Friday, December 31, 2010

Lyrical Friday - Invisible Love

Hi Friends.
I'm squeezing in a final post for the year.
A few things before I dive into Lyrical Friday:
1. I am very excited to announce a Lily Makeover! Yes, thee blog will be getting a makeover. Tomorrow, January 1st, 2010 A Lily Among Thorns will be dressed in new clothes. YAY!
2. Some time next week, I will be sharing my 2011 verse and some new year commitments.
3. HAVE A WONDERFUL NEW YEAR'S EVE. Praise the Lord for all He has done. Read Deuteronomy 4:9

Moving along...

JJ Heller as become a close friend, through her songs. It is only appropriate to end the year with one of her amazing compositions. Invisible Love is one of those songs that ministers to my heart so much. The lyrics are simple yet thought provoking... atleast in my head! As you listen to the lyrics, allow them to speak to you of God's awesome love. My prayer is that when you fall, (and make no mistake about it, we all fall) that you would feel His arms before you reach the ground. I pray that you may know His whispers, though you have never literally heard God's voice. May you live in continual wonder, astonishment, surprise, fascination and be awestruck with God's invisible love for you.

Invisible Love, JJ Heller


If my arms could reach around You
I would never move
If my eyes could see You
I'd have no faith left to prove
The wonder of invisible love

This is how it has to be
With You and me
The wonder of invisible love

When I fall I feel Your arms before I reach the ground
Lord, I know Your whisper, though I've never heard the sound
The wonder of invisible love

This is how it has to be
With You and me
The wonder of invisible...

Some day there will be no time to mind
I will be Your long awaited bride
We will dance away the night

Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Year In Verses


Hola.
That's what my mornings look like: Coffee + Bible time!
It's my favorite time of day.

For the past 4-5 years, I have prayed for a verse that will be my theme, my motivation, my encouragement for that year. 2010's verse was (well still is till tomorrow night at Midnight)Matthew 16:26, "For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?" To be quite frank with you, I was a bit offended by God that this would be the verse He chose for me. In my little self-obsessed mind, my walk with the Lord was ok. However, the Lord's agenda for me was a bit different. He had bootcamp in store for me. (you can read yesterday's post for more) This verse proved to be an anchor for me, a verse that I used as a mirror: Am I gaining this world and all it's luxuries at the cost of my soul? Hmmm, I don't want to live that way. I want to live my life for the then and there and not the here and now. I love Matthew 16:26!

 Last year I posted A Year in Verses and will do the same this year. Raquel, what are you talking about? What is a year of verses? Glad you asked. Two years ago, I was challenged by a verse, a couple of verses actually, to make God's word at home in my heart. So I challenged myself to journal a verse per day. From whatever I read that day, to jot it down and date it. This has kept me accountable to being in God's word daily. So here I go, sharing 1 verse from each month out of the 364 verses that I received this year in my quiet time with Jesus.

January 19, 2010
Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high. Luke 24:29

February 7, 2010
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

March 6, 2010
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. Ezekiel 36:26

April 7, 2010
Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality. Romans 12:10-10

May 19, 2010
Say to those who are fearful-hearted, "Be strong, do not fear! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God; He will come and save you." Isaiah 35:4

June 8, 2010
Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14

July 16, 2010
The LORD has appeared of old to me, saying: “ Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you." Jeremiah 31:3

August 20, 2010
My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; He is mine forever. Psalm 73:26

September 23, 2010
He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be moved. Psalm 62:6

October 16, 2010
The LORD will guide you continually, and satisfy your soul in drought, and strengthen your bones; You shall be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail. Isaiah 58:11

November, 2010
And say to [insert your name], “Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it.” Colossians 4:17

December 11, 2010
The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed. Proverbs 11:25

Be blessed dear friends.
I challenge you, journal 1 verse a day. Share that verse with others. And make it personal, like the November verse I posted. God's word is powerful and intimate. May you be drawn into God's word like never before. May you never be quenched and satisfied apart from every word that proceeds from the mouth of God, found in the Bible. Happy 2011!

and if you're not tired of reading- ck out last year's verses and then dig in to God's word.
Has God given you a verse? Share it with me.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

take a seat.

Hi Readers.
I am unworthy of your attention, yet you have accepted my invitation to take a seat. Thank you.

Let the high praises of God be in their mouth,
and a two-edged sword in their hand. Psalm 149:6.

Praying that the highest praises of God be upon your heart and a two-edged sword in your hand. Get up. Take the sword of praise and Fight! Yes, fight! Are you losing trust in God's provision? Fight it with praise. Are you gripped by fear? Fight it with praise. Feeling small, insecure, unloved? Fight the feeling with praise. I think you're catching on... Praise is a mighty weapon. Whatever it may be that is keeping you from peace, from joy, from living the abundant life I encourage you to fight it with praise.

Unto a different subject... I felt a nudging from the Lord to relfect with you a little about this year. Let me start by saying that I would like 2010 behind me. This year has taken me on a roller coaster of pain, loss, confusion, loneliness, and mind battles. But God has taken me on a wondrous journey towards forgiveness, healing, redemption and grace.

The greatest gain for me this year is without doubt: accepting God's grace. As strange as that may sound, it's as you read it. This year my eyes were opened to God's amazing grace. I gained a real understanding this precious gift. I learned how far I was from living the abundant life.I had for 12 years accepted God's forgiveness of sin in my life, yet could not forgive myself. I was self condemned and imprisoned for past errors. gripped by both guilt and fear. I had believed the lie that I was of little worth and would amount to nothing. My misunderstanding of grace was far from the living and intimate grace God offers you and me. God is liberating me from much bondage. I have accepted God's grace for me. And though I have not grasped the richness of it, I am being cleansed and clothed by His love, mercy and grace. I am walking in His aisle of grace, and there is no where else that I'd rather be.

I can't say that this year is coming to an end, because everything that happened this year has molded me into the person that now walks into 2011. I am grateful that the Lord has been my tower of strength, my teacher, my healer, my savior, my lover, my friend. And He will continue to be all these and much more forever and a day.

I thank my God for all you. Through one of the most difficult and loneliest times of my life, it was you my readers who kept me company, you cupped my tears and held me accountable... and you may not have even known this. You have been instrumental in my heal journey. May the Lord take delight in you and sing over you as you my beloved friends live as lilies among thorns for His glory, honor and praise. May what you have experienced this year not hold you back from moving into all God has for you, but rather let those experiences be milestones of God's faithfulness. May the Lord be with you. God bless you.

But watch out! Be careful never to forget what you yourself have seen. Do not let these memories escape from your mind as long as you live! And be sure to pass them on to your children and grandchildren. Deuteronomy 4:9

But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more.
Romans 5:20

 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness. Romans 9:8, 10

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory... Ephesians 3:20-21

Monday, December 27, 2010

Flames from James

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights,
with whom there is no variation
or shadow of turning.
James 1:17


Throughout this Christmas weekend, this single verse kept popping up and floating in and out of my thoughts. A sweet reminder of the very best, most excellent, matchless and priceless gift: Jesus!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Happy Birthday Jesus (even though you weren't born December 25th... you would have been freezing!!!). You ARE the very best gift ever. Thank you for coming down to earth so that we who believe in You can go up to Heaven. I love you.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Lyrical Friday - Joy to the World remix

What really matters this Christmas? Pretty sure it isn't the presents but rather His presence. -Ron, 30 Days


MERRY CHRISTMAS!
 
