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  • Simplify Your Faith Walk!

    Monday marked six years ago that I started my journey back to the Father’s arms after being a rebellious, prodigal daughter for several years- choosing to live in painful disobedience instead of what I knew deep down in my heart was right.

    Like my book, The Vessel, describes, my journey was definitely a process, as I slowly released my will and surrendered to the Hands of the Potter, allowing Him to mold my heart and life into what seemed best to Him.

    Over the course of these last six years, I have definitely felt the ebb and flow, the mountains and valleys, of the Christian walk. I’ve over-complicated it with self-righteousness, over-analyzed teachings of the Word of God, and even relied on my performance and works (of which I can thank my performance-driven/approval seeking old mentality and religious up-bringing for that), instead of Jesus’ work on the Cross.

    It wasn’t until recently, I’d say within the last year and half, that I learned to get back to the basics of Christianity (of which I first heard about at an altar-call when I was 16 at a youth conference) - The Love of God shown through the Cross and the Bloody sacrifice of Jesus, a John 3:16 understanding of the gospel.

    Because I’ve truly embraced that simple, yet powerful truth, I have been able to have a relationship my Heavenly Father unlike anything I ever thought was possible. I struggled with my view of God because of my weak and broken relationship with my earthly father and because religion highlighted the angry, Old Testament God more than His loving and patient character and the promises of the new covenant.

    And it is those promises that I cling to (although I embrace the promises found in the Old Testament as well) that keep me walking. It is the Cross that is at the very core of the gospel message that keeps me believing in God’s goodness, faithfulness, and overwhelming love.

    There is such a peace (and many other fruit of the Spirit) that comes when you rest in the shadow of the Cross and in what Jesus has done for you and I. It is so simple to grasp, yet so profound.

    There are also so many amazing topics that you can study in the Word of God that will take you deeper in your Christian journey, and I encourage you dig and keep on digging.

    But I don’t want you to lose sight of the basics, the foundation for which our Christianity is built upon- abiding in Christ and all that He has done for us.

    If you keep your eyes on Jesus and His sacrifice, all other difficulties that you may face in this life won’t be able to shake you because of your security, provision, and abundance found only in abiding in Jesus, the Vine.

     That’s why John 15 is probably one of my favorite passages in the gospels:

    “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away;[a] and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.

    “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will[b] ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.

    “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. 10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.

    11 “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. 12 This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.13 Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. 14 You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.17 These things I command you, that you love one another” (NKJV).

    Abiding is what empowers us to be fruitful and loving Christians. And like Jesus explains in chapter 13 of John (vs 35), the world will know that we are Jesus’ followers when we love one another.

    The love that was shown to us through the Cross is the love that we then pour out to others. That love is what will set us apart and brings more people into their destined relationship with their Creator and Father.

    So if you are finding yourself becoming overwhelmed on your journey of faith, which is described as a race (a marathon, not a sprint) in Hebrews 12, maybe it’s time to simplify and bring it back to the basics so that you will have the endurance to walk on and at times, run full-speed ahead.

    Our faith-walk as Christians is not an easy one, and is called a fight for a reason (1 Timothy 6:12), but it is a rewarding one- not only here on earth, but in the Age to come!

    Keep calm (with your eyes fixed on the Cross), and walk on!

  • Unconnect/Reconnect


    “Good morning, sweetheart,” I hear my wonderful husband whisper to me as my eyes struggle to open. I grab my cell phone and begin to scroll through my notifications from the night before.

    “I love you.”

    “I love you too,” I mumble as I continue to fix my attention on my cell phone, an inanimate object that didn’t hold me as I fell asleep last night, instead of this sweet man that is standing in front of me that God has given to me. My husband lovingly snatched my cellphone from my hand and looked at me straight in the eyes, longing for me to share a moment with him before he went off to work that day. The sad thing is, this isn’t the first and only time I have done this to him or others for that matter.

    Now, I know that I’m not the only one who has grabbed their cellphone first thing in the morning or stared at the screen during dinner with a friend, so I have to ask:

    When did we get so consumed with technology that we’ve allowed it to capture our complete attention more than an actual human being?

