Saturday, November 24, 2018

Top of the List

What's on the top of your shopping list this weekend?  Chances are you have a list of Christmas gifts for special friends and family.  Or maybe you have a grocery list filled with ingredients of your favorite Christmas cookies or appetizers.  Or maybe you are shopping for that perfect dress for an upcoming Christmas party.  Whatever is at the top of your list, will determine where you go.  If you are looking for ingredients for cookies you probably won't be going to Old Navy.  If you are looking for a dress you probably won't be going to Krogers.  Your list will direct your shopping travels.

This reminds me of another list that directs the way we live our life; the list we have in our hearts. What's on the top of that list will determine the way we live and where we go.  For example, if being a financial success is at the top of that list, you will do whatever you can to make money.  If being physically healthy is top of the list, you will do everything in your power to live a clean active life.  If finding a spouse is at the top, you will join several dating sites.  While making money, being healthy, and getting married are not bad things, as a Christian loving Christ should top our list.  When we seek God first we can trust He will lead us exactly where we need to go.  What does loving Christ and seeking God first look like? First, I have to receive His love for me in order to love Him back.  In my personal life, seeking God first means to slow down and spend time with Him.  I have to renew my mind in His Word and examine whether or not I'm following His leading or my own.   I have learned when I feel discontent and unhappy that I tend to find things to "fix" that feeling.   However, when I am seeking God first, I go to Him when I feel that way.  I talk to God like I would a friend.  I tell Him my fears and concerns and ask for His advice. I thank Him for all my blessings and I trust His love for me and I wait for Him.

In this life, we can have many things wanting first place in our hearts.  However, when God is first, everything else falls into place.  I want to encourage you today to examine your heart's "list".  What is on the top of that list?   Does #1 reflect where you really want to go? If not, this is a great time to prioritize that list.

Jesus replied, "You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.  Matthew 22:37 NLT

Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need.  Matthew 6:33 NLT

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.  Seek His will in all you do and He will show you which path to take.  Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

❤Hurting Heart at Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving Friend!  I hope you are having a wonderful day filled with family and friends.  I hope that you feel God's love and are overflowing with thankfulness!   However, chances are there is someone reading this post that is hurting today.  You are tired of being lonely.  You feel that life has passed you by.  You may be with other people but your heart aches inside.  I have some good news for you! The Bible tells us that God is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. (Psalms 34:18)

God sees your breaking heart and He cares.  He's there.  Your feelings are screaming that you are alone and have no real friends.  On the other hand, as a Christian, the Bible tells us Jesus is our friend and NOTHING can separate us from His love.  You may feel alone today but God is there  and is working everything out for your good. (Romans 8:28) He loves you and is still writing your story. Walk in faith and don't give up!  Reach out to someone that God has put into your life.  Encourage them and pray for them.   When we reach out to others and think about how we could bless them, we often feel more peace and fulfillment.

What if you don't know God as your Savior?  Does that mean you truly are alone and hopeless?  It means that God, the Creator of the Universe, is longing for you to come to Him.  You have an emptiness in your heart because you were created to need God's love.   He has made a way that a hopeless sinner can be forgiven and walk in unity with Christ; His son died on a cross in our place.  We were born with a sinful nature that we inherited from Adam.  God knew we couldn't be holy on our own.  Jesus died on a cross and paid the cost for our sins.  He paid it all.  He loves you and wants you to receive eternal life by receiving Jesus as your Lord and Savior.  Cry out to Him and let Him forgive and restore you.  You will never be alone again.

So whatever condition your heart is in today, look up! There is HOPE for you.  God is stirring your heart and leading you to focus on Him and His will for you.  God is faithful and keeps His promises.  Please know I am praying for you today and you are loved.

Happy Thanksgiving❤
Melaina

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Are You Walkin' What You're Talkin'?

