29 October 2010

Recession Proof: Still Standing

“A long time passed. Then GOD's word came to Elijah. The drought [recession] was now in its third year. The message: "… I'm about to make it rain on the country." I Kings 18:1 MSG

October 12, 2010 marked the three-year anniversary of my position elimination. This event, coupled with the economic adversity/recession present in the world right now has caused the story of Elijah to take on an entirely new meaning to me. It has become an intimate, personal account and not just another Bible story. It is easy for me to insert myself right into the middle of this narrative and imagine what the Old Testament headlines of my story would read.

Single-mother is still standing in the midst of troubling economic times!
Nee D. Facts
Zarephath Examiner

Unemployment rates stay at record highs and one in every 371 families received a foreclosure notice last month, with many actually being displaced from their homes. These are some of the most challenging times our nation has seen and many are wondering how they will make it through.

Last month I reported on my interview with Zenobia Wise, a single-mother of three who has miraculously endured three years of unemployment during the worst economic-drought our nation has seen in some time. Due to overwhelming response from our readers, I am following up with her today to gain additional perspective and to see what has transpired since our last discussion. Here is what she had to say:

Nee D. Facts (NF): Thank you for meeting with me again to discuss your unique circumstances during this recession, during times of economic, social and atmospheric challenges in the world.
Zenobia Wise (ZW): Oh, you are very welcome. It’s my pleasure. These have been tough times around the world – wars and rumors of wars, domestic violence, financial instability and even the weather has proven unpredictable and volatile in many places. There are stormy weather situations which seem to echo the groans of the people of the earth.

NF: We had quite a response from our readers as a result of our first interview ‘Recession Proof’ which printed on September 9, 2010. How have things been going?
ZW: Well, I am still standing! It has been challenging but I still have a tremendous amount of joy and peace.

NF: I understand that there was a situation, um, development with your home since our last interview…
ZW: Yes. Ironically, the day the interview printed - where I talked about God keeping us in our home these three years - I received notice that my home was in the paper and scheduled to be sold at auction on September 22nd.

NF: I’m sorry to hear that. I guess the idea that anyone’s life can be recession proof is just not possible in this environment.
ZW: With all due respect, Nee, I would have to disagree.

NF: How so? Aren’t you experiencing the same plight as many of our readers – even the same as many who do not believe in your recession-proof God?
ZW: I do face similar challenges and, in some cases, the same troubling circumstances. After all, rains and the storms that bring them do not discriminate – they fall on everyone equally. However, there is a marked difference in how one goes through a situation – how I am going through.

NF: Could you explain?
ZW: Well, there is the person who goes through situations, financial or otherwise, who cannot sleep, who drinks to numb the pain and who compromises their values to secure their place in life. Then there is the person who has a peace which passes understanding (Phil. 4:7). In the midst of a thousand storms raging in their life, they have been stilled internally. They understand that God is their source, their provider and protector and they know that their favor comes from Him.

NF: But some would say that favor has not come your way. Laid off in October 2007 – I understand that you are still without work and by your own admission you have lost your home.
ZW: It is true that I have not found permanent full-time employment. However, I have not lost my home.

NF: But you said that it was scheduled to be sold at auction on September 22nd.
ZW: It was. And the twenty-second came and went with no word regarding whether it actually sold on that date. Then a freeze was placed on all foreclosures two weeks after my scheduled sale date.

NF: That’s too bad – if only it had been a few weeks earlier?
ZW: Well, I just spoke with someone regarding my home last week and they advised that the process is on hold. So I count it as a blessing. God is still supplying and truthfully, keeping the house or losing the house is not the primary issue right now – trusting God unconditionally is the real victory!

NF: Like I said during our last interview, ‘Seems an uncertain way to live.’
ZW: Like I said during our last interview, 'Life is uncertain. But one thing is sure and it is the faithfulness of God. When things get really scary … I hear this inner voice which says, ‘Trust Me!’ That voice, and my coming into agreement with that command, has given me more peace than I’ve ever had.’ Those who trust in the Lord will not be disappointed.

NF: What has been most difficult?
ZW: There are so many things that are equally difficult. But I think one of the biggest has been my name being ruined – my integrity being tainted.

