Why are you so afraid?

Fear is a constant battle we fight. It begins with our thoughts. That first nagging, seemingly insignificant doubt that begins to grow roots and like a weed drains the nutrients from the rest of our mind and soul. It is something that can, in the beginning, seem so small yet cause immense damage.

Fear keeps us from moving forward, it’s instilled in our nature and self defense to take caution or avoid all together something that could cause us pain, whether physical or emotional. But thank God he does not operate within our human limitations. You see, our God is a supernatural one, so everything that he is and brings into our lives goes beyond our own capacity. That is why we can have faith! How else would we be able to believe in something we can not see in front of us? Our entire Christian walk revolves around this very truth.

Which is why God takes fear very seriously. He knows and understands how we react to fear. How we allow it to stop us from accomplishing things, from making decisions, from loving without limits. He is in our lives working non stop so that we could live a life free of fear and completely in His fullness. Yet we constantly doubt, we let that one thought get in the way.

I’m reminded of this in the book of Matthew when Jesus calms the storm. (Matt 8:23-27) It says that as they were crossing “a furious storm came”. So strong that it swept over the boat! So I think it’s safe to say the disciples had a legitimate reason for being afraid. What is astounding is that through all this Jesus was sleeping. I don’t know if any of you have ever tried to sleep while being worried or scared about something. It’s practically impossible, yet Jesus slept during a terrible storm. Knowing that Jesus was also man we can conclude that in order for him to have been sleeping he must have felt peace. He had peace in the storm… That explains why when he woke up he said to them “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?”.

Why are you so afraid? When there is clearly a storm around you, you can be at peace! You can sleep peacefully as Jesus did. The Word says Jesus “got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.” This all happened as they were crossing. Jesus in his complete authority over all commanded the wind and waves to calm. Did you know that he has given us in his name, that very same authority? John 14:12 says “whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things.” You may not be in a storm in the middle of a lake, but are you in a storm in your life? Are you crossing through a season of your life that causes you fear? Are you trying to reach a destination yet have been delayed by a storm? You have all authority as a child of God to command the wind and waves to calm. To rebuke that storm of thoughts that is causing you to have fear. The process God is taking you through may not be finished, but you can still be at peace, and continue forward as you cross to reach the other side.

I join you in prayer in this moment, that all negative, life draining and fearful thoughts be gone in Jesus’s name. I declare peace over your life, even as you cross through the furious storm, and that you would learn who you are in Christ and the authority he has given you in his name. In Jesus’s name, AMEN!

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A God of love

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I have searched for many things in my life. And I have found some pretty significant answers. One being a solution to this world’s growing problems. That answer is love. Not just any “love” but a true, genuine, sacrificial love. Love conquers all. It says in the book of Corinthians that love never fails! What an amazing promise, and I believe it! Love looks for the best in people. It seeks the well being of others and takes our thoughts away from our own selfish ambitions. If driven by it one can achieve unimaginable things. But the only way to achieve this love is going to the source where that love comes from. To the one where it all began, to He who orchestrated the most eventful, historic times driven by love…our Creator….God. He is love. His Word says in 1 John 4:7 “for love comes from God.” You will not find a more life giving, purifying, powerful love than the love of God. There can be many emotions that “seem” like it, but nothing can measure up. It is authentic, it is real, and there is only one true source.

In verse 16 it reads, “God is love. Whoever lives in love, lives in God and God in him.” Meaning if we live in love, walk daily in love, let our actions be led by love then we live in God and God in us! But to walk daily in love is not an easy thing to do. It means looking past the faults of people around us. Whether they have hurt us, annoyed us, betrayed us, whether we think they are deserving or not of our love. God calls us to love even our enemies. ouch. And because the Word says he is love, if He indeed lives in us then everything we do should reflect him. However, that’s not always the case, is it?