Joy to the World, Dominic Balli

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

this may be a Word for you

weary.
heavy ladden.
jaded.
depressed.
tired.
pooped.
beat.
outta gas.
worn out.
wasted.
deserted.
forsaken.
abandoned.
desolate.
isolated.
unwelcomed.
disatisfied.
avoided.
shunned.
loathed.
undesireable.
icky.
horrible.
revolting.
wothless.
useless.
fruitless.
incompetent.
inferior.
idle.
good-for-nothing.
meaningless.
dirty.
defiled.
foul.
spotted.
lousy.
awful.

beloved friend, if this post finds you feeling like any of the above, this Word is for you.

He will find YOU in a desert land
And in the wasteland, a howling wilderness;
He will encircled YOU, He will instruct YOU,
He will keep YOU as the apple of His eye.
Deuteronomy 32:10

Cast your burden on the LORD,
And He shall sustain you;
He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.
Psalm 55:22

You will keep him/her in perfect peace,
Whose mind is stayed on You,
Because their trusts in You.
Trust in the LORD forever,
For in YAH, the LORD, is everlasting strength.
Isaiah 26:3-4

Fear not, for I am with you;
Be not dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you,
Yes, I will help you,
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’
Isaiah 41:10

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned,
Nor shall the flame scorch you.
Isaiah 43:2

And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, says the LORD, and I will bring you back from your captivity.
Jeremiah 29:13-14

Call to Me, and I will answer you,
And show you great and mighty things,
which you do not know.
Jeremiah 33:3

Therefore, behold, I will allure her,
Will bring her into the wilderness,
And speak comfort to her.
Hosea 2:14

I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten.
Joel 2:25

Blessed are the poor in spirit,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
For they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
For they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
For they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
For they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
For they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
For they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Matthew 5:3-11

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
John 3:16


Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.
1 Peter 5:6-7


 
Know today, that the Lord loves you with a great, unmeasurable and undending love. He cares for you and promises to perfect all which concerns you (Psalm 138:8). May you find peace in His presence, comfort in His Word and hope in both.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Lyrical Friday - Heaven Song

happy Friday sweet friends.


















-
-
At the funeral of a teenager, the youth pastor shared a conversation he held with him days before his death:
One day, this teen was weeping and so, the youth pastor asked him why he was crying. The teenager replied, "I want to see the face of God." Over a year ago my cousin, who attended the funeral of her friend, shared with me this beautiful anecdote. It is still resonating heavy within my heart.
-
Do I yearn for Jesus with the same passion?
Do I long to see His face?
Am I living for the here and now, or for the there and then?
Am I eager/restless/craving for Heaven or  am I attached to this world? 
-
As I search my own heart and ask myself these questions, only one song echoes my response. Heaven Song by Phil Wickham is fitting. May these lyrics provoke you to yearn for Heaven, for our Father; with the same passion as the teenager who now is basking in the full glory of our Lord.
-
Heaven Song, Phil Wickham


You wrote a letter and You signed your name
I read every word of it page by page
You said that You'd be coming, coming for me soon
Oh my God I'll be ready for You

I want to run on greener pastures
I want to dance on higher hills
I want to drink from sweeter waters
In the misty morning chill
And my soul is getting restless
For the place where I belong
I can't wait to join the angels and sing my heaven song

I hear Your voice and I catch my breath
'Well done my child, enter in and rest'
Tears of joy roll down my cheek
It's beautiful beyond my wildest dreams


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

just a question

Yesterday, ccfleikon*, posted the following question to it's followers on Twitter:
Do you pray in an attempt to change God's mind?

I ask you the same question.
Don't leave a comment.
just think about it and be real with yourself.


* Calvary Fort Lauderdale's College group: Eikon

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

the ultimate "Couponing" win!

Have I got a story to share with you!



The other day, my cousin and I talked about buying someone a gift. We decided on going to a certain store because we both had a coupon to shop there. The day of the purchase, we found ourselves coupon less. As she was driving I prayed out loud, "Lord, please provide us with a coupon. How? I don't know. Maybe have someone give us a coupon. In Jesus Name, Amen."

Fast Forward 30 minutes later.

We are sitting on the floor at the store, deciding what to choose when a store employee casually walking by us. Of course, I had to stop him. We asked him if they had extra coupons. What a surprise when He said that they didn't have. As if he cared, I carried on to tell him how my dear Mother threw away my coupon. And BAM, with out any hesitation he offers to "hook" us up with a discount if we pay at his register. He walks away. Can you hear the angels sing, "Glooooooooooria! Glooooooooooria!" OK, maybe there weren't angels singing but we sure were grateful. God heard my prayer.

follow me in this story...

It then hit me, that if I use dmy rewards card I would receive a 25% off coupon for my next purchase.  I figured it all out in my head: I buy this other item, get the coupon and then use it for the gift we were buying. I told my cousin and we both agreed on the new plan. Now we didn't have to bother the store employee.

Fast Forward and skip over the scene of me looking at books and home decor
that I didn't end up buying. 

We are at the register and I hand over my rewards card... we have to make sure this is checked so that I can get my coupon. I told the guy to charge me for the first item and explained to him the whole process of getting the coupon for the next purchase... He literally yelled at me, yes, yelled, "Didn't I tell you that I was going to give you a discount?" At this point I'm speechless, the other cashier and customer look over and He is starring at me like I've committed some horrible crime. Awkward moment there. He repeats himself, "I told you I was going to hook you up." Alrighty then, no arguing there. He proceeds to give us the discount (25% off) and He also gives me the rewards coupon that I intended to use.

Though that guy was pretty nice, in an awkward kind of way, the one who is entirely good is none other that My God. He is good all the time. Not only did He answer my silly prayer, but He taught me a few lesson that I needed to be reminded of: He who promises is faithful.

Many times, more often than not, I rejoice over God's promises for my life but then my mind begins to wander and plot ways of making those promises happen. I lack trust in that God fulfills His promises. I too am marked as a control freak, much like Eve/Sarah/Rebekah/Tamar and other women in the Bible who in some way manipulated a situation in there life. I am impatient and rebellious, but the Lord is always faithful to meet me where I am.
 
1. Regardless of my "handy-work" God's hand at work is much sweeter, more satisfying and overflowing with goodness. [He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. John 15:5]

2. I could have gone to the other cashier and used my coupon, which would have been OK but in order to receive the "hook" up and walk out with an extra coupon, well, I had to go to the one who promised it to me. Apart from God, we will never be blessed. [But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Matthew 6:33]

3. The store employee could have hid and not taken care of us, or due to my lack of trust and not given me a discount. But his kindness, generosity and integrity to his word was not dependent on me but entirely on his desire to bless me, to bless us. So it is with the Lord, His goodness, His generosity and His Word don't waver nor do they come to a screeching halt because we are unfaithful and/or faithless. God desires to bless us with an abundant and overflowing life. [Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Luke 12:32]

Has God promised you something?
Has He said to you, "Look to me and I will "hook" you up!"

Let's not be a people who are cheated or who cheat themselves from the blessings of God because we take matters into our own hands. Remember that the promises and blessings of God are as coupons than only He can redeem for us.