NF: How so?
ZW: Well, when I make a promise to a person or company, my intent is to keep my word. It bothers me that I have not been able to pay my financial obligations timely. I do not think it is a good Christian witness. I find it extremely troubling, especially since I was on track to becoming completely debt-free prior to my layoff. I gave tithes and offerings (and continue to); when I got raises, I did not increase my standard of living; and if we couldn’t pay cash, we wouldn’t buy it – clothes, vacations, even the car I bought for my mom.
NF: That is sad.

ZW: Then there is the impact on family relations. Financial struggles can really test the strength of a relationship. Me, my kids and my mom all live here. And there really has to be a conscious decision made that we are all going to come out of this situation one day and we will all come out TOGETHER. You have to abandon feelings during times like this and operate off of commitment.

NF: So, there’s the impact to family and reputation - anything else?
ZW: There is the struggle of maintaining your identity. Most people cannot identify with being rejected for years – three years and countless job applications – it takes a toll especially when you look at the needs of your family and know that you are responsible.

ZW: Everyone has an opinion, ‘If I were you, I would …’

If we only had the same level of clarity to solve our own problems that we seem to possess in addressing everyone else’s issues - this would be an ideal world. ‘Change this, try that, go on welfare, get some food stamps, lie on your application and say you made less than you actually did at your last job, dumb yourself down for interviews.' It is amazing some of the feedback I have received.

It is so important to make sure you are receiving godly counsel and to reject those things that do not align with the Word of God. And even with the morally acceptable feedback, you have to be careful. Something might work for someone else – and it might not be ungodly – but it is not the right thing for you. You really have to talk to God and read His Word. He promises to direct our steps and lead us in paths that are good. (Prov. 16:9 & Ps. 23:3)

NF: What are the best things that have happened - either in the past three years or since we last spoke?
ZW: My faith is increasing. It is getting stronger every day. And I am getting a lot of activity on my blogs ‘Christianblog’and 'zenobiawise.blogspot.com' On one of the blogs, we’ve got readers in twenty-two countries outside of the United States.

NF: You say ‘we’. Have you partnered with someone?
ZW: Father, Son and Holy Spirit - and the community of readers. They are why I write.

NF: Anything else?
ZW: Miracles are still happening. I was praying about groceries one Sunday morning a couple of weeks ago and I told God, ‘I don’t know how I am going to buy groceries this week, but I trust You.’ Then I went to church and ended up staying for both services. Well, at the end of that second service, someone walked past me and dropped $300 in my lap. They said that God spoke to them and told them to give it to me.

God’s Word is true. He says, 'I will answer them before they even call to me. While they are still talking about their needs, I will go ahead and answer their prayers!' Isaiah 65:24 NLT While I was praying about my situation, God was already talking to someone else about the solution. We just need to leave it in His hands and let Him handle things. Not to say that we are to be inactive – we actively do EVERYTHING we know to do – and then we leave the results to God. He is faithful!

NF: Amazing!
ZW: I know, huh!?! It was great, especially considering that God had put it on my heart to give a gift to someone else. Once I received that money, I returned the tithe, paid some bills, gave the financial gift that was on my heart and got food for my family.

God has also opened a door for me to talk with a publisher next month about my book.

NF: What is the title again?
ZW: When Storms Rage21 Principles to Keep You Anchored Through Life’s Toughest Moments

NF: What principles have been most important to you?
ZW: Well, they are all important – but if I had to pick: Expect Great Things, Keep Moving and Remember the Lord.

I can live without friends. I can live without finances. I can even live without a house if absolutely necessary.

But, I cannot live without hope. And, my hope is in Christ - it is in my faith and my relationship with Him. That hope keeps me moving - it keeps me believing and it keeps me worshipping God no matter what happens. And remembering God gives me peace and comfort and grace to do all things. My relationship with Him is everything to me.

NF: Last words of encouragement?
ZW: It has been said, ‘A picture is worth a thousand words.’ Well, in God’s kingdom, one word from Him can invoke a thousand images of the future He has prepared for you. And there will be times when you have to stand upon that word you heard from the Lord. But you must understand that it will not be easy. Others, though well intentioned, may discourage you. Because they have not heard what you heard God say to you, they may not be able to see what you see.

