Mary Christmas Week

Mary Christmas Week

As we sat in the doctor’s office, our oldest was about 3 yrs old, I will never forget it. We sat across from his desk as he told us the results of the battery of tests that I had just gone through.  When he just blurted out ” Well, You should have never had your first child and you certainly won’t have any more!” Our hearts dropped as it suddenly seemed that something Jeff and I had dreamed of since I was 13 and he was 16 was now gone forever.

Then imagine our surprise just about 6 years later as I looked at the positive mark on a pregnancy test. Our prayers had finally been answered.  Our dream was coming true. The 3 children we dream of having as teenagers dating, was about to come true. We believe it all began when we sat in a service and as the minister got up to take the offering he said ” I have a son that isn’t living for the Lord and tonite I am gonna give the best gift I can in the offering and write on the back of the envelope, “for my sons salvation” and if you are believing God for something I want to encourage you to do the same. Jeff and I looked at each other in that service and both knew what we had to do. We placed our best gift in the offering envelope wrote “Baby” on the back and dropped it in the offering plate. Over the next month suddenly out of the blue several different times just random people would show up and hand us money. Just saying “the Lord laid this on my heart that I am supposed to give this to you.” Jeff and I could not figure out what was going on. Then it hit me, I begin counting up the random acts of kindness that had been given to us and it was exactly 10 times the amount we had given in the offering, then it hit me and I thought ” Oh No!” God isn’t gonna give us the baby we asked for, He is just giving us back our money and then some” My heart was broken, but I remember thinking ” Okay, God If it isn’t your will for us to have a baby, then I am willing to accept that you have another plan”. I am sure God must have been looking down on me saying ” Oh! Ye of little faith.  “See what I didn’t realize was that this was just the beginning of God’s blessings. Because about a year later I was holding the little girl we had dreamed of having for so long,  But my mind couldn’t conceive what He had in mind.

Have you ever felt like that? Has God ever tried to tell you something that you just couldn’t imagine? See, I have a feeling that may have been the way Mary felt when and Angel told her she was going to conceive a baby and she had never even known a man. I think all too often we envision the people in the bible as some kind of superheroes with super powers and super strength. When they were really just human beings like you and me, with the same doubts, fears and questions and I believe we serve a God big enough that He can handle those doubts and questions.

The bible says, that as soon as Mary heard the news, she “made haste” or hurried quickly to her cousin’s Elizabeth’s house. (a 10 day trip on foot) Could it have been because the Angel had said that her cousin Elizabeth was expecting too?  Perhaps, Mary knew if she went to Elizabeth’s house and found out that Elizabeth really was pregnant as the Angel had said, that this all might actually be true? One commentary (Barnes Notes on the Bible) said “Troubled at his saying – Disturbed or perplexed at what he said. It was so unexpected, so sudden, so extraordinary, and was so high an honor, that she was filled with anxious thoughts, and did not know what to make of it.” I mean let’s face it if an Angel shows up at your house tomorrow and says you are gonna have the Christ Child, wouldn’t you have some questions, maybe even doubts?

Then there was the birth of Jesus, in Luke 2:17-20 Mary has given birth and the Shepards show up. I don’t know about you but with each child, I have had it has seemed like a dream to me. You are just in awe and amazed that this little thing came out of 2 peoples love. I can’t imagine, what Joesph was feeling then, and what questions were running through Mary’s mind. The awe, the amazement of it all and at the same time they had to be asking themselves ” Is this really the Christ child? If it is, why is He being born in a stable? Why, didn’t God take better care of us? Did we do something wrong? But perhaps it is just about this time that all this is running through their minds when these shepherds show up! Telling everyone this is the Christ Child and in verse 19 the bible says ” She (Mary) pondered all these things in her heart” Have you ever pondered something before?

Then there was the time at the temple Luke 2:20-33 Where Simeon and Anna both sensed by the power of the Holy Spirit that this was the Christ Child and the bible says, in verse 33 that Joesph and Mary were amazed at the things spoken to them. Have you ever been amazed at what God was doing and at the same time wonder why or what God was up to?