I’ll admit my actions do not always reflect this love. When I lose my patience with my children, or am angered by what someone has done or said I am put in a place where I need to consciously make the decision to love. To act in love, to speak in love, to react in love. I am as imperfect as the next person and need of His guidance daily. But my prayer is that my family will see me love like He does. Then the days in my household will become uplifting, filled with growth and progress. Love lifts, heals, protects, perseveres in times of hardship, strengthens and takes you farther than you ever thought possible. It keeps you holding on! Love brings people together, dissipates anger, and brings forth forgiveness. Love is kind, not hurtful. It is selfless and merciful. It makes those who have it stronger, not weaker.

Love heals broken hearts, sustains marriages, and mends broken relationships between parents and their children. It fuels the desire to live!

If this world ran on God’s love it would be quite different. But love is not something we can force onto people, or force them to have. It comes from within, from the deepest part of a person’s being when they have encountered our loving Father. When His love is allowed to run through it brings freedom, joy and peace.

Our God is a God of peace and order. And we sure could use that on this earth right?  There is a solution to the pain and heartache of this world. You and I have the opportunity to encounter it, live it and share it!

Love truly is the answer to our problems. God’s love changes who we are for the better. It leaves no trace of ugliness behind. It cleanses, purifies, and believes.

God I pray that the world may know this love. That those who poses it will stop at nothing to share it, and will open their mouths to speak life. That we would all love each other as you loved us. Amen.

Peace in overload

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I love God’s Word. In a world full of chaos and stress his word is what keeps me grounded and quite honestly sane. It’s easy nowadays to share information, opinions, kind words, hurtful words, scary words…..you get the point. The power to share is literally on our fingertips. But have you ever stopped and thought about the validity of these hundreds of billions of words that are shared EVERY single day? Anyone and I mean anyone can make a video, type a blog or even news article to claim anything they want, be it for good or bad. How can we be at rest when we are bombarded by all this information? Who can we believe? What side should we be on? Should I worry, should I prepare, should I ignore? Thoughts that I’m sure cross all of our minds at some point as we process what we receive, sometimes overloading our brains unnecessarily.

Philippians 4:6 says “Do not be anxious about anything…”. Clearly God has seen the turmoil of the earth the last four billion years….so if he’s telling me I don’t have to be anxious I feel pretty confident I can believe him. He tells us to pray and present everything to him, and that includes our fears and the nagging thoughts of a world without him. I love what verse seven says next; “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding , will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Meaning the peace he’s able to give us surpasses every logical reasoning.

God has given us the Holy Spirit, who is a promoter of peace, a comforter. It is possible to carry out a very active and purposeful life while having a still and peaceful heart. It all starts with our thoughts. Fill your thoughts with good, and good will reside in your heart. Fill with fear and you’ll feel the life drained out of you.

So how can we get rid of the thoughts already inside our heads that don’t promote the peace of God? By thinking on the RIGHT things. We can’t control what happens in the world, what others do or say, even what nature decides to bring our way. But one thing we DO have control over is our thoughts. By changing one thought we change our emotion. Verse eight reads “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy- think about such things.” This will help us stay focused on God and his promises, which he is faithful to see through.

And as for every article, latest piece of news, blog, or social media post you come across, my advice is be wise. Don’t be quick to believe, react to and share everything you come across. Look at the source, is it reliable? Do your research, and ask God to guide you. He will. There definitely is good information out there, reliable and worth sharing. But in the webs of communication there are also opinions, bad intentions, fear, worry…. Listen to the GOOD things. I’m not saying be ignorant of the world around you, but stop and think how you will allow this to make you feel and react.

When in doubt turn to God and his word. The one who will never let us down, HE alone is our security. I can put all my efforts in preparing for every bad thing that might ever happen, but in the end it’s all in vain if I lose my peace and sanity over it.  Think on the goodness of God’s words and promises. Believe in his faithfulness, he NEVER fails.

To the struggling parent, God is with you.

We have three daughters. And if there is something I have found to be harder than pregnancy and labor combined, it is raising them.

They are different from each other, and different from me altogether. They are also growing up at a different time, surrounded by different messages from the world, and in a different environment. I struggled often using methods of “how” I was taught when I really should have been focusing on “what” I was taught. The message delivered is the same, love God, love others, be kind etc. But HOW it is taught has to be different. I can’t expect to raise my daughters using methods that were used with me when I didn’t have to deal with half the things they are facing.

