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In The Midst of Adversity You Are Covered

Rather than saying “God, here is my problem,” we should put the problem into perspective by saying, “Problem, here is my God! 
Anonymous 

We’ve all had to face adversity in our lives. It’s a time of hardship, affliction, recession, depression and otherwise unfortunate circumstances. If you are like me, you probably thought adversity would be a breeze after you sold out to Jesus.

Wow, was I ever wrong! In the beginning of my Christian walk, it seemed the more I obeyed God the more adversity came my way. I quickly discovered that I didn’t like adversity. I still don’t. I like peace. Like a severe storm, you can almost sense adversity coming…the calm before the storm. When the storm of adversity comes, it demands your total attention.

Adversity visits us all from time to time – and in many different ways. It can come disguised as marriage trouble, sickness, financial calamity, hardship from personal attacks, or even difficulty in the workplace and many other ways. Adversity is no respecter of persons. All of us will face it. The question is how will we respond to it.

There is a  scripture in the Word of God that reveals, “If we give up in the day of adversity our strength will be small” (Proverbs 24:10). In this context, giving means to withdraw, let go, or to show yourself slack. Instead of pressing through of what is a time of growth, we shrink back because we prefer to not go through the opposition. This will stunt our growth, I personally prefer growth.

When adversity hits, most people have a tendency to look for a way of escape…shrink back and say it’s not worth it. The Lord is very specific in this verse, though. He makes it clear that withdrawing from adversity is not the way to go. He also makes it clear that if we back off from times of trouble we lack spiritual strength.

Let me tell you stepping into the call of God on your life, does in fact come with adversity. As I have began to fulfill the call of God on my life it seems there are plenty of times to shrink back, or grow through adversity. Folks think that being a leader is something so great and is so breezy easy. That couldn’t be further from the truth, to get to where God is taking you, there is always opposition you have to overcome.  I have purposed in my heart, I will not give up, I will not give in. I will keep pressing forwarding, keep growing in Him, and love people. All the while knowing that in adversity I grow deep roots of strength.
Over the past few weeks I have seen several go through adversity and opposition. Cancer diagnosis, offense of a church member, illness, financial attack, a driving accident and so on. Some have grabbed ahold to the word of God and not given an inch. Others have taken to offense and left the place God put them to grow.  The attack on finances has caused folks to stop giving instead of standing on faith continuing to give; knowing that God will not let them fall but is faithful.  One friend had an accident and proclaimed the good news that God  protected her, giving Him all the glory. One group shrank back another group grew deeper roots.

I have personally been walking through a mess. Both of my daughters had strep then I  had it. Which turned into bronchitis and now into pneumonia. You name the symptom I have had it, and it’s not been pretty. As I thought about this adversity and my attitude through it, God has began to show me where I need growth & where I have  grown. One area of growth, I have received help and have reached out, not trying to do this alone. The pride I had isn’t there in the area of thinking I have to “do it all”, and not receiving help. Did you know that people really do want to help? Letting yourself say, “I need help, now,” is huge. That’s a place of letting God work in your life and a step of surrendering.

Another area I have noticed is the desire to just watch as much bible teaching as I can. I watch and re watch my favorite teachers. The enemy didn’t win in shutting my spirit man down. I felt myself just get so sad the other day and lonely, Josh has been gone so much I almost wanted to throw a pity party for myself. Instead, I asked my friend Rachel to come and set with me (for goodness sake she only lives 5 minutes from me) and just talk for a few hours, that is HUGE for me. My spirit man grew a little bit bigger this week.