This morning as I drink my coffee, I look across the room and see an old familiar wall hanging that I have had for years.  It hangs right by the front door.  This sign features Philippians 4:13; I can do all things through Christ who gives me the strength.  What a great scripture! This scripture is for Christians, those that have realized they can't live this life on their own and long to surrender all to Christ.  I have quoted it for years!  However, today as I read it, I feel a pang of concern.   I know God's Word is true and powerful. On the other hand, to be honest, today I am not living as though Philippians 4:13 is true for me.  There are some things in my life that God has put His finger on; some things I need to take action on.  What am I waiting for?  Maybe I am waiting to "feel" strong.   I start to move forward and all these doubts start swirling in my mind.  I know what we believe will eventually show up in our actions.  I think it's time for me to not only speak God's Word, but to live out my life as if I truly believe what it says!

What about you?  Have you quoted this verse for years?  Maybe right before a test or a confrontation?  But now, God is tugging on your heart to move forward.   Maybe He is showing you that it is time to lay that pet sin down and to agree that it is not good.  Maybe He is showing you someone you need to apologize to or someone that you need to forgive. Maybe He is asking you to rearrange your priorities to glorify Him? You may feel you just can't, but  I want to encourage you (and me) to remember WE CAN do His will because HE gives us the strength. Notice it is HIS strength in the first place, not ours.  We can trust Him!   As we spend time with Him and go deeper in His Word, we can start living out by faith what we have been quoting for years:

FOR I CAN DO ALL THINGS THROUGH CHRIST WHO GIVES ME STRENGTH! 
 Philippians 4:13

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Resisting Rest

We have a two year old grandson that we love to hang out with.  We keep him about two days a week and we love every moment of it.  Today he did not get a nap.  I tried and tried to encourage a nap but he resisted wholeheartedly.  I tried to rock him asleep but he pulled away.  I tried to watch a movie with him but he wanted to play instead.  No matter how I tried, he resisted rest.  However, about 6pm he began to get whiny.  He didn't like any thing we offered him.  Even when we tried to play some of his favorite games, he would only cry.  He was miserable and I knew it would be a challenge to keep him awake to a "normal" bedtime.   If only he would of gave in and trusted me that he needed a nap!

Isn't it ironic that we are often that way with God?  We  are exhausted and weary but resist the rest He offers.  We insist on trying to do things in the flesh.  We insist on trying to be in control and "fix" everyone. We insist on trying to fill our emptiness with worldly and fleshly things; all the while the Lord is longing for us to simply climb up in His lap and rest in His finished work.  Psalms  46:10 a says:  Be still and know that I am God.   When our soul is discontent and weary, Christ is the answer.  He offers us rest and peace.  Will you receive the rest that God offers your soul or will you fight and resist His leading?  The choice is yours!

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.  Matthew 11:28-30

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Never Caught Off Guard

Have you ever been caught off guard?  A couple of weeks ago I had a scare.  I have had a health issue that I have put off and put off.  However, the day came where I could not put it off anymore.  As a Mom and wife, sometimes I put my health on the back burner while trying to "fix" everyone else.  (Sound familiar?)  With Chad's urging I decided to go on to the doctor and much to my surprise it was not a minor thing.   In fact, I had a biopsy on the spot.....something I have never had before.  I was told that I either had something "bad" or something "really bad".   You never want to hear that! As I left the doctor's office that day I was in a daze.  I was talking to God out loud as I walked to my car.  No telling what people thought.  I said, "Oh, Lord.....wow".  That's all I could say.  I got into my car and continued the conversation all the way home.  I had ministered to others that have been in that situation but I had never personally been there.  Thoughts and fears swirled through my mind.  At that moment I felt tempted to feel all alone and abandoned.  Have you been there?  Maybe it wasn't a doctor visit.  Maybe a son or daughter delivered some bad news that left you stunned.  Or maybe a spouse walked out the door for the last time leaving you bewildered as to why.  Or maybe your boss suddenly let you know He won't be needing you anymore.   When we find ourselves in these positions, we sometimes feel as if this problem came out of nowhere; a total shock and surprise.  We often feel all alone.  However, even though it may shock us, God is never caught off guard.   This was my day.  This was my time to put into practice all that I have learned about my Father. Despite my feelings,  I wasn't alone because His Spirit was with me.  I wasn't abandoned because He promised He would never leave me.  Was this day a surprise to Him?  No.  In fact, He sees my life from beginning to end in one glance and He has a plan.  While it is true that we have no choice as to what this life brings,  we do have a choice in how we will respond to it.  Will we respond in fear or will we respond in faith?  I realized at that moment I was responding in fear.  I acted as if God was taking a vacation and not there with me.