I grew up going to church, but we were not a ministry family. We were like any other family going to church, school, work etc. But my daughters are growing up under the umbrella of our calling. When my husband and I said yes to ministry, we did so as a family. Our kids travel with us to meetings, events, services, practices, you name it. Sometimes I can keep them on schedule and sometimes they are playing hide and seek on the church chairs past their bedtime.

A a parent I have questioned and wondered how this will affect them in the future. But then I remember that God was the one who gave them for me to raise. He knew the lifestyle they were going to be in therefore I believe their personalities and temperament were designed to fit the calling we have as a family. One day they will discover their own calling and continue to do God’s work long after we are gone.

Don’t get me wrong, they are kids and do things kids do. They run, play, cry, whine, pout, get into things, giggle at the wrong times….but one thing is certain, they will never see ministry as something “mom and dad” did but something “WE” did as a family. My job right now is to teach them why we do what we do. Why we pray for the sick, take a meal to someone in need, or pray for the random stranger we met at the store. You don’t have to be a ministry family to do those things. Serving is something all families can and should implement in their lifestyle. That way we create a generation that can be God’s hands and feet in this world.

We don’t have to stress over how what we’re doing is going to affect them. If we put God first in our lives, we can set the example and God will be faithful to guide them in their path and lead them to personally encounter him at the right time.

If there’s any advice I can give parents is this; the only thing you should worry about is whether your kids see Jesus in you. Do they see love and compassion? Do they see a helping hand or someone who lifts others up? Do they see someone who loves God and lives by His word? These memories will stay with them forever and the impact can bear amazing fruit.

Let them see you make and admit mistakes. If you lost your temper or raised your voice, turn it into a teaching moment where you can share with them that you were wrong but God is helping you to be better.

Long before I had children I saw raising a daughter as a scary thing, yet the Lord gave me three. (talk about facing your fears!) But I believe God will not give you something if he wasn’t going to equip you and be there every step of the way.

Mom and dad, breathe! It’s going to be ok! The Lord is always faithful and you’ve got on your side a God who NEVER fails.

A prayer for my children

Our oldest is starting kindergarten this year, and as we run around trying to get everything she needs to prepare for this new stage in her life I couldn't help but take a moment to sit back and reflect on what is the most important "preparing" we can do for her. That spiritual "prep". How can she be prepared to deal with what's ahead? Not just this year, but the rest of her life? I've come to realize there is no greater weapon against the currents of this world than prayer. The prayer of mother or father can move and shake mountains. Which is why I wanted to share this very personal prayer I wrote for all my children, and hopefully inspire you to pray daily for yours. Whether they are in diapers or graduating college, they will always need your covering in prayer.

A prayer for my children:

"God I pray that ALL my children will know you. That they not only encounter you but that their lives may be devoted to you. That your love may shine through them and minister to whoever comes their way. That they may spread your love and joy wherever they go.

That they dare to love deeply and unconditionally, just as you do. That when they speak they lift others and exalt your name. That their lives may reach the potential of what you have created them to be. That they may look to YOU to find themselves, their Creator.

That they not be deceived by the "glamour" in this world or what it claims to offer. But that they walk in wisdom guided by your hand. That they may never change or alter who they are in you because of a lie. But that they stand strong in the face of opposition and be victorious.

God I pray you make me the mother they need to care for them and send them the right direction. Let my guidance always be love filled with a word of life inspired by you. That my words build them up, not tear them down.

That my daughters may be God filled powerful women, devoted to you, their husbands, and their families. That my sons will be courageous men filled with your power and anointing, fighting for souls and for their families. That they care for their wives and children as you care for us.

Teach us how to be the parents they need. Inspiring and comforting, not judgmental or harsh, leading them to you in all we say and do.

Teach us Lord, we are imperfect but willing. We look to you for guidance and strength against all troubles we may face. We trust in you, you are our rock. Our solid foundation, never changing. God almighty forever and ever Amen."

Beauty in the worst times

In those moments we feel stretched to the limit, where we think we're about to snap or even break….that moment contains the most amazing opportunity to encounter God in way we could never imagine.

