Who gets the Victory in your Life?

One of the first things I remember being a preacher’s daughter was my mom telling me, I couldn’t bring my baby doll to church with me on Sunday nights anymore. I was probably in kindergarten or first grade and being that services typically went long on Sunday nights. I always enjoyed  bringing my baby doll with me. I am sure it kept me occupied during the long night and I probably ended up cuddling with it and falling asleep at some point. I really don’t remember, but one thing I do remember is sitting next to the daughter of the deacon that night who had told my daddy I couldn’t bring my baby doll anymore to church. I sat there and watched as she played with her doll, wondering why the rules were different for her than me.

 

That would not be the last time I would be singled out as the preachers daughter and be expected to keep a standard higher than others around me,  but it will forever be embedded in my memory. I still deal with fighting bitterness and anger from that incident. Especially since I still have contact with the daughter and see how she now gets to care for her parents. I am not going to lie, I have wondered, why would God allow someone that was so mean to my father,  still get to live and why would a God that loves me take my daddy instead, and at such a young age. My daddy has been gone since I was 23 years old. He hasn’t gotten to be a part of my kids lives nor see his great grandchildren or see what kind of a woman I have grown into. My husband has missed the mentoring that my father could of provided to his ministry that would of been so useful especially in the early years.

 

But one thing is not different about me, I am still expected by God to forgive. Just like anyone else in this world. You may ask “Well what is expected of us”.  The bible says If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a fellow believer, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see?” (1 John 4:20) Then Matthew reminds us “But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:15

 

Oh! That isn’t the only hurt in the church that has happened to me, in fact I am pretty certain satan has instigated many opportunities for me to be bitter and angry at God’s people. It’s not important I share all the details of the opportunities for offence I have had. See,  I am not alone in this. Satan has been using these tricks to discourage believers since the beginning of time. Just look at the story of Job in the bible. We are told that satan and God are having a conversation. When God says “Have you considered my friend Job” In the conversation God basically tells satan, you can do anything you want to Job except take his life, and he will not turn his back on me”. So satan goes after Job, he ends up taking everything Job has expect his complaining and nagging wife, which if you read the story you realize, she was probably working for satan. Even in all that Job lost, his children, his home, Job refused to turn away from God. Job tells us that even if he dies, he will not stop trusting in God. I guess that is what I would have to say too.

 

See, my family has failed me, my friends has failed me, my church has failed me, my denomination has failed me, but one thing I can say is my God has never failed me. Oh! I lived in a season of my life in bitterness and anger and all it did was hurt me and the people around me.  And you know what? The people that hurt me so much and who I was so angry at continued on with their lives as if, nothing had happened. I was the only one hurt. I was letting my bitterness and anger hold me captive while the one that I wanted so badly to hurt went on with their lives.

 

I was a prisoner in my own world, a world I had created of bitterness, isolation and anger. I didn’t realize that I was angry at the wrong people. I, like all of us, needs to focus on the real enemy and that is satan. I,  like all of us also, needs to realize that with every opportunity for bitterness,unforgiveness and anger that comes my way, I need to remember that this also, like Job, maybe a test, Perhaps God has put so much faith and trust in me, He has told satan, “Go ahead, see what you can do to her”. Like a coach who puts his best player out in the time of the game that is critical to the team, he is depending on you to make that finial point for the team to win the game.

 

When we come to look at every opportunity for offence as an opportunity to rise above and be the shining star on God’s team. We will then let Christ’s love in us shine through and overshadow any root of bitterness. When we realize every opportunity of unforgiveness is just a trick from the enemy. We will begin to see a whole lot less opportunities for unforgiveness, bitterness and resentment. Because satan soon leaves stops using tricks that don’t work. It is important that we realize we are not a war against people but satan, its just that satan often uses people as his ploys. We can see from the beginning of time, satan as only used those things to slip us up and keep us from the life that God has called us. But Jesus died for us to live.

 

Christ doesn’t desire for us to just have life here on this earth but He desires for us to live an abundant life John 10:10 tells us that satan comes to steal our joy, kill our hope  and destroy our faith in God. But Christ came that we would have that abundant life, not just an ordinary life but an abundant life that is full of joy and peace, that is a comfort for those who are in need and a peace to those who are troubled. One of the ways we can receive that abundant life is the choice we make when we are tempted to refuse to forgive and live in unforgiveness, bitterness and resentment.

 

Make no mistake we always have a choice how we respond and that choice either glorifies God, or glorifies satan. So the question is, who are you living for? Who do you want your life to glorify? It isn’t the people that hurt us or our families we need to be angry out, it is satan himself and the sooner we realize that,  the best defense to his skeem is to not play in his hand. Because as long as we live in unforgiveness and bitterness satan wins and I for one refuse to allow him to have any victory in my life. What about you?

