’s contagious to all members of the household, so I had to search carefully through each scalp.  Besides search for this creature I had to completely re-clean my house, bedding, and spray chemical on my furniture.   It was no small undertaking to destroy the creature or it’s offspring but it had to be done to prevent further breakouts. 

As I started to re-think about this episode it brought a great revelation about sin.  Our hearts can be deceptive, so we must allow the Holy Spirit to search us.  Although the head lice was present, it wasn’t visible to the naked eye.  Nevertheless, it couldn’t be ignored because of the itchy discomfort upon my family.  Also, it could have been complete misdiagnoses as dry scalp.  So, I could have prolonged the issue with the wrong shampoo or caused a greater outbreak.  If I wanted to find out the problem, I had to search intensely for it.  As I carefully sifted through the hair of my entire family I couldn’t discover the problem until it was magnified, searched for, and properly diagnosed.  

If we truly desire to walk in the light, we must allow the Holy Spirit to search us.  If we refuse to allow the Holy Spirit to search us, read the Word, or to follow the voice of God we are opening our soul for sin to
take root.  The Holy Spirit desires for us to walk in the fullness of Christ, so He will convict us of sin.  It’s not pleasant to be exposed of sinful deeds but it’s only through the conviction of the Spirit can we discover the problem.  Correction, discipline, and obedience will open the door to maturity but it's must come directly from the Word and the Holy Spirit.  If we are unwilling to be pruned; we prevent growth or slowly allow life to slip away.  Sin will cause our spirits to be completely restless until we confess it.  "When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.  For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer." Psalm 32:3-4

Sin has to be acknowledged, confessed, and exposed.  We can't run from it or it will run us over.  If anyone preaches or teaches otherwise; they don't follow the Word of God.   Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity.  I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the LORD"- and you FORGAVE the guilt of my sin. Psalm 32:5

Sin doesn’t discriminate against anyone; it’s only power is bondage and destruction but it's start when we yield to it.  Instead of capturing his lustful thoughts for Bathsheba, David got captured in adultery and murder.  We may not have committed the acts of King David but it doesn’t mean we are sinless.  Our sins or temptations may be different for someone else’s but it still cost God the same price-the death of His Son.  So, whether if the issue is gossiping, lusting, lying, pride, rage or un-forgiveness it has to be dealt with because we are to be imitators of God.  “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, and anger, brawling, and slander, along with every form of malice.  Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:31-32)   Sin only needs an open door crack to gain possession.  It may seem “fun” or “have a season” of pleasure but it’s very costly destruction.  It’s not only destructive to our lives but it can destroy the lives of those we love, our reputation, and lead us to gates of Hell. 

“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.” Psalm 139:23

By allowing the Holy Spirit to search our heart, we will discover the truth.  We can have the intimacy with God we crave but we must allow our hearts to be searched, confess our faults, and submissive to His Word and leading.  “To love God and build a relationship with Him is our call, our purpose, our commitment, our very reason for existing. Everything else....EVERYTHING else flows from that.” Sue King

So, the question is has the bondage of sin been exterminated in your life?  Sin is very powerful but its no match for the grace of God.  God's grace is greater than all our sins.  At the cross the power of sin broken, the penalty has been paid and the curse has been destroyed through the blood of Christ. “Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.” (Romans 3:24 NLT)

Forgiveness is promised to anyone who acknowledges, admits, and confesses their sin.  Christ didn't come to condemn the world but to redeem the world from it's sin.  Christ paid the penalty to free us, cleanse us, and make us His own.  The price has been paid through his love; He doesn't ask for refunds.

Titus 2:14 "He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds."


Thursday, February 14, 2013

On The Straight and Narrow

My heart has been very heavy over the last few weeks, so I haven’t been writing much.  I have been reflecting, fasting, and praying about this situation.  Currently, my heart lays into millions of broken pieces about a close friend’s decision.  It’s not easy to watch your friend take unhealthy steps in her life.  Yet, as a friend I have pleaded and cried for her to realize the danger of her choices but she is ignoring my voice.  So, I have left her in only the capable hands I know-Gods.  Nevertheless, I haven’t stopped praying for the situation to change; it’s my only hope. 

