Forever

Happy Easter, friends! For those of us in the faith, today is cause for celebration! Jesus has risen from the dead, He has risen indeed! And because He conquered sin and death, we are restored in our relationship to God and can dwell with Him FOREVER! Hallelujah and Amen!

I can’t think of anything better than to praise God for this awesome miracle and His resurrection power that is very much alive and at work even today. I’ve attached a new worship song I’ve come to adore by Kari Jobe as the message is PERFECT for this blessed of days! I hope it speaks truth, life, and God’s wonder to you today! Enjoy!

Forever by Kari Jobe

The moon and stars they wept
The morning sun was dead
The Savior of the world was fallen
His body on the cross
His blood poured out for us
The weight of every curse upon Him

One final breath He gave
As Heaven looked away
The Son of God was laid in darkness
A battle in the grave
The war on death was waged
The power of hell forever broken

The ground began to shake
The stone was rolled away
His perfect love could not be overcome
Now death where is your sting
Our resurrected King has rendered you defeated

Forever, He is glorified
Forever, He is lifted high
Forever, He is risen
He is alive
He is alive

We sing hallelujah
We sing hallelujah
We sing hallelujah
The lamb has overcome

Rhythms of Grace

Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out … ? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.

Matthew 11:28-30, The Message

Just thought I’d share this lovely passage of Scripture, a great reminder for all of us today, the day of rest. It’s going to be a nice, slow day here at the ranch and I intend to soak in every single minute of it, in very comfy clothes and nursing an extra cup (or two) of hazelnut coffee. There’s nothing better than taking the time to be refreshed and renewed before a new week begins, don’t you agree?

How are you being intentional about rest and self-care today?

Wishing all of us a fabulous time spent in the “unforced rhythms of grace” today. Happy Sunday!

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The pictures above were taken in Historic Downtown Northville last weekend. It’s a lovely little town with lots of charm. I really enjoyed strolling the city streets and finding some new places to visit in the future! Highly recommend a stop if you’ve never been there before!

Be You, On Fire

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Text: 1 Corinthians 2:1-5

If there is one thing I absolutely adore about this God we serve, it is this: His ability to do the extraordinary through ordinary people. Like you. Like me. Regardless of our past, no matter how short of the mark we fall, and in spite of our weaknesses – God chooses us to do His awesome work on this earth and bring Him glory. Stop and revel in this amazing truth with me for just a moment.

Such wild grace, isn’t it?

To go a little deeper here, jump over to Hebrews 11 and read all of the names listed in the “Great Hall of Faith.” We see imperfect, doubting, sinful people who BY FAITH, did the incredible because they believed God and surrendered to His will for their lives. Had they not followed Him and accomplished what they did, where would we be today? I shudder to think of the answer had these saints before us not submitted to God’s will for their lives.

But the same is true for us and our generation, friends. We have a thrilling opportunity before us to take God for His Word, believe Him with everything we have within us, and let Him work in and through us for the power and glory of His Kingdom. Our lives, our stories, our NAMES can be added to this account – “By faith, (insert your name) … ” – and leave a remarkable legacy for others in their faith journey. I don’t know about you, but I want this to be the story of my life.

With that said, let’s now turn to our text for today …

And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.

1 Corinthians 2:1-5, NIV

Yet another personal account of God using an ordinary person to do incredible things. Before Paul was Paul, Paul was Saul, and he was quite the persecutor of Jesus’ followers. You can read more about his change of heart here. Paul is one of my all-time favorite people in the Bible and what I have come to so appreciate about him is his honesty and vulnerability as a leader and follower of Christ. In this passage, he speaks to the Corinthians, fully acknowledging that he was scared out of his wits to preach and share the Gospel (probably even more so given his past and lack of knowledge). But what made it all possible was his sole focus on Christ.

For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.

(verse 2)

Paul didn’t have fancy blogs or bible studies or books or podcasts to guide him in his journey. He didn’t have a master’s degree in theology or divinity. Heck, he didn’t even have a Bible. What he had was a personal encounter with Jesus that literally blinded him to everything else in his life. An experience that transformed him, changing the course of his life and the course of many others’ lives forever. He was given a new name and set out to build the body of Christ. And so that’s what he did; eyes fixed on Jesus, the author and perfecter of his faith (Hebrews 12:2).