I am blessed to report to you that the results of that Dr. visit was not the "very bad"!  However, what I thought was bad news was actually God taking care of me.  He orchestrated my circumstances in order to protect me.   I think back to the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus was betrayed by Judas.  When Jesus was arrested and being led off by a group of armed men, things looked very bad.  Peter even tried to take things in his own hands and cut off the ear of one of the guards.  However, as hard as it was to believe, God had a plan.  He had a plan that came from a heart of love.  Through His son, He was going to save the whole world.   I don't know what you are facing today.  However, God does.  Not only that, He has the solution and the strength to make it through.  Take comfort in knowing the same God that is writing your story is the same God that created you and loves you deeply.

"Abba Father", He cried out, "everything is possible for You.  Please take this cup of suffering away from me.  Yet I want your will to be done, not mine."  Mark 14:36


#fear #faith #Godslove #facingtrials #christianlife



Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Thoughts from the Sick Bed

I have been home sick for the last four days.   I do not like being sick!!  Of course, I don't like the pain and discomfort that illness brings; however, that is not what bothers me the most.

What I really don't like about being sick is that I am missing out on life.  I have laid in the bed for 3 days and feel so useless.  I don't feel up to doing any of my favorite things:  blogging, playing the piano, ministering in various ways, and my keeping my sweet grandson.   I didn't get to go to church or meet some family for lunch.  I just missed out on life this week!  Right???

Wrong! God is in control even when trials come.  People usually accuse me of being someone that overthinks or thinks too deeply.  So, you can imagine that being home all week has provided plenty of time to think and pray.  Even in this sickness, God is teaching and growing me.  I have had many conversations with Him this week!  I want to share with you some thoughts from this forced sabbatical:

1.  Being at home sick is not a waste of time!

Now, I am not saying that I want to get sick again.  However, this week I've gotten the most sleep I've had in about 2 years; I kid you not.   I had forgotten how it feels to be truly rested.  Obviously my tired body needed to catch up.

2.  Being at home sick forced me to refocus on the simple yet important things.

I did ALOT of praying.   I did alot of resting.  I did alot of praying and resting.  Hmm...maybe I should rest and pray more....like in a normal week.

3.  I am reminded about my true identity and value. 

My true identity is found in Christ and His love for me.  It is not in how busy I am nor how many blogs I can write.  It is not in how many people I can pray for or encourage.  It is not in what the scale says.  My identity and value is simply found in Jesus; He loves me unconditionally.

4.  I want to be more mindful of people that are sick and terminally or critically ill.

At times, I felt lonely, left-out, and dispensable this week.   The silence was sometimes painful.  I would look at Facebook and feel like life was passing me by.  Can you imagine how someone might feel being bedridden or home sick week after week?   A bowl of soup, a card, or a call can make a world of difference. Chad's mom brought me her famous Hunter Stew this week and I felt like it was Christmas.   Sometimes we are just too busy to notice others that are struggling.

5.  I can be very busy but that alone doesn't mean that I'm ministering as God would want.

If I'm running around like a chicken with it's head cut off, I am not taking time to breathe and be thankful.   I am not taking the time to write that thank you note or to call that sick person.  I am not taking the time to commune with God and let His words sink into my heart.  I'm too busy to take time with that unexpected visitor knocking on my door.  If I'm too busy to rest in the Lord, I am too busy.   I had a dear friend once tell me, "If you can not fit everything in your schedule, there is a big chance you are doing some things God hasn't led you to do".   God provides all the time we need to do HIS will.

Even though I am very thankful to be feeling better, I am also very thankful for the chance to just be still and remember He is God!

Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the heathen; I will be exalted in the earth.
Psalm 46:10

Then Jesus said, "Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and i will give you rest.  Matthew 11:28

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me.
John 10:27




Saturday, October 20, 2018

Consider the Lilies



Do you ever wake up with a song on your heart?   I do often and sometimes it is a song that I haven’t heard in years.  Recently, I woke up with a song playing over and over in my mind that I had learned as a child.  A dear friend and her family had a singing group and they often invited me to sing with them.  One of their favorite songs was “Consider the Lilies” by Roger Hoffman:
Consider the lilies, they don’t toil nor spin
And there’s not a king with more splendor than them.
Consider the sparrows, they don’t plant nor sow,
But they’re fed by the Master who watches them grow.

We have a Heavenly Father above
With eyes so full of mercy
And a heart full of love.
He really cares when
Your head is bowed low.
Consider the lilies and then you will know.
What a message in that song!   Our Heavenly Father is not only in control of the whole universe but He personally cares for us.  He really cares if we hurt! Satan would love us to believe that God isn’t personal and that His love is conditional.  However, God’s love IS personal and He is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. (Psalms 34:18)  No matter what you are walking through today, be reminded that you have a Heavenly Father that loves and cares for you!  Your story is not over.  Be still and know that He is God and loves you personally. 

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Why so downcast?

Sitting here this morning with my cup of coffee....My mind is swirling with all the burdens on my heart; tragedies in my town, brokenness in my friend's hearts...pain and loss in this world.

Sometimes it's hard to feel encouraged.  Sometimes I want to hide in the house away from the sadness in the world. 
The psalmist in Psalms 43 says: Why so downcast oh my soul, put your hope in God.  Being downcast means we are human...putting our hope in God is a game-changer. When I remember HIS heart of love, although i dont understand all the pain in this life, I can trust Him. 

Yes, we can be encouraged today...we can have hope because of Christ.  He loves us and is waiting for us to cry out to Him.

Monday, October 15, 2018

That Perfect Outfit

Do you ever have one of those mornings that you can't decide what to wear?  You tried on that favorite pair of pants that suddenly are too tight.  Or perhaps, you grabbed a favorite shirt only to notice there was a stain right on the front!  Or maybe you pull out an outfit and wonder if it is out of style. However, in the Bible we are instructed to wear something that never goes out of style!  Colossians. 3:12 says: Since God chose you to be the holy (set apart) people He loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  Mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience never go out of style.  In addition to that, the Bible tells us what we should wear to bring the whole ensemble together; love.  Colossians 3:14 says: Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.

So, this morning when you are trying to put together that "perfect outfit", don't forget what God wants us to wear!  In fact, when we "wear" love, mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience, we will be beautiful no matter what we choose out of our closet!

Thursday, October 4, 2018

The LOVE Series-A Marriage Story

God's love looks very different than the world's kind of love.  We see God's kind of love in the Bible and we see the world's kind of love on the evening news.   God's love is thinking of the needs of others and the world's kind of love says to look out for number 1.  In this world, we hear alot of sad and heartbreaking marriage stories.  However, today I want to share with you a story that is an example of God's type of love.  Although the names have been changed, this is a true story and shows the power of God's love and mercy in a family's life.

Greg and Grace had been married for 10 years with several children.  Greg was an executive who worked long hours at his job.  Grace worked outside the home as well and was often very tired and slightly overwhelmed.  Even with the long hours, children and other pressure, they had a good relationship.  They were both Christians and attended church weekly.  However, unbeknownst to Grace, Greg began to compromise.  He felt he was too busy to read his Bible, much less spend quiet time with God.  He was feeling very restless.  Instead of turning to God, however,  he began to read a book that offered ungodly teaching and advice for his restlessness.  He took his focus off of God and his family. Although Grace knew Greg was going through a dry spell, she wasn't prepared for what happened next.  One day while at work, Grace got a call from Greg letting her know he had someone else.  Not only that, but was leaving with her that day to take a trip together.  Grace was shocked, devastated, and crushed.   Needless to say, they separated and prepared for divorce.