Let's choose to say:
Lord You said it.
I believe it.
You do it!


Friday, December 10, 2010

Lyrical Friday - Beloved

After a month long break, Lyrical Friday is back. Yay!

Tenth Avenue North has blown me away with their song Beloved. This song brings to life the book and story of Hosea, in such a way that you can't help but identify with it's words. I love it. Meditate on these lyrics and allow God to woo you with His perfect love.

Therefore, behold, I will allure her, will bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfort to her. Hosea 2:14

Beloved, Tenth Avenue North


If you haven't read Hosea , I highly recommend that you do.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

to: All // from: Paul

Even though I am free of the demands and expectations of everyone, I have voluntarily become a servant to any and all in order to reach a wide range of people: religious, nonreligious, meticulous moralists, loose-living immoralists, the defeated, the demoralized—whoever. I didn't take on their way of life. I kept my bearings in Christ—but I entered their world and tried to experience things from their point of view. I've become just about every sort of servant there is that I might by all means save some. Now this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I may be partaker of it with you.
1 Corinthians 9:19-23 (The Message & NKJV)
Who can you serve today?


Sunday, December 5, 2010

an apology, a sermon and an adventure

hi friends.
I have to apologize.
I promised a Lyrical Friday and I didn't post one.

This past Friday, we launched a new series at our youth group: Freedom. The Lord blessed me so much with the opportunity to be the first speaker alongside with my friend Willie. I had the girls in the main sanctuary and Willie took the boys to the video sanctuary. I titled my teaching, "Freedom to Live: Made for More." It was an amazing experience but at the same time terrifying. I didn't fear the young women who filled the room... I feared saying anything outside of God's will. I feel for our Pastors. Man, do they have a lot of responsibility as they stand behind pulpit and share God's Word. Overall, it was beautiful. Incredible that God wooed His daughters into His presence through a broken vessel like myself. I'll share more this week.

An hour after youth group was over, I headed to Orlando. A family from church invited me to join them. I went to Island of Adventures and Universal Studios for the first time. We laughed a lot, we rarely waited in lines and the weather was perfect. Oh, and we were soaked in the Popeye ride (AVOID IT AT ALL COST), we rode on dueling dragons in the dark of the night, we were nearly swept away by Twister, went on a bicycle ride with ET, saved Fiona from the terrible Lord Farquaad, escaped mummies, and we celebrated a birthday. I had a blast.
Needless to say, I am exhausted!

But I cannot go to bed without encouraging: Psalm 34:4-7
I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me.
He freed me from all my fears.
Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy;
no shadow of shame will darken their faces.
In my desperation I prayed, and the Lord listened;
he saved me from all my troubles.
For the angel of the Lord is a guard;
he surrounds and defends all who fear him.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

I'm back


Hi Friends.
November was a wonderful month!!! I have to give God all the glory for all the amazing post. I absolutely loved sharing my fiends and family with you. I had a blast last month. It was refreshing to be the reader.

I guess I hadn't noticed how much a part of my life this blog, you my new friends are to me. I have missed you.

Everytime God revealed Himself- I wanted to share it with you.
When I read an awesome verse- I wanted to share with you.
Moments of correction- I wanted to share with you.
What I learned from the guest posts- I wanted to share with you!
I so wanted to share so much with you- but I remained still.

The Lord definitely stripped me of all glory, praise and well, he stripped me of me. I'm glad I stayed away from posting because it is not about me, it's about the Lord. I would have robbed you from all the glorious gifts the Lord had in store for you. I praise Him for his faithfulness throughout November. And I thank you for joining the celebration.

All this to say: I'm so happy to be back!!! Tomorrow Lyrical Friday will resume. Stay tuned throughout the month for Flames from James, To All // From Paul, and many more blog post.

God bless YOU!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

birthday surprise! It's Anelle.

We've made it through the month of November celebrating the faithfulness of the Lord. And now for our last cheer, our last hoorah, the cake topper, the grand finale... I present to you my sister Anelle! Things I won't say about my sister in her presence: I admire her wisdom, her jokes are pretty funny (that's why I steal them), that I love her and will forever wait for her to tie her long shoe laces (inside joke). She is one of my best friends and really my life wouldn't be as blessed without her.
May the Lord bless you greatly through her post:


"Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! Thus says the LORD God of Israel: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. 8 I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your keeping, and gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And if that had been too little, I also would have given you much more! 9 Why have you despised the commandment of the LORD, to do evil in His sight? You have killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword; you have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the people of Ammon. 10 Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me, and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’ 11 Thus says the LORD: ‘Behold, I will raise up adversity against you from your own house; and I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun. 12 For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel, before the sun.’”
13 So David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.”

And Nathan said to David, “The LORD also has put away your sin; you shall not die. 14 However, because by this deed you have given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also who is born to you shall surely die.” 15 Then Nathan departed o his house." 2 Samuel 12:7-15

How do you respond when you're confronted with your own sin? Do you readily accept your guilt like David did, or do you deny that you have done any wrong?

Part of what makes the Bible so fascinating to me is that it tells the story not of how God has dealt with blameless people, but of how he has dealt with a pack of failures like you and me. What set David apart from other Biblical figures, what made God call him a "man after His own heart," was what David did with the aftermath of his mess-up. "I have sinned against the LORD," he said. Let's see how other people match up:

a. A short while after Cain killed Abel, God asked Cain a very simple question, "Where is your brother?" That was Cain's cue to confess what he had done, but did he own up to anything? No. Instead of showing any type of sorrow or any shadow of repentance, Cain 1. lied to the Almighty God and 2. gave Him attitude by saying these now famous words: I do not know. Am I my brother's keeper? (I can almost picture him crossing his arms and rolling his eyes, Sheneneh-style).

b. More than once, Saul disobeyed God. In 1 Samuel 15, when Samuel rebuked Saul for not following God's orders, Saul first played stupid (v.20) and then admitted guilt, but with a justification attached. He admitted that he had sinned but then added, "I was scared of the men, and so I gave in to their demands." Like that was supposed to make it better. He sounded kind of like Adam and Eve: "the snake made me do it..." "the woman you gave me..."

c. In Genesis 18, we find Sarah eavesdropping in her tent while 3 messengers are telling Abraham that she will bear a son in a year. When she heard that piece of news, she laughed to herself. God brought that to Abraham's attention saying, "Why did Sarah laugh?" The Bible tells us that Sarah got scared, and her best come-back was, "I didn't laugh." And God said, "No, you did laugh."

It reminds me of the time that some of my 6th grade students accused this one boy of eating in class. When I asked him if it was true or not, the boy looked at me straight in the face and told me-- with chip crumbs all over his mouth-- that they were lying. I had to laugh. It takes a lot of guts to admit wrongdoing, even when you're caught red-handed. It's hard to realize that we're just flesh and that we do fall (very) short of perfection. I hate lies, and, still, I straight-up lied to my sister once because I didn't want to deal with the truth of what had happened.

And yet, the worst thing we can do after we sin is keep it concealed. The Bible says that the truth sets us free (John 8:36). 1 John 1:9 says, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to purify us from all unrighteousness." James 5:16 says, "Therefore confess your sins to one another and pray for one another so that you may be healed."

When God grants us the opportunity to confess our sins, we might as well grab hold of that chance, and of the healing that comes with it, because I've learned that with Christians there is no such thing as secret sin. It will eventually come to the light.

