07 November 2013

'I AM' coming out of this ...

'And Gideon said unto him, “Oh my lord, if the Lord be with us, why then has all this befallen us? And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us of ...' Judges 6:13

If the LORD be with us, why then has all this befallen us?
And where are all His miracles?
Gideon, I am sure, is not the only individual who has ever asked that question.

I started this post on September 6, 2012 and it has been sitting in draft since that date. When I started writing this post, it was entitled ‘If the LORD be with us…’ However, that title had to change with something that took place a few days ago.

 You see, three days ago I heard a message from TD Jakes and he was talking about storms - a topic of great interest to me given that they are a part of daily life and the subject of my yet to be published book 'When Storms Rage - 21 Principles to Keep You Anchored Through Life's Toughest Moments’.

As he talked about the situations that people face, he encouraged them to speak out and declare: 'I am coming out of this!'

Whether it be a storm of health issues, financial reversals, relationship problems, parenting challenges or any one of a thousand different life challenges that one can experience, he kept reminding them that God is with them in the storm and that He would bring them out. Therefore, they could declare with confidence, 'I am coming out of this'.

Great feedback - not revolutionary by any means. However, it is a message absolutely necessary as it is often the routine and 'seemingly obvious' things that are the source of struggles we face and that have a tendency to cause us to stumble. His message was inspiring hope in the hearts of his listeners and providing much needed encouragement. Yet beyond the encouragement that it gave me regarding the fact that I am coming out of my situation(s), was the perspective that it sparked.

'I am coming out of this’

‘I am coming out of this!’

I could feel faith increasing each time I verbalized those words.

However, repeated several times in my mind, the message that took root and immediately started to germinate was not of me emerging from my situation. The deeper, more meaningful reality that I started to hear, and recognize, and ‘see’ was this:

'I AM' … coming out of this

Out of every situation and circumstance, the LORD emerges and His glory is evident to all who stand as witnesses to the trials, to my trials and yours.

Yes, more important than me vocalizing ‘I am coming out of this!’ is me declaring with confidence: ‘I AM’ coming out of this

The glory of the great ‘I AM’,
The One who stands as LORD over everything,
Is coming out of this ...

Yet, you may ask, ‘What is the ‘this’?
It is different for every one of us.

For some the ‘this’ we desire is to come out of financial reversals. For some, the ‘this’ is health challenges. For others the ‘this’ is parenting problems, while others face the ‘this’ of marital strife. Many face the 'this' of religious persecution. And, then there are still others who face the ‘this’ of frustrations encountered on the path to destiny.

Whatever the ‘this’ is in your life – and mine
We must let this one revelation sink into our spirit

I AM’ coming out of this

If you read that entire story of Gideon, you find that GOD set him up in battle of seemingly insurmountable odds. Beginning with 32,000 men, by God’s direction, Gideon ended up going into battle against the Midianite army with only 300 men who, by Biblical accounts, ‘lapped water like dogs’. A most unlikely leader with an insignificant army in both size and distinction.

WHY WOULD GOD DO THAT???

So that Gideon, his army and even his enemies would recognize with clarity and see
‘I AM’ COMING OUT OF THIS

Understand that God will intentionally place us in what should be, by all human accounts, a losing battle. And He does it so that, when He brings us out, it is not just us coming out of the situation – but His glory comes out, revealed in and through every situation.

Weary heart … take courage tonight!

The LORD GOD ALMIGHTY
Truly is working all things together for your good and His glory.

And while I could comfort you by having you rehearse the fact that you are coming out of this. I pray, above all, that you will embrace His eternal perspective and boldly declare –

‘I AM’ COMING OUT OF THIS …

Every struggle, every hardship, every test of patience, every work of perseverance, every physical limitation, every disappointment, every financial reversal, every imprisonment for His Word’s sake, every martyred soul … THE GREAT 'I AM' IS BEING REVEALED.


‘I AM ‘… COMING OUT OF THIS!

Praying this morning, in the matchless name of Jesus,
That the LORD GOD ALMIGHTY’s abundant blessings rest upon you,
Today and Always ... God Bless!

08 September 2013

Love paid the price ...


There are times when I just have to be reminded how very much I am loved. I do not always feel it, especially when I lose focus and get overwhelmed by all the mean and hurtful things that happen ...

"But God demonstrates His own love toward us,
in that while we were yet sinners,
Christ died for us."
Romans 5:8
 


Love Paid the Price

Tonight ...
Someone needs to know [truly know] how very much they are loved.
I know I did.

 
Here is a beautiful song ...
You might need to listen to it two or three times to let it truly sink in.
Just like I did.

 
Mandisa ... Not Guilty


Have a Blessed Evening ... Much Love, In Christ

27 August 2013

CAN DO!


