A great persecution arose against the church and they were scattered…
Those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the Word…
And there was great joy in the city!
(see Acts 8:1-8)
Is persecution a primer for revival? Does it take persecution to shake us out of our comfort zones and complacency?
Persecution will expose the true followers of Jesus Christ!
It will expose and remove the self & man appointed “positions” of Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor, and Teacher.
God appointed AND anointed Apostles, Prophets, Evangelist, Pastors, and Teachers can NOT and will NOT be silenced! They will rise-up and take the WORD to the streets. They do NOT need a “building” or approval from man. They will NOT be silenced!
Are you a disciple of Jesus? Are you a follower of Jesus?
Persecution will separate the wolves and the puppets from the REAL. Persecution brings RELIANCE on the HOLY SPIRIT. They will preach the FULL GOSPEL message which WILL bring REPENTANCE unto SALVATION.
(See Matthew 7:15-20)
False prophets preach “good news”.
God’s prophets preach the Good News.
False prophets want title and recognition. They want a “following”.
God’s prophets preach Christ and Christ alone. They point to Him and give Him glory and honor.
False prophets shun discomfort. They will preach peace when there is no peace.
God’s prophets find their comfort in Christ. In love, they are concerned for your soul more than your feelings. They seek the approval of God rather than the approval of man.
My friends, I truly believe we are living the days of which Jesus spoke of in Matthew 24. There is a shaking happening. And soon the shaking is going to be felt by all of us.
Do NOT get sidetracked or frightened by what you are seeing in the headlines. On the surface it looks like a political war, the left against the right, wrong against right, and confusion and tyranny has entered the camp. BUT… nothing happens without God’s permission.
It is easy to quote 2 Chronicles 7:14: IF My people, who are called by my name, shall humble themselves, pray, and seek MY face AND turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven , and will heal their land.
But are we who are called by His name truly humbling ourselves, praying, and seeking His face? Or are we getting caught up in all the media hype, self-medicating ourselves with distractions, opinions, t.v., or you fill in the blank? Is the enemy lulling us asleep? I am not asking this as a question of judgement, but to exhort us, the CHURCH, to do some soul searching and be brave enough to ask God to search us, know our hearts, try us and know our thoughts, and see if there is any wicked way in us. (Psalm 139:23-24)
What a wonderful time we live in! The world is in need. Only Jesus can meet their need. We live in a sick and dying world and we have the cure… Jesus Christ!
Enough with the contention and division in the church. The time for fence walking is coming to an end. Choose this day who you will serve!
Beware who you align yourselves with. Those smooth talkers, shaking your hand and patting you on the back, tickling your ears and telling you God understands your sin, they are leading you straight to hell. Beware of those who preach salvation without the need for repentance, if you are not broken over your sin then I question if you are even saved. You can not have your cake and eat it too! No, you can eat your cake… but if you are not tasting the goodness of Jesus, then what you eat will kill you.
Friends, Jesus died once, He will not die again. When He hung on that cross for our sins it was finished. He finished it. When He rose from the grave He defeated death and sin. He paid the penalty for ALL sin for those who believe on Him. And He will return, He will come for His Church, His Bride, but when He comes again He is not coming as a baby in a manger, He is coming as a roaring Lion! You do not want to find yourself an enemy to God when He comes back. There will be hell to pay, believe me… No, don’t just take my word for it, believe His Word:
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day [when I judge them], ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, and driven out demons in Your name, and done many miracles in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them publicly, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me [you are banished from My presence], you who act wickedly [disregarding My commands].’
Use this time wisely, seek Him, hear from Him. We pray for laborers, because the harvest is ripe. Tag! You are it! We are it! We are the laborers! Go!
Be Free & Stay Free
I just love a good testimony, don’t you? I love to hear how God is moving in someone’s life and blessing them.
Earlier today, as I was scrolling through Facebook, I came across a friends post. Reading his story inspired me and I asked him if I could share it with you.
You see, some of you might think you blew it. You think you have been given so many chances, and God can’t, or won’t, give you another chance. You carry regret, shame, and self-condemnation like a badge of dishonor. If you can lay that badge down for a minute and read Curtis’s testimony about a God of second chances (and third, and fourth…), I believe you will be encouraged and reminded that God has not overlooked you, and in His timing, and for His purpose and glory, He will work ALL things together for YOUR good, because you love Him and are called according to His purpose. Keep your eyes on Jesus.