I find this encouraging because Paul’s mission was solely for God. Although he was reaching out and touching people’s lives in his mission, He worked for an audience of One, not worrying about others’ opinions or comparing Himself to them. In our age of mass communication and social media, are we living like Paul? I confess I struggle with this. It’s hard not to get caught up in what others are doing; and looking for “likes” and comments on the various social media outlets can be addictive and a major distraction.

Paul’s message is clear: When our focus is on God and the work He has called us to do, the Spirit shines through, giving us everything we need to accomplish the plans and purposes He has for us. It is for His glory alone that we do this work. Nothing else is as important or as valuable as His fame reaching all the ends of the earth.

With this said, I propose that we examine where we are at in our race with God (Hebrews 12:1) and that we let go of everything keeping us from our best lives. Let’s surrender to Him and boldly ask Him to set us ablaze with purpose and passion and inspiration and influence for Him. Listen for His voice. What is He calling you to do? What gets you excited and keeps you up at night? What dreams and desires has He placed in your heart? Whatever it is, go do the thing!

And if there is one thing you take from this devotional today, let this be it: God loves you. Fiercely and passionately He pursues you. No matter where you’ve been, no matter what you’ve done, He is ready to rescue you, to make you new, to set you free. And your freedom is for the purpose of setting others free too.

He’s got a unique job for you to do while you’re here on this earth.  Christine Caine teaches that “God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called.”  Therefore, don’t worry about other people or your past or your sins. Once you are free, you are FREE (John 8:36). Your belief, faith, and surrender are what qualify you and will take you to the finish line of your race.

So, be you, on fire. Burn your lamp bright and strong to show the world what God can do through ordinary, wonderful you (Psalm 139:14). There’s no better way to live.

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.

2 Corinthians 4:6-7, NIV

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Today’s post ends the #SheReadsTruth #SheSharesTruth Lent devotional writing challenge. It has been my pleasure to share with all of you what God has spoken to me through each passage of Scripture these past five weeks. Thanks for following along!

shesharestruth

Fresh Air Favorites

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April has arrived, and with it the gradual thawing of the ground and melting of snow as temperatures begin to increase and provide hope that spring and summer are truly well on their way to being here.

There’s no doubt that the majority of us have cabin fever from enduring such a difficult winter, as evidenced by people driving with their windows down and sunroofs open when temperatures are only in the high 40′s. (That’s life in Pure Michigan for you!) I am right there with the majority and have been making a point to get outside as often as possible when the temps are in the 50′s and 60′s and revel in it for as long as I can, knowing how fickle the weather can be.

For a change today, I thought I’d share some things I’ve been enjoying as I breathe in the fresh air and prepare my mind, heart, and soul for the warmer days ahead!

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Earlier this past week I put on my new shoes and ventured down our dirt road for the first outdoor run of the season. This was actually my first run outside since recovering from my heel injury last year, and it felt just like old times – just me and the open road – taking in the animals as they graze in their pastures, listening to the sound of the breeze through the trees, and seeing the birds fly in formation overhead – it was PERFECT! Can’t wait for more of this in the coming months!

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The other day we got started on cleaning up all the downed limbs and sticks that fell as a result of the ice storm and heavy snow. I was as happy as a clam, with my iPod on and the sunshine on my face, picking up items and tossing them into our big burn barrel. It will be great to have our yard looking pristine again, and I’m excited to begin designing an improved outdoor space for us to enjoy the back and side yards this year. I’m hoping for a lot of color, and plenty of seating for relaxing evenings with the hubby and entertaining family and friends.

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Once the burn barrel was loaded up, it was time to start a bonfire to make room for more debris. I absolutely love having bonfires and when the opportunity presents itself, I always enjoy reading outside by the fire, wrapped in a blanket. I started Unbroken this week and I am completely immersed in it! I understand why it has spent so much time on the bestsellers list and why it is so highly recommended - I can’t put it down!

The Art of Celebration

If you’re looking for some new music, I highly suggest the new album from Rend Collective, The Art of Celebration. I’ve been listening to this on my iPod non-stop. The songs are uplifting, inspiring, and fun! My favorites, include: “My Lighthouse” and “Joy, Joy, Joy.” I guarantee these tunes will put a little “spring” in your step!

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Lastly, I really love to catch the change in seasons through the lens of my camera (thank you, iPhone and Instagram). I’ve learned to be observant and watchful over the years, because there is so much beauty happening all around us, evidence of God’s goodness and faithfulness. Taking the time to notice these things, down to the small details of snow melting and the sight of grass, has helped me cultivate gratitude and infused me with hope. Being creative is something my soul craves, and I look forward to the wonders I’ll get to capture and share with all of you this spring and summer!