Keep moving. Keep walking by faith and not by sight (II Cor. 5:7). Though the vision may take a while to manifest, wait for it. It will not be late. It will come in God’s perfect timing. (Hab. 2:3) Keep trusting. He who promised is faithful. And, 'I'm absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God's love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us (Rom. 8:38-39 MSG).’ Ephesians 6:13 in the Amplified tells us, ‘… stand your ground on the evil day [of danger], and, having done all [the crisis demands], to stand [firmly in your place].’ Keep right on standing!

NF: Thank you again for talking to us today.
ZW: Thank you and God Bless!

25 October 2010

Who is in your passenger seat?

Last week I heard one of the most unimaginable and troubling stories I have heard in a while.

The words of the news reporter were something like this, ‘Today at noon, we’ll tell you about a woman who drove around for ten months with a dead body in her passenger seat.’

Now, my first thought was that they were sensationalizing the news again and trying to hook viewership. However, when I watched the news later, it was an actual segment. Apparently police officers came upon an automobile which was illegally parked and were shocked when they realized there was a corpse in the passenger seat.

The woman had supposedly been driving around with this body for approximately ten months. Allegedly, she had befriended a homeless person who she would let sleep in her car and went out one day to realize her friend was dead. Then, afraid to contact the authorities, the woman continued to drive around with and even dress the corpse for several months.

Now, when I heard this news, the first thing I thought after, ‘that is so sad’ was, ‘how could she deal with the stench?’

As I sat thinking about it, a couple of questions arose:
If the spirit man is alive and the flesh is dead, why are so many still driving around with the corpse? And, how do we as believers deal with the stench?

In Ephesians 4:21-24 NLT, Paul admonishes the believers, ‘Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from Him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.’

Colossians 3:3,5 says, ‘For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.’

What is he saying?
The message is that we should not be socializing with our flesh man. In fact, we are the ones who are to put our flesh man to death.

Understand that there is no amount of air freshener that can combat the stench of decaying flesh. And we should not cater to the desires of our flesh as if it were a living thing. No, we are called to die daily and we live with the understanding that ‘Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires (Gal. 5:24).’

In Colossians 3:1 Paul says, ‘If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.’

Who, or what, is in your passenger seat?

Do not allow lifeless and decaying thoughts, attitudes, behaviors or people to occupy your life. Don’t be afraid to call upon the authority of God’s Word to have those dead things removed from your presence. They must come to new life in Christ Jesus or they must leave your life and find their way to the place where dead things go.

Certainly they cannot travel through life with you in your passenger seat.

19 October 2010

when love hurts

What can you do when love hurts?

In my last entry, I talked about the importance of our understanding when signs lie and steps to keep in the center of God’s will. Well, now I feel the need to share information on the times when love hurts, which can go hand-in-hand with the signs that lie.

You see, as humans, there is a natural tendency to judge situations by what we see or experience – by the signs in our lives and what we perceive to be true.

If someone has a theological degree and prays a long time, we might conclude that they are godly. While someone who is quieter and new to the faith might be labeled as spiritually immature.

If an individual has great material wealth, we think they have the favor of God upon their life. However, someone with less can be viewed as not possessing the blessings of God. Some may even question why it seems that God loves that materially prosperous person more.

Yet, in coming up with these conclusions, we can unintentionally assume a somewhat childlike approach in evaluating situations and circumstances.

When my children were extremely young, toddlers, they would at times assess my love for them based upon what I did or did not do. If I provided something enjoyable, their praises would resound, ‘You’re the greatest mom!’ If they did not like what was happening, they were not happy and I would get the occasional, ‘You don’t love me.’

It is interesting. You can go through nine-months of pregnancy and endure the impact on that cute little figure you once had. You can go through hours of labor, stay up all day and night for feedings and endure the financial impact of raising a child but – you don’t love them because you won’t give them a second treat before dinner. It makes perfect sense right? No, not really – but I digress.

My point is that children have a way of looking at things that is not based on reality. It is based on perception and demonstrates an immature knowledge of the true nature and character of their parent.

My children are MUCH older now and I am certain they are very sure of my overwhelming love for them at this point. However, I could sense some real tension recently when my son had to get a back brace. Diagnosed with a severe case of scoliosis, he will have to wear it for the next five years or until he is finished growing. Now for those of you who are not familiar with a back brace – it is this extremely hard vest made of plastic which has to be individually molded to address the specific curves in my son’s back. It has three straps which have to be pulled tightly and my son has to wear it for twelve hours per day.