We are pastors, and contrary to what some believe our life is not perfect. We go through trials. Heavy ones. We cry, we hurt, we bleed. We cry out to God for things others could not imagine, or even understand. Yet I have found in my worst moments, God has never failed to show up. He has shown me he's there. His presence alone is enough to lift all troubles away, even when the solution has not yet come.

In a recent situation I felt my heart growing heavy, and I let impatience get a hold of me. I asked God questions I honestly don't ask him often…..Why are we going through this? What did we do? Where did we go wrong? After a few minutes of genuinely pouring out my anger and speaking to God with transparency I walked out of the room feeling vulnerable, hurt, and waiting for a response.

A little while later as I rocked my youngest I heard the words to a song my husband was playing in the other room. "All I need is you…..all I need is you, Lord." At that moment I felt the Holy Spirit come to comfort me. My heart began to sing and in an instant the heaviness was lifted. God reminded me at that moment that my security lies in Him, not what my eyes see.

I don't need to have it all resolved to have peace. He IS the peace I need. He is faithful to take care of my situation, but in the meantime he wanted me to know HE was enough for me.

Beloved, HE is enough for you. You don't have to have it all figured out, but talk to the one who knows and is constant. Faithful, loving and perfect in all He does. Even in the worst times, there is beauty.

But I don’t have time

If asked what are some things you wish you had time for, what would you say? It’s ironic how living in a time where everything is manufactured to be quicker, more time efficient, we’re still plagued with this all too known phrase “but I don’t have time…”.  I wish I could…but I don’t have time. Countless things could fill in that blank. I wish I could work out, I wish I could spend more time with my kids, I wish I could read my bible more, I wish I could pray more….but I don’t have time. I can’t even count the times I’ve heard this come out of  people’s mouths, even my own.

It wasn’t until I left my job and became a full time mom that I realized if I didn’t have time for something, it was my fault. For a long time I blamed having a job, responsibilities of ministry, and even having kids as an excuse for things I knew were important but I couldn’t get done. I’d constantly think “If only things were this way or that way, then  I’d have time…”. Then I found myself saying those exact same words even when I did have the time. I simply wasn’t making the time.

More than once I’ve heard my husband quote, “Excuses only satisfy the person that makes them…”. And he’s right. Excuses are just that, excuses. And unfortunately the thing people make most excuses for is their spiritual growth. We think God will understand that our lives are “just too busy” to pray, to fast, to serve in ministry…  We tell God “fix this in my life then I’ll have time to serve” or “then I’ll have more time to go to church”. Sound familiar? I hope not, but if you do find yourself saying this, think about Daniel. Daniel was a man of prayer, he had a deep connection with God because he knew the place God deserved in his life. When you intentionally give God the time he deserves, things will change. Everything will begin to align itself in your life, because you have given Him priority.

What a struggle we have sometimes, giving God his rightful place. Daniel 6:10 says that even while knowing the decree that had been placed Daniel prayed,  “just as he had done before.” Even in the face of death Daniel did not waver in his devotional time with God. But how many times do we give up just 5 minutes of morning time with God for 5 more minutes of the snooze button! It’s not that we don’t have time, we simply don’t make the time! When something is a priority in your life you make time for it. Even simple things like brushing your teeth, taking a bath, and eating a meal. You make time for it because you understand its importance. God forbid you go day after day without brushing your teeth because you “don’t have time.” Or go for weeks without showering because you “keep forgetting” or “things keep coming up”.  Excuses.

I’ll leave you with this, a bible commentary I was reading (because I’m nerdy like that) went like this: ” Daniel prayed openly and avowedly; and though a man of vast business, he did not think that would excuse him from daily exercises of devotion. How inexcusable are those who have but little to do in the world, yet will not do thus much for their souls!” Ouch. Priorities….they are priorities because you make them, not because they have the time to be. I encourage you to analyze your life. I don’t pretend to have it all figured out, or to have the perfect handle on managing my priorities. But God has brought this conviction to my heart, and I have to share it. I pray God may become the center of your life so you can enjoy His abundance of blessings. You will never go back!