Choices come with a price tag; they have consequences to pay.  God always sent a prophet to warn the people before He sent wrath but it wasn’t always heeded to.   As the prophets declared the truth, many were executed or persecuted for it.  The famous prophet Isaiah was sawed physically in half for his message.   Another prophet Jeremiah was beaten, put into prison, and falsely accused.  Tragically, our own Savior was treated disrespectfully, false accused, beaten, and crucified for sharing the message of the Father. (Matthew 21:26-38)  So, we shouldn’t be surprised about being persecuted for declaring the truth.  Jesus said, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.” (John 15:18)  It’s not always easy to preach the truth of God’s Word because it can cost us some close relationships.  As children of God our standards can’t be compromised because our standards come from God’s Word.  God sets the bar for leadership; our lives must be above reproach or blameless. We must abstain from the appearance of evil. We have to guard our hearts, our lives, and guard the vision God gives.  Ministry is a serious business because it's not only an eternal investment; it's has have eternal rewards which will be judged. (Hebrews 9:27)  It’s a sobering thought but I don’t know if the church takes it seriously anymore.   

 I Peter 4:17 “For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?”

If we truly love our families and our friends, we will tell the truth-the Gospel truth.  It’s not always easy to profess our faith but it’s our obligation to God and those we love.  Do we love our family or friends enough to share the truth whether if it’s for their salvation or to avoid a trap of the enemy?  Also, what happened to discipleship within the body of Christ?  Within the body of Christ there is going to be different maturity levels, so we must understand this.  As our bodies physically mature or even among the maturity of siblings, we understand this to be a natural process.  Nevertheless parents do correct, discipline, and guide their children so they can be prepared for the real world.  If we don’t train our children properly in our homes, we can lead them astray.  It’s the same within the body of Christ. It’s not pleasant or exciting to confront a brother or sister in sin but we must to restore them.  Restoration is always the goal but it must be done with gentleness, saturated in prayer, wise counsel sought, and in love.  We can't leave this one out: it has to be done face to face.  Oh, being confrontational is very difficult but it's Biblical.  Paul opposed Peter to his face because he was in the wrong. (Galatians 1:11)  Also, the Bible provides a direct model from Christ found in Matthew 18:15-20)  

“Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted” Galatians 6:1 

“Let a righteous man strike me--it is a kindness; let him rebuke me--it is oil on my head. My head will not refuse it. Yet my prayer is ever against the deeds of evildoers” Psalm 141:5

As I tried to counsel my friend towards God’s Word, she refused it.  I didn’t counsel once but several times with no effect.  As the Lord and my husband directed me to confront her with the consequences, I was completely torn inside.  Yet, I realized if I don’t confront the situation, I am accepting it.  We must understand a powerful truth: our lives must match the Word. “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.” I Timothy 4:16

Our lives must match the Word of God; there is no separation.  Sadly the church has been accused of this for far too long.  It’s time to come out and be separate from the world’s ideas, beliefs, relationships, and ways.  If we are truly children of God, we will obey.  When we try to justify our actions for disobedience to God's Word, it's called deception.  “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.” Proverbs 16:25
     God will never override our choice; He will let us decide.  Yet, He advised us of the consequences very clearly.  Out of His love a warning was given to us all.  It’s not going to be heeded by everyone, only a few. (Matthew 7:14)  We may be separated from close relationships for our choice to walk on the straight and narrow road but we are never without God.  
     As I told my children, they can't get to Heaven from my relationship with God; it's their own personal choice. We are not responsible for the choices of others but we are to be a voice of truth.  We are to preach the truth in love!  If we don't preach or extend a hand of grace to others, our faith is meaningless.  If we want to touch the lives of people; we will have to touch their heart.  Faith moves mountains but love moves people to a relationship with God.      