Thank you, Curtis P, for allowing me to share your story.
A TESTIMONY ON WAITING ON GOD NO MATTER WHAT!
I’ve been waiting 4 years, faithfully, for God to bring someone back into my life. Someone special to do life with. I’m sharing this because it’s the present revelation of Gods great love for me in my current life. Also, I know there are many out there, like me, that have had failed relationships; maybe many failed relationships… one after the other. I am hoping my story will bring hope to at least one person.
I am going to be transparent and share some painful points in my life AND the promises of God that carried me through the pain. Especially how God can still bring us someone special after so much has gone wrong and He gives us another chance to have it go right.
Well here goes…
I was married for almost thirteen years. Because of addiction, chronic illnesses, regular life stresses, and slowly drifting from passionate devotion to God and each other, my marriage ended. On March 15, 2015, my wife said she was leaving me, and two days later she took our daughter and never came back. Understand this, my wife leaving does not make her the bad guy. At first, I blamed her for leaving. But then I understood why she needed to get out of the situation. My addiction was killing me and our marriage.
I had an addiction problem since the age of fourteen, I am now forty-one years old, and within the last five years I have found freedom in Christ. He has broken chain after chain in my life as I walk with Him. In the past five years God has shown me His amazing, redemptive, and restoring power, through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Through prayer, trusting, and waiting on God, my relationship with my beautiful daughter, who is now fourteen and lives with her wonderful mom, has been restored. We have the closest relationship and love for each other than I could have imagined. I am also FREE from addiction to opioids and heroin, PRAISE GOD!
God has restored my call to ministry to worship, Disciple men, and serving my church and community. Again, this is from prayer, trusting, and waiting on God.
Finally, after four years of waiting, God answered another prayer and brought someone special into my life; the most beautiful, God passionate, smart, giving, selfless, committed, precious, valuable, tender, humble, sensitive, woman, who shares a story of redemption like mine; once broken, now wholly restored.
I have been praying, trusting, and waiting on God faithfully. In His loving kindness, and according to His promise, He has answered. It is with thankfulness I now say, I have truly found the one my soul longs for. (Song of Solomon 3:4).
To those who are still waiting on God’s perfect timing, be encouraged, and know this:
If we delight in Him (wait), He will give us the desires of heart. He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (wait). If we humble ourselves under His great hand (wait), in due season He will exalt us, that is, lift us to a place where we can shine bright for His great love and evident faithfulness to us. Showing off His love for us by our lives being brought from death into life, allowing us to walk out right before our own eyes and others, how great is the love expressed through salvation; completely fulfilled, grateful, and blessed beyond measure; purpose driven, God focused, Kingdom delivering, life giving and life changing person in to existence… and that person is me.
This is what Jesus died and rose again to give us, a relationship with Him, and living waters of life.
We can all walk in what I am walking in and find a life in Christ that is worth living and dying for. A life so full and filling that it overwhelms and overflows into everyday and everyone we encounter, showing this broken world that a loving God undeniably exists. Through His Son you can live the full purposed life and inspire in every way, to be His witness.
WAIT ON HIM! So long as it takes and as hard as it can get. Keep praying, believing, trusting, and crying out. I hope you find hope, faith, and love in God. What He did for me He can do for you.
For more information about Curtis’s ministry, you can reach him through Dwelling Place Church, Discipleship Freedom Homes for Men & Women struggling with life controlling issues. Millville, NJ 856-300-5262
Be Free & Stay Free
If this encouraged you, please hit the like button and/or leave a comment.
Being stuck is an unsettling feeling. It can feel like being stuck in a tar pit and no matter how hard you try you can’t lift your feet out of it. It grips you with the tentacles of anxiety, fear, depression, regret, despair…
I have never seen quicksand, but in movies, someone gets stuck in quicksand and the more they struggle to free themselves the quicker the quicksand pulls them down. “Don’t struggle, stay still.” Someone yells. Then the hero grabs a tree branch like a life preserver and says, “Grab hold, I will pull you out.”
Have you ever heard the phrase Point of No Return? Used in aviation it is a point in flite where a plane can not turn back to the starting point, but must continue forward, because to turn back would be dangerous, impossible or difficult, or prohibitively expensive.