Needless to say, those first few days with the brace were less than pleasant – and that is putting it mildly. Understandably, he was extremely uncomfortable. He was also less than thrilled with me. You see, I have to be the enforcer. I have to make sure he wears the brace and I am the one to ‘lock him in’ since the straps are on the back.

‘It’s too tight. It’s too uncomfortable. It makes me hot.’ He even told me that he would rather have a twisted back than to have to wear that brace. And suddenly I found myself faced with the dilemma of what to do when love hurts.

So, I did what any good parent would do -

And I will continue to make him wear it and strap him in as long as it’s needed. I look at the pen markings that the doctor placed on those straps – the lines which tell me how tight to pull those straps – and I do what I have to do as a loving parent.

I explained to my son that I was doing it because I love him, that I was willing to have him mad at me for the next five years and would gladly watch him go through the pain today in order to spare him even greater pain, and possible deformity, later in life.

Then something amazing happened.
In that instant, God spoke to my spirit and said,
‘And that is how I love you.’
It is how He loves each one of us.

II Corinthians 4:17 tells us that, ‘our light affliction is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.’ As such, I have to look past my son’s short-sided view of today’s pain and keep my focus on his future and the rewards that will come tomorrow from the discipline of wearing that brace today. God does the same thing. He is willing to have us endure momentary affliction because He knows it will yield future rewards. He loves us that much. He loves us even when it hurts.

And, while He loves us all equally – He loves us all uniquely.

Just like that brace had to be specifically crafted to address the unique bends in my son’s spine; God crafts a tailor-made path for each of His children which sets the crooked places straight. (Is. 42:16)

Just like the doctor marked those straps to ensure the right amount of tension – not too loose and not too tight – our heavenly Father knows just what is needed for proper development. He says He will not put more on us than we can bear and also reminds us that His grace is sufficient for anything we will face in our individual walk. (I Cor. 10:13, II Cor. 12:9)

Just like the hardness and discomfort of that brace, the circumstances which He allows in our lives have a purpose. ‘We are hard pressed on every side, we are not crushed; we are perplexed, but we are not in despair.’ (II Cor. 4:8)

That brace, today, provides boundaries – a structured yet constrictive form – to ensure proper health and development for tomorrow. God’s love for us is no different. And just like my son has to wear that brace until he stops growing, we must understand that ours is a lifelong journey which will always require God’s guidance, until we stop growing – and let us hope that is never.

Therefore I can take comfort even in some of the pain which I experience. You see, if I understand the nature and character of my parent – my heavenly Father – I can lean on the truth of His Word, trust in the holiness of His nature and stand on the strength of His promises.

Jeremiah 29:11 reveals His heart for us, ‘I know the thoughts that I think toward you,’ says the Lord, ‘thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope’

Romans 8:28 provides the promise whereby ‘we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.’

When I allow these truths to be the umbrella which covers everything that happens in my life, I can endure it with joy, grow with grace and walk in victory – EVEN WHEN LOVE HURTS.

16 October 2010

when signs lie

Something happened earlier this week as I was driving.

I was traveling along and had just pulled to the side of the expressway to let a fire truck pass. However, as I started driving again, my son who was in the passenger seat asked, ‘Why are we driving so slow?’

This question puzzled me to a degree because I thought we were going at an adequate speed. Then I looked at the speedometer and realized it was reading zero. Instinctively, I started applying the brake. I think subconsciously, I wanted to make sure that I was not speeding.

Immediately, and for the rest of that trip, I started to gauge my speed based upon my feelings and the cars around me. It was twenty miles to get to where I was going. It felt like the longest ride ever. When I got to campus, turned the car off and restarted it, everything worked fine.

However, this little episode did two things: Stressed me out just a little bit and Got me thinking about the impact when signs lie.

Looking at the sign of the speedometer, my son and I came to two different conclusions – neither of which I believe were accurate. Seeing the needle on zero, he thought we were driving too slowly. And I – looking at the cars and working with a thorough knowledge of my tendency to have a bit of a ‘heavy foot’ – assumed I was likely going too fast. Both observations were based upon the signs we had available.

However, there are moments when you cannot use the signs because, they lie. We see this demonstrated within the kingdom of God quite a bit.

The Lord says in Isaiah 55:8-9, 'My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.’ As such, the signs in His kingdom are often inconsistent with human reasoning.