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

It's All About the Cross

On a walk I enjoyed the gentle breeze, a time to pray, and the exercise.  Besides all the joys of the walk; it was my only means of transportation.  So, off I went to walk to complete a few errands at the store.  It’s sometimes the simplest things that can bring the greatest revelation to your life.  As all of the cars drove by with their agenda; I was able to enjoy the moment.  A moment of quietness of soul in the midst of a busy world; a world we can get so lost in.  It’s not hard to get lost in the cares of life.  Life is filled with tremendous responsibilities, relationships, and revelations of how short life is.  Nevertheless, it’s all about the journey to our destination; our eternal home.  As I continued my walk upon the busy street, I was so grateful for the “sign” of knowing I was close to my destination.  Only as I fixed my eyes upon this sign could I continue to walk to a place of rest.
 What was the “sign” my eyes were fixed upon?  It was an enormous cross standing in the ground; its truth reflected for all to see.  Regardless of what direction a car turns or a person walked on this intersection, it wasn’t hard to see this cross.  Upon my churches property is this beautiful white cross reflecting a simple truth; sadly some people are so busy to reflect upon it or stop to ask about it.  Yet, the message of Christ is displayed to the world through the cross but who is leading them? 

“How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?”  Romans 10:14

 It’s all about the cross!  We can’t find direction for our lives or eternal life without the cross.  Upon salvation we begin a wonderful relationship with Jesus Christ, a relationship that’s growing in the grace and knowledge of Him.  Faith is simply taking God at His Word!  Yet, faith is what starts the journey of life with Christ.  Although this world is filled with chaos; my life doesn’t have to be.  Peace can only be found in Christ!  A peace that passes all understanding and it can’t be taken from me.  “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27

 Our lives will not escape hardships, trials, or troubles.  It doesn’t mean I don’t trip upon the rocks or avoid dangerous obstacles but I can walk safely.  “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4  It’s only through keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus can we finish this journey of our faith and life.  We started our faith in Christ, so shall we finish with Christ but only if we stay focused upon his voice.  We are to walk the straight and narrow path; a path many will not choose.  So, we must be careful not to get caught up in the cares of the world or it will choke the word.  (Mark 4:19) If we desire to walk with Christ, we have to bear fruit; fruit that will last. (John 15:16)

Life is a precious gift; a gift from God.  Yet, what I do with it will be a gift I bring back to Him. “At the cross, at the cross where I first saw the light and the burdens of my heart rolled away”  It was there by faith I received my sight and now I am happy all the day”  (At the Cross by Issac Watts)  As this beautiful old hymn anchors the power truth of our redemption, I am so grateful the cross keeps me on the right path. 
 I have a question for you?  Are you on the right path for eternal life?  If not, it’s time to start this journey at the cross.  Even if you lost your way home, the cross will point you in the right direction.  Don’t miss this opportunity to come to Him, tomorrow isn’t promised only today is the day of salvation.    Regardless of what you have done, peace can be found.  Your past doesn’t have to trip you or hinder the life He wants to give.  Jesus Christ will not only change your life, He will walk with you always.   Keep in mind, our relationship with Christ is a journey of growth so abide in Him.  It’s only through abiding in Him can we bear fruit.  We grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ, so realize it’s a relationship of love being developed.  Christ doesn’t want perfect lives; He wants us to be loving, walking in truth, and changing from glory to glory.         