Meanwhile many family members and Christian friends began to pray.  This was a nightmare.  Greg knew almost instantly he had made a huge mistake.  Grace was very broken and not sure what step to take.  Then after about a month, Grace got another call.  However, this call was quite different.  Greg was broken and asking for restoration as he knew he made a tragic mistake. Grace felt many emotions inside.  She said she needed time.  Some of Grace's friends gave some well-meaning advice and said "if he did it once, he will do it again".  The Bible even said it was a reason for divorce. However, Grace wanted and needed to hear from God.  She took a few days to pray and seek God.  God reminded her that Greg came to her directly.  Also, that this was totally out of Greg's normal character.  Out of ten years he didn't as much as flirt with anyone as much as cheat.  He was passionate about God for many years in the past.  The Lord reminded Grace how they had both put other things before their relationship with the Lord.  Also,  that they had allowed unforgiveness of past hurts to go unchecked.  Before long, Grace found herself shedding tears of her own repentance.  She repented of neglecting her relationship with the Lord and allowing bitterness to creep in.   She surrendered her life, relationships, and plans once again to the Lord.  After seeking God, Grace felt in her heart that she wanted to give Greg another chance.  She asked him to agree to go to counseling for at least a month before moving back in.  Humbly, he agreed.

Today, Grace and Greg have been married over 40 years.   They have children and grandchildren that look up to them as Godly examples.  Grace knew that she had biblical grounds for divorce, but out of the love that God gave her, she tried again; she is so happy she did. To me, this is an example of God's love.  He forgives and gives second chances.  Grace could of easily moved on, but didn't.  Instead,  they sought God for repentance and together are leaving a legacy of a Godly family.  

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.  1 Corithians 13:4-7


Saturday, September 29, 2018

Change is in the Air!

Autumn is not the only thing bringing about change!  I have been blogging for several years.  However, through my blogging journey, the Lord is increasing my desire to write and encourage others. I have been praying and seeking His direction for me.  Part of this new direction has resulted in the name change of my blog and a new blog address.  Hopeful Heart is now called "Sunshine for Your Heart" and can be found at www.sunshineforyourheart.org.  I also have a facebook page called "Sunshine for Your Heart-Melaina Ferrell".  I feel called to go deeper into Women's Ministry and this blog is an avenue in which I can encourage and minister.  I want to remind you that on my website, there is a prayer request form.  I would love to be able to pray for you.

Additionally, I am available to speak to groups of women of all ages and would love to encourage  you in the Lord through His Word.  I am currently serving on the leadership team of Beautifully Broken Ladies Fellowship that meets monthly in Yantis, Texas. I am also serving alongside my husband, Chad, a Youth/Music Pastor.

If you are a ministry leader, minister's wife, or any woman needing encouragement, know that this blog is for you!   Please feel free to contact me via Facebook, email, or the website.  Would you please pray with me as I seek to follow God's leading in this new chapter of my life? Thank you for being a faithful reader and prayer warrior!

In Christ,
Melaina

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Loves got alot to do with it

Each day brings about change.   As the Fall Season begins, we are reminded yet again of this constant change.  This morning I was visiting with my step Mom who is 82 years young.  She has handled change very gracefully in her life.   We were reflecting about years gone by and how this world has changed so much.  As we discussed the many seasons of life, I asked her what she thought the secret to life was.   Her answer was "love"; not the world's definition of love but what the Bible tells us love is.   The Bible tells us that love is patient and kind, love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude.  It does not insist on its own way, it is not irritable or resentful, it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.  Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8a   The world tells us that love is a feeling, it's "magical" and is makes all your dreams come true.   The world's love doesn't tell you the truth, it tells you what you want to hear.   I have to confess I like to watch Hallmark movies, but I must say that Hallmark is FAR from real life or  real love!   Real love is what Jesus did for us on the Cross.  Real love is what Jesus did for us when He rose from the grave and conquered death.  Real love is not emotion.  Real love is not just saying what someone wants to hear but telling them the truth.  Real love is a gift.   If you can take it away I don't think it was love.  Falling out of love is a false statement.  Love is a commitment.  Love is a choice.  The love my step-Mom was talking about is an anchor that keeps us steady during life's storms.  During the next month, I am going to be blogging about examples of this kind of love in real life.