Then there was that time about 2 years later. I don’t know what mom of a 2-year-old doesn’t question what is going on with their child at one point or another. But, I just wonder if on the day the 3 kings showed up, what was going on in Mary’s heart? What battle was she struggling with? Were funds a little tight and they were wondering how they were going to make it? Was Jesus being an all-out human being 2-year-old that day and Mary was questioning “Can this really be the son of God?” I don’t know what was going on in her mind that day, but I do believe God had prepared 3 kings several months, even perhaps years before to show up on her doorstep that day at that very moment,  as a little reminder. God was in control. Because we know soon after that God tells Joesph to take his family and flee because Herod is about to have all the baby boys under 2 years old killed.

I don’t know about you, but I have questioned God, I have miss read His plan. I have even doubted what He was doing. But just like when we placed that envelope in that offering bucket, we had no idea what God was about to do and it certainly didn’t happen the way we planned, but God was faithful through it all. He provided more than we could ever hope or imagine and I wondered today if God doesn’t want to do the same for you? No, I know He does!!  He wants to do the same, Because His word says, “He is able to do exceedingly above all you can even ask or think”  (Eph 3:20) I am pretty sure Mary had no idea what she was about to get into when that angel showed up, just like Jeff and I had no idea what was about to happen when we place that envelope in the offering, but what we can rest assured on is that He is in control and we may question and we may even sometimes doubt but if we will continue to trust Him. He will see us through. Won’t you trust Him today?

 

 

 

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God and the NFL – What’s really going on?

God and the NFL – What’s really going on?

Well, if you aren’t living under a rock you are aware that there has been some controversy in the NFL. I won’t comment on my opinion on this particular situation now, but of course, this isn’t the only controversy going on in America right now  either, if it is not the “Cotton at Hobby Lobby” then it is “What day the world will come to an end” everyone has an opinion and everyone is ready to give it. Never have I seen such a society of offense. It seems at times a person can’t even sneeze right without someone getting offended. (and  I am fully aware someone will probably be offended by this article as well)

I think the problem is, we are all way too worried about what we don’t need to worry about. Because we have forgotten what God has told us. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Eph 6:12

See satan has us so busy fighting each other we are no longer fighting him.  If he can keep us distracted with racism, or correcting predictions of things God said that we are never supposed to know anyway, then we won’t be loving our friends, let alone our enemies. We have forgotten the greatest commandment and that is “…love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples if you love one another.”John 13:34-35 (NIV)

My daughter is taking a world religion class and recently she called to tell me the teacher failed to use a capital “G” for God, which not only is it proper English to capitalize a proper noun, but I was raised it is also proper to capitalize any pronoun referring to our Lord and Savior. When my daughter called she commented ” It must be a Pentecostal thing” To which I replied “No, it is a generational thing” See, I feel we now live in a society that we have not only lost respect for our country but we have lost respect for God Himself and that is the real problem.  We aren’t teaching our children to love God and honor Him in the proper ways anymore.

Our problem isn’t what one man says or does, our problem is we have forgotten what God says and that is “To love one another, and this is how they will know you are my disciples.” But the real reason we can’t love others like God loves us is that we don’t really realize how much God loves us. Even some who have been raised in the church were raised as if God was up there in heaven with a big hammer, just waiting for us to make a mistake so He could pounce on us. So, in return, we give that same judgment to others. Then there are those who have become a consumer Christians, who claim to know God but only uses the church as a social gathering or a place to for funerals and weddings. There is no real desire to seek God and to learn more about Him, they have bought the fire insurance to keep them out of hell and that is all they are interested in. So when you are not totally in love with God, you can’t totally understand just how much God loves you and if you can’t comprehend how much God loves you then, how can you love like He loves?

A hard concept I have come to realize is we no longer live in the Christian Country that our forefathers planned for. We are becoming the pagan nation that the men in the bible times lived in. Where all manner of sin was permissible and acceptable.  But the bible warned us of days like this, and it tells us “Now when these things begin to occur, stand tall and lift up your heads [in joy], because [suffering ends as] your redemption is drawing near.” Luke 21:28 AMP.  The question is, who is the redemption for? Well, it is for those who follow God’s greatest commandment and that is “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples if you love one another.”John 13:34-35N (NIV) Robert Morris of Gateway Church in Texas says it better than I can, ” If you want to know if you have been born again, ask yourself:”When did I change direction?” 