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Pressure of Forbidden Love

Oh, the joy of being in love!  As the person enters the room butterflies enter your stomach with their presence.  His eyes melt my heart!  As Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching, many dating couples are preparing to show their love and affection upon this day.  As flowers are order, chocolate purchased, and candlelight dinners prepared to express their love to each other; it’s a remarkable tribute.   Dating can be very exciting part of your life; it’s preparing you to find the love of your life.  Yet, as my grandmother said to me, “You will get your heartbroken and you will break someone’s heart until the right one comes.”   Oh, how my grandmother was so right!  Yet, I didn’t want a marriage of longevity with no love or affection towards my spouse.  My family tree doesn’t have many successful marriages upon my father’s side of the family.  The majority of father's siblings were married two or three times ending in divorce.  Sadly, my own life was truly changed by the aftermath of my parent’s divorce even for valid reasons.  When I accepted Christ into my life, I was only twelve years old.  As I was growing up, I sought the Lord’s face about getting married.  I admit I wasn’t sure if I would be married because of God’s call upon my life.  So, if I did marry someone he had to accept my calling to either support or work with it.  If he couldn’t accept my calling; he wasn’t the right one for me.  During my dating period in college, some men wouldn’t continue to date me for this reason.  So, I would just keep praying and trusting God to bring him if it was His plan.  While in college I met my husband who I have been married to for sixteen years.  I am madly in love with the man!  Although my husband and I dated for over a year; we were teased in college for “taking things slow.”  Nevertheless, I didn't want to walk into marriage lightly.  It's a covenant I am making to my spouse and God.  
     Sadly, the devil will use any tactic to trip your life; even the opposite sex.  There is nothing wrong with wanting to be loved or to share your life with someone.  It’s a healthy and godly desire for a man and woman to be married. God created marriage between a man and woman. (Genesis 2:18)
Now all of my children have turned into teenagers, so I am praying for God’s protection, guidance, and for their spouses.  Besides praying, modeling a godly marriage, I am teaching my children what God’s Word says.  Does God’s Word teach on dating and marriage?  Yes, it does!  One story in particular has some vital truths found in Judges 13-15.  A loving and godly couple couldn’t conceive a child for the woman was sterile. (Judges 13:2)  An angel of the Lord appears to the woman to tell she is going to have a male child.  Besides having a male child, there were certain guidelines to be followed by the mother and this child.  The mother wasn’t allowed to eat anything unclean or drink wine/fermented drink.  Also, the requirement was the same for the child who was set apart for God’s call to deliver the children of Israel from the Philistines.  In addition the child was not allowed to have a razor to cut his hair because he was a Nazirite. (See Numbers 6)  Samson’s parents desired to follow God’s instructions for the child, so they sought the Lord.  Yet, as Samson grew up to marry, he sought the hand of a Philistine woman.   (The Philistines were enemies of God who are ruling them at this moment in time)  Instead of following his parents counsel to follow God’s call upon his life and God’s Word, he yearns for someone who he can’t have.   Although this was being used by the Lord to open a door to confront the Philistines; it should have taught Samson a lesson as well. 
     Upon the wedding celebration, Samson gives a riddle to his Philistine companions.  No one is able to solve the riddle, so they coax his wife to find out.  During the whole celebration she cries, throws herself upon him, and begs for the answer.  Yet, he surrenders to her cries to release the answer.  Although Samson keeps his word to the companions; it cost his affection for his wife because of her betrayal.  Instead of being a lesson learned, Samson later falls in love with Delilah.  Judges 16:4 says, “Sometime later, he fell in love with a woman in the Valley of Sorek whose name was Delilah.”  Delilah was a prostitute in Gaza, an area owned by the Philistines.  So, he follows his lust to the arms of a prostitute instead of God's instruction.  As he follows his lust, he ignores God’s instruction to remain separate from wicked nations. (Deut. 7:1-4)  So as Samson followed his lust; it opened the opportunity for the enemy to trap him.