Could you imagine being the pilot on the plane that is experiencing mechanical failures and does not have the fuel to return to point A and must continue forward with the uncertainty if they will make it and land safely? Do you feel like that pilot now? Is your fuel running low and the rug has been pulled out from under you and you are free falling and you’re not sure how you could possibly survive this? You can’t go back and you’re too tired to go forward?
I am writing this post to those who are hurting from broken relationships. This is to the wounded souls that have been discarded and feel stuck; you want to move forward, but you struggle to let go. What are you holding on to?
There is so much information about toxic relationships and narcissism that I am not going to focus on that in this post. If you are feeling stuck, then I think it is a given you have just come through a damaging relationship, and rather than drill the past, I want you to look at the horizon and move forward.
You have to reach a point when you can shake the dust off your shoes and move towards healing and wholeness. You know when you have reached the point of no return. You know if you continue the cycle of love bombing to discarding to hoovering to love bombing to discarding to hoovering to love bombing to discarding… it will destroy you. Nothing will change until you make the choice to change.
It is not a good feeling to know you have been deceived and discarded like yesterdays trash. I get it, because I have been there. Sometimes you have to say, “Hey, it’s not me, it’s you.” And walk away. No, second thought, don’t walk, run! Get out of there!
Don’t stay stuck, grab the tree branch and let someone help pull you out of the pit.
1. There are licensed counselors, and/or pastors, out there that can help you. If you find yourself stuck in the pattern of a toxic relationship, please get help. If your mind is stuck like a broken record and you struggle to think clearly and you can’t stop obsessing, please get help. If you are having thoughts of hurting yourself because the pain is consuming you, get help immediately!
2. Take inventory. Do not count what has been lost but look at what remains and then build on it. You may have lost yourself a bit while you were in the relationship, but I assure you, you are still in there somewhere, find you and set you free.
3. Those things you used to enjoy doing but quit, start doing them again. Learn something new.
4. The friends you lost to the relationship, contact them. You may have to apologize to them, but your friends know you and love you, they will understand and come back around you and support you.
5. It is OK to grieve. Your heart was hurt, acknowledge that. It was real. But, my friend, do not stay there. Cry it out, scream if you have to, but then wash your face and stand up and walk forward.
6. Set goals. Start easy. Maybe early goals are to wake up by a certain time in the morning and make your bed, take a walk, call a friend, it doesn’t have to be a five year plan when you just need to get through the day. I think you will find that after awhile it will get easier.
7. Take care of yourself. Get rest. (BUT DON’T SLEEP TOO MUCH.) Eat healthy, stay away from sugary sweets. Drink plenty of water. Stay away from alcohol, or any other self-medication, trust me, it wont help, it just creates a whole new set of problems.
8. Do not date. One of the worse things you can do is get back out there and enter into another relationship. You need time to heal. Date too soon and you might find the cycle continuing, but with a different person. You are vulnerable right now and vulnerable people do not make healthy choices.
As a born-again Christian, I do have to tell you, if it were not for my relationship with Jesus Christ, I would have never made it through. When the Bible talks about peace that passes all understanding and how to attain it, I can testify that it is true.
And the peace of God [that peace which reassures the heart, that peace] which transcends all understanding, [that peace which] stands guard over your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus [is yours].
Finally, believers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable and worthy of respect, whatever is right and confirmed by God’s word, whatever is pure and wholesome, whatever is lovely and brings peace, whatever is admirable and of good repute; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think continually on these things [center your mind on them, and implant them in your heart]. The things which you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things [in daily life], and the God [who is the source] of peace and well-being will be with you.
There is only one way to know this kind of peace, and that is through Jesus, for He said:
Peace I leave with you; My [perfect] peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be afraid. [Let My perfect peace calm you in every circumstance and give you courage and strength for every challenge.] -John 14:27
If you would like to know how you can have a relationship with Jesus, you can email me at email@example.com
Be Free & Stay Free
I just finished watching one of my favorite shows. OK, don’t judge me, I like to watch Criminal Minds. Are there any other fans out there?
Anyway, this episode, Dr. Spencer Reid had to reveal some struggles he had to an unsub. For those of you who watch the show, you know the relationship he has with his mom and the back story. At the end of the show, after the bad guy was caught, Morgan (another character in the show) gave Reid a hug, and during the hug he said, “You know…” and he didn’t have to finish the sentence because Reid knew what he was saying. Reid, who does not like the close contacts of hugs, then embraced the hug and comfort of a friend. For that moment, he was able to be safely vulnerable.