Now the areas I have seen I need to surrender to the Lord. I have really struggled with how others perceive me. I am a pastor’s wife and I haven’t been to a service in 2 Sunday’s. My girls were sick then I became even more sick. What will others think, and will they be upset with me?  Seriously God is the only one I need to seek approval of, and now I see how I really need to give that to the Lord. I felt the same about my trainer, is he going to be upset with me because I can’t go to the gym? Not that I could do one workout without throwing up all over the place. Lastly joy, oh my how we let joy be stolen in the midst of adversity. I have had moments of just not wanting to talk, to upset, then crying and snappy.  Let me tell you, I still tried to be joyful. However, how I felt would take over from time to time. This is an area the enemy will attack the most, trying to get us to be led by our feelings. By faith we have to surrender our feelings to the Lord and speak we are full of joy until we see the evidence of it in our life. This is possible and there is so much power in doing so.

When adversity hits, most people have a tendency to look for a way of escape.. Shrink back and say it’s not worth it.  The Lord is very specific in the verse Proverbs 24:10. He makes it clear that withdrawing from adversity is not the way to go. He also makes it clear that if we back off from times of trouble we lack spiritual strength.

When adversity attacks, run to Jesus: When adversity attacks, the first thing you should do is run to Jesus. Don’t flake out, shut down, break rank or isolate yourself from those who can help you. Run to Jesus. Remember that Jesus is the Author and Finisher of your faith. He said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). Jesus will not let you down. You can trust Him to get you through this turbulence. After you run to Jesus, check your heart. Go down your personal checklist and check yourself. If you have sinned, repent. If you violated the Word in any way, repent. Running to Jesus coupled with repentance should always be our first reaction to adversity.

One thing to help you overcome adversity – get back to church. God’s Word is very specific: don’t forsake the assembling of yourself together with other believers (Hebrews 4:9). Listen, faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. Isolation is not healthy. Find a good Bible-believing church where the power of changed lives is visible. Plug in and help that church fulfill its vision.

Adversity attacks everybody, but with your love for Jesus you can overcome it every time. Remember this, God causes all things to work together for good to those that love him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). That’s you! With Christ in your life you can make it through every sorrow, oppression, trouble and adversity.

Psalms 91:1,2  He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress,  my God, in whom I trust.”

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You Came To My Rescue

Knowing what it is like to feel unwanted has created in me a desire to make sure others know they are wanted-Oprah

When I heard Oprah say this statement while giving her story of how she overcame her past and has grown into who she is, rang a bell inside my heart.  I have a deep care for those who have been “tossed away” by society, families and life in general. This care has really taken over in my life regarding pets. Oh my, I believe I could take in every unwanted animal and help rescue every abused animal out there. Anyone or thing being mistreated or tossed to the side breaks my heart and I have deep compassion.

As a child my father passed away at the age of 5 years old.  My mother ran off around the age of 4 years old.  You can tell by these 2 sentences what really affected me, the loss of my father first, then abandonment of my mother. This created a deep wound inside my heart, along with insecurities and fear. You don’t really know how deep a traumatic event effects a child until they develop as they age. I grew into someone who wanted to please and be everything to everyone at the cost of myself. I developed a fear of being left, unloved and would break off relationships (create rejection) before I would let others reject me. How unhealthy is it to have that in your heart? VERY!

I grew up where you didn’t talk about this kind of stuff, it just was what it was. I never understood why my dad died, I actually for a while thought he died on purpose, because something was wrong with me. I never knew why my mother ran off, or how to navigate through life having such a deep wound in my heart as a child. I always felt there was something wrong with me. I never really felt it was others, more from a place where I wasn’t good enough for others. I never believed I could make it, that I could make a difference or amount to anything. I felt unwanted, not loved and like I was just simply in the way. This kind of loss and rejection as a child, will set you on a course to a life of destruction if God has not been made the director of your life.  Oh, did I make so many bad decisions. I am so thankful that God has redeemed me and used everything for His Glory and to help others!

Once I cried out to the Lord and He changed my  life, I began to see how valuable I am and the value in others.  God says, we are wonderfully made, we are made in His image and He has a future we have hoped for. The Lord says, that he came for those who need a savior (hello that us you and me), those who have been given up on, who’s lives are a mess. He is our deliverer. He came to heal the broken hearted. He is the Father to the fatherless. We are adopted into Christ. I can go on and on. Isn’t that good news? The Lord wants to make sure they know they are wanted and He created them to have a full and great life. Oprah didn’t come up with that, Jesus did.