     As I was reading this chapter I was amazed how the enemy lured Samson to bondage but he didn’t see it.  His affections for Delilah blinded him into chains of bondage.  As the Philistines are aware of his weakness and his love for Delilah they prepare a trap to OVERPOWER HIM!  It wasn't just to overpower him but to subdue him.  So, the plan begins with attacking Samson at his weak spot.  Satan knows your weakness, so be aware he is cunning.  He is an angel of light who will make it pleasing to the eyes, our desires, and set a trap to place us back in bondage.  He doesn’t want to place us just back in bondage; he wants to drag our souls to his kingdom.  As the conversation of Samson’s strength unfolds, we learn how the enemy operates, so we need to pay attention.
     First, Delilah is advised to TIE HIM with seven fresh throngs that have never been dried. (Judges 16:7)   Second, Delilah is advised to TIM HIM with new ropes. (Judges 16:11)   His love for Delilah causes him to sin against his body, so he is being placed in physical bondage by the first two advances.  Also, he should have recognized “her scheme” after the first question about his strength.  It’s also interesting the enemies of Samson were also in his bedroom chambers.  Third, Delilah is advised to weave the seven braids of his hair into fabric with a loom, and tighten it with a pen.  He is compromising his mind in her lap to allow her to weave destruction.  As the pin secures his hair; he is pinning the “secret” in her hand.  When we are in love, we share intimate details of ourselves.  As we share those details, we learn about the person completely.  Yet, we shouldn’t be using those facts to bring about the destruction of someone’s character or life.  Also, no dating couple should be alone in “secret quarters” for it will cause sexual temptation to arise.  We are to FLEE youthful lusts and seek righteousness. “Run from anything that stimulates youthful lusts. Instead, pursue righteous living, faithfulness, love, and peace. Enjoy the companionship of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts.”(2 Timothy 2:22) Finally, Samson surrenders the truth of his strength to her-his vow to God.   As his hair is shaved (his vow removed) he is subdued to the enemy. 
     Love is a powerful emotion and is truly a wonderful experience.  Yet, as Christians we must be careful in our dating relationship or period of engagement not to allow our passion for someone to steal our purity for God.   (Fornication is sex outside of the marriage covenant)  According to scripture sex is forbidden until a couple (a man and woman) marry. Also, we shouldn't be dating someone who doesn't belong to Christ.  Light and darkness have nothing in common, so we can't pursue a courting or marriage relationship.  God's ways are better and the person He selects is worth waiting for.  Also, we can be dating a Christian but if God says "no" it's still wrong to disobey Him.  
     As Samson slept upon the lap of Delilah his eyes were closed to her deceptive plan.  Yet, his blinding love for Delilah entrapped his life as he slept in the enemies hands.  He was satisfied with her loving affection, closeness, and words of love.  Delilah advises that the Philistine are upon him again but this time Samson doesn’t recognize the Lord left him.  What this clearly shows any child of God can be lured away back into the arms of the world!  We are to live separate from the world’s standards, beliefs, and ways.  We can’t participate in them, WE ARE CALLED TO BE SEPARATE!  We are called to be holy! 
As Samson awakens he is captured by his enemies who overpowered him.  They GOUGED out his eyes! Why?  So, he couldn’t attack them or he couldn’t defend himself.   As the Philistines took Samson away, they took him to their kingdom.  In their kingdom, they placed his in bronze shackles and to work in their prison.  So, the devil desire is shown through the actions of the Philistines.
     Our enemies may see us fall into our weakness; it can happen.  Sadly, our enemies will mock our faith and God.  It’s true but it doesn’t mean we have to live in defeat.  We can fall back into bondage of sin; it can entrap us.  It’s only by calling upon God can we be delivered from sin and its bondage.   As Samson’s hair grew, God's remained faithful to him.  As the enemies celebrated their victory; it was going to be their destruction.  Samson had to die to himself by calling upon God to destroy his enemies; he got victory.  
However, Samson missed out on finding the love of his life because he didn’t follow God’s instructions.  Yes, he married someone but it wasn’t who God selected.  Also, he never had children.  His calling was fulfilled but his life wasn’t.  It’s something to really think about.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Never Give Up