I like hugs. I didn’t always. Because a person does have to place themselves in a certain vulnerable position to receive a hug. I am talking about real hugs, not the meet and greet and sideway hugs we give on Sunday mornings. It wasn’t until years ago when God started to heal my heart that I would really embrace a hug. I don’t think I am wrong in saying that Hugs are a gift from God.
According to an article written by Erica Cirino, in Healthline, there are benefits to hugs.
1. Hugs reduce stress by showing you support
2. Hugs may protect you against illness
3. Hugs may boost your heart health
4. Hugs can make you happier
5. Hugs help reduce your fears
6. Hugs may help reduce your pain
7. Hugs help you communicate with others
The article goes on to suggest that we need four hugs a day for survival, eight hugs a day for maintenance, and twelve hugs a day for growth. Is it any wonder why God said it is not good for man to be alone?
But what do we do if we are alone and we have no one to hug?
Sometimes it seems like we must be super spiritual and have an answer for everything. As if it is a weakness to admit we are running on empty, feeling alone, and in need. Shew, I am guilty of giving the “Well, let me answer you in Bible verses,” kind of help. And while scripture does hold all the answers to every question we have, sometimes we just need a hug.
What if you don’t have the emotional energy to praise your way through it? And for whatever reason, you don’t have someone to give you a hug. Sometimes you just need a hug; not advice or opinion, just a hug.
There was a time in my life when I was going through a rough time. It was a matter of the heart and I was struggling with depression from a broken heart. I didn’t have the energy to turn on the worship music and worship my way out of it. I didn’t have the strength to praise my way out of it. Even though I knew the Word, my mouth couldn’t open to speak my way out of it. Have you ever been there?
I knew God was with me, because I believed His Word, but I felt so alone. It was during my darkest time that I experienced Psalm 34:18 up close and personal.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted, and He delivers those whose spirits have been crushed.
At night, when I would go to bed, I would hold my Bible to my chest and hug it as I fell asleep. Don’t misunderstand me, to me it was like I was hugging Jesus. The Lord knew I was hurting. My hug spoke what my words could not.
Can I just tell you what the Lords hug feels like? It feels like peace. It feels like hope. It feels like love.
Yes, I believe hugs are a gift from God. If you have no one to give you a hug, I encourage you to open your heart and let the One who created the hug, and is the BEST HUG GIVER, to hug you with His presence through the Holy Spirit, where no words are necessary.
Believe me, His hug will comfort and heal you and the benefits are eternal.
Be Free & Stay Free
Aloneness does not have to be loneliness. A person can be alone and not be lonely. A person can be surrounded by people and be lonely.
Are you suffering loneliness?
In the heat of loneliness, you may be tempted to take matters into your own hands and make foolish choices. I speak from experience and if I can help you to avoid the mistakes I’ve made, then try this instead:
1. Step outside of yourself. Look around you, the world is filled with lonely people, serve them.
a) Visit nursing homes and/or shut-ins
b) Volunteer with soup kitchens/homeless shelters
c) Find a cause and champion it.
d) Care for the widows and orphans
2. Develop yourself. Take a class. Read books. Learn a new skill. Teach a new skill to someone else.
3. Make healthy choices. What we eat does impact how we feel. Eat healthy! Stay away from sugars and processed foods. Drink plenty of water. If you are not sure how to do this, then speak to a nutritionist, join a health group, there are plenty of resources out there to help you.
4. Set goals and then take steps to reach them.
5. Take yourself out. Do you like to dine out? Don’t be afraid to do it alone. Do you like to go to the movies? Get a ticket and popcorn and go. Don’t let the fact you are alone stop you from enjoying life.
6. Exercise! Get those endorphins flowing. It’s good for you!
7. Get outside! Fresh air and sunshine does wonders. Take a walk, ride a bike, go to a park, be around nature.
8. Watch your self-talk. Be careful what you say to yourself. What you say, you are.
9. Reach out to others. If you are a woman, call a female friend and make arrangements to get together. If you are a man, then call a male friend and make arrangements to get together. Surround yourself with uplifting people and avoid negative talk.
10. And finally, the MOST important arsenal against loneliness is your relationship with God. If you know Him and acknowledge Him, then you are never truly alone, because He is ALWAYS with you.