Who will you be like? Will you be a Cain, a Saul, a Sarah, or will you be a David?
God bless!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

birthday surprise! It's Christy!

Hi Friends. Today's guest blogger is my amazing friend Christy. The best way to describe her is Proverbs 31:26, "She opens her mouth with wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness." I know that God will speak to all of you through her post. May the Lord bless you abundantly as you seek to know Him and make Him known. 




Whenever food comes up in conversation with anyone I have to mention Latin House Grill. It's a restaurant on wheels that travels throughout the city serving the most amazing Mexican/Cuban inspired dishes. I feel like I'm holding back and depriving you if I don't let you know about this delicious place!  Imagine the kind of friend I would be if I didn’t tell you about this life changing restaurant (seriously, the place will change your taste buds).  Imagine if you found out through someone else and then found out I had been going to this place all this time. This desire to share good news (hint hint) about the restaurant, can be likened to my desire to share with people whose lives need fixing, the amazing power of my Lord and Savior, who changed my life when I was 17 years old.

I'll spare you all the details, but I pray as you read this tidbit on my life you recognize that God sees you, knows you, and loves you unconditionally in spite of you :)

In high school I was pretty popular.  I had a group of friends who I partied with, a car, money for whatever I needed and the freedom to use all these things at my leisure, however, like all people, I always wanted more.  And the more I wanted, the duller life got. I remember driving home from clubs at 2 and 3 in the morning wanting to cry or leaving a party and asking about my self "who was that in there?"  I was empty, I had a void in my heart I felt no one could fill, however, for years, I strived desperately to fill it with myself.  Something was missing and I never could figure out what that something was.

Around the time all this was going on in my heart, my mom, who had recently been saved, invited me to church.  You would think that a person living in the rebellious state I was in would automatically say no, however, I went without much hesitation one Sunday morning.  The night before I had partied so late that the following morning I still had on the same make up.  Tears streamed down my face as I felt God begin to work in my heart and show me my need for Him to fill the void I desperately needed filled.   That morning, the void was filled, however, my life didn’t change much. 

The year that followed was brutal.  I spent the rest of my junior year in high school battling conviction and struggling to live a life both in the world and in the Lord, something Jesus makes clear is impossible (Matt 6:24).   It wasn’t until my senior year that I finally gave up the battle to live two lives and surrendered my life fully to the Lord.

In the coming weeks after my encounter with God my junior year, the rest of my family followed. One Sunday afternoon I was trying to rush through lunch to go to the beach with some friends (Sundays, I thought, were for the beach) when my mom casually turned to me and said I wouldn't be going to the beach, from now on we were going to be together on Sundays (a tradition we've continued for 8 years now). Part of me was angry, but a greater part of me was relieved. I felt as though I was beginning to take off some of the masks in my life.   Again, it wasn’t until almost a year later that I finally allowed God to begin changing my life, however, God was faithful, despite my faithlessness, and never gave up on me.

See God had started a work in my life which He has been perfecting ever since. He gently began taking away the people, hobbies and desires that were not only unpleasing to Him, but were killing me.  The things I thought would be impossible to let go, the wounds I thought would be impossible to heal, the life I thought would be impossible to restore, He healed, He restored and He transformed. 

I share this with you because Jesus changed my life. You may have seen that on a billboard or bumper sticker somewhere but the truth behind the words run deep in my life and the life of so many others. He is the only One who can fill our emptiness.  Some of you right now may think that your life is unfix-able, the place your in is unreachable.  Let me share something with you: It has nothing to do with us and everything to do with Him.  God gave Christ for us.  God hates our sin but loves us.  We can be so quick to buy into the lie that we first need to fix ourselves, then find Him.  Reality is we need Him before we can ever be fixed.  Wherever you are today, wherever life has brought you, you aren’t too far away from Him. As Paul said in Acts 17:26-28, “And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, for in Him we live and move and have our being”  All you have to do is open up your heart, no matter how broken, no matter how small, and let Him mend it and enlarge it.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

birthday surprise: It's Francine.

Happy Thanksgiving!

I am so thrilled that today is finally here, my favorite Holiday: Thanksgiving! And because it's my favorite day of the year, I asked a very special lady to guest blog. When I asked my friends to guest blog, I also gave them liberty to write and when to submit their post. However, after spending some time with the Lord one day I felt him prompting me to ask Francine to write the Thanksgiving Day post. The Lord is brilliant and He knows what He is doing. Francine truly is a crown o glory in the hand of our God (Isaiah 62:3). She is so precious. May you be blessed by Francine's post and encouraged to rejoice always, pray without ceasing and in everything give thanks. God bless YOU.

Thankfulness, Thankfulness is what I want from You


Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 16-17

Thanksgiving is such a wonderful reminder to us to be thankful for all God has, is and will do in our lives. I am thankful for the reminder.

Ever been through a horrific season and found that it became increasingly difficult as the trial continued to hold on to your faith let alone to praise God for your circumstances?

I have experienced some major seasons of drought, fire, despair, times I felt that I would drown, times I felt so alone that I was almost convinced there couldn’t be a God, times of such agonizing pain that I literally thought I would die from it. There is a specific time in my life where the trial was long and the suffering so intense that at one point I thought I had lost my faith and felt that if I didn’t hold on I would never get it back. I spent months of crying and pleading to God to heal my sweet husband Bill.

Bill was not well and in a lot of pain for 3 years. We were married for 2/1/2 years, all of which was during this time he was in constant pain (chronic pain) and we sought many treatments for nerve repair, spent a small fortune on changing his diet, juicing, all natural treatments, etc., etc. He was on 2 class 2 narcotics plus a host of other meds to treat his pain and symptoms from that pain. During this time he started getting swollen nodules in his neck. Two biopsies were done; they thought it was cancer and we prepared for the worst. The first biopsy wasn’t conclusive so they did the second to rule out the possibility of cancer. He had appointments with an Oncologist who was sure it was cancer and was preparing us for the worst. The swollen lymph nodes were all throughout his body even in his lungs. The second biopsy ruled out cancer. Then they thought for sure it was a fungus, so off to the Infection Disease doctor we went for more tests. We saw a few other doctors along the way but nothing was conclusive. Finally, his pain management doctor, after many trips to the emergency room for overdosing on his prescribed meds, determined that it was the medication itself that was killing him. His immune system (lymph nodes) was holding onto the meds so that he wouldn’t kill himself. All of this is too complicated to go into in great detail here but you get the idea.

His doctor sent him to a psychologist to help him prepare to come off the meds. He told him that if he did not stop taking all of the narcotics he would kill himself. The psychologist helped him to prepare. We went to our pastors and asked for counsel and guidance. Bill entered a 2-week detox program. Once he finished that he went to a Christian drug treatment program. He was there for 3 months.

When he came home it was a time of adjustment for him but he did really well. After 5 months of praying and seeking God for the direction our life would now take, we both sensed God calling us to move from Miami to Virginia to be a witness to his 9-year-old son, Bradley. Bradley had no Christian influence in his life and we readily moved 1 mile away from his house.

We were there for 6 weeks when the unthinkable happened. Bradley woke me one morning to tell me that Daddy fell in the bathroom and that he couldn’t get him up. My heart plunged.