Wow! It feels like it has been forever since I’ve had a moment to sit and write. Working full time, going to school full time, managing my household and taking care of my mom (along with my siblings)multi-tasking has taken on whole new meaning!

After having several strokes the first week of July, my mom is doing better than she was. However, she still has a significant road to full recovery ahead of her … loss of feeling in her left arm, learning to balance and learning to dress just to name a few. However, one thing that amazes me about her is her ‘can do attitude'. If I am honest, it drives me a little crazy at times. I am so concerned about her safety and she does not realize some of the limitations that she has. Namely, she tries to walk without her walker. And the dangers go beyond her possibly falling and breaking a leg or arm … it becomes a concern of whether she will end up having another stroke.

Yet here is what I thought about as I drove home from work on Friday – My mom, not realizing she has physical limitations, tells herself (and me) ... I CAN DO THIS!

And when she feels herself struggling, she calls on Jesus. I think I have heard her call on the name of Jesus more times in the past two months than I have heard her cry out in the past two years. Even with some of the cognitive ability that has been lost, she has an unyielding belief in the power of Christ to enable her to overcome. In fact, the only time she acknowledges that something is wrong physically is when she does not want to do something.

Most people, however, are the exact opposite. Without having any physical, emotional or mental limitations, they say (we say) – I CAN’T DO THIS!

And for the believer, it is even worse - because we have no excuse. For we are told in Scripture, ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!’  (Phil. 4:13) and we have His Holy Spirit resident on the inside.

So I ask you tonight …
What is it,  the thing that you keep telling yourself you cannot do?
What limitations are you placing on yourself?
Is it going back to college?
Is it pursuing a new career?
Is it starting your own business?
Is it sharing your faith with friends and family?

Whatever it is, you must understand that we have a powerful Holy Spirit who desires to give us strength to accomplish all that God has laid on our hearts and placed in His master-plan for our lives. Therefore, let us not fix our eyes on our inabilities but zero-in on His overwhelming and all-powerful abilities!

'... if God Himself has taken up residence in your life, you can hardly be thinking more of yourself than of Him. Anyone, of course, who has not welcomed this invisible but clearly present God, the Spirit of Christ, won’t know what we’re talking about. But for you who welcome Him, in whom He dwells—even though you still experience all the limitations of sin—you yourself experience life on God’s terms. It stands to reason, doesn’t it, that if the alive-and-present God who raised Jesus from the dead moves into your life, He’ll do the same thing in you that He did in Jesus, bringing you alive to Himself? When God lives and breathes in you (and He does, as surely as He did in Jesus), you are delivered from that dead life. With His Spirit living in you, your body will be as alive as Christ’s!'
Romans 8:9-11 MSG



‘Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.’ John 14:12

And, there you have it –
Not on my authority, but on the word and in the Word of Jesus Christ, the One who gave His life so that we could be reconciled the LORD God Almighty and experience overcoming victory in every area of our lives.

 Have a Blessed Week!

14 July 2013

HE IS with us ...


The sun is shining today in Virginia Beach, VA.

I am not certain if it is sunny where you are.
It may be cloudy and rainy.
Yet, you can rest assured that the sun is shining somewhere today ... 
whether you can see it or not

Likewise –
The Son of GOD, our LORD Jesus Christ is seated on His throne,
radiant in glory.

You may not be able to see Him but it does not mean that He is not shining;
You may not be able to see where or how He is working,
But it does not impact His activity in your life.
You may not be able to feel the warmth of His presence, but it does not change the fact:

HE IS WITH US … ALWAYS

He exalted and with us at the same time
And
He is working all things together for the good, for our good and His glory.

Here is a great song by Love & The Outcome – He is with us
 

“He Himself has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you.'”
Hebrews 13:5

Have an Exceptionally Blessed Day!

13 July 2013

moment by moment ...

Happy Saturday!

I thought I would sleep in today since I did not have to work. However, I have actually been up for several hours already. It is hard to believe all that has taken place in a little over one week. I have been exhausted. Thursday was a good day. Yesterday was a little more challenging.
 
However, as I drove to work yesterday thinking about some of the good moments we had Thursday evening, what should have been a fairly evident fact became real to me.

Life is moment by moment … 

My mom is going to have some really good days and some really bad days.
 
My goal and challenge is to ensure that I make the most of the good days, of those precious moments where things almost seem normal again. As much as depends upon me, I have to do what I can to ensure each moment is a good one. Because, you truly never know what the next moment will bring.

This morning …
I choose to place my trust in Jesus – this is a good moment
I choose to sit and write this post – this is a good moment
I am listening to my son play guitar right now – this a good moment
 
Later today, I will go to visit my mom –
And while I do not know what those moments will hold,
I do know Who holds those moments.

The LORD knows how to save …
 
 
Today –
Choose to enjoy every moment that you can on this journey we call life.