It is not good for us to be alone, God knows this, He created us for relationship. The most important relationship you can have is with your Heavenly Father. His Spirit will comfort you in your alone times and He is more than enough. If He can speak to Elijah in a cave, Jonah in the belly of a whale, Moses on the mountain, John in the womb, Joseph in his dreams, and Lazarus in the tomb, then don’t you think He is able to speak to you where you are? Quiet yourself and listen for His voice. Then you will know you are not alone, and loneliness is a feeling you do not have to succumb to.
For more on what to do to help in the times of aloneness click here.
Be Free & Stay Free
Do you want to know the secret to “finding” a good man who will be an honorable husband? You might be surprised to learn that finding doesn’t always begin with searching.
Ladies, a lot can be learned looking at the life of Ruth. (click here)
Ruth didn’t find Boaz because she was searching for him. She was not out looking for a husband. She was serving. She was a woman of integrity and moral character. She was caring for her widowed mother-in-law who was also her mentor. She submitted herself to the care and wisdom of Naomi, her mother-in-law.
She didn’t look for Boaz, Boaz took notice of her. It was not her beauty that first caught Boaz’s attention, although I am sure she was beautiful. Boaz was much older than Ruth, so as an honorable man, he looked at her as more of a “daughter,” than a “possible lover.” Do you hear what I am saying, ladies? He saw a young woman working in his field, minding her own business, not posing with seductive allure. She was probably a sweaty mess, because she was working in a field. Her focus was not on looking cute or getting attention; her focus was on her mission, to do what she could to help her mother-in-law, and this is what caught Boaz’s attention.
Boaz noticed her and didn’t know who she was until he asked.
I am going to pause here. Let this drive home for you. When you are a woman of integrity, with good character, AND favored by God, then you will not have to go out and “find your man.” God, Himself, will direct him to you.
Too many women, (and I will admit I have been guilty of this before, too) set their sights on a man who seems to flip the bill for what they want and then do everything to get their attention and manipulate circumstances to put them in their life. Unfortunately, the result is a lot of heartache that could have been prevented if they had just waited on God, and in the waiting worked out their own call and serve.
A woman who knows who she is and her own value. Or to be more direct…a woman who knows her identity in Christ and the value He has placed on her, will not seek a man to rescue her, because she will not need to be rescued if she is under the covering of her Father. She will know she is royalty, because her Father is the King, and she will wait and allow her Father to present her to the man who is worthy of His daughter.
When Boaz noticed her and inquired who she was, the report he received about her was good. I imagine he already heard of Ruth, because he is a relative of Naomi and when Naomi came home and brought the young woman with her, word traveled. Nothing negative could be said about Ruth, she stayed close to Naomi. She didn’t go into town and make a reputation for herself. She didn’t say, “I’m gonna go out and find me a husband to take care of us.” She wasn’t found in bars, on dating sites, posting selfies on social media with the pucker lips and cleavage advertising her availability. No, she was a woman of integrity, moral character, and good reputation.Of course, a man, such as Boaz, a Godly man, will take notice of her and want to extend covering and care for her.
A Godly man will protect a woman’s purity, integrity, and reputation. He will first acknowledge the woman as a daughter of God and will treat and respect her as such. He can see beauty, but the beauty inside of her is what he will respect and seek to preserve and cause no injury to. Of course, this does not mean he is blind to the physical beauty, but he will not be ruled by lust and self-gratification.
So, Ladies, if you want to find him, quit looking for him. Position yourself for him by preparing yourself. Because a Godly man wants a Godly woman. A man with a purpose will not waste his time with a woman who is unable to be a helpmeet to fulfill his God given purpose. Just as you were created by God and for God, so was he, and it is not his role to “fix you” or make you “whole.” No man is your savior, you have only One Savior, and His name is Jesus.
Any man who is not submitted to the Lordship of God, is NOT a safe man. If you keep looking for a man, you will find a man, but I can assure you, the man you find will be beneath the man God will bring to you. Our vision can be short sighted. Our vision can also be clouded by past experiences and unrealistic expectations. Don’t you know that God knows you and knows what your needs are, better than you? Do you not know how much your Father God wants only His best for you? If you want God’s best for you, then give Him your best. Submit yourself to Him.
In your waiting, let this be a season of preparation.