 

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This is what we do…..

This is what we do…..


Today I did something I did not want to do, it something I dreaded because in one since it makes me face the hard reality that, there but for the grace of God goes I. In some ways I now feel guilty that I have, what they will now not. But it is what we do.  As we pulled into the parking lot tears began to run down my face as I saw line after line of cars parked of people who had come to do the same as I, I knew, this is what we do, we do it because we are all in this army, we are all in the same battle and when one hurts we all hurt, when one is in pain we all are in pain, because that is what we do, I don’t have to know them well to know that if I were in the same situation american-20406_1920I would want those who I call friends whether distant, acquaintances, or good, I would want them with me, and as line after line of the cars lined up and we all got out to do what we do, our solemn and respectful demeanor told it all. As I looked around to see there were others who are warriors like me, in this battle that came to do the same because that is what we do, we support each other, we come along side each other when others are in need. I don’t have to have been to their house or even know this person we have come to honor today I only have to know that his parents are in the same war I serve in, it is a war against the evil one and although we have not traveled the same path, our paths are the same, my heart breaks over what their heart breaks over, and my heart rejoices over what theirs rejoices for, because that is what we do. And when we entered the church it was plain to see there were many other soldiers in this war like me, who had come to do the same as me, because this is what we do. In war you never leave a soldier behind, you never abandon your comrades. No matter the cost, no matter the price. Because that is what we do. I am proud to be in this army of warriors who come along side our broken, wounded and just wore out. Because this is what we do. The commander today reminded us in Ecclesiastics 7:2 that this is all of our destiny (unless The Lord should return first) then he asked us one thing, What will they say about you?  As I pondered what my answer would be I have to say it is ……………… I hope they remember, This is what I do!

So What Are You Doing Today?

Recently, I was having a conversation with my daughter and it hit me . . . I said “You know, your dad and I probably only have about 25-30 years left on this earth . . .”
Wow! What a reality check! 3/4 of my life is over, and what have I done with it? What will I do with what is left? Have I made a difference?

The idea of dying doesn’t bother me. I feel confident in where I am going. In fact, being where I plan on going (Heaven) is the easy part and, frankly, something I look forward to a lot. It’s like when you plan an amazing vacation and you are just days away from leaving.
What worries me is the thought of the dying process: being bed ridden, memory loss, unable to take care of myself, etc.  Yeah. That, and what it will do to those around me, is what bothers me.
Now, I can choose to focus on that – which don’t get me wrong, I AM trying to live a healthier life style (probably 40 years too late, but anyway, I am trying, right?) so that I won’t encounter some of those things – but let’s face it: death is inevitable unless the Lord comes back first.

See, I have worked in the healthcare field for the elderly and in all my experience I have never seen one person, as they got older, get healthier, younger, or more active as they aged. No! That just doesn’t happen. God’s word even tells us, “It is appointed unto man once to die and after that, the judgment.” God also reminds us that, “To everything there is a season . . .”

So I want to live well! I want to live like I am dying! See, if we were given notice from the doctor that we were going to die in 30 days – 6 months – or even a year, how would we live our lives?  What would we do differently?  Would we be nicer to people? Would we be more concerned with pleasure – and maybe go to Disney World? Or, would we get the perspective we need and follow after the real purpose of what God has called us to do?

He told us to, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel.” Now, does that mean we all need to run to the seminary and get a degree? NO! What that means is; we need to testify about God’s love every day to those around us. We need to let them know He first and foremost wants to be our best friend and He wants us to share the relationship we have with Him with others.
I can just imagine . . . if I was given my dream vacation for free and was allowed to take as many of my friends and family members as I could with me . . . who would I choose?  See, this is kind of like planning our trip to heaven: who do we want to go with us? We need to be sharing our lives with these people. Because, there is something else I have realized: the only thing in this life you can take with you to heaven is not money, fame, or gold; it is the people around us that we love and want to share His love with.

So what are you doing today? Who is on your invitation list? Who will you be giving that special invitation to today?  Because, one thing is for certain: this life isn’t heaven, but we can be sure we are going there if we give our life to Him. So, who is coming with me???
Let’s Pray:
Lord you know the life I have lived. You know that my ways have not always been your ways. God I ask you now to come into my heart. Forgive me of my sins. Help me be a new creature in you. In Jesus name I pray. Amen!

If you prayed that prayer then you are signed up for heaven and God is looking forward to growing His relationship with you. Get into a Bible-believing church where you can learn more and grow in Him.

Maybe you already have your ticket for heaven but you realize by reading this that you need to share with others about the reservation you have made. Know that I will be praying for you and I am here for you in the comment section if you need any advice or encouragement.