Being poor, can be rich, going down is actually ascension; death is life; demotion results in promotion; standing still is moving forward and remaining silent, can speak volumes.

Joseph was thrown into a pit, sold into slavery, falsely accused of attempted rape and put in prison. And he might have concluded that he missed God’s message and had fallen out of favor – if he read those signs. But the signs lied. Everything that happened, which looked like the wrong thing, was the right thing to set him up for promotion to the second highest office in Egypt. (Genesis 37-41)

The nation of Israel sent spies over into their land of promise. They wanted to survey the land and get an estimation of what challenges stood before them. There were plenty of signs: clusters of grapes so large that they had to be carried on poles between two men and a land flowing with milk and honey. However there were also large fortified cities and giants. Ten of the twelve looked at the latter signs and slowed things down to a stop. They convinced themselves and all of Israel that it was an impossible situation. The good was too good to be true and the bad seemed insurmountable. But those signs of giants and fortified cities were lies – lies which convinced them that what they saw was more powerful than who they were and more powerful than the invisible but ever-present, all-knowing, all-mighty God. (Numbers 13-14)

Later – during Israel’s second attempt at entering their promised land - Rahab received a promise. After helping two spies, she was promised that she and her family would be rescued during the impending invasion by the Isaraelites. For six days they marched around the city. Yet no rescue came. On the seventh day, they marched around the city seven times and gave a mighty shout which caused the city walls to start falling. As those walls began to crumble, all the signs would seem to indicate that Rahab had been forgotten. But the signs lied. She was positioned for deliverance and ushered into a future she would never have imagined for herself. She was a textbook example for ‘being still and seeing the salvation of the LORD’ – even when the signs likely made her want to run and escape. (Joshua 2,6)

Why is all of this important?

If we do not understand that signs sometimes lie – we will react based upon what we see. We will speed up or slow down, and we might even come to a complete stop. This is dangerous.

We must stay in-step with God to ensure we remain in the center of His will. The estimation of our progress cannot be based on the signs or on how fast or slow someone else is traveling. It must be done through individual prayer, through study of His Word and through consistent application of His principles.

Once we know what His Word says and understand what His will is, we can stand or move in that truth, no matter what the signs appear to be telling us.

The signs say you have been defeated.
But God says that you a more than a conqueror in Christ! (Rom. 8:37)

The signs say you are losing everything.
But God says that He will supply every need! (Phil. 4:19)

The signs say it is an impossible situation.
But God says nothing is impossible with Him! (Matt. 19:26)

The signs say it is too hard for you to do.
But God says His Holy Spirit works in you to want and to do what pleases Him! (Phil. 2:13)

Understand that He who promised is faithful also to bring it to pass – no matter what your situation looks like. (Heb. 10:23)

I guess that is why God told us to walk by faith and not by sight!

I like what it says in the Amplified version of II Corinthians 5:7, ‘For we walk by faith [we regulate our lives and conduct ourselves by our conviction or belief respecting man's relationship to God and divine things, with trust and holy fervor; thus we walk] not by sight or appearance.’

Keep your eyes on God – especially when signs lie!

14 October 2010


As I prayed this morning and started to think about what to read today, I felt drawn to the book of Ezekiel, the thirty-seventh chapter.
• I read through verses five through nine where Ezekiel spoke to the dry bones and they arose.
• I read the words from the Lord where He talked about the dry bones and their desperate cry, ‘Our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves are cut off!’ (Ez. 37:11)
• Then I read about His promises, “Behold, O My people, I will open your graves and cause you to come up from your graves … Then you shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O My people, and brought you up from your graves. I will put My Spirit in you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I, the LORD, have spoken it and performed it”, says the LORD.' (Ez. 37:12-14)


I started to think about those miners, thirty-three men, who were rescued yesterday. And in an instant, their situation made me think of the condition of many individuals today. Although these men were not in a true grave - because they were not dead - it was a grave of sorts. They were buried alive within the earth. They were living, but in a dark space of confinement. They were being fed, but they were still contained.

Yet they were delivered from that grave – brought back from the pit, up and out into the light – the transition so significant that they needed shades to protect their eyes from the brightness.