1. Draw close to God. Use this time to seek and worship Him. Let God romance your heart. He is after all the Bridegroom. Read your Bible daily, pray always, and acknowledge His presence. In so doing He will minister healing to your heart, He will steady your mind, and He will give clarity to your vision. In short, He will transform you into the image of Jesus.
2. Serve. Volunteer and help others.
3. Stay connected in the local church body. Develop Godly friendships with other women.
4. Find a mentor, an older woman in the faith, a spiritual mother.
5. Take care of your body and health. Break any unhealthy addictions. Eat healthy. Stay active.
6. Be faithful with what God has given you. Use all your gifts and talents to honor Him and bring Him glory.
You may say, “Lord, what about me?” He says, “Daughter, look to Me.”
Be Free & Stay Free
If you are being hit from every side, I want to encourage you to not give up. Hold fast, my brothers and sisters. Do not cower and retreat, but press in. Do not get sidetracked with substitutes to distract you, but cling to Jesus as if your life depends on it… because it does. And not only your life, but the life of those in your household, and those around you.
The sky and the earth (the universe, the world) will pass away, but My words will not pass away. But take heed to yourselves and be on your guard, lest your hearts be overburdened and depressed (weighed down) with the giddiness and headache and nausea of self-indulgence, drunkenness, and worldly worries and cares pertaining to [the business of] this life, and [lest] that day come upon you suddenly like a trap or a noose; for it will come upon all who live upon the face of the entire earth.
Keep awake then and watch at all times [be discreet, attentive, and ready], praying that you may have the full strength and ability and be accounted worthy to escape all these things [taken together] that will take place, and to stand in the presence of the Son of Man. Luke 21:33-36
Be Free & Stay Free
Eddie James sings it right. We need His rain! God help us, heal our land, turn our hearts back to You. I pray that as you listen to this you will sing, too. I pray your song becomes a prayer. We need an awakening.
O’ God, forgive us.
These people draw near Me with their mouths and honor Me with their lips, but their hearts hold off and are far away from Me. Matthew 15:8
Call us to repentance, Holy Spirit. Hear our cry!
If My people, who are called by My name, shall humble themselves, pray, seek, crave, and require of necessity My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14
Let it be so.
And it shall come to pass in the last days, God declares, that I will pour out of My Spirit upon all mankind, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy [telling forth the divine counsels] and your young men shall see visions (divinely granted appearances), and your old men shall dream [divinely suggested] dreams. Acts 2:17
Open the floodgates of heaven!
I especially appreciate that we celebrate the birth of our Savior at the end of the year. No matter the struggle we may have endured during the fist eleven months, we can end the final month with the reminder that we are never alone, for Emmanuel, God is with us!
Christmas is my favorite time of year. This is the time of year when families come together, Christmas music fills the airwaves with glad tidings, homes are decorated with lights, kitchens are warm with baking, and nostalgia of Christmas past lends to the hope of Christmas present.
Every Christmas Eve I turn the lights out, save the tree lights, and I breathe in the peacefulness of the evening. The living room is illuminated with the warm glow of tree lights, twinkling and reflecting off the ornaments I have collected over the years; each one unique and carries a memory.
My favorite are the ones that were handmade by my children. The untrained eye may not recognize the preciousness of each ornament, but this mothers eye sees the love each ornament represents. The smudges of paint and excess glue are reminders of pure love, joy, and the glowing face of my children. I hold each one in my hand and I remember. It is this hodgepodge, mismatched, and sometimes misshaped, tree trimmings that I cherish the most.
In many ways we are like the hodgepodge of handcrafted ornaments. Each one of us crafted by our Fathers hand, fearfully and wonderfully made in His very image. With great care and detail He created us and He cherishes us. And like the worn ornaments on my tree, we have somewhere, along the way, lost our luster; our shine. Yet, that doesn’t make us any less precious in the eyes of the Father.
My children are grown now, but I still hang their ornaments on the tree. Some of them are really showing their age and should be retired, but I can’t bring myself to pack them away. I suppose, by holding on to them, I keep the memories alive a little while longer. And maybe, just maybe, it keeps a part of my children home with me. Of course, I understand not everyone shares my appreciation for my old handmade ornaments, so I gently place them deep into the tree, just enough so I can still see them.
I wonder how many of us sometimes feel like the old ornaments? Once shiny and new, full of sparkle, vying for the front of the tree to reflect the lights, but now shrinking back into the shadows of what used to be.