God has great things planned for those that believe! So, even if you and I never meet here on this earth, I’ll see ya in heaven! Be sure to stop in at my place and say, “Hi!” I’ll be the one with the fixer-upper mansion and an unlimited budget, since God knows how much I like to decorate, and an unlimited budget would be heaven to me! (LOL!!:-) Oh, and if you get there before me, tell my family members who have gone on before me I said, “Hi, see ya soon!”

 

Until then,
Alesa

You call me Friend !

Amy & Chad

Amy & Chad

We have all done it: admired and looked up to a leader or person from afar; created pedestals for them, and somehow now believe they are better than us. We think we would never be able to speak to them or be their friend; that they are beyond the reach of what we could be. They are too pretty, too smart, too gifted, too anointed, too rich, or too skinny. They are far more than we think we could ever hope to be. They are the people who appear to have their stuff together and make those of us, who feel we don’t, even more conscious that we could be doing better. Not in a condemning kind of way, but a way that inspires us to do more, be more, do our best.
Then it happens. You get the e-mail or the phone call, and they call you, “friend!” I remember when this happened to me. There was a particular ministry leader who I could not imagine would ever have anything to do with me, I just wasn’t that good. Then one day I got an e-mail from her that said, “Hey Friend!” Friend? She called me, Friend?? What??? No way!!! I can’t be her friend, I am not that good. I could never be good enough to be her friend! After having a small meltdown and a little panic attack, it hit me why I was freaking out.
It was because I looked up to her relationship with Christ; I admired her spiritual leadership; and, as long as I looked on from afar, I wasn’t on her level. But as soon as I became her friend I was no longer looking up to her, but I was her peer! I would suddenly (at least in my mind) need to be on the same level as her spiritually!  Or, worse yet, is it possible she saw something in me that I had not seen in myself that she felt she wanted to be a part of? Could it be possible I could be a blessing to her?? I don’t know about you, but I am always amazed that God would choose to use me, that He sees something worthy enough in me to allow me to be a blessing to someone else, because I know I am just not that good and it is only in Him that I can do anything.
You know, in the Bible it says that Jesus calls us “friend.” (See John 15:15). In fact we were created because God wanted someone who could choose to be His friend. Not because we had to, but because we chose too.  The Bible says the very rocks will cry out and praise Him, if He commands them!  But God gave us a choice, a choice to choose to choose Him, and I don’t know about you but I am amazed that Jesus chose me to be His friend! (See James 2:23).
The unique thing about my perspective of not being good enough for my “friends,” is the truth is that there is someone out there who feels that way about you and me. They feel privileged and a little better about themselves when we reach out to them with a smile, or a quick lunch, a listening ear, or when we call them “friend!” The truth is, we all have influence on someone; and the question is, are we using it for the Lord?
There is a song that goes something like this: “I am a friend of God, I am a friend of God, I am a friend of God, He calls me friend! Who am I that You are mindful of me, that You hear me when I call . . . ”
I love this song because it reminds me how much God loves me and cares for me. And that makes me want to share this love with someone else. I don’t think I will ever (and I hope I will never ever) get over the amazement that God loves me and will use me, if I will just allow Him to do so. The question is, “Who does God want you to bless today with your time and attention?”  Sometimes all we need is someone to call us friend!

What To Do When God Puts You Where You Don’t Want to Be

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Recently, God pulled up my deep roots from the place where we had been living for thirteen years, and moved us to a new place; one that is totally the opposite of our previous home. Not that there is anything wrong with our new location – it’s just that 10 months can’t compare to 13 years! There doesn’t seem to be anything terribly right about it at this time!  By that I mean, you can sometimes feel like a foreigner in the land where you know God has sent you.
You see, after living in a small town for 13 years, we knew just about everyone and just about everyone knew us. A level of comfort comes with that.  Especially for a preacher’s daughter who had gone to 9 different schools in 12 years! You know where to go to get your groceries; you know where your favorite stores for dress shopping are, and the place to get your favorite Chinese food. You have your close group of friends you know you can depend on. You become comfortable in your surroundings and that brings a level of familiarity this preacher’s daughter had never had before.   I know that God allowing us to stay in one location for such an extended period of time was nothing short of a miracle.
But, the funny thing is, those 13 years were probably the most trying of our lives. Spiritually, physically, relationship-wise in our family, and financially, it was a complete mess for us personally! We were like the children of Israel who were slaves in Egypt. And yet, like Moses, we knew without a doubt God had called us there! So why would God call us to a mess where He knew our feet would touch the fire? Where He knew our relationship would dangle over the edge, almost to the point of no return.  Why?