Thirty-Three Men, Sixty-Nine Days

I went on to read Psalm 102

‘Hear my prayer, O LORD, and let my cry come to You. Do not hide Your face from me in the day of my trouble; incline Your ear to me in the day that I call, answer me speedily.’ (Ps. 102:1-2)

I could hear the voice of the afflicted - what those men might have cried out, sitting underground as hours turned to days, then weeks, then months; what many believers may be crying out as they face extreme situations, feeling dryness in their spirit


I could hear the cries of the Lord Jesus Christ, as the psalmist recorded his plight of:
Extreme physical pain (vs. 3)
Extreme loneliness (vs. 6-7)
Reproach from enemies (vs. 8)
Suffering indignation and wrath (vs. 10)


Yet, with all the suffering, there again was A PROMISE

‘This will be written for the generation to come, that a people yet to be created may praise the LORD. For He looked down from the height of His sanctuary; from heaven the LORD viewed the earth, to hear the groaning of the prisoner, to release those appointed to death.’ (Ps. 120:18-20)


He hears the groans of those held captive – of those who have been appointed to death – but who He has commanded to live.

And here is the beautiful thing:
God does not just deliver those in lost physical situations who need to be saved and find a way out. He redeems those who are spiritually lost in sin and need to be saved unto eternal life. And, He lovingly revives and rescues those who are saved and have lost their way.

So I return to where I started in the book of Ezekiel,
And I speak to the people of God today –

To those who are ‘called to salvation’ but have not received that call:
I say ‘Live!’ Recognize that the voice of the Lord is calling out to you today. He has already paid the price for your sins and mine. And He longs to rescue you from your appointment with death. Answer the call and ask Jesus to come into your life. Be redeemed from the grave, drawn out from a dark place and into the marvelous light of relationship with God. (Jn. 3:16-17, Jn. 12:46)

To those who are ‘the called’, who have already received salvation:
I boldly declare the Word of the Lord and say to you also today, ‘Live!’

Upon the Word of the Lord and the sacrifice of Jesus, I decree that you do not have to remain entombed in the dark place of spiritual dryness where the storms of life have trapped you. (Lk. 4:18)

Just as those bones in the valley were clothed with sinews and flesh and skin –May you recognize that the Lord God Almighty has robed you in the righteousness of Christ (II Cor. 5:21)

As the prophet spoke to the winds for breath of life – May the Holy Spirit breathe into you a fresh anointing and newness of life today (Acts 2:2-4; Ps. 92:10, 12-15)

And, having been rescued, may we arise, a vast and exceedingly great army – Abounding in Love, Led by Wisdom, Filled with Power and Enabled by Grace!

God Bless You!

12 October 2010

Imagine the Worst

Take a moment and take a trip with me-

For an instant, I want you to IMAGINE

Imagine the very WORST thing you can think up

Not what we have been taught as believers is it?

We’re always told to hope, to believe, to envision the promises of God manifest in our life.

I started thinking about this last week, knowing that I was coming up on the three year anniversary of my job ending. Today is the exact date - only three years later.

During these past three years, there have been many moments when I have benefited from thinking on the best, where I have done what scripture tells us in Philippians 4:8 ESV, '...whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.'

However, I have found that in the instant where I imagined the worst [or what I perceive to be the worst], it brought with it amazing clarity.

Allow me to explain

In the past five years, and even before, some unimaginable things have happened to me. I say unimaginable because they are not things I would have imagined for my life.

Growing up, my ambition was to get married and be a mom. Now some have scoffed at the thought of that being my sole ambition as a teenager – but that was my heart’s desire. Once I was married, the worst thing I could imagine would be getting divorced and having to raise my children on my own. Well, it happened. It did not kill me, I survived and God was still God.

Later in life, the worst thing I could imagine would have been losing my health. It happened. In 2006 I was diagnosed with Fibro-Myalgia, cardiac issues, a blood disorder and Lupus symptoms – to name a few – and experienced days I could not even walk. It did not kill me. I survived and God was still God.

Once I got sick, I started imagining what it would be like if I could not provide for my children. And I was so thankful to God that I had an excellent paying job. The worst thing to imagine as a single-parent would be to lose that job and not have income. Well, it happened. It did not kill me. I am surviving and God is still God.

During the past three years of unemployment, it would have been devastating to imagine these challenges compounded by the illness or death of loved ones. Well, all three of my sons faced significant medical situations in the past three years. Further I have sat by, even as I prayed for healing, and watched an aunt and an uncle go home to be with the Lord. As painful as these circumstances were, they did not kill me. I survived and God is still God.