Life can do that, ya know. Ups and downs and ups and downs and ups and downs, until it feels like you are going down for the count. You hold things deep inside; every broken promise, cruel word, rejection, abuse, heartbreak, loss. The shell you wrap yourself in becomes hard and you determine to be untouchable. That is called self protection.
Or maybe you have done or said some things you are ashamed of. It started off as a little thing, a slip up here, a slide there, and then before you know it you can hardly recognize yourself anymore. Of course this is compounded by the lies you have to tell to cover your tracks. Then you start hearing the voice in your head that tells you really blew it this time. Even though you want to make it right, the more you try the deeper the hole you dig. You give up because you can’t do it yourself, you can’t make right the wrongs, you can’t clean the filth you feel, you can;t shake off the guilt and the shame, no matter how hard you try. And you are right, you can’t.
But there is good news!
The Bible tells us that long before He formed us in our mothers womb, God knew us! It’s true! Click here to read it for yourself. In the hands of our Maker, Creator, Father, we were created to shine! Our omniscient God knew we would lose our luster and drift from Him. So, He, Himself, made a way for us. This is why we celebrate Christmas!
Behold, the virgin shall become pregnant and give birth to a Son, and they shall call His name Emmanuel—which, when translated, means, God with us. Matthew 1:23
Do you understand what this means? It means God came down for us! Our God, our Heavenly Father, came down to us in the flesh and dwelt among us for 33 years as a man. He was born of a virgin and died on a cross. You see, we celebrate Christmas to celebrate the birth of our Savior, but He came to die for us.
More Good News!
The grave could not hold Him, death was defeated!
“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 5But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.1 Corinthians 15:55-57
Beloved, our minds can not comprehend the love God has for us. For God so loved us that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
I may not be able to make my ornaments look new, as much as I would like to, but even so… I will continue to display them on my tree with love.
But YOU, Beloved, you are a new creation! In the Fathers hands you are made to sparkle! Let your light shine, because your light is HIM! And know that when He looks upon you, He smiles, His heartbeat is you and NOTHING can change that!
This Christmas let your gift be you, all of you. Take time to thank Him for the greatest gift of all, His Son, Jesus!
Be Free & Stay Free
Yes, we are living in troubled days. Everywhere we look we see evidence of fallen man. Jesus said that Satan is the god of this world, and we see his fruit everywhere; hate, fear, and death.
How do we keep from getting sucked in to the pit with the rest of the world?
How do we keep our hope in the face of hopelessness?
How do we love when we are hated?
The quick and easy answer would be to pray. And yes, we should pray, but what about when we are so heavy laden, hurt, angry, sad, alone, abused, empty, afraid, blue, and if I can be honest… how about when we are just tired of hearing our own voice and see no change around us? What then?
The world is spinning fast, time is but a vapor, and time is short, and nothing is within our control. We can not control another person or what is going on around us. BUT! There is one thing we can control… ourselves. We can take control of our thoughts and our responses. Then instead of being reactive, we can be proactive.
So, again, how do we do that?
We shift our focus!
A broken hallelujah will be made whole. In your brokenness, offer a hallelujah and He will answer.
“Hallel” means to boast or to brag on, to make a show, even to the point of looking ridiculous.
“Jah” is the short form of the name for God.
What do we tell our children to do when there is a fire? Stop! Drop! And Roll!
Praise the Lord!
Praise God in His sanctuary;
Praise Him in His mighty heavens.
Praise Him for His mighty acts;
Praise Him according to [the abundance of] His greatness.
Praise Him with trumpet sound;
Praise Him with harp and lyre.
Praise Him with tambourine and dancing;
Praise Him with stringed instruments and flute.
Praise Him with resounding cymbals;
Praise Him with loud cymbals.
Let everything that has breath and every breath of life praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord! (Hallelujah!)
So I encourage you… No! I challenge you! Shut the world out, turn the news off, lay down the paper, hang the phone up, shut down the computer, and Stop! Drop to your knees, lift your arms, open your mouth, and let the praises roll!
You can’t change the world, but God can. You may not be able to change your circumstance, but God can. You may be waist deep in what the world calls despair, but He promises if you focus on Him, praise Him for His goodness, trust Him, give it ALL to Him, when you rise you will rise refreshed and strengthened.
He is still God, He is still on His throne, He has not left you and He never will. Don’t let the world steal your peace. Shift your focus.
Be Free & Stay Free