What the devil meant for bad God turned to good in my life. I have gone from knowing I wasn’t wanted by my mother and feeling abandoned by both parents; to knowing I have a Father who has set me free from my past. I have been adopted into the family of the Lord, I have a HUGE family now that fellowships around the love of God. I have gone from being rejected to accepted. From feeling unloved to loved. From letting my past decide my future, to letting what Jesus did determine my future.

Growing up with this in my heart has given me a compassion and heart for the really wounded. To help those who do not know they are even seen. To use what had my heart broken, into helping others walk through healing in their hearts through the power of God’s word. Knowing what it is like to feel unwanted has created in me a desire to make sure others know they are wanted and loved. God wants us to know our past doesn’t determine our future, but our future can help others determine theirs. If you have a wounded heart make the decision today to call out to God, and ask Him to fill you with His love. If you have already walked through the healing power of Jesus, reach out to someone who is broken and share of His power in your life. Today could be THE day for you!

 

 

 

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PUNCH FEAR IN THE FACE

I have been thinking about  fear, and how I was able to overcome living a complete life of fear. In my past, anxiety and panic attacks controlled me. I was afraid making one wrong move, letting the fear of not being loved because of decisions I made be the driving force of my life. Fear was the root, however the byproducts of fear are anxiety, depression, panic attacks and an eating disorder, I was paralyzed with fear. I would stay with the thoughts in my mind and let them grow into a deep fear inside my heart. This happened through traumatic events as a child not being dealt with, to situations as I grew older, broken relationships and more. I was created to be a person who just loves folks and I tend carry rejection in my heart. I hate to see people hurt or disappointed. I come from a place where I don’t understand why folks can’t just get along and love each other. The big kicker, I am a perfectionist to a fault. All of these characteristics can be used to really help others and benefit my life. However, these characteristics can also grow deep roots of fear that can try to stop living life to the fullest that God has for me.

Several years ago the fear in my life was confronted. I came face to face with Jesus that has forever changed my life. I had tried everything from counseling, medication and even treatment. Nothing worked, if anything it kept me in a numb place and kept the cycle going, even worsen. One thing I could never do was lay blame on someone else, that just never felt right in my heart, and caused me to have a hard time in “counseling”. Of course I felt that I couldn’t even do treatment/counseling right. The good news is Jesus doesn’t tell us to give the blame to others, he tells us we are overcomers and to forgive.

So, how did I over come fear and it’s cousins; anxiety, stress and worry.  The main life changing moment was an encounter with God. He met me face to face, and I believe I cried every tear I had held in since I was 4 years old. A defining moment for me that I will never forget. I made a commitment in my heart  to surrender to Him, dig my heels in and let Jesus get the junk out of my heart.

I grabbed ahold of the word of God and any good Bible teaching I could get my hands on. You couldn’t get my nose out of the Bible, I wanted to know everything God said about me and my future in Him. As we know, the enemy does not want this to happen. He knows that we will begin to share and others lives will be changed because of our testimony. So how do you combat that attacks of the enemy and still overcome all the fear and doubt? I am so glad you asked!

Let’s start with when we ask Jesus to transform our lives. The first thing that happens, we are given a new spirit. We have to dig into the word and find out what is this new spirit and what is the power that is now on the inside of us. The word says that God has not given us a spirit of fear but of a sound (peaceful) mind.  I meditated on that word until it became the way I walked in life. We have to keep our minds fixed on the word of God. Part of this means our faith needs filled everyday, make sure you give your spirit and faith something to feed on everyday.