    This is a topic that I believe has come to the surface recently in social spheres ("Look Up" Spoken Word by Gary Turk), especially for me after this encounter with my husband that seemed to wake me up and question where my focus is headed. I saw the hurt in his eyes when all he wanted was a little attention before he started his day. Imagine how God must feel when we not only choose other people before Him, but THINGS.

    I want to dig even deeper and ask is this dependency on electronics and technology also affecting our relationship with the Lord?

    Matthew 6:33 asks us to seek the Lord FIRST.

    That means putting Him first in our lives at all times, even the first few moments of our day. He is the One who graciously woke us up, gave us the breath in our lungs, and provided us another opportunity to live another day. He deserves our devotion the moment our eyes pop open, even if it is a mere “thank you, God” before our feet even hit the floor.

    As we live in the great information age, we are bombarded with opportunities to fill our time and our minds with so many things that can so easily replace our time of fellowship with the Lord. Information available to us, literally at our fingertips, at all times, is wonderful gift, but that mobile device that we carry around in our purses and pockets can also be a mobile distraction that follows us everywhere we go.

    Although our cellphones, tablets, iPods, laptops, etc are not evil, I do believe we need to be cautious as to how much time we are devoting to them. We need to be aware of where we are directing our focus. We need to be attentive of what is capturing our attention.

    Perhaps you may not have an issue with technology distracting you from the Lord- good for you! Stay strong and be an accountability partner for those around you who are easily pulled away from the things of God because of the ever-increasing information age.

    But if you are like me and you are finding yourself with limited time to spend with Jesus in the secret place, I challenge you to ask the Lord if there is something you can arrange in your schedule to allow better time management. Also, ask Him if He would like for you to fast (technology, that is) something that could be causing division between you and Him.

    Devote specific time every day to spend some quiet time in fellowship with God and reading your Bible, without your cellphone or iPad within reach- turn them off during that time.

    Be thankful for the benefits of the tools and global connections that technology brings us, but don’t allow technology to rob you of your connection to Jesus.

    Let’s refocus and reconnect with the Lord!

  • FB (Father's Business)

    A cry came from deep inside me today that I couldn’t seem to quiet.

    I want to only be about the Father’s business.”

    Such a weighty statement that comes with an equally weighty responsibility.

    As I try to grasp what that responsibility looks like, I have to block out what some people in the ministry world portray to the public as “Kingdom business.” My mind quickly went to seeing your name listed on the New York Best-selling authors list, the blue check-mark next to your name on your Twitter profile, and the countless invitations to speak at upcoming Christian conferences- all desires that I have to take to the alter of the Lord and ask Him to reveal the true motives behind those desires.

    But I have to ask, are those accomplishments really what Jesus would mean by being about His Father’s business if He was walking the earth today?

    Since the Bible tells us that Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8), I would have to say “no.” His only desire was to see the Kingdom of God come to earth and to obey His Father wholeheartedly. He didn’t seek fame or a platform. He just wanted to have such a strong influence over people that they no longer desired the things of this world, only the things of God.

    Jesus didn’t need a marketing team to increase His influence; He just prayed to the Father for strength, wisdom, and direction and obeyed all that the Father asked Him to do. And the masses of people flocked to Him because He was their only hope for total freedom, total healing, total deliverance, and total salvation from spending eternity in hell.

    The Father’s business was so important to Him because it was so important to His Father. It was deeply burned inside of His heart which fueled His passion for people. The fire of God consumed Him, and He was utterly capitated, overtaken, and motivated by walking in the will of the Father. He measured His success in that, not how much influence He had with people.

    Total obedience to the Father should be your only motivation in Kingdom business, nothing more, nothing less.

    We must always look to Jesus as to how to stay Kingdom-minded because sometimes other Christians can cause us to get off track of what it looks like to be a follower of Jesus. I’m so thankful to have Jesus as an example of how to walk out my Christian life. I’m so thankful for the Word of God that guides me and corrects me when my focus seems to be caught up in worldly affairs, even if it does have the label of “ministry” attached to it.