You see for the first 2 years of our married life I had expected to wake up one morning and find that Bill had overdosed. After rehab that fear had dissipated. I knew before I ever went into the bathroom that morning that he was gone. I won’t go into all of the details of the situation but being away from my church family was extremely difficult. But from the first day God provided for my needs and spoke his peace and love into my life. The Calvary Chapel we were attending there has an amazing pastor. He and his wife and other members were there for me in anyway I needed them for the next 2 months.

Bill had secretly kept some medication. As I said he was taking class 2 narcotics. The meds he was taking were extremely strong. You had to “work your way up to them”. He had been complaining of pain for a couple of weeks and I can only imagine that it became unbearable for him. Sometime during that last night he took one of the narcotics and immediately went home to be with the Lord.

As I prayed about what to write, this was not my intention, it doesn’t feel holidayish, but I do feel certain that this is what God asked me to write.

I shared this with you to share this specifically, what I learned during this time. My loss was immense and it is just within the last couple of months that I feel completely whole in Christ. In the onset of my grief God asked me to praise Him in my circumstances. He had chosen not to heal my husband but to take Him home and yet He asked me to have a grateful heart. I must confess that I started off with mere words, my feelings were not gracious, nor understanding. But I did what God asked of me. After months of saying “thank you” to God during my prayer time and through out my days, one day I realized that I WAS thankful to God for taking Bill home.

Is. 57:1- The righteous perishes, and no man takes heart; merciful men are taken away, while no one considers that the righteous is taken away from evil.” God gave me this scripture within the first couple of weeks of Bill’s death. It did bring me comfort that God had spared Bill from evil that was to come. A couple of months later God gave me this scripture again and told me that He had spared me from evil to come also.

I now understand that 1 Thes. 1:16-17 that we are to give thanks IN everything. Not just for everything, while it is actually occurring. I believe that thankfulness is the same as forgiveness in that both are claimed in the Spirit and are done at that moment through the strength of Christ. The flesh eventually catches up as we continue to claim it and walk it out.

I want to encourage you to be thankful in the midst of your situation, no matter how bad it seems. Thanksgiving is a great time to think on all God has, is and will continue to do in your life and it is a special holiday to do this! But, please take it to the next level and give God the thanks He is due at all times and in all things. “All things work together for our good and His glory”. Either God’s Word is true or it isn’t. Let’s stand in faith that God hasn’t given us more than we can bear and let’s praise Him in the midst of our worst.

I pray that your Thanksgiving and Christmas is filled with God’s love through His Spirit and His people. The best blessing in life…that God loves us! Receive all that He has for you. Let go of any bitterness toward God and know that He is working all things out for you so that He will be glorified!

I moved back to Miami to be with my loving, supportive, church family. I am completely healed and take great comfort that Bill will never hurt again.

Blessings, peace and love.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

birthday surprise! It's Caro.

Hello.
I am very excited to share with you a woman who is very special to me: Caro. I met her when she was attending youth group and I was her leader. Definitely a cool girl, in the sense that you know this girl loves Jesus <-- what cooler way to be!? She has flourished into an amazing woman. I absolutely love her post and pray that you be encouraged tremendously by it:

Seed Planters!


My way of thinking is very scatter-brain like. If I lose you in my train of thoughts, I won’t feel offended. hah!

I’ve been thinking a lot on not being worthy for God. Thinking why God would choose me?? Why me?? I probably mess up more than I should yet He chose me anyway. (there’s a thought....)

There, right there you notice something about God. You notice that there is a purpose in his choosing and second the type of love He has. One that doesn’t stop once you become a complete fool but it’s a consistent love even when you mess up. Hmm, okay so here’s a new concept for people. “HEY I’M STILL GOING TO LOVE YOU NO MATTER WHAT, AND IT’S A REAL LOVE THAT WILL ROCK YOUR WORLD!” -God.

Woah, What, Really? A love that stands the test of time? One that will be pure, amazing and beyond spectacular!? Yep, that type of love. But that’s not what I wanted to write about...so you’re thinking “Okay, then what?”

I wanted to talk about God and why He chooses the most unlikely, the rejects, the strange, the mess-ups and pretty much the complete weirdos!

I’ve been reading Acts, and one thing that really jumped out at me is in Acts 9, The Conversion of Saul. Let me give you a run-down of this dude, he definitely hated the disciples, and the disciples were definitely scared of him. Wanted them ALL jailed/killed etc (the good stuff). The best part.... he DESPISED that they were from The Way.

The ironic thing is God ends up using Saul to further his ministry on earth...WOAH WHAT! back up, wait a minute..yeah Saul the most unlikely of persons is chosen by God to spread the Gospel. Who also is Paul (name change), the one that we all know and love! Let’s rewind and review: Saul who was not the most loving person (can we say jerk?) towards the disciples is called to join them and does so!

One of the things that astounds me of that story is that you see God’s guiding hand in the whole thing. You see that God had a purpose for each one of their lives, and has one for ours also. It also gives me the perspective that not one person is too sinful to get to know Jesus as their Lord.

I think when it comes down to us in our lives, (at least I do) we look at people, and we see that they are so far from the truth they’d never be willing to hear about the loving goodness of God. I pray that our assumptions of those be crushed so we’d be able to just share just how stinken’ good the Lord has been in our lives.
Let’s be the seed planters!!

...(and if you’re thinking why doesn’t God just blind the ones he wants and tells them clearly; read Matthew 28:16-20)

For “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? Romans 10:13-14

I pray that God continually humbles us where we see everyone as someone who can be used for the kingdom of God. Lord let us not grow cold and presumptuous but continually remind us that at some point we were a Saul also.

Help us to love how you love us.
xoxo, Carolina


If you want to read more from Caro, ck our her blog HERE!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

birthday surprise! It's Andreina.

Hi Friends.
Today's post comes from Andreina. It was a sweet surprise for me to read her words. She was actually replying to an email that I had sent her. Andreina's response was so profound yet so simple, I knew then and there that God wanted me to share this with you. May the Lord bless you richly.

First let's read the portion of scripture Andreina will be writing from.
Luke 9:28-35
Now it came to pass, about eight days after these sayings, that Jesus took Peter, John, and James and went up on the mountain to pray. As He prayed, the appearance of His face was altered, and His robe became white and glistening. And behold, two men talked with Him, who were Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of His decease which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. But Peter and those with him were heavy with sleep; and when they were fully awake, they saw His glory and the two men who stood with Him. Then it happened, as they were parting from Him, that Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here; and let us make three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah”—not knowing what he said. While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were fearful as they entered the cloud. And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!”

From Andreina:
I was just reading my Bible study about how Peter, just like us, thought that he was able to figure out the "spiritual", and because of that He missed the point. He put Moises (law) and Elijah (Prophets) in the same level as Jesus (the cross) . We too do the same, when the only thing we know is that God loved us so much that He sent His only Son to die for us in the cross....and we should listen to Him, because He is the only One that pleases the Father, not us .....humbling!!!! ONLY the Son's work satisfied the Father's justice, and we have to land (like Peter) under the cross and under His grace every day, knowing that He already has done everything we are unable to do (ever) because our rebellious and arrogant hearts.