The bible says be anxious for nothing (Phil 4:6-7). I meditated on this word and would say it out loud when I would feel anxiety. Another cousin of fear is worry. The bible says cast ALL your care on Him, for he cares for you. So the cares of this world, the little things that take up residence in our mind, God wants those. Make an effort when the thoughts come say, “Lord I give this to you, I can’t carry it but I know you will because you love me.” That’s acting on faith!

To wrap up fear and all of it’s cousins we will tie it all together with stress. This word is used so much in our everyday lives, we really need to get a handle on our mouths. If we can say, ” I am stressed.” Why can’t we say. “I am peaceful”. “I am full of joy.” I give all my cares to you Lord.” This isn’t popular and people think you are nuts, perhaps “they” are the one’s who are nuts, literally going nuts because they carry all this mess in their minds and hearts. Why do you think people drink alcohol to step out of their reality for a bit?

We can’t deal with fear naturally because it is a spiritual force. We have to deal with it through the word of God. Romans 10:17 says, “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.” So, we need to feed our faith and starve our doubts and fears.

When faith rises up on the inside of you, the enemy knows he’s been defeated. If you can’t rise up, than get some crazy faith believing friends around you that will walk and believe with you. They can help hold you up. God can and will deliver you from all of your fears (Psalms 23:4)

Start today by taking  His word and choose (it’s a choice) to believe and step out, you will reach your promised land just like Abraham did.

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Indignant and Rightfully So!

I have heard of a lot of people in Christ who are offended and holding unforgiveness in their hearts. It seems those who have been created to walk in freedom and forgiveness are holding onto just about anything that they “believe” they are right about.

In the Gospel of Matthew verse 24 – the disciples asked Jesus as He was departing for Heaven “What will be the signs of your coming and of the end of the world?” And Jesus answered: Matt 24:10-13 And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.

WOW! This looks like how the world operates and this has also creeped it’s way into the church. This day has come. The Church has become offended. Members are offended by their Pastors, so they leave the church. Employees are offended by their employer, so they quit. Couples are offended in marriage, so they divorce citing irreconcilable differences. Children and Young Adults are offended, so they bring guns to school and shoot anyone in there way. We wake up with attitudes. Angry. Mad. Upset.  Build sides. This has become your disposition.

The Dictionary defines offense as: a violation, transgression, to hurt or cause pain, to cause to fall into a sinful state.

The “spirit of offense” chokes off ordinary conversation. It chokes off benefit of the doubt. It chokes off forgiveness. It denies human imperfection, and expects a simple, loving person to be precise and mechanical while trying to express sincerity. It assumes the worst. It ignores the obvious intention and digs for something ugly. It allows common every day words to be misconstrued and implicated as the offender of rights. This is becoming one of the most vicious problem in our society today, and that it nourishes an attitude of dissatisfaction with life, especially for those who choose to carry it around like a badge of honor that reads, “Indignant, and rightfully so.” So easily offended and never seeing that the problem is within them, but most often they would rather place the blame on someone, anyone else, rather than accept responsibility and acknowledge that it is their choice to be offended.

An offense is Satan’s trap to hold you back from God’s blessings in your life.

Recognizing this spirit of offense and restraining it is the key to personal freedom that ultimately unlocks the ability to enjoy life and its simplest pleasures.

We have all had our feelings hurt at one time or another. We have all felt insulted by someone or felt like an injustice has been done to us. When our feelings are hurt or some other injustice perceived, we have to let it go, resolve it immediately, forgive and move on, otherwise; resentment begins to build, soon followed by indignation, hatred, and finally, seeking some form of revenge or restitution. What a trap. If we do not recognize offenses for what they are, not only can we have our joy stolen, but we also trap ourselves with our own lock and key.

Luke 17:1 Then said he unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offenses will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come!

The spirit of offense can affect us on a daily basis. We have to choose not to allow people, words, or actions to offend us. After a period of time, if you consistently build on benefit of the doubt, patience, understanding, and always allowing for human imperfection, you will begin to enjoy the people around you and even cherish their unique differences. Sometimes you may even find that you are amused at the very things that used to annoy you. I have learned that offenses that come often give us an opportunity to grow or regress. I prefer the growth!