Have a Blessed Day!

12 July 2013

when signs lie ... revisited


Yesterday was an extremely long day. My mom was released from the hospital into rehabilitation. Only one facility would accept her due to her limitations. However, as I drove from work, the instrument panel on the van I was driving stopped working properly. The speedometer dropped to zero even though the vehicle was still operating and my speed was clearly not at zero. It stayed that way long enough to take me back to a situation that happened almost three years ago – and a post that I had written as a result. Once I got to the rehabilitation center today, I knew God was preparing me. He was reminding me not to base my feelings upon what I saw but upon who He is.
 
I hope you enjoy this post ... I know I certainly needed to read it again.
 
God Bless!
**********************************************************************

(Originally Posted: October 16, 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!

09 July 2013

at my end ... in the end


‘We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself’.
II Corinthians 1:8

In this text, Paul is writing to the church at Corinth and communicating the challenges that he faced and the impact it had on him.
 
This morning, I can fully relate to how Paul might have been feeling. Mine is not one of religious persecution however. Mine is an issue of life in general and what you do when multiple storms are raging at one time.  While, intellectually, we may know what we need to do – emotionally, we can become overwhelmed with the task of actually doing it.

Last week – on Thursday, July 4th – I was visiting with my mom when she had a stroke. I am so thankful that my oldest son was there with me. Subsequently, we found out that she has had no less than four strokes in the past week. Currently, she is still hospitalized and it has been completely overwhelming. It is so difficult to see your loved one with diminished capacity and struggling through challenges. Add to that concerns with quality of care, family relationships, my college classes, managing my household, job responsibilities and my own health concerns – and I feel that I have reached that place which Paul wrote of, the place of being under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure.

Recognizing that I am completely at the end of my strength, my prayers have been condensed to: Father, give me strength … PLEASE!

Paul went on to state that he had felt that they had ‘received the sentence of death’. However, his faith remained strong as he declared, ‘But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and He will deliver us again. On Him we have set our hope that He will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers.'  II Cor. 1:9-11

Today – I am requesting that you help me by your prayers.

There are days when encouragers need encouragement.
Yet I do know and hold onto the truth that ...

My current situations and circumstances do NOT change His character.
When I am at my end ... in the end ... He is still faithful, constant and true:

 
‘Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.’  Ephesians 3:20-21

‘No Storm Lasts Forever – Every Storm Must End’

25 June 2013

When God Lets Go ...


When God Lets Go ... This is what I have been thinking about this evening, actually for some time. Yet, it came back to mind when I heard this song today on my way home from work –

Colton Dixon –Never Gone
 

Truthfully, I was somewhat half-listening but, it was the chorus that got my attention:

'I’m still standing here
No I didn’t disappear
Now the lights are on
See I was never gone
I let go of your hand   
To help you understand
With you all along
Oh, I was never gone'

 

If I am honest, I have to admit that I struggled with this one part of the song:
‘I let go of your hand … to help you understand'
 
Why would an all-powerful God and loving Father let go of your hand? Where is the compassion in that … and how do you come to a place of understanding, particularly since the words which immediately follow it seem so contradictory?

When I got home, I went on YouTube and listened to the song a couple more times. And as I meditated on the words of the song, my thoughts went back to when my children were small. When they were learning how to walk, there was a point where I had to let go of their hand. Sure, I stayed close to ensure that they would not hit their head on the edge of a coffee-table or hit the floor the wrong way. However, there were also times when I evaluated the risk … and let them fall.

I made sure it was a safe-fall and that they would not hurt themselves. Yet, I also understood that the ‘safe-fall’ was a necessary tool for their growth, every bit as much as me letting go of their hand in the first place.

You see, if I never let go of their hand, they would never learn to balance. If I never allowed them to fall, they would never learn perseverance, they would never master the necessary function of picking oneself up after a fall. Yet they always knew, if they needed me (truly needed me), I was right there. In letting go, I helped them become more self-sufficient and started them on their way to becoming the great men that I know today.

Even as I have struggled over the past several years, feeling like 'God let go’ – I know that His ways are perfect and that the release of His hand (temporarily) does not mean that He is absent. It simply means that He wanted me to grow some more – to gain more spiritual balance, to strengthen my legs of faith. If He never left me in a dark place, how would I ever learn that there was nothing to fear? How would I understand that, just because I could not see Him, did not mean He was not there?
 
 

This week I have been going into work early. So, when I get up in the morning, it is still very dark. This morning, it was extremely dark and, when the alarm went off, I had to step carefully. You see, my Miniature Pinscher was in the room and he is a very small dog so I have to be careful. I could not see him, but I knew he was there. Further, because I know his nature, I knew it was highly likely that he was right beside my bed. He likes to stay close … extremely close … and I’ve come to know that he is always present … even when I cannot see him. Pets are amazing, dogs especially.