The only thing we have to offer is to believe in the Gospel of His Son...FOR EVERYTHING to get to heaven and for our journey to heaven. We are to serve Him based on that truth; in response to HIS LOVE FOR US, for what HE HAS DONE FOR US and IN US. AY,AY,AY!!! He has already satisfied...are we listening??? That is a good news for me in the sense that it liberates me, but is not so good for my pride .

*I love her God-given wisdom.
Thank You Jesus.
Let's keep the main thing, the main thing. And the main thing is always Christ! 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

birthday surprise! It's Denise.

Hi dear friends.
Today you will be reading from my cousin Denise. I have seen with my very eyes the transforming work of God through her life. You know that verse that says, "you have taken me from the miry clay and set my feet upon a rock?" Well... Denise is a display of that verse in Psalm 41. God saved her from a dark world and brought her into the marvelous light. It's amazing to witness God doing miracles today! Here is her post:

Trials and Adoration

Life is difficult on our own and my story is proof. I wasted many years of my life in isolation, imprisoning myself, stuck in a bubble that wouldn’t break. Until someone came and burst it for me. A savior, a king, Jesus.

I was always the quiet girl. I went through high school with no friends. I always thought that this was part of my personality until later when I realized it was something much more than just painful shyness. I was suffering from severe depression and anxiety. Life got better though. I met Jesus and He told me that I would not have to worry anymore. I started making friends and I gained confidence but most of all, hope. The years went by and there were days where I would doubt and I would start drifting away from God. But He never ceased to remind me of His wonders and how awesome He is. This past year has been a very long year for me. My mother passed away after eight years of battling with cancer and my father left to Afghanistan to work, leaving me and my younger siblings behind. That doesn’t even begin to describe all the trials I have been through just this past year. But one thing I do know, I have a God who loves me and He is more powerful than anything I could ever go through.

While my mother was in the hospital, I felt my world flipping upside down very quickly. The verse the Lord gave me was, 1 Peter 5:7, “Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you.” This verse kept coming up over and over and I had this overwhelming feeling that God would get me through this. When my mom died, I felt like I needed God more than ever now, and I just wanted to cling to Him for dear life. How could I do this or anything for that matter without Him?
It’s during times like these, that a lot of people feel the closest to God. We get so caught up in life that God needs to slow us down so we can hear Him. In Hosea 2:18, it says, “But then I will win her back once again. I will lead her to the desert and speak tenderly to her there.”

I love God so much and I am humbled to know that the creator of the universe loves me and cares about me. We think our problems are huge and overwhelming but compared to how huge God is, even our greatest problems are minuscule.
“Then King David went in and sat before the Lord; and he said: “Who am I, O Lord God? And what is my house, that you have brought me this far? And yet this was a small thing in your sight, O Lord God.....” 2 Samuel 7:18-19a

We may go through periods where we are in the desert but then there are periods where we think we have it all under control. We get caught up with day to day life and we may even stop thinking about God completely. We are doing well at work or at school and we make sure everyone knows what a great job we did. We forget about the One who got us there in the first place. This is called pride and it’s a very ugly thing. We begin to worship ourselves and our possessions and we put other things before God. But what a lot of us forget is that there is another kind of pride. This is the pride that I was caught up in, and often, still am. It’s the kind of pride that turns up when we are not doing well. When we start having a pity party with ourselves and start asking questions like, “Why me?” and, “No one cares about me” and “Why does it always have to be me?” The common factor here in both types of pride is, Me. It’s always about “Me” and not “He”. He is the one who should receive the glory. He is the one who is going to pull us out of this.

“Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name goes all the glory for your unfailing love and faithfulness.” Psalm 115:1

What I have learned through all of this,is to not to do things my way, but to do them His way. I need to trust in Him and He will be able to handle everything for me. We need to praise Him when we are up and praise Him when we are down.

My prayer for you is that the Lord would pour His spirit upon you and that you would see Him for who He is. He is more than we could ever ask for. He sent His only Son to die for us on the cross so that we might live. God bless you and may you seek Him so that He can be the filler of that empty space in your heart that you have been searching for.
“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” John 10:10

Sunday, November 14, 2010

birthday surprise! It's Stephanie.

Today's birthday post comes from a very special friend. I was Stephanie's youth group leader when she was in High School. I have been a witness to the wonderful and faithful work of God in her life. Today Stephanie has bloomed into a beautiful lily among thorns. When I first asked her to pray about writing a guest post, she gently said no. However, the Lord had other plans. Below you will read what the Lord has spoken through her for you today.
God bless you!
Choosing to Forgive Even When We don’t ‘Feel’ Like It


Often times we are challenged to go beyond our “comfort zone” and do something out of the ordinary. Francis Chan could not have said it better: “We sometimes care about our comfort far more than we care about our character, but that's not God's desire.”

Sometimes we are faced with a challenge that we necessarily do not want to do. You see, I was challenged to do something in my life that I necessarily did not want to do. What’s the reason you may ask? Well, I could sit here for hours and give you excuses, but frankly, it was because I didn’t “feel” like it. I CHOSE not to do it.

One may hear all the time, “Life is FULL of choices” and if you really think about it, it’s true! You can choose to wake up in the morning expecting to have a wonderful day. You can choose to not get upset. You can choose to live a life worthy and surrendered to God. You can choose to set a good example at work, school, life, etc. You can choose to forgive those who have wronged you. You can choose to take charge of your own actions despite the way another may act. It’s all a choice, whether or not you “feel” like doing it. Why haven’t you done your homework? Because I don’t “feel” like it. Why haven’t you done your devo’s? Because I didn’t “feel” like it.

Choosing to base my decision upon all these “feelings” would be foolish. God’s word clearly tells us that the heart is deceitful and desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9). I would only be deceiving myself if I chose to listen to those “feelings.”

My friend asked me, “Do you think Jesus ‘felt’ like dying on the cross for us? Go ahead. Think about it.” He also shared that Jesus prayed 3 times asking God if there was any other way. Not one. Not two, but THREE times! Feel free to read the story. It’s in Matthew 26:36-46. Jesus knew that dying on the cross for our sins needed to be done. He loves us that much that He was willing to give it ALL just to be with us and offer that beautiful yet costly gift.

If we have chosen to give our “all” to God, yet we have chosen not to forgive another, have we truly given our “all” to Him? Forgiveness is definitely not an easy thing to do. If you are dealing with some type of hate or anger, let me ask you the following, “How does that hate/anger make you feel?” I bet it feels pretty bad. Note that hate is very hungry and has very sharp teeth. It can literally eat up your whole heart and leave no room left for love. Do not let your heart become a battlefield between love and hate.

Mediate upon the following two quotes:

• "Don't let your heart become angry toward people. God has not called us to yell at the darkness. God has called us to shine in the darkness." ΓΌ Brady Boyd

• Painful things that should be changed CAN be changed; from ending global poverty to healing a marriage. Willing to change is the difficult part. -Bianca Juarez

Now that God has given me all these insights into the things I was struggling with, I now have decided to take upon that challenge despite my feelings. An appropriate response is not a feeling, an appropriate response demands action. For me, in this season of my life, I have chosen to forgive. I love what Francis Chan said, “God is more concerned about changing YOU than changing your circumstance.”
At this time very moment you may be convinced with what I am sharing, but NOT necessarily converted and that’s fine because it is not my job. I’m not here to play the Holy Spirit. I’m here to share all that God has shown me and I pray that the Holy Spirit may give you the strength to do what He has called you to do and not just be filled with this knowledge and information God has shared through me. Stay strong in Him. Though roadblocks may alter your journey, remain steadfast in your Jesus journey and eventually, you will reach your destination. May we train ourselves to be still and hear the voice of God instead of our “feelings.”