“When is this trial going to be over?”  “Why should I pray?”  “God’s not listening to me!”  “I can’t fight these issues anymore, it’s too much!”  “Where is God?”  As the problems mount upon us, we can quickly become terrified in the situation.  So, terrified we decide to waive the white flag of defeat!  Retreat!  Well, it’s easier to wave the white flag; instead of continuing to pray. Recently a young believer approached me with a question, “If I approach God’s throne again about an issue does it show a lack of faith?”  My response, “How badly do you want an answer?” 

 When we approach the Throne Room of God in prayer, we expect an answer.  It’s not a wrong expectation; we should expect God to answer because it’s a promise of His Word.  Yet, who hasn’t had the cricket noise experience during our prayer time?  We pray with urgency, faith and read the Word but God’s presence can’t be felt or His voice is silent.  It’s very alarming to us, why does God seem distant?  Why isn’t there any response? We can't give up praying because we don't see the answer.  Daniel prayed the first time, God heard his request. Yet, it wasn't answered right away because of war in the heavens. Daniel stayed persistent in his request until the answer came, so we must do the same. 

Daniel 10:12 says, “The he continued, ‘Do not be afraid, Daniel.  Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before God, you words were heard, and I have come in response to them.”

     Is it easy to keep praying without any evidence of an answer?  No it’s not easy but that’s what faith is all about.  “We walk by faith and not by sight.”  Like Daniel, we will sometimes get delays in our answers to our prayers.  God's not ignoring you or your situation, He sees all.  Right now, you may feel abandoned, rejected, or alone but that's a lie from the devil. Don't stop praying! God hears every word we pray, I am confident of it because of this promise found in Psalm 34:15, "The EYES of the LORD are on the righteous and his EARS are attentive to their cry."  In other words, God is PRESENT! 
     Although you may not “feel” God is present because He feels distant or silent, it doesn’t mean God is ignoring your cry.  God is acquainted with all your way because He made you.  God knows when you sit, when you rise, your thoughts from afar. (Psalm 139:2-4) Besides all of this, He has every single hair of your hair numbered. (Luke 12:7)  He is aware of what’s going on right now!

“Cast your cares upon the Lord for HE CARES FOR YOU!” I Peter 5:7

So, keep seeking Him!  Don’t lose heart or get frustrated with requests yet to be answered.  If anything it’s time to dig your heels in the ground with a determined heart, I will touch the Lord!  Don’t give up!  Christ said not to give up!  “Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should ALWAYS PRAY and NOT GIVE UP!  
     We must understand some important truths in this parable to gain insight to prayer.  First, “Christ is not likening God to an unrighteous judge.  The parable is on the ‘How much more variety.”  If a wicked man will sometimes do good, even if from bad motives, how much will God do right?” (Luke by Leon Morris) 
     Second, we need to understand the key characters of this parable: judge, widow, and the elect.  The judge doesn’t fear God or worried about the vengeance of God upon his life.  Also, he doesn’t care about the people he serves or what’s happening to his town.  Yet, he is only one with power to change or bring deliverance.  Next, we have the widow woman who is being oppressed by her enemy.  Why is this so important?  In Biblical times, if a woman didn’t have a husband she had no protection or voice in society.  Also, if she didn’t have a male child, she was considered cursed or looked down upon.  It’s not how God viewed the women or widows, so let me be clear on that.  Nevertheless, this widow needs relief from the oppression, so she seeks the only One in her town who could grant her request.  She doesn’t just ask once for her request but until her desire was granted.  She was going to wear him out!  The judge recognized her persistence to the point of her “bothering him” so he grants it.  Yet, Jesus teaches us an important principle about prayer from the elect: persistence pays off.  Our Heavenly Father loves us; we are His chosen ones who cry out day and night.  It’s only those who are diligent in prayer will see the rewards.  (Hebrews 11:6)  Our Father will not put off our request, He will answer us quickly.  Keep in mind; God’s timing isn’t like ours.  A delayed answer doesn’t mean God is absent or unaware of the situation; He is working behind the scenes to show His glory to all.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Enormous Walls, Unexpected Ways

If you haven’t noticed, God’s instructions don’t always make sense.  Sometimes, we can scratch our heads with wonder, “Did I hear God clearly?”  “Is He REALLY asking me to do this?  “What if the people laugh at me?” Or gossip about me? 

Question: Who are you TRULY trying to please?

       Although our motives can't be seen; God's clearly aware of why we do things?  It's not comforting to have your heart examined by the Holy Spirit.  God's after a holy life; so the Holy Spirit must operate.  He has to keep our hearts pure, so he examines, finds problems, and brings to the cure.  Our prayer and devotional life is vital for it keeps our hearts searched before the Lord.  We go to the doctor or the dentist to have a yearly check-up.  It's not only vital to one's health but it can prevent major issues from spreading or causing death.  So, it's the same with our hearts being examine before the Lord.

"Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way of everlasting. (Psalm 139:23-24)

Our hearts need to be searched by the Holy Spirit; we can't trust our hearts. "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.  Who can understand it?" Jeremiah 17:9

    It's not always easy to lead; people will question your motives, your thoughts, and your plans.  We can either surrender to defeat or be confident of God's instructions.  Stand confident in God's direction; He has a clear vision of the map.  He's got the whole world.  When we truly desire to please Him; the opinions of others will fade away.  Also, the majority of people's opinions will follow the crowd.  One moment Christ was being praised; three days later He was crucified.  So, if Christ knew what was in the hearts of man, we must be aware. "He did not need man's testimony about man, for he knew what was in man." John 2:25

      If we desire to lead; we must be willing to serve others.  Yet, if we desire to please others for only the honor; we got our reward.  Also, we are not a servant of God. "Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God?  Or am I trying to please men?  If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ." Galatians 1:10  Now don't misunderstand what I say here; we serve people.  Christ said,"The greatest among you will be your servant.  For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted." (Matthew 23:11-12)  Regardless if it’s a secular job or ministry, we will serve people.  The underlining questions:  whose glory are you seeking?  Who do you long to please?  It’s an easy question with our lips with it’s a test of the heart.  Also, it’s completely humbling to our ego.  Ouch!  God’s not worried about your popularity; He wants your obedience.  Being a godly person requires obedience to the voice of God. Moses was called back to Egypt; a place of regret.  Noah was asked to build an ark; he never saw rain.  Joshua was called to walk around the walls of Jericho; he didn't walk once but seven times.  Christ asked Peter to cast his net again; he fished all night without a catch. 

 We can set out to fish with our boat, our knowledge, and our strength but be empty handed because we didn't fish where Christ said.

God will never mislead you!  He will lead us in the path of righteousness for His namesake. (Psalm 23:3)  God’s wisdom is supreme; no man can match it.  You don’t have to defend God’s direction, He will light the way.  We are called to obey His direction; He will defend us.  He will clear show who spoke!  It will silence all the skeptics and doubters.  As you face those enormous walls with unexpected ways-remember no enemy can stand against you because GOD IS FOR YOU! (Romans 8:31)

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Pain Brings Healing

Pain doesn't discriminate; it comes to all who live and breathe.  No one will escape pain upon this earth, even our precious Savior suffered.  The nailed hands of Jesus don't only prove He understands our scars, He paid for our healing.  No matter how deep the scar; He can heal the soul.  As the painful memories surface, we can feel the pain re-surface or seem it's intensified to blind our faith.  The pain is so present, real, and overwhelming to our mind, it can causes us to question if God is present.  "Where is God?" Do I even matter to Him?" "Or  anyone?"  "Does God even know my name?"   If we are not careful, our feelings can control our lives.  It's not wrong to express the anger, frustration, or sorrow before God.  All of our feelings need to be worked through, so we can be made whole.  The book of Psalms truly reveals the heart of the writer, so it reveals the raw emotions we all experience in life.  Whether afraid, angry, burdened, or uncertain the writer expresses their honest heartfelt emotions to God.  The Psalmist was completely honest before God, he withheld nothing.  

In Psalm 13, David expresses the anguish of his heart, he was weary of the affliction. He felt forgotten (v 1); abandoned by God (v 1); Ignored (v 1); wrestled with thoughts (v 2); sorrow (v 2); and defeated (v 2, 4)   

All of David's feelings arose due to the feeling afflicted by King Saul who was savagely pursing his life.  Saul's jealousy for David caused a lengthy persecution lasting about eight or nine years (1 Samuel 27:1)  David openly expresses his emotions, the torment, and desire for relief from the hand of Saul to God.  He was weary from the length battle but God never left his side.  Besides David expressing his emotions, he expressed his faith to God.  He expressed his faith by turning to God (v 1); hope for restoration (v 3); trust in His unfailing love (v 5); rejoice at His rescue (v 3) called out to God (v 3); praised Him (v 6)

Trials have no set time period but they do have an expiration date.  Our pain doesn't have to keep us down, we can overcome it.  We can trust in God's unfailing love; He will hold us, mend us, and complete us.  We don't have to ignore the pain; we can express it.  It doesn't mean we are weak; it means we are human.  Our Savior understands our sorrow, our temptations, and intercedes in our behalf.  "Many are the afflictions of the righteous but the Lord delivers from them ALL." Psalm 34:19

All season of our lives have value; a valuable purpose under Heaven.  Our character is sharpened, our faith renewed, and watching the majesty of God to bring good out of it.  When the pain seems dark; hold unto the light.  "You intended to harm me, but GOD INTENDED IT FOR GOOD to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. (Genesis 50:20)