See because there is coming a day when the bible says, “That at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, ……..and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.  Philippians. 2:10-11 & Romans 14:11. So, let me encourage you today, No, I am really pleading with you. Let’s be the example that God has called us to be of love and forgiveness, let’s put aside our will and our ways, our causes may be good and you might have every right to be upset, but what does God say? Is really what you are protesting going to change by the action you choose or is it just causing more drama and frustration for those around you?

I have often thought, if God would just wave His hand over the universe and command us all to love then there would not be these issues. But God doesn’t because He want’s us to choose, that is part of the dieing to our will and following His. He gives us a choice. The question is what will you choose today? I wonder instead of having a day where all the country boycotted or protested something, we call a day for everyone to put aside their differences and love like He has loved us what a difference that would make?

So let me encourage you today if you don’t know this loving God that I have talked about. Let me introduce you to Him. His name is Jesus, He is the creator of the universe and He thinks you are His most fabulous creation He made. He loves you so much He gave His own life for you and would do again if you were the only one on earth. Let me encourage you to find a bible believing church and get involved. Begin having a quiet time with Him every day. because He is cant wait to spend time with you. He wrote you a letter called the bible He would like you to read.  He loves you with an everlasting love and hopes you will have the same feelings for Him and those around you. Let’s go out this week and be that love that somebody needs.

 

 

L

Daddy’s Girl

When I was a teenager my daddy was the pastor in a small Mississippi community where we lived. I was raised with strict rules not to drink alcohol. But of course I had some friends that did drink and in my effort to try to be in the cool crowd I wanted to hang out with them. But I had a quandary. See, I didn’t want to hurt my daddy. I loved my daddy more than anything and I respected him. Because I loved him I wanted to honor his reputation in the community and if the Pastor’s daughter of the Assembly of God Church would of been seen underage drinking or worst yet been arrested, that would of just killed him and his reputation. But…… I also wanted to be cool, So I devised a plan of how I could save my daddy’s reputation and still be cool.

See,  I knew my friends would hang out in front of the arcade in the small town I went to school in (9 miles away from where I lived) For those of you that don’t know what an arcade is, it is a building full of video games, foosball machines and pool tables. They were much more popular in the 80’s before Nintendo and X Boxes came to our homes. As a teenager the Arcade was the place to hang out, and meet up with friends. Today we just know the Arcade as a place, maybe in a room at the Movie Theater or the Pizza Parlor.

Since the Arcade was the place to be, after I got my drivers license I would drive the 9 miles over to the next town where the arcade was and would hang out with my friends,  now not all of my friends drank in fact my best friends didn’t.  But, I wanted more, As many schools, towns, and even work places are today there were clicks in my school there was a pecking order and I wanted to move up in the pecking order and it seemed to me at the time to do that I needed to drink, but how could I do that and not break my dads heart. I knew it would kill him if I ever took a drink and I respected my dad to much to want to hurt him. So I devised a plan.

See I knew that the I.B.C Root-beer bottle looked an awful lot like the beer bottles my friends carried around. So I figured I could just pick up a bottle of I.B.C Root-beer on my way to the Arcade, I mean after all we usually got something to drink before going over there anyway, and if I just happen to have that bottle in my hand and hid the label with my hand when I walked up to my friends drinking, maybe just maybe this new crowd would accept me. So I did, and I felt pretty good until one of my other friends who didn’t drink and knowing the horror it would be to my family if I did drink, walked up to me in shock and asked “Alesa, are you drinking?” As I looked innocently at her and said, yea, Root-beer!

I couldn’t help but remember this story this  past week because it was my daddy’s birthday and even though he has spent the last 28 years celebrating his birthday in heaven, what I remembered most about him is that I loved and respected him so much, I never wanted to do anything that would hurt him. This got me thinking how many of us feel like that about our Heavenly Father?

Do we love our Heavenly Father so much that we don’t want to do anything to hurt him. Now the truth is, if my daddy had seen the compromised I made that day.  Even pretending to drink but acting like it was just an accident when it was really a conscious decision to disobey,would of been a terribly disappointed in me.

I don’t think he even knew about this story before he died but I still remember it because I think it was one of the times that I consciously choose to disobey. But how many times have we blow off something that God’s word says not to do just because we wanted to. How many times do we just ignore what we have been taught is right just because it isn’t convenient for us. Because we want more and we are willing to do whatever it takes to get it. How do you think your Heavenly Father feels about that? I guess I can relate to my Heavenly Father because I had an amazing daddy. He was my rock, my provider, my protector, He loved me with an everlasting love and there was absolutely nothing that I wouldn’t do for him. Why, because all that He had done for me. See my daddy didn’t have to love me, he didn’t even have to take care of me. But he choose to, see I am adopted. So He didn’t have to love me.