I want to encourage you today to receive God's unconditional love for you personally.  We can't love others if  we don't receive God's first.   Jesus really does love you!  God's love can change your life!  Stay tuned.....

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

All that I Am

 (Just FYI: Today I felt led to share the same post for both Blogs: SALT & HOPEFUL HEART. If you are subscribed to both, I am sorry for the same message but felt I needed to share to both groups of readers)


Good morning!  Hope you are doing good today!  I was wondering if anyone could use some encouragement this morning.  I sure needed some and God delivered!

During my quiet time this morning, I poured my heart out to God.   I told Him of my concerns and  burdens.   I told Him how weak I felt and how unworthy I felt to share with others. (as if He didn't know) Finally, I opened my Bible and the pages fell open to Psalms 103.  As I began to read, God's Spirit strengthened my soul.   Psalms 103 is packed with awesome encouragement.   I want to challenge you to read it today!   However, several verses really spoke to me.

Psalms 103:1-2 (NLT) says:

Let all that I am praise the Lord; with my whole heart, I will praise His holy name.  Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things He does for me.

What jumped out to me in that verse was "all that I am".  All that I am!?  You mean the sometimes moody, emotional, grumpy Melaina?   You mean the Melaina that sometimes forgets to be thankful?  You mean the Melaina that sometimes lets anxiety win over faith?   The Holy Spirit spoke to my heart and answered my questions:  Yes, even then....ALL that you are praise Me.  It's not about perfection, it's about faithfulness and love.   I was instantly encouraged because sometimes I feel I'm such a mess I don't know where to start praising God.   However, God reminded me to just come to Him mess and all!  If you are feeling like a mess today, don't let the enemy make you think you need to hide from God.  Adam and Eve tried that and it didn't work!   On the other hand, RUN to Him and give thanks for His faithfulness.  Cast your cares on Him because He cares for you! (1 Peter 5:7)

Psalms 103:11-14 (NLT) says:

For His unfailing love towards those who fear Him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth.  He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.  The Lord is like a father to His children, tender and compassionate to those who fear Him.  For He knows how weak we are, He remembers we are only dust.

Wow!  God is so good.  Do you remember who wrote this Psalm?  David did!  David certainly was a mess at times and needed much forgiveness and mercy!  These verses remind us of God's amazing unfailing love and compassion for us.  We are also reminded that we can be forgiven from our sins and He removes them from us!  Praise God.  Sounds like our God knows we are messy and still offers love and forgiveness.  In fact, He knows we MUST have it!

Are you trying to impress God today?  Are you trying to hold it all together as you go before Him?  I want to encourage you to run to Him, just as you are.  Let Him refresh, forgive, and restore you. He knows our weaknesses and still loves us!  He's waiting for you! 

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Work it Out

 In Philippians 2:12 the Bible tells us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling.What does it mean to "work out your salvation"?  Some denominations will tell you it means you get to Heaven by your works.  You work really hard and (as if you could) you earn your salvation.   Think about it.  Could we really earn righteousness?   Was the life, death and Resurrection of Jesus all in vain?  Absolutely not!  While I am certainly not a Bible Scholar with a Biblical degree, I do have the Holy Spirit living in me.  Recently, I was sharing with someone about how we are to present ourselves as a living sacrifice to Christ and we do that by renewing our minds and walking in Him. (Romans 12:1-2)  Christ has done all the work for us to be righteous and we have to receive it.  However, there is something else we must do:  BELIEVE in the finished work of Christ in our lives. 

Let me give you an example. I have shared with you before that I have struggled with anxiety alot in my life; when I was young and some even now.  When I first got saved I felt overwhelming peace most of the time.  I didn't feel anxious at all.  When people asked me how I could be so calm, I would tell them what Jesus did for me.  Some years later however, I went through a season of feeling anxious alot. I would pray that the anxious feelings would go away. I would also rebuke the spirit of anxiety in the Name of Jesus.   However, often the feelings didn't go away and I just assumed I had no choice but to react.  I would get upset and begin to fret and worry.  Sometimes I would let the worries get me really down.  I didn't understand until recently that I had a choice and I was choosing anxiety!