The children of Israel prayed to be delivered by the hand of God out of Pharaoh’s control. So in Exodus 9:1 it says, “Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and speak to him…”. But the Bible also says in Exodus 9:12, that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart.  Now why in the world would God send Moses if He knew Moses was going to hit a brick wall when he got there? I don’t know about you, but that just seems like God is setting himself up for a lot more work. I mean, God could snap his fingers and Pharaoh would release the children of Israel, they would walk into the Promised Land, and – bottabing, botta boo – it’s over with! End of story!! Done!!

But, no! See, God wanted the children of Israel to trust Him. He wanted to give them an example they could look back on and know that God was with them. He wanted the children of Israel to be able to see every trial as a testimony of His faithfulness and love for them so that, when they came to the battle of Jericho, they would have the faith to withstand and follow what he had called them to do – which was . . . nothing. See, while they were slaves, they had had to work (fight) for everything they had ever been given, and to struggle (fight) with all their might just to survive. Many of them may not have even known what it was like not to have been a slave. But God knew what laid before them at the battle of Jericho and to get them where He wanted them to be they were going to have to completely trust in Him – and not fight! So he laid out a plan that would take them through various trials and temptations, just so he could prove himself to them, time and time again – beginning with the 10 plagues.

But they had barely gotten out of Egypt when they began to moan and cry, “Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!” (Exodus 14:12)  They couldn’t see the something greater God had for them, because although they had been beaten and abused in Egypt, it had become a comfortable, familiar place to them.

I wonder how many times God looks at us and sees the same thing. He is trying to move us out of our comfort zone to take us to a higher level that will draw us closer to Him and yet we are content to be the slaves in Egypt.
God knew what was ahead of them at Jericho and was trying to prepare them for the Promised Land; for something they had never had before; for a way that a war had never been won before. They were simply to march, to stand, and to praise! Just walk around the walls of Jericho for seven days!

I don’t think it is by accident that all of the men of Israel were circumcised not long before they were to walk across the Jordan River to take Jericho. It wasn’t an accident that for forty years God covered them with a cloud by day and gave them a cloud of fire by night; and it wasn’t because he didn’t love them that He supplied manna to them every day!  God didn’t just sneeze and the Red Sea rolled back when they got to the edge of it, either. God wanted them to learn to trust Him and let Him do His work.

I don’t know about you, but I think the society we live in today is no different than the slaves in Egypt.  So many of us feel we have to fight to survive; to pay the utility bill, to put food on the table. We might even feel like we are fighting to survive to do God’s work. But I want to propose to you today that perhaps, like the children of Israel, God is saying to us, “Give up! Surrender your ideas, your ways, your thought’s, your plans, and just stand firm and march around the walls you are trying to tear down. Just march around these walls in silence, carrying me!” That is what the children of Israel did. They walked around the wall of Jericho carrying the Ark of the Covenant.

Maybe the new level God wants to take us to is just for us to walk around carrying Him, to let the love of Jesus inside us be all the weapons we need.  Sometimes we just have to let go – give up everything that is familiar to us, that makes us feel comfortable – and walk in a way that can feel totally different and uncomfortable, in order to get to the place where He wants us to be. I don’t know about you, but I want to always go to the new level God has for me, even if I find that it is taking me out of the comfort zone in which I have been living.

I am not gonna lie: I have looked back since our move and said ”What are we doing here?” Then I begin to list off all the highlights and accolades that happened where we came from as I try to convince myself, ”Would it not have been better to die in Egypt than in the desert?” But then there is that quiet voice in me that reminds me of the things that were not so sweet, those secret things which I never let the world see – of my heart breaking, the fear of feeling my world was falling apart, and my marriage almost crumbling. If I wanted to deceive myself, like the children of Israel did, I could convince myself that going back to the bright lights of the big city would make me happy. But the truth is, the only thing that will make any of us truly happy is walking in Gods perfect will for our lives. And for me, and I am sure for you, failure to do that is not an option.

So if I have to give up all the conveniences of being near a big city to walk in a new level of relationship with Christ, so be it. If I have to give up Macy’s and familiar surroundings to see God use me in a mightier way than He ever has before – bring it on!! Because I have found that, in this life, there is nothing, and I mean nothing, that can replace the peace of walking in God’s will and doing His work.

I firmly believe that the trials of my past were only allowed to come into my life for the same reason God hardened Pharaoh’s heart: to teach me to trust in Him.  I am thankful for the hard times in my life, because without them I would never know that I could make it through whatever comes my way. I have learned to trust in the creator of the universe and know that He is working all things for my good!

So I hope today, if you are feeling like a foreigner in the land God has sent you to, you will know that He is not punishing you but is simply taking you to a new level of intimacy with Him. He wants to bring you closer to Him in a way that will probably look very different than it has before. God never wants to leave us where we are! God never wanted the children of Israel to die in the wilderness; He only wanted them to trust Him.  Will you trust Him today?