You know what? You have been adopted too! If you choose to follow after Christ the bible says that you are adopted into His family. In Ephesians 1:5 (NLT) the bible tells us God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.” Now, I don’t know about you but after all Christ as done for me I don’t want to disappoint Him either. So, I don’t live the life I live striving each day to please Him (and yes there are still plenty of times I mess up) because I don’t want to go to Hell. No, I live this life to please Him because of the gratitude I feel toward Him.

The same kind of gratitude I felt for my earthly father. Because of what my daddy had done for me I knew He loved me and trusted me. He disciplined me too. plenty of times.  But I knew when my earthly father did it, it was because He loved me and wanted the best for me. When my earthly father told me to not to walk across the street before looking both ways. It wasn’t because he didn’t want me to cross the street it is because he wanted to protect me. That is the same thing with God’s word, When He tells us not to do something in it He is telling us because He loves us and wants to protect us. 

So this week Let’s seek to please our Heavenly Father, Let’s consciously choose to please Him, Remember if He tells us no about something,  it is because He loves, not because He wants to harm us.

God’s Got This! (my bodyguard)

If you have seen our family, you know the men in my immediate family consists of 2 sons and 1 husband. You also know that 2 out of 3 of those men are not average size, in fact they range in the 6 foot 2 inches plus,  tall range and lets just say in the 300 pound area, and the other is not wimpy either. So needless to say, when my 5ft 2in frame stands besides these guys they tower over me. In fact I have actually been asked, “Are these your body guards?” (because with their sun glasses on and a stern look on their face they an kind of look that way).

I remember one time when there was a severe thunderstorm happening in our area, at the time we lived about 30 minutes from our church. I had went to the church for a meeting and when my oldest son (about age 16 at the time) heard how bad the weather was going to be he asked his father to get in the car and take him to the church just so he could drive me home because he didn’t want me to drive alone in that weather.

Countless times my 2 big guys have been right there by my side in a crowd or whenever we are out. It isn’t uncommon for them to take my arm, and direct me in a different path because they can see over the crowd and realize there is a better direction I can go or they detour me from danger they see ahead, yet I am blind to, because I can’t see what they can see. They have a much larger perspective than I do.

I can’t tell you the times I have felt comforted when walking down a long narrow scary hall or alley. Just knowing that “My body guards” were with me I didn’t worry. In fact, I walk with my head a little higher and maybe even a little strut in my step.  See, I know these guys will do anything for me. I even believe they would die for me, so know, I have nothing to fear when I am with them. Because I know my guys are watching out for me.

This got me thinking………

How many times do we walk in fear? We come against challenges in our lives or have to step out and do something for God and hesitate because we are scare. When our heavenly body guard is always walking with us.

I think all to often we forget that Christ walks with us wherever we go. He is our body guard and promises to be our ever present help in times of trouble. (Psalms 46)

What could we do for God if we really believed that? If we really took God at His word and when the bill came that we couldn’t pay,  or the call from the doctor came with bad news? Instead of freaking out and being upset.

What if we trusted Him? I think if we really believed what He said, we would simply turn to our “body guard” or fall on our knees and rely on Him to take care of it.

You may be asking what does it mean to trust God?  How can I control the fear and anxiety I feel when it comes over me? You may even believe you can’t do anything different. I want to suggest to you, that next time this happens, begin to quote scriptures of the promises God has given us  (you can google them or look in the back of your bible) when those negative thoughts and feeling of fear overcome you. Turn on some good praise and worship music and sometimes you just need to turn that music up loud and dance through the house and sing it like you believe it. See if satan can keep our thoughts on the negative and everything that is going wrong in our lives, he can keep us in fear and worry.

My dad use to say, you can’t stop a bird from flying over your head, but you can stop him from making a nest in your hair.  What that means is you can’t stop those thoughts from coming to you but you can refuse to dwell on it. So replace those thoughts of fear and insecurities with encouraging words and music from what God has promised us because, after all He is your body guard.

