Wednesday, February 27, 2013

example and praise

I spent some time in Psalm 71 this morning. Verse seven caught my attention above all others:
"My life is an example to many, because you have been my strength and protection."

It caused me to measure up my life. Am I a representation of this verse to the world? Can others claim me as an example because God has been my strength and protection? It's an even bolder statement to claim for oneself. I think of the many times that lack of faith has not carried me through a trial but paralyzed me. Or when worry got the best of me, as in a rocking chair swaying back and forth but going nowhere. I am shamed by the thoughts of, "what if..." when I clearly knew what to say or what to do but did not do.

Oh wretched woman that I am.

I love the following verse:
"That is why I can never stop praising you; I declare your glory all day long."

I know the real me, the one that worries, the one whose faith wavers and even lacks it at times. I know me, the one who stares at the promises of God and dares to pray, "Lord will you really protect me?" Because I know me so well, that is why I can never stop praising Him. Praise, despite me, declares God's glorious strength and protection in my life. Praise reminds me that He is who He says He is. Praise speaks His promises and quiets my fears. Praise can, and praise will, mold me to be an example. So praise on dear friend and you too can be an example to many!

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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Sentence Tuesday

Whatever problems we're going through, 
they didn't come to stay; they came to pass. 
- Grandma Barb, from Tiffany Meyers

Miami Fog

Friday, February 22, 2013

Lyrical Friday - Here In This Place

[photo credit]
One of my favorite things to do it to sit back on a comfy couch with a great friend. I could be in their presence for hours. Unfortunately,moments like these to happen often because of schedules and responsibilities that collide with time.

However, there is one friend that always has time for us. We don't have to schedule or make it a "date" to sit back with Him. Fortunately for us He tells us to come boldly to His throne of grace. That is unlimited access to Him. Coming to the presence of God is better than an infomercial, for with Him there truly is that, "Wait! There's more." He promises that in that place we will receive mercy and find grace.

Today's lyrical post caused me to stop and meditate on this thought: Is my spare time wasted or invested? I'll be honest with you, I do waste a lot of time in the name of relaxing. Time that 1. is running out, 2. really doesn't belong to me, and 3.will never be returned. How magnificent it would be if I spend five more minutes with Jesus than I normally would. Grace and mercy I could definitely use, so I'm off to receive and find that which I lack: more of Jesus!

Let us come boldly (with confidence) to the throne of our gracious God. 
There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. Hebrews 4:16

Here in this Place, Elevation Worship

This is a place for the broken
This is the hope of the world
Jesus, friend of sinners
Jesus, Savior

Here in this place mercy is flowing
Here in this place is the glory of God
All things are new in the presence of Jesus
Father we stand amazed
Here in this place
You are awesome in this place mighty God
You are awesome in this place Abba Father
You are worthy of our praise
To You our lives we raise
You are awesome in this place mighty God

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

a few words on Guilt

Last night the topic of guilt came up in our bible study. Immediately my mind took me back to the days when guilt and shame were my shackles of choice. Guilt was a familiar feeling that I believed I had to live with.

You see, I carried the guilt of my friend's hopelessness with me that led her to suicide. I held myself responsible for my grandfather's death. I accused my lack of faith, wrong decisions and attitude for the straying away of a loved one. The shame of my past bound me. I understood that God had forgiven me, but I could not forget myself.

That is till a friend spoke words of truth into my life. In short she said, "Raquel, your grandfather died because that's the hour the Lord chose to take Him. Do you really think that you are greater than God? Or that you determine life and death? Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! These words shook me and took me for a ride. Not only was my grandfather's death flashed before me, but every guilt and every shame that had crippled me.

I had a questions to deal with in light of the truth my friend had spoken:
Was I assuming to be greater than God by not forgiving myself? Would I continue believing the lie that I was responsible and accountable for what God had willed and permitted? That night began a process of God replacing truth for lies, a deep healing, and setting me free. His grace was so gentle and sweet.

For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things. 1 John 3:20

Dear Friend, has guilt made your heart its home? Is your mind clouded with shameful memories? Is your faith crippled? Have you made yourself responsible for choices God has made or the choices others have taken? Are you holding yourself accountable for actions or events that the Lord has forgiven you for? Do you find it difficult to forgive your self and move forward?
God is greater than your sin.
God is greater than your shortcomings.
God is greater than your mistakes.
God is greater than your failures.
God is greater than you.
God is greater than your heart.
God is greater than your memories.
God is greater than your ability to forgive and forget.
God is Great.

Allow today for the grace of God to shatter the shackles of guilt and deliver you from the shame that condemns you. God is love, and it is His perfect love that will perfect you. It's a process, be patient with Him as He replaces lies with truth, heals you, and sets you free.

Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. 1 John 4:17-18

But love covers all sins. Proverbs 10:12

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Sentence Tuesday

If you uproot an idol in your life 
and fail to plant the love of Christ in its place, 
the idol will grow back.
-Tim Keller 

[photo credit]

Monday, February 18, 2013

had to share

I saw this today and couldn't find the original source but I knew I had to share with you.
Be encouraged!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Lyrical Friday - How Deep the Father's Love For Us

[photo credit] 
Happy Friday to YOU!
I hope everyone had a wonderful Thursday  I mean Valentine's Day. I did. Girls Night In became Girls Night Out. We went out for Pizza on a rainy and surprisingly chilly Miami night. I ate good food and laughed loud among the best company of friends. Indeed, it was a good night. It's a good thing to have friends.