    I long to impact thousands of people as a business-woman for Christ, and I know the only way that I can be is by keeping my eyes and ears towards the Father and trying my best to remain in full obedience to His will.  That should be my focus, not the influence.

    Because the influence will follow….in His time, of course…

     

  • Strength to Endure All: A Life Hidden in Christ


    For as long as I can remember, I have always found healing in writing. It’s how I process emotions and the whirlwind of overwhelming thoughts and situations- situations that seems to weigh so heavy on your heart and shake your faith to the core.

    Because I had many stories with situations like that to share, I began writing my book last September. I had been brainstorming for probably three years before I actually sat down to write it. More than anything, I wanted to be as honest and as open as I possibly could. It truly was a healing process for me as I reached back into the recesses of my mind to share very personal stories about my life thus far- not to just share the stories, but to glorify my King Jesus and point others straight to Him and His miraculous transforming power of salvation, healing, and deliverance.

    Although I openly discuss many things that the Lord helped me overcome, mostly sexual sin and rebellion, there is a particular occurrence that strengthened my faith more than anything I could have ever imagined. There are some people in my present that don’t know about a very tragic and traumatic part of my past unless they’ve either read my book or have started up a conversation that led me to sharing my heart surrounding this subject. It’s really not something that people who have experienced (although very few people I know I have) really go around talking about.

    But yet, I find myself needing to talk about it today knowing deep down in my soul that no matter how dark, tragic, or extremely sad it may be, Jesus has turned beauty from these ashes and will receive glory from it because what the devil meant for evil, the Lord has and will continue to turn around for good!

    Yesterday, I found out that the man who murdered my father five and a half years ago was charged with a guilty sentence. He will serve up to 45 years in prison as a punishment for his actions. And while most people are shouting: “That man should burn in hell!” I am preaching, “You MUST forgive!” because I know the severity of holding onto the wrongs that others have done to us. It simply is not worth it, my friends.

     “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:14 (NIV)

    I don’t know about you, but I have fallen short of the glory of God many, many times, and I need my sins to be forgiven because I need the Love and Presence of my Heavenly Father from now until eternity. No matter what the sin is (how big or how small you may think it is), it WILL separate us from God. I NEVER EVER want to be separated from Him.

    Although I made a CHOICE to forgive the man who took my dad’s life right after it happened, I wrestled with so many emotions and thoughts yesterday after reading the articles describing the horrendous acts of murder that turned my world upside down in November of 2008. Seeing the photo of this man as he was escorted by two police officers out of the courtroom with his stone, cold eyes looking straight back at me made my stomach churn. My heart was pierced and so many different emotions rose up in me.

    I was instantly transported back to the memories of when my aunt told me the unreal news as I laid in the fetal position, hyperventilating and crying hysterically on the floor because of the ginormous tidal wave of anxiety and trauma that instantly flooded my soul.

    Avoiding these memories and traumatic thoughts was the main reason I chose not to follow the murder case as the years went on. Immediately, I chose to forgive and move on with my life with Christ and my now husband. I did not want to live in the trauma. I did not want bitterness or anger to consume me. I didn’t want to live in the pit of depression that the Lord had delivered me from just a few months earlier. I wanted my new life in Christ that I had just recently discovered once again after so many years spent away from the Father in sin and rebellion. It wasn’t that I didn’t care. It wasn’t that I didn’t love or miss my dad terribly. It was because dwelling on all of this wicked and demonically influenced tragedy would never bring my dad back. I knew that justice belonged ONLY in the hands of the Lord. Most of all, I longed for that man to repent of what he did and find a life-changing relationship with my Jesus like I had found. I still pray that to this day. He now will have plenty of time alone in that prison and my deepest cry to the Father is that Jesus would come visit this man in his jail cell, radically change him from the inside out, and use his life to impact God’s Kingdom for good.

    I can’t say that I have found the strength to pray a prayer like this within myself. My strength does come from within though, but it is the power and might of the Holy Spirit of God who gives it to me. My life verse from the Bible will forever hold true, and I will never stop standing upon the promise of Philippians 4:13: “I can do ALL THINGS through CHRIST who strengthens me.”