What activities and items make your “favorites” list as the seasons change? I’d love to hear them!

Have a great Sunday, friends!

 

Cultivating Courage

Joshua 1_9

Text: Joshua 1:8-9

The Lord has been speaking to me a lot about courage lately. Since the beginning of this year, God has very much been at work in my heart, helping me to gain momentum in developing my dreams, desires, passions and gifts, and deploying them out where He has called. To do this, however, requires that I have courage. Courage to dream big. Courage to lift up bold prayers. Courage to take risky steps and follow where He leads. Courage to believe that no matter what happens, God’s got it all under control. And courage to be okay with who I am, just as I am, right here, right now.

It’s not always easy to have courage, is it? Especially when God is leading us to do things that nobody else around us seems to be doing or we’re being called to put ourselves out there on a more public platform. Let’s face it: it’s scary. We wonder what people will think of us and if they will like us. We worry that we won’t measure up to the size of the task before us or that we’ll fail altogether and make a spectacle of ourselves. We may dread what we are to do, get all worked up and anxious, or kick and scream, doing everything we can to avoid it. I think all of us have experienced varying degrees of this in our lifetimes.

The Israelites were certainly called to do something courageous for God – leave their homes to wander the wilderness in order to reach their Promised Land. We find them in the Book of Joshua following the death of their leader, Moses. Joshua is Moses’ assistant and has some pretty big shoes to fill. God knows how daunting the task is and how afraid Joshua must be, so in His love and grace,  He speaks tenderly to him …

“In the same way I was with Moses, I’ll be with you. I won’t give up on you; I won’t leave you. Strength! Courage! You are going to lead this people to inherit the land that I promised to give their ancestors. Give it everything you have, heart and soul. Make sure you carry out The Revelation that Moses commanded you, every bit of it. Don’t get off track, either left or right, so as to make sure you get to where you’re going. And don’t for a minute let this Book of The Revelation be out of mind. Ponder and meditate on it day and night, making sure you practice everything written in it. Then you’ll get where you’re going; then you’ll succeed. Haven’t I commanded you? Strength! Courage! Don’t be timid; don’t get discouraged. God, your God, is with you every step you take.”

Joshua 1:5-9, The Message

You can’t read this and not be moved. God is speaking right to the heart of the matter – fear – and assuring Joshua that through THICK and THIN, as long as Joshua relies on His Word and has the courage to trust, obey, and follow God, He will get him and the Israelites where they belong.

This is a powerful message. Not only for Joshua and the Israelites, but for all of us TODAY.

We have the very Word of God to direct us in this thing called life. It is our road-map, our flashlight, and our compass as we make our way from one end to the other, traversing hills and valleys along the way. We also have His Spirit within us to guide us, speak to us, and work in and around us. As we seek Him and put our hope and faith in His promises, we see Him provide for us in numerous ways. The more we see Him provide, the greater our faith increases and the further we are propelled toward the things and places He has promised us.

Friends, this is what cultivating courage looks like in our lives. And the result of cultivating courage is a life abundant, brimming with His fullness and goodness.

So, today and every day, let’s choose to be brave, courageous, and valiant; and let’s take God for His Word. We know that what He speaks will never return empty and accomplishes every purpose for which He sends it forth (Isaiah 55:11). Let’s believe and know in our deepest heart that He is with us and for us and that nothing compares to walking boldly and courageously with Him into our Promised Lands. They are ours for the taking!

courage

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Join me in the coming weeks as I participate in the #SheReadsTruth #SheSharesTruth devotional writing challenge. Every Friday during Lent I’ll post a teaching on here based on Scripture(s) provided at the beginning of the week. I look forward to what the Lord will teach me and put on my heart to share with all of you through this journey. Thanks for following along!

shesharestruth

What If ?

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Recently I’ve been captivated by some great “What If?” questions that fall in line with my focus of “Making Things Happen in 2014.” I am a thinker, a brain-stormer by nature, and I love questions that inspire me and propel me in the direction of accomplishing the dreams and desires within my heart.

Here are the ones that have got my brain reeling …

 What if?

What if the things you love to do collided with the plans God has laid out for you from the foundations of the earth?