We need to learn how to release it and move on with God.

Mat 5: 23-24 states, Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.

Jesus thinks so much about your relationships that He doesn’t even want your sacrifice until you mend your differences with your brother. He just wants the love of God to flow between His kids. Every morning I purpose in my heart not to carry offense,I always repent and hand anything over to the Lord where someone has hurt me or I may just be off with how I “feel” about a situation. One of the keys I live by , is always thinking about how Jesus was treated and then thinking about how small whatever I am walking through is, in comparison to what Jesus did for me.

Unforgiveness is an acid in the container it dwells in. It will destroy you from the inside.

Generally you will notice that people who constantly talk about their past probably have been badly hurt. They may have been in an abusive relationship, or had an abusive parent, or perhaps even been raped. Some may only have been hurt by a comment made against them – whatever it was – you have to let it go.  Or, one of the greatest offenses that is actually small in it’s stature is that someone didn’t meet an expected need you have, which they probably didn’t even know about. Offense can literally kill you.

Forgiveness doesn’t make the person right – it sets you free.

Allowing offense to stay in your heart can stop your growth in Christ. Isn’t it time to let what your holding onto go, today? Make the decision this very moment to let go of anything you “think” you are right to hold onto.

Take any offense you may have had in your life and right now take it to the Lord – get on your knees and ask Him to forgive you for harboring this offense – and then PRAY for that person. Even if you think you are not holding un-forgiveness in your heart. Ask God to search your heart and purge you from unforgiveness Prayer will change how you feel about that person and cause you to love them with God’s love.

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From A Seed To A Weed

The Kingdom of God is likened to someone scattering seed on the ground and waiting to see what happens. This person sleeps and wakes and time passes and the “earth produces of itself”, we are told, first the stalk and then the head and then the mature grain. This reminds me of how anything is grown in life. It’s a principle in every area of our life; work, school, birth, food and animals. We all start with a seed. The seed of hope of a business venture, or the seed of hope of a new baby.  Life’s sustained by seed-time and harvest.

This principle also flows with what’s planted in our hearts. Often times the garden we are growing in our hearts, are based off of thoughts, opinions and things from our past that we have kept hidden. The Bible says in Hebrews 12:14&15, “see to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” The word defile means spoil, this tells me that there can be roots in our hearts that are not of God and can cause us great trouble in our life and walk with the Lord.

How do we get to the point of having a root of bitterness? Often times, actually every time it starts with the seed of offense. Offense is a tool of the enemy to keep our hearts and minds wrapped up in what is usually a circumstance or situation from our past. An offense could be the way someone said something or that they didn’t do what you would have preferred them to do. Or, it could be something that is a very deep wound that really you had no way of causing, but nonetheless it’s still an offense.  The Bible says in Proverbs 17:9 that, “whoever would foster love covers over an offense,but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.”

Think about this, when you are offended what happens? To start off you play it over and over in your mind, which grows the root deeper and deeper into your heart. Then you go and share with 1 person and build a side, then you tell another and before you know it you have a group sided with you, furthering the deepness of the root. If you take a look at the scripture it says that love covers an offense but whoever repeats a matter separates close friends. Not only is the offense causing a root to grow in our hearts but it also divides friends and even families.

The seed of offense develops into a weed with a root of bitterness. When you look at a weed, you can’t just pull it up from the top of the ground. No, you have to go down and dig deep to get all the root. This is what Jesus does to our hearts with the Love of God. We are supposed to make every effort to live at peace with everyone. If love covers and we make every effort to live in peace, then that tells me we are to give no place to offense. We have too much to do and to many people to reach to let our lives be destroyed by the seed of offense and the weed of bitterness. Let’s choose today to let the love of God dwell in our hearts and let Him remove the weeds.

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