 Now before you choke me, let me explain what I mean.   I was not choosing to "feel" anxious because I had no control of what feelings came my way.  On the other hand, I did have control over how I responded to the feeling.   I had two choices:  Believe my feelings and spiral out of control in anxiety and fear OR believe what God says about me and respond to His Word.  God says that He will keep me in perfect peace if I keep my mind on Him.  God says He didn't give me a Spirit of fear but of power, love and sound mind.  (Isaiah 26:3, 2 Timothy 1:7)   So, I have a choice.   Even though my stomach feels nervous and my mind is racing, I can choose to believe that walking in anxiety is opposite than walking in faith and whatever is not from faith is sin. (Romans 14:22-23)  I then proceed to act like a person who believes God is faithful.  I stop trying to fix the problem.  I stop ranting and raving over my worries.  I stop eating out of stress. I simply say, "God, I trust in you and I choose to walk in peace."   I still feel nervous at times and do occasionally choose to believe my feelings over God's Word.  However, more and more my faith is getting stronger and when I catch myself spiraling down, I stop and repent. (1 John 1:9)

I want to encourage you today to "work out your salvation".  We have a choice how we respond to things that come our way.  If God says you can do everything through Him, then you can!  If God says that if you trust Him and focus on His Kingdom and all your needs will be met, then trust Him!  When you believe God's Word over your emotions, you are truly working and living out the finished work of Christ.  The great news is God has already won the victory for us!  Our job is to not only believe His Word, but to live and respond like we believe it!

PHILLIPIANS 2:12-13NLT
12 Dear friends, you always followed my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away, it is even more important. Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. 13 For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him


Tuesday, May 1, 2018

My Anchor

This life is really hard.  Each day we are faced with situations that test our emotional well-being.   You can turn on the news and before long feel a sad hopelessness looming over your head.   Life is a struggle!  Sometimes I feel like a ship tossed about the sea that without an anchor, I would be quickly lost.  However,  I praise God that Christ is my Anchor.

I became a Christian when I was 22.   Being a Pastor's daughter I had thought I was a true believer when I was younger.  However, I knew something was missing.  I lacked power and desire to walk with Christ.  Years later when I met Chad, there was something about him that I wanted in my life.  He had a calmness and a peace.  At that time I seldom felt peace or calm.  He had a joy just being alive.  At that time I felt restless, bored and always looking for fun.  He had a sense of direction for his life.  At that time I was lost and felt I was floundering from one day to the next.  When I asked him what made him content and peaceful, he said Jesus had made the difference in his life.  It wasn't long until I was desperate before the Lord crying and asking Him why did I not feel that way.  The Lord showed me that I had head knowledge of Him but never a true heart knowledge of Jesus.  I knew alot about Him but never spent time with Him.   In other words, I talked the talk but couldn't walk the walk because Jesus was not the Lord of my life; I was.  As I surrendered my life to Christ,  He filled me with His Spirit, and for the first time in my life I had deep peace and joy. He became my Anchor. Christ made the difference!

Now fast forward 27 years and I am still walking with Christ. He has never stopped loving me or left my side.  He has given me peace in situations that would normally be impossible to walk through. He is my Rock and my Shield and my stability. Have I failed Him?  Absolutely.  However, as it says in 1 John 1:9 if I confess my sins to Him, He is faithful to cleanse me from all unrighteousness. In addition to His forgiveness, He keeps me in the palm of His hand and loves me. (John 10:28-29, Romans 8:28-37)  Saying all of this, there are still days that I am caught off guard by what this life brings about.  Sometimes I find myself struggling to feel anything and am tired and worn.  Does that mean that Christ no longer lives in me?  Does that mean that He doesn't love me anymore?  On the contrary, when I find myself struggling to feel God's presence, I find that I seek Him more.  The first place I start is in examining my heart.  I ask God to reveal any sin that I allow to reign in my heart.  When He shows me things, I agree with Him that I have sinned and I repent.   Secondly, I ask my friends to pray with and for me. This life is much easier with Godly friends by your side.  Lastly, I remind myself of all that God has done in the past on my behalf.   It is in the times that I feel the weakest that I cry out to God the most.  God is not fickle.  He says what He means and He keeps His Word.  If He says "Never will I leave you or forsake you", then He won't leave or forsake us! 