Just recently my home was scheduled for sale at auction. That was a worst-case scenario that I did not want to imagine. But it happened. And it did not kill me. I have survived and, no surprise, God is still God.

And now, at this point, I believe the only thing I am left with is the threat of death. Yet this is not a threat for the child of God – for the one who has accepted the free gift of salvation and proclaimed Jesus as Lord and Savior.

We can take solace, because we know that Christ has given His life for us. ‘God so loved the world that He gave His Only begotten Son, that whosoever should be believe in Him – would not perish but experience eternal life (Jn. 3:16).’ We shall be with Him for all eternity and no circumstance on earth can change that reality.

The one who accepts Christ has put on incorruption!
Even if the body is destroyed, the spirit will live on in eternity.

'So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory. O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?” The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.’ I Cor. 15:54-58

You see, as a believer whose foundation is the Word of God – when you imagine the worst – you cannot help but to also realize the best.

When you have imagined the worst that you can think up – and it actually occurs – there is a comfort that comes when you see that it did not kill you. The world did not end. It did not destroy your relationship with God. Life can and does, indeed, go on and God is still God.

In that moment, you discover a strength and confidence you never knew you always had. You find a reason to smile, when by all human accounts, you should be crying. You find a reason to praise and you defy the enemy who thought you would curl up and die.

In that instant you realize and boldly declare:
'What can separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.’ Rom. 8:35, 37-39

Imagine That!

06 October 2010

Are You Ready For A Miracle?

• In 2007 it was heaven – divine completion
• In 2008 it was great – new beginnings
• In 2009 it was fine – fair judgments, placing things in order
• In 2010 we win – divine perfection

In 2007 the requests came for $70 dollars or $700 dollars

In 2008 it was time to give an $80 offering, or an $800 offering, or those unique individuals who God was calling to give an $8000 offering

In 2010 why not sow one-hundred dollars, or one-thousand dollars, or ten-thousand dollars! Further, why not give your financial gift on 10.10.10? After all, this date won’t occur for another 1,000 years.

Now, please do not misunderstand me. My intent is not in any way to minimize the significance of numbers in the Bible. There are great lessons which can be learned from actively studying the patterns which God uses throughout His Word.

I also do not intend to minimize the laws of sowing and reaping. God is not mocked. Whatever a man sows, that, he shall also reap. Therefore each man should give joyfully and generously according to what he has purposed in his heart, between him and God.

I consistently give tithes and offerings myself. And there certainly are times when God instructs you to give a certain amount or to sow a financial gift in faith. My concern is this - that with some of the messages I see and hear lately, it has the potential to leave people confused into thinking they can buy a blessing or a breakthrough.

The problem is: I cannot begin to tell you how many people I have seen become disillusioned with God because some preacher left them with the impression that if they gave a certain dollar amount, they would receive a breakthrough. Equally as dangerous are the well-intentioned slogans which might not come to fruition in the life of EVERY believer in the way that it was implied. The slogans which I outlined are true. But, when you tie it to finances or material gain or even healings and breakthroughs, there is the potential to leave believers with shattered beliefs. That is simply not the way it works.

God’s heart IS to bless His people. And, in most cases, I do not think that the intent of the messages is to be malicious or manipulative in nature. However, we must keep the following in mind:

To those receiving the messages: Understand that you cannot buy your way out of the season of your life. It will only end when God has ordained it to end.

To those delivering the messages: The hope that we have is Jesus. Christ plus nothing yields everything. The person who truly has a heart for God and who is becoming more like Christ everyday does not have to be offered "slogan hope" or be gimmicked into giving. They know Christ is their salvation. Giving is part of their nature, their spiritual DNA, because they are like the One who created them. God so loved the world that HE GAVE. Gave what? Things? No. Healings? No. Favor? No. God so loved the world that He Gave His Son, His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him would not perish but have everlasting life (Jn. 3:16). He gave His Son, He gave Himself. True believers have a substantive and godly hope. They trust because He has redeemed them. And they give because they are like their Creator.

Christ is our hope of glory. Therefore, we can experience heaven here on earth; we can feel great and fine in the midst of the storm; we can know that we have victory no matter what is happening in our lives at any given time. Recognize that 2007 was heaven, 2008 was great, 2009 was fine and we do win in 2010 - just like we do in every other year - not because of the year or how much we give - BUT BECAUSE OF CHRIST ALONE!