So naturally, I would post a song about love, not just any love, the greatest love of all. Today's lyrics describe this perfect love so well. I know it's not a new song, but one that is known. And so I beg, don't just sing along but really sit back and consider each word.

And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. Ephesians 3:18

How Deep the Father's Love For Us, Stewart Townend

How deep the Father's love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss,
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One,
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the Man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice,
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that left Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Sentence Tuesday

Praise is a funny thing, 
for it will either draw out a humble spirit
or the ugliest of attitudes. 
-Raquel Rodriguez

Friday, February 8, 2013

Lyrical Friday - Desert Soul

Happy Friday! Last Friday my friend and fellow youth leader Michelle gave me two wonderful albums from Rend Collection Experiment, and WOW! I'm pressed on time so I'll let you learn more about them in the first video and the second is our lyrical post. Desert Soul was the first song from their collection to really tug at my heart and resonate within me. Needless to say, I am a bit obsessed with Rend Collection and I am sure that you will be too if you have yet to hear them.

Desert Soul, Rend Collection Experiment

I love You Lord
But I want to love You more
I need You God 
But I want to need You more

I'm lost without
Your creative spark in me
I'm dead inside
Unless Your resurrection sings

I'm desperate for a desperate heart
I'm reaching out, I'm reaching

All that I am is dry bones
Without You Lord, a desert soul
I am broken but running
Towards You God, You make me whole

You are exactly what we need
Only You can satisfy

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

known by name

As I emailed the ladies from my Bible study, I included a few words of encouragement. This too may be for you as much as it was for me this morning. So grab a cup of coffee, or tea, or hot chocolate and read on. 

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In the Bible there are many women who are mentioned but have no names. They are either identified by their location, their status and/or their condition. For example: A SAMARITAN woman, The WIDOW of Zeraphath, The woman with the ISSUE OF BLOOD. There are many more nameless and faceless women in the Bible.

You fill in the blank about yourself: 
The woman with the issue of __________. 
The wife of __________.
The Woman from __________. (this label could be your workplace)

I know that there are times when we feel like a nameless women. We even label others by what we see of them or their circumstance. If we focus on the label, we will miss out on a greater truth. These nameless women were not nameless to God. He knew each one by name and was intimately acquainted with their need. Though they had no names, God counted them worthy of mentioning them in His Word, using them for His purpose. He knew the name of the Samaritan woman, and though to the world she had a need for physical love, God saw her real need and He met her there. An outcast among her own people, she then became a bold witness for Christ. He knew the name of the Widow of Zeraphath. To the word she was just a poor widow with nothing to offer. But to God, she was a rich widow for her faith and obedience would prove that with God all things are possible. The woman with the issue of blood was also known by God, He knew her name. To the watching world her need was for healing but God knew that her real need was salvation. God knows you by name. 

He knows your need, your real need. He knows what you cry about. He knows what you worry about. He knows it all. Knowing everything about you He yearns to  speak comfort to you through His word. He longs for your presence in prayer. And He anxiously yet patiently waits for you to stop and worship Him. Through these three you will find hope, security, and deliverance. You are not nameless to God. Be blessed, you are known by name and your identity is found in Him. 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Sentence Tuesday

When God makes you look good,
turn around and make Him look greater.
- Elaina Millar ‏

Friday, February 1, 2013

Lyrical Friday - Rooftops

[photo credit]
I am obsessed with Rooftops by Kim Walker. No really, I can't stop singing, humming and bobbing my head when I can't do either. OK, maybe I'm exaggerating but all jokes aside the song is fantastic.

The chorus: 
So I shout out Your name, 
From the rooftops I proclaim
That I am Yours, I am Yours
All that I am I place into Your loving hands
And I am Yours, I am Yours

Have you ever been at a rooftop overlooking a city? I have. Once in Italy and another time in Israel. And even though I wasn't at an actual rooftop, I stood overlooking Naples and Bethlehem. It was 3 am when we took a break from searching for our hotel. You see, we didn't know that at midnight public transportation ended and to top things off, we never wrote down our hotel's name and address. Two guys from the restaurant offered to help us find our way back home. And so after 2 hours they said, " We will show you Naples." The car came to a stop at the side of a road and it was there that I saw the city of Naples. It was a dark mountain side view of the city but the stars and street lights gave us enough to see her streets, the homes, the trees and all that Naples had to offer minus the people who slept. It was beautiful. Six of us stood at a mountain top overlooking the city, practically drooling over the amazing live picture that was before us.We were silent for a good moment and then the "oohs" and "ahs" followed. It was a movie perfect scene, a film opportunity to yell off the top of our lungs but we didn't. We were caught up in the moment. We were shy before these strangers who generously helped us. We were blinded from seeing this open opportunity to shout. And the moment passed us by. 

Fast Forward to now hearing this song and paying close attention to these lyrics. Why are we not shouting His name and proclaiming His truths from the rooftop of our live. And I don't mean an actual shouting, that would just prove to people that I am really a nut case. I am talking about the silent witness, the one on one encounters, the response to every day life that should be played out as a bold shout. I suppose  we get caught up in the moment that happens day to day, somewhat like my mountain top experience. Are we are shy and lack boldness to rise and speak? Or it may just be that we are not attentive to the opportunities God has placed before us. But that can change. 

My prayer and hope in sharing today's Lyrical post is to that you and I would be stirred up, provoked in a sense, to live bold lives. I pray that when these "rooftop" opportunities arise that we would take notice of them and seize them. So go on, proclaim it today that you are God's special child. Shout out who God is in your life, for you may never know who it may minister to. Make yourself available to be used by God for His glory and fame! 

Rooftops, Jesus Culture 

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