I want to remind you today that no matter how you feel, that God loves you very much; whether you are a Christian or not.  Romans 5:8 says while we are still sinners He loved us and gave His life up for us.  If you don't have a relationship with Him, I assure you that He is inviting you to come to Him and allow Him to be your anchor.  I realize that in this life storms will come.  However, I pray that as you sail life's seas, you will make sure you are anchored in Christ.



Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Scattered Feathers

Have you ever said something and wished you could take it back immediately?  I have heard that speaking carelessly is like cutting open a feather pillow and standing in the wind.   It would be impossible to find all the feathers and gather them back together.  Words are very powerful; both good and bad. We often speak out of anger, sadness, tiredness or stress.  However, words can hurt.  Whoever said "Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me" lied! We must have the Holy Spirit's power to control our tongue.

There was a time that some very hurtful words were spoken to me.  The words cut through to my heart and hurt deeply.   For awhile I let those hurtful words define me.  I struggled believing they might be true. However, with alot of prayers and God's strength, I chose to forgive the person.   At first, I was not able to be around that person without feeling shame and nervousness.   As time passed, my heart healed and now I seldom remember those words and when I do, I know they are not truth. On the other hand,  I have been the one that said very hurtful words.  I  was full of anger and opened up my mouth and the words flew.   Once the words left my tongue I knew I would regret saying them.  Sure enough, the words damaged a very important friendship.  Even after apologies the relationship was strained. 

Words can do alot of good or can do alot of bad.   We can use our words to glorify God or to grieve Him.  With God's help, we can control our tongue and be selective with our words.  Let's leave a legacy of speaking with grace, love and hope. We may never be able to "gather all the feathers" back of careless words in the past, however we can start now to be careful to make sure in the future that our words are spoken carefully.

Following are some scriptures to think on:

Don't use foul or abusive language.  Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.   Ephesians 4:29 NLT

The heart of the godly thinks carefully before speaking; the mouth of the wicked overflows with evil words.   Proverbs 15:28 NLT

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

The Unexpected

We have alot of expectations every day.  We expect the sun to rise.  We expect the lights to come on when we flip the switch.  We expect our car to drive us where we need to go...and the list goes on.  However, in the midst of all our expectations we often encounter the unexpected such as a flat on our car, electricity not working due to a storm whose dark clouds hide the sunrise, or waking up with a sickness.

Life is full of surprises.  We truly don't know what will happen one day to the next.  However, we can know that our God is in control, loves us, and truly wants good things for us.  Romans 8:28 says:
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.  We often hear Romans 8:28 misquoted. We tend to think that all things will be good.  However, the Word doesn't tell us that everything that comes our way is good, but that God will work everything out for our good.   We can trust our Heavenly Father to work and grow us in the midst of painful unexpected situations.  I can remember the time when God called us to step out in faith and go into full-time music ministry.  We spent many days praying, fasting, and seeking God's will on this.  We were convinced that this was what God was calling us to do.  However, when we let our friends and family know about it, we were met with doubt, discouragement and even some anger.  Even our Christian brothers and sisters thought we were crazy and that we had misheard God.  As the day drew near that Chad was to leave his bank job, our finances seemed to plummet.  I will admit that I felt hurt, scared and confused.  I thought, "God, we are obeying you to the best of our ability and everyone is upset and our money is gone!"  I somehow thought that if we were on God's perfect path for us that we would see lots of encouragement and the money would never be lacking.   Life would have been very easy if doors flew open and the bank account overflowed.  However,  He took this time of discouragement and defeat and turned it around to help us grow in our faith and trust. If our faith was in all things going well, we would be up and down.  However, if our faith was in Christ then we can stand strong knowing His love for us never changes.

I am not sure what you are facing today:  a flat tire, a sick body, a broken marriage, or a wounded heart.  Rest assured that as you place your fragile heart in God's hands, He will take your brokenness and work something redeeming out of it. We can trust His heart towards us and we can trust that when everything looks like it is falling apart, He has a plan!