What if the random relationships and activities in your life all of a sudden had a focus and felt intentional and meaningful?

What if the things that have caused the most hurt in your life became the birthplaces of your deepest passions?

What if you could get past your fears and insecurities and spend the rest of your life running your guts out after His purposes for you?

What if the darkest moments of your life God intended for good?

What if the purest moments of bliss contained your greatest contributions to this world?

What if you dream God’s dreams?

:: Jennie Allen ::

 :: Restless: Because You Were Made for More ::

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What if we committed to use what gifts and talents we’ve been given for the sake of making a difference in the very world that Jesus sent us into?

:: Christine Caine ::

What if each of us took hold of the opportunities before us rather than waiting for something else to come our way in the future?

:: Louie Giglio ::

:: Passion: The Bright Light of Glory ::

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What if everyone discovered their gifts and abilities and purpose and passions from God? What would that look like?

:: Pastor Marvin Williams ::

 :: You Are A Gift (Trinity Church) ::

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So, what if, friends? Here’s to dreaming big and thinking hard about the things that move us and call us and push us to live our most best, unique and beautiful lives today and every day! Happy Sunday!

The God of Second Chances

Jonah 4

Text: Jonah 3 + 4

Following up from last week’s study of Jonah 1+2, this week we find Jonah washed up on the seashore and commanded by God, again, to preach repentance to the people of Nineveh for their wickedness. And this time, Jonah is quick to obey.

Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time:

“Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.”

Jonah obeyed the word of the Lord and went to Nineveh.

Jonah 3:1-3, NIV

My attention is caught by this immediately because I absolutely love how generous God is to give Jonah a second chance after he blatantly disobeyed Him the first time. As we saw last week, when Jonah repents, God extends His mercy, grace, and love to him; and now He even allows Jonah another opportunity to follow through with the original plan.

This is the God we serve: The God of Second Chances

Much like Jonah, we too, are given second chances (and third chances and fourth chances, etc.). God gives us grace upon grace (John 1:16). I’m sure I’m not the only girl who can say I’ve had a million chances provided to me, and I know I am incredibly grateful for each and every one. Repentance can be hard, but God’s forgiveness and fresh starts are so very good!

What happens next in the story is amazing. As Jonah preaches that the people of Nineveh will be destroyed if they do not cease their wicked ways and turn back to God, the hearts of these citizens are instantly transformed. Everyone, including the king of Nineveh, believes God, fasts and puts on sackcloth to show their repentance.

By the decree of the king and his nobles:

Do not let people or animals, herds or flocks, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink.  But let people and animals be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence.  Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.”

Jonah 3:7-9, NIV

And then we see God do it again – He gives the people a second chance – fruit that comes from Jonah’s obedience.

When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened.

Jonah 3:10, NIV

Because God gives Jonah a second chance, Jonah is able to provide the people of Nineveh with a second chance. Isn’t that beautiful?

What do we do with our “second chances?” How do we make the most of taking God up on His renewed invitation to follow and trust and believe Him for our lives?

Imagine the impact we can have on this world if we will let go of whatever is holding us back and turn to God, allowing Him to redeem us and set us back on the right path. The possibilities of what He can do through our repentant and renewed hearts are limitless. Jonah is proof.

What is ironic about Chapter 4 is how angry Jonah becomes over God saving the wicked people of Nineveh from destruction, after Jonah himself had been saved by God following his own disobedience. God teaches Jonah a lesson through a plant and a worm (Jonah 4:5-11), and despite Jonah’s continued dismay over saving their lives, God’s message is this:

He loves all of us, regardless of who we are and what we’ve done. And if we will just come to the end of ourselves and return to Him, He will give us a second chance. Time and time again. This is who God is. This is what He does. And there is power to be found in His grace.

Let’s examine our hearts today, friends, and find what areas need to be reconciled to God. And then let’s claim His truth over our lives -  that He bestows ‘grace upon grace’ and will do amazing things in and through our repentant and obedient hearts for His kingdom and glory.

Search me, O God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
Point out anything in me that offends you,
    and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

Psalm 139:23-24, NLT

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Join me in the coming weeks as I participate in the #SheReadsTruth #SheSharesTruth devotional writing challenge. Every Friday during Lent I’ll post a teaching on here based on Scripture(s) provided at the beginning of the week. I look forward to what the Lord will teach me and put on my heart to share with all of you through this journey. Thanks for following along!

shesharestruth