Yet, how much more amazing are the ways and the presence of God? In the darkest places, we develop a confidence that He is ever-present. This part of the walk of faith is not instantaneous, nor is it willed into being. It is a learned behavior. As we get to know Him, to understand His character and to see how He interacts with us and others in a myriad of situations – we begin to trust Him more. Then, out of that knowledge and trust, we begin to worship Him more deeply. Subsequently, we experience His presence at an entirely different level, with enhanced perspective and fresh understanding – which is what we desired all along. Over the years, I have come to realize that it is not God’s will that I tend to struggle with as much as it is His way. I love the product (His wonderful plans for me); it is the process that can be challenging at times. True, the growth process can be very challenging. Yet, it is always worth it.

Know this tonight … you are not alone

He has never, ever left your side

No matter how dark it has been

No matter how dark it still may be …

When the light has returned to your situations and circumstances (to your life), you too will find … He has been with you all the time.

 
'He Himself has said, I will never leave you nor forsake you.'
Hebrews 13:5
 
Sending much love your way …
Have a Blessed Evening!
 

21 June 2013

unfailing love


The LORD will command His loving kindness in the daytime, and in the night His song shall be with me – A prayer to the God of my life. Psalm 42:8

 
He commands His loving-kindness – when life is bright and all is well

His song remains – with me, when life is dark and all appears lost
 
While I can pray for His loving kindness –
In truth, it is a reality before I utter a word

And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear’ Isaiah 65:24

His mercies are truly new every morning … every moment

When I fail – and I do often
His love is constant, unchanging and unfailing

He forgives me and assures me that He will not leave me in my present state – spiritually or naturally

I am so thankful for His mercy

My song of praise is present in every season of life.

Thank You Father for Another Day – for Your Unfailing Love
 
Chris Quilala/Jesus Culture - Your Love Never Fails
Hallelujah

16 June 2013

Father ... nothing and no one like him


Happy Father's Day!
 
What a wonderful day to celebrate fathers - not just today but every day. Yet somehow, Father's Day typically does not receive the same level of recognition as Mother's Day. It may be the differences between men and women and what is perceived to be valued by each group. However, I have come to learn (having once been married and raising three sons by myself), that one of the greatest honors you can bestow upon a man is respect. And there are so many qualties to respect and celebrate about those who are fathers or have been like a father to someone somewhere along the way.


Able v Balanced v Caring v Daring v Energetic v Godly

v Honest v Intelligent v Just v Kind v

Level-Headed v Mature v Nice v Optimistic v Patient

v Qualified v Resourceful v Strong v

Trustworthy v Understanding v Vital

Wise v Xenial (hospitable) v Young-at-Heart
v Zealous v

From A to Z there is nothing and no one like a ‘FATHER’
 
 
To all the dads out there – thank you for leading, caring, sharing and doing whatever is necessary to be there for your family and to help them realize all of the potential that God has placed in them. Whether you are a father biologically, by adoption or have simply been like a father to the people in your life, know that you fulfill an extremely vital role. And your efforts – while not always recognized, appreciated or celebrated – do make a difference.

 
To all the moms out there who have to be mom and dadI wish you a very special Father’s Day. Thank you for taking on the responsibility of a role that can never be completely fulfilled by a woman. Yet, despite that daunting reality, you are doing everything a father is called to do – being the spiritual head and covering for your family, instilling values, establishing identity, creating boundaries, providing for needs, developing discipline and establishing order. It is quite a job!



Thank you all for everything you do … 



Father GOD, I thank You for giving us the special gift of fathers. You have supplied a tangible and visual respresentation of what fatherhood is all about - the love, the care and concern. You have given us an opportunity to catch a glimpse of one of Your many amazing characteristics. On this day, I pray that You would bless all of the fathers, across the globe, with wisdom for every circumstance, strength for every challenge and a capacity to love which mirrors the love You have for us. Bless them abundantly with every natural and spiritual resource - equipping them to be the godly leaders that you have called them to be. May they recognize what an honor and privilege it is to share the title of 'father' with the most Amazing Father of all time. Bless their families and keep them in Your care. I pray all these things in the Matchless Name of Jesus Christ, our LORD and Savior.

 
Happy Father's Day to All ... Have a Truly Blessed Day! 

'A righteous man who walks in his integrity -
How blessed are his sons after him.'
Proverbs 20:7

08 June 2013

PRAISE BREAK ...


Just had to take a short break in all of this studying to …
PRAISE HIM!


He is Worthy ...   
He is Holy

 
  


David Crowder Band - After All (Holy)

 

‘… they rest not day and night, saying,
‘Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty,
Who was, and is, and is to come.'
Revelation 4:8