If I have Christ, I have everything -
Because I have the One who holds all things, the One who created it all

Jesus gives us life so that we can enjoy all things. But, sadly, there is a tendency for people to ask for things so that they can enjoy life. He said in John 10:10, 'I am come that they might have life and life more abundantly.' He came so we could experience life to its fullest - not things – although He is not adverse to us having things.

However -

If our joy cannot be complete with Jesus alone, it will never be complete with Him and all the things, to include ideal situations and circumstances. There will always be a searching for something more. And what could possibly be more valuable than Jesus? How can we be any more blessed than we are by having Him present in our lives?

Even I must apologize. You see, I posted a blog a few weeks ago on 'dive-favor' which I noted as a God-favor which explosively invades every area of your life. Yet, the truth of the matter is, God 'cannon-balled' into my life the day I accepted Jesus Christ as my LORD and Savior. The presence of stuff and what we perceive to be favor is no more an indication of His presence any more than the lack of those things are an indication of His absence.
• He cannot NOT be present. He is omnipresent
• It is not possible for Him to be unaware of what you or I am experiencing. He is omniscient
• There is no problem too great for Him. He is omnipotent

Faith in Him and His character are all that are needed. 'And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.'(Heb. 11:6)

No Gadgets, No Gimmicks, Just Jesus

02 October 2010

you have a friend request

Some of you may be aware of some of the challenges I have been facing of late: out of work for just shy of three years, facing some financial struggles and a foreclosure in process.

I’ve been very open about these experiences even though I have never been one to be open about any of my personal matters. It has been my hope, in sharing, that someone will find encouragement and come to the realization that God is always in control, able to surround you with peace and fill you with joy, able to protect and provide and worthy of praise at all times.

So, tell me why I received a ‘friend request’ from a gentleman who calls himself ‘Homeless for the Holidays’?

I am convinced that the enemy is sick and tired of me standing IN CHRIST

Now I am guilty, at times, of over-spiritualizing things. And it likely was a simple and genuine friend request. I mean, the movie that this person based their profile upon is about a man, an executive, who lost his job, had trouble finding employment and was faced with the challenge of trying to provide for his family while being threatened with losing everything. Sounds familiar ...

However, I immediately had to focus on the spiritual component and the fact that it could very well have been a fiery dart from the enemy, designed and aimed to taunt and to instill fear.

Ephesians 6:12 tells us, 'our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.’

Whatever it was – I do not believe it was coincidence or chance

And while I might take the opportunity to watch the movie –
I declined that friend request


Psalm 91 delivers the promise that, 'He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.’

That verse has become my friend. It speaks to my present and my future.
My dwelling place is in the shelter of the Most High. My rest is in His shadow.

Surely GOD Himself has prepared a dwelling place for me and He has a dwelling place in me. Because He lives in me, all of His power, provision and protection are present in my life at all times. I am His friend and He cannot deny His friend anymore than He can deny Himself. He has promised me a place to dwell. Therefore, I cannot be friends with ‘Homeless’. I cannot be friends with the truth of God's Word and also socialize with a directly opposing mindset - and neither can you.

• If your vision is to be debt-free, why are you accepting ‘friend requests’ from random cashiers in department stores when they ask, ‘Would you like to open a line of credit?’
• If your vision is for a healthy marriage, be cautious of ‘friend requests’ in the form of innocent conversations and lunches.
• If you are sick and tired of being bound by drugs which make you sick and tired – why are you still accepting invitations to parties where you can befriend other drug addicts?

Not everything that says it wants to be your friend has your best interest in mind.

James 4:4 questions and warns us: 'Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God.’

Choose friendships which align themselves with the plans that God has for your life – whether those friendships be with individuals, institutions or ideologies. Connect only with those things which are headed where you are going, which will facilitate the future God has ordained for you.

Choose your friends carefully.

Eve befriended and socialized with a snake and sin entered the world. Sampson befriended Delilah and got his eyes gouged out. Jonathan befriended David and his descendant sat at King David's table. Ruth befriended Naomi and found her place in the lineage of the Messiah. A nameless criminal befriended Jesus, while they both hung on crosses, and he found his place in eternity.

Consider carefully those friend requests - both the ones you receive and the ones you extend