I would like to close with the following statement I heard in a movie called “Amish Grace.” If you have not seen this film, I totally recommend it.

• “Faith when everything is as you want it to be is not true faith. It’s only when our lives are falling apart that we have our chance to make our faith real.”

Saturday, November 13, 2010

birthday surprise! It's Arlene.

Hi beloved friends. Are you in for a treat this post. You are about to read from one of the coolest, most amazing and overall, phenomenal people I know. As Paul was to Timothy, Arlene has been to me. I can't even begin to describe her without coming short. Hanging out with Arlene is like hanging out with one of the Disciples- she is that close to Jesus! Anywho, here is the post that she prayed about and received from the Lord to share with you:


SEASONS & The FUTILITY OF EXCESS LABOR


Arlene Hoffman, Seeker
Women At The Well Ministries, Inc
Ecclesiastes 3:1-16


I have always thought of myself as a 'reflector'. My definition of a reflector is one who plunges aggressively into any experience that's worth the investment of time and brain-energy after the actual experience has long gone. Well, that's me. I love to savor great experiences in my self-designed afterglow. My most recent investment has been reflecting on seasons. Not seasons marked by changes in weather, ecology or the revolution of the earth around the sun; but human-life seasons. The kinds of seasons that make us stop and pay attention. For the most part, these seasons require no input in their presentations, but they do demand appropriate responses and recognition as to their purpose in our lives. 2010 for me, ushered one of those 'stop and pay attention seasons' so I went into the book of Ecclesiastes to glean wisdom from King Solomon's brilliant though unstructured thesis of 'Life as man experiences it'.

My particular focus has been on Ecclesiastes 3:1-16. Solomon the Teacher parallels time and eternity in a great divide. He points out the inevitable contrasts in our lives, which are orchestrated by God and he admonishes his readers to accept the reality and inevitability of the seasons of our lives.

In verse 1, he reminds the reader that to everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven. And for the next seven (7) verses he makes synonymous parallels with contrasts and comparisons that would incite interest even in a mildewed brain. And then from verses 9-16, he brilliantly summarizes God's purpose from beginning to end; and emphasized the fact that God has put a sense of past and future into the hearts of man, thus awakening us to the reality of eternity.

As members of the Body of Christ, it is our responsibility to apply the principle of God's word to our lives and to assess with wisdom and understanding, the inevitable contrasts in our life experiences. Our responsibility involves accepting the things we cannot change and being careful to recognize the things we can change. I exercised my own responsibility by defining each verse of the Teacher's 7-Point sermon on the Cycles of Life and Nature in Ecclesiastes 3:2-8. I am using these points as the measuring line in my own life, and it's helping me find pleasure in my 'new season experiences' instead of entertaining unnecessary attitude sessions regarding the things that are out of my control.

Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8
There is a season, A Time for every purpose under heaven
  • A time to be born - 'A time to birth new ideas'
  • And a time to die - 'So you can be Born-again'
  • A time to plant - 'To make wise investment'
  • And a time to pluck what is planted - 'Time to harvest'
  • A time to kill - 'Not people but bad habits, which destroys life'
  • And a time to heal - 'Heal wounds caused from scarring'
  • A time to break down -'Things that are no longer relevant'
  • And a time to build up - 'A mismanaged life'
  • A Time to weep - 'To wash away discouragement'
  • And a time to laugh - 'To encourage oneself with joy'
  • A time to mourn - 'To grieve the untimely removal of things that matter'
  • And a time to dance - 'To embrace the gift of life and opportunity'
  • A time to cast away stones - 'To pass out good ideas and advice'
  • And a time to gather stones - 'To receive good ideas and advice'
  • A time to embrace - 'Reach out to someone in need'
  • And a time to refrain from embracing - 'To set boundaries with wisdom'
  • A time to gain - 'Wisdom and understanding'
  • And a time to lose - 'Things that are no longer useful'
  • A time to keep - 'Things that are life supporting'
  • And a time to throw away - 'That which is life cluttering'
  • A time to tear -'To separate good from bad'
  • And a time sew - 'To repair broken positive relationships'
  • A time to keep silence - 'In order to hear and listen to God'
  • And a time to speak - 'To be bold in your Christian witness'
  • A time to love - 'Life'
  • And a time to hate -'Things that destroy life'
  • A time of war - 'To battle against the enemy of your soul'
  • A time of peace - 'With God - yourself - and others'

In Reflection:
Everything is appropriate in its own time. But though God has planted eternity in the hearts of men, even so man cannot see the whole scope of God's work from beginning to end. Whatever God does is final - nothing can be added or taken from it; God's purpose in this is that man should fear the all-powerful God in all the seasons of our lives.

*I told she was good! lol 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

birthday surprise! It's Laura.

I'm so happy to share today's post with you. From my precious friend Laura to all of you:

WORM
My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?
Why are You so far from helping Me,
And from the words of My groaning?
O My God, I cry in the daytime, but You do not hear; and in the night season, and am not silent.
But You are holy,
Enthroned in the praises of Israel.
Our fathers trusted in You;
They trusted, and You delivered them.
They cried to You, and were delivered;
They trusted in You, and were not ashamed.
But I am a worm, and no man;
A reproach of men, and despised by the people.
All those who see Me ridicule Me;
They shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying,
“He trusted in the LORD, let Him rescue Him;
Let Him deliver Him, since He delights in Him!”
Psalm 22:1-8

Worm?

In the Hebrew the word worm is tolaat a word that means scarlet or crimson. The reason why is that scarlet dye was made from a particular worm called the Kermes Vermilion worm. This worm pierces the thin bark of a twig to suck the sap from which it prepares a waxy scale to protect its soft body. The red dye is in the scale. When reproducing the female climbs the tree usually an Oak tree where it bears its eggs the larva hatch and feed on the body of the worm. (The worm gives life) a crimson spot is left on the branch. When the scarlet branch dries out (It takes 3 days for it to dry out!) it then changes to WHITE as it flakes off!!!!!

“Come now, and let us reason together,”
Says the LORD,
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
They shall be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson,
They shall be as wool.
Isaiah 1:18

Interesting, takes 3 days!!!
It took 3 days for the crimson sin of humanity to be changed into the holy white of the Lord. Thank you Jesus!

Pretty neat, eh?!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

OH MY! I almost forgot.
Friends today, November the10th, is exactly a year since A Lily Among Thorns has been with you. To all of you who have been following closely since the beginning, to all who joined me along the way and to those of you who happened upon this blog today:
May the Lord bless you abundantly.
May His joy be your strength!
May the love of Christ fill you to overflow.
May you be salt and light.
May you be a lily among thorns as you seek to know God and make Him known!

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

birthday surprise! It's Chris.

Hi Friends. As promised, throughout the month of November you will be reading from many of my friends. I have asked them to pray and seek of the Lord what He would have them share with you. Today, you will be reading a very encouraging post by my friend Chris, from The Stoph. Enjoy!