    So if I have endured all of this pain and have still held onto my faith in the midst of it to be living proof to the world that Philippians 4:13 is real and that my God is real, this has all been worth it.

    I know this pain is not the last of it. I know I will experience more pain in life because we live in a fallen world and because my Jesus promised us that while we are here on earth, we will have trouble. But He also promised us that He has OVERCOME the world!!

    “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (NLT)

    I’m so thankful for that promise. I’m so thankful that Jesus has not abandoned me here to suffer alone- I am not an orphan. Although, my earthly father is gone, I have a Heavenly Father who loves me more than anyone could. I cling to Him when the storms of life try to overtake me, for He is my anchor of hope. I cling to and stand upon His Word that is full of promises of His love, mercy, and grace, for He is my Rock and firm foundation. I cling to my Jesus and the voice of His Holy Spirit, for He is the One who gives me strength and courage to endure every trial I could ever face.

    No matter how dark life may get, know that when you trust in Jesus, and you hide your life in Him, you have a Light within you that shines so brightly it will overtake all of that darkness.

    I will leave you with the lyrics of a song I wrote after another trial I faced in November of last year, that seem to fit so perfectly right now:


    In You

    Verse 1:

    You’re my desire

    Lord, You are my everything

    It’s in You I find

    My purpose, my meaning

    Verse 2:

    So take my life

    Display it for the world to see

    So that You, my King

    Can receive Your glory

     Chorus:

    I’ll hide my life

    In You, Jesus Christ

    It’s You who gives me strength

    To rise above the storm

    Oh yes, My life

    Is a living sacrifice

    So that You can shine

    And draw all men to Your heart

    I live and move and have my being

    In You

     Bridge:

    Jesus

    When I stand in Your name

    Your blood cleanses me of all my shame

    The Father sees what You’ve done

    How You died on the cross to save us

     

  • Keep On Walking...

    Today I am having a major walk down memory lane and missing a certain season of my life. I know we aren’t supposed to live in our past or dwell on it in a negative way, but I do enjoy reminiscing on days gone by.

    Music definitely transports me back in time. A simple song can turn back years in a second. That happens to me quite often, actually, because of how much music is a part of my life.

    Although I understand God doesn’t want us “stuck” or walking backwards and always wants us to be progressing, maturing, and growing in Him, I find it difficult sometimes to not want to tangibly experience a particular satisfying memory again, especially when it wasn’t a sinful one.

    I find this true when your current circumstances aren’t always the better, yet aren’t always the worst…they’re just different.

    And I know that I’M different. I am not at the same spiritual level I was at five years ago, five weeks ago, or five days ago. Time moves forward and we sometimes have no choice to follow it straight ahead, full force.

    I’m not sure really what can quench this thirst for a flashback experience, except for simply enjoying the memory we have to hold onto and thanking God for it. We cannot go back in time and we can’t have an exact, replicated experience. And if we try to force it to happen again, we will most likely be disappointed.

    “Fruit tastes bad outside of its season.” -PDW

    I’m sure God has to change our seasons so that we don’t grow too comfortable, spiritually fat, discouraged, or dull. Just like how a tree’s leaves must wither and die during the winter to then bloom flowers and fruit at the appointed time, the Lord loves to bring about the refreshing joy of new life to His children at the appointed time. Understanding seasonal changes of the soul requires us to trust that God’s timing and plans are better than our’s, even if our circumstances aren’t always pleasant like they may have been in the past.

    We trust in the truth found in Romans 8:28 that the Lord is working everything out for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purposes.

    I am called according to God’s purpose in this earth and while I’m here, I need to align my heart with His even in the midst of the frailty of my humanity and soul-ish desires.

    So go ahead and enjoy that stroll down memory lane, but don’t try to plant roots on the path. Keep on walking because you’ll only grow in the soil cultivated by God’s perfect will for your life.

    Embrace change and move forward into God’s promises for you that can only be found straight ahead.