So this week as you go about your day, and something happens that causes you to be afraid. Remember your heavenly body guard is with you. He cares about you and wants nothing but the best for you. Trust Him to walk with you in this journey because He can see what is ahead and know He has already given His life for you. Once you have done that, then walk with your head a little higher with a strut in your step! Because, God’s Got This!

 

CRUSHED!

CRUSHED!

crushed pictureI silently prayed, I wished, I hoped, and I dreamed. It was so close! And, for about a week or two, I actually had the thought “I must be one of God’s most favored children if He has granted me this wish.”  I literally felt like I was walking around on air for a while. I was ecstatic with excitement! I thought my innermost desire that I had been praying for most of my life was actually going to come to pass. I thought God had heard my prayer and one of my greatest hopes and dreams was going to come true. I thought maybe, just maybe, it really would come true. I was scared to hope, but I allowed myself to do so anyway. I would shrink back and try to calm myself; then I would allow myself just a little more hope, afraid to believe but full of hope at the same time. And then, once I allowed myself to believe completely, it happened!

…………………. It all fell through at the last minute, and I was crushed. Crushed because I now wondered if it had been just a silly idea. Crushed because I had wanted it so bad; how could I have believed it would not come true? Crushed because I was crazy enough to believe.  Crushed because it didn’t happen. Crushed because, wasn’t I His favorite child??? Crushed with shame that I even believed. I knew I was silly to even think it was important enough for God to care about.

Have you ever been there????

Boy, I have! And, I have to tell you, it isn’t any fun! The mixed emotions can leave you speechless and somewhat in a state of shock. So what do we do at points like this in our lives???

Well, we have a choice, a cross roads per se. We can choose to be offended, and blame God, like a child who doesn’t get their way and stomps off and decides they never want to have anything to do with this God because, after all, “if He isn’t here to answer my prayers what is He here for?” Or, once all the dust settles and we come out of the shock we are in and pick ourselves up off the floor from fainting (Ok! so maybe that doesn’t happen literally, but it happens to us figuratively!), we can remember that God knows best; He knows our every thought, and He sees what lies ahead.

It all really comes down to, “Do I trust Him?” Or, are we looking for a God who will be our “genie in the bottle” and provide our three wishes? Do we want a God we can explain or do we want a God who is bigger than what we can comprehend?

Do we want a God we can explain or do we want a God who is bigger than what we can comprehend?

For me, I don’t want a God who jumps at my every command.  I want a God who I serve, not one who serves me, I want a God who watches out for me and keeps me from harm’s way.  I am thankful that I serve that kind of God. I am thankful that God cares for me enough to tell me “no” when what I want isn’t in my best interest; even when I have hoped and dreamed of it for years. Yes, it hurts and it is disappointing, but it comes down to the question: do I trust Him to know what is best for me, or do I want to hold on to control myself?  As long as I am in control, I will continue to make the same bad mistakes I always have! But when I have surrendered my will to His, sometimes (no, most of the time!) that means I will be disappointed, if I think things are going to work out the way “I” planned.
The Bible says in Proverbs 19:21, “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.”

So how do we avoid disappointments of this magnitude? Ultimately, we have to know and trust that God is in control. I don’t think it was wrong of me to hope and dream. In fact, it was just the opposite. See, by hoping and dreaming, it showed the faith I have in God. The Bible says, in Hebrews 11:1, “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see”.  If I didn’t have faith that my God is big enough to make my hopes and wishes come true, I wouldn’t have any faith. But I am wise enough to know that if something doesn’t happen, then God’s plan is better and I have to say, “I can’t wait to see what is better, because my dream is pretty awesome!” And yes, after I picked myself up off the floor and dusted myself off, I still think I am His favorite child. The truth is, He, like our youngest when he was three years old, when asked who he loved more, mommy or daddy, would respond, “I wuv you all the same!” Christ does love us all the same, and I am so glad that He calls me friend and I always trust my friends!

Won’t YOU trust Him today??

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!

There Comes A Time

Draw-A-Line-in-the-Sand image                                                                                                                         There is NOTHING to big for my God! There just comes a time and a place where we can look back at what God has done in our lives and say “I am more than conquer because of who I believe in!!” So when the next trouble comes (and it will come) we can remember what God has done for us and rest in the fact that He WILL do it again! That my friend is when satan can no longer control you with fear or worry. Because you have chosen to focus NOT on how big your problem is, BUT how big your God is!!