Trying Growth
Too often am I focused on the future or drowning in the past, that I often forget the present, what C.S. Lewis refers to as “the point at which time touches eternity.” What he meant by that is that in the present time, we are given freedom and actuality, and in the present is where our decisions can affect our eternity.

In the case of a Christian, we are driven by our convictions and our morals, things that God works in us through the process of sanctification. However, sometimes we lose sight of it, the present I mean. We often spend countless hours focused on the “would have beens” and the “should have been” that we forget the currently being. Or we can get swallowed up by the idea of the “going to be” and the “what if” that we again forget the currently being.

It is a dangerous game to forget the little things in life happening around us in the right now. To forget the mundane is to often forget life itself. To me, there are more mundane moments then there are major moments. However, too often do we live for those major moments in life. We like going from major event to major event. Yet we forget that major events are like puzzles, made up of hundreds of small otherwise mundane pieces of a huge picture.

If anyone in the bible had the right to ask why me, or focus on the past and the future, it was Joseph. I wonder what Joseph felt like when he sat in his jail cell in Gen 39 alone in his undeserved circumstance. I wonder if in those moments, Joseph plagued himself with thoughts of a distant vision given to him by God through dreams? Or, if he sat motionless remembering the past where his beaten body lay at the bottom of a pit awaiting death? I would venture to say that he did neither of the two. Instead, I think Joseph did something different. According to Gen 39:21 Joseph found favor in the sight of the Lord, “He gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison.” Why was that? We keep going on to verse 23 and we see that “whatever he did, the LORD made it prosper.” I wonder the kind of attitude that got Joseph such favor?

Moving into Gen 40, we see Joseph presented with something familiar to him, dreams. It was dreams that got him in trouble in the first place,well really it was dreams combined with a premature, trigger happy mouth that landed him in the center of his brothers’ contempt. However, something had changed in Gen 40, no longer was Joseph so quick to speak, rather he was “slow to speak,” he showed self-control. In verse 8 after listening to two men, he tells us to whom interpretations belong to, that it is not by his power or his words, but by God’s word alone, would any sense be made of the dreams. We start to see maturity in his demeanor and this continues despite the fact that he spends another 2 years in prison (41:1) and was forgotten by the man whom he helped (40:23).

Finally, in Gen 41, Joseph gets his big chance, and rather than squander it as he did back in Gen 37:5-10, he gave all glory to God, he was humble (41:16). What I find so interesting is how the very thing that got Joseph in trouble, was the same thing that got him out of it. What changed? Was it Joseph’s circumstances? Well they only went from bad to worse. If anything, his circumstances should have driven him to anger. And as it is for many people today, a disdain for all things holy, because after all, “How dare God allow this to happen to me?!” or worse, “How could God DO this to me?!” As if God is some cosmic bully out to push people’s buttons and line things up like a game of chess for His own personal fun with complete disregard for having a relationship with His creation.

While his circumstances did change, his attitude changed as well, and it went in the polar-opposite of his circumstances. Why was that? Joseph did not allow for circumstances to govern his actions as the disciples did when they were scattered. He did something a good friend of mine said in the beginning of what I would say is my favorite letter ever written: Joseph “Counted it all joy when he fell into various trials, knowing that the testing of faith produces patience.” Joseph also let “patience have its perfect work, that he may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” (James 1:2-4)


The word perfect in the Greek is the word teleios, used twice in verse 4. In both cases, teleios, describes something that has been brought to its end, completed, a finished work. Coincidentally, this word is also a root from which we get the famous word teteleiosti, the word Jesus uttered from the cross when the propitiation for our sin had been finished.

What then does that say to us about what we go through? Oftentimes, we are presented with situations in life and we are inclined to look to the past. We easily regret the mistakes and the mishaps or we look to the future and become consumed with some vision we received or some end we wish to reach. In doing this we become useless in the present. We become the very thing we are trying to avoid: being idle. Rather than focus on the present task or otherwise mundane things before us, we look behind us or in front of us rather than around us. We forget the purpose behind life’s trials and tribulations. We forget who it is that controls the ocean, the seas, the winds, and who put the earth into motion.

Sad thing is, many of us know all of what I said above. In fact a lot of us like to throw around that axiom of “It will all turn out for good" or "everything has a purpose.” However, our actions and our response to life’s issues tend to tell a different story. We’re great at loving these reminders when we read about them, but when we experience them, everything changes. And like any student, reading the information is one thing, but no one likes taking the exam.

I think Joseph knew very well who his God was. He understood that while he may not understand the current situation, he focused on what he did know, or better put, Who he knew.

Circumstances aren’t permanent, they are subject to change; what we need is to stop focusing on the things that change, and start focusing on the constants. It makes little sense to look at those things that change, we end up wasting time and eye sight.In the midst of our trials, our eyes must shift back to and remain fixed upon those things which are constant. I can think of only One thing that is, and the beautiful thing is that it isn’t a thing, but rather, a person. “Jesus Christ IS the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (Heb 13:8). If you won’t find comfort in James or Joseph, find it in God, because after all, His love is what compelled both men to do and write as they did.

James in the midst of Nero and Pharisaical persecution did not back down to remind the Jewish Christians to consider it joy. Joseph did not forget who his God was. I am almost sure that He was quick to remember the success God had brought his fathers before him. Both these men understood one thing about their problems. Their problems would produce in them spiritual maturity, spiritual growth, and the patience they would receive from enduring said trials would work in them a more perfect faith, or better put, a more complete faith, one lacking nothing.

God is sovereign, and for that I am thankful. If anyone else were in charge, I would be dead by now. Nevertheless, because the all loving, all knowing, all powerful, all present God is in control, I can be sure that He will work all for the good of those who love Him (Rom 8:28), I can be sure that like Joseph, what was originally evil, He will use for good (Gen 50:20).

Ultimately remember this about God, “I form the light and create darkness, I make peace and create calamity; I, the LORD, have created it.” Isaiah 45:7. Pretty harsh words at first glance, however, this drips with love. When God spoke these words, it was to a people who were going to be attacked by Cyrus. They were spoken so that when the people asked “Why me?!” they would be reminded that it was God who had allowed it and that it was God that would use this king to humble His people. What was a horrible situation, God would use to better and grow His people. I call it true love, because it isn’t just about pampering, it is about causing growth. Remember that “…every branch that bears fruit, He prunes, that it may bear more fruit” (John 15:2b)

Am I saying that you are being punished? No! Am I saying you deserve it? No! I can’t answer those questions. Regardless though, know this, whatever the situation, whatever the problem, look to the constant, look to the cross. I may not be able to tell you why it is, but I will be able to tell you what it isn’t and it isn’t that He doesn’t love you. It isn’t that He has forgotten you. Our suffering, our trials, when compared to the cross and the One who suffered on it for you, are but seconds in time in comparison to the eternal pain felt in that moment of separation. God knew what He was doing when He made you. He knows what He is doing now. And you can rest assured that if not one sparrow hits the ground apart from God’s will. You are worth more then they are. And God, who knew you before birth, knows what He is doing, and He always will. (Matt 10:29-30, Psalm 139:13).

To the past I say, keep God your omega point, “forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 3:13-14)

To the future I say, don’t despise the day of small things (Zech 4:10) and remember that “each day has enough trouble of its own… seek first His kingdom” (Matt 6:33-34)

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