Friday, July 28, 2017

Jason's Simple Desire

Jason came by today to pick up and repair my pressure washer. Nothing unusual about that, right? However, as he was loading it onto his truck, he asked if I would listen to a simple testimony God gave him recently.

When Jason helped with Vacation Bible School last month, he expressed to a gardener friend the desire to have a fresh picked off the vine tomato so he could immediately make a sandwich and eat it. He had fixed and eaten so many of those sandwiches as a boy that he had grown tried of them then. Now years later, he was missing that great taste of home. The friend offered Jason the opportunity to come by and pick from his plants. The two friends agreed to get together later. Jason planned on having his bread, mayo with some salt and pepper in his truck cab before he arrived at his friend’s garden so the experience would be just like it used to be as a child. But God made different plans after listening to Jason’s desire.

Several days later, while Jason drove along his driveway, he noticed a small tomato plant growing at the end. He started thinking how could this be? He had tried numerous times to grow tomato plants on the back side of his property without success. And where did the seed come from? When he got out and investigated, he soon realized the tomato plant was there because God was the gardener. The ground was so hard that when he tried to stake it up, the thin metal stake kept breaking off. Then, when Jason tried to water it with added Miracle Grow, the Lord spoke,

Leave it alone, I planted it and I will take care of it.
 If you mess with it, it will kill it.”

So Jason has left it alone.

This knee-high plant already has multiple blooms and small tomatoes. Jason’s anticipation is mounting as he passes that tomato plant daily. He says he knows it will be the best tomato ever because it is straight from God Himself. And that smile on Jason’s face as he tells this simple testimony…well, it’s a mile wide.

************

Before telling me this story, Jason expressed shyly that he doesn’t feel special. I have a feeling that at times Jason may look at his present circumstances and conclude that because his life doesn’t ‘look successful’ it is not. He works hard to provide for himself and his family with not much to show for his efforts. But God knows how special Jason is and right where he lives. God knows what He wants to accomplish through Jason’s life as well. And what is that?  God wants Jason to proclaim all the simple testimonies of love and faithfulness He provides throughout Jason’s life. In return, God has promised Jason His protection and provisions. And even though others may deem Jason unsuccessful and insufficient because of outward appearances, God says:

“Don’t look at what you see with your natural eyes Jason
but look to Me for all you need.
 And Son, keep on talking, I got ya covered.”


If God is listening to Jason’s simple desires, He will be listening to yours!

Jason’s simple act of faith to tell others will wind up touching many more lives then he could ever imagine. And so it will be with us when we decide to step out in faith and tell our simple stories of God’s love and faithfulness too. I have a story picked out already. What about you?

***********

After I wrote this out, I went and looked up the name Jason and its meaning: 

JASON: Healer, Benevolent

Luke 6:45  A good man out of the good treasures of his heart brings forth good . . . For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

The Name Book
Dorothy Astoria

(or a desire of the heart!)

Thursday, May 4, 2017

What Are We Expecting To Find In God

Welcome Lisa Griffin today! She has created a thought provoking blog piece that I think you will find interesting.
Our community seems to never stop wondering “where do I find God”, “will God help me”, and “how do I get to know God”, and I often come across stories of different people that tell about some difficult situations in life that push them to seek for God’s help. These stories always start the same. Something like: “I faced a difficult situation in my life and I started to scream for help…”and more often, authors of such posts say that they’ve received the assistance they were asking for. But what happens next? After some time, many people simply forget about their appeal to God; why is this happening, what are we expecting to find in God and why do we lose our faith later?
What motivates us to start talking to the Almighty?
As I said previously, almost every time it starts with some tragedy. Each one of us has to deal with certain difficulties in our lives, regardless of whether he wants it or not, and experiencing such situations we pray, we are speaking to the Lord and ask him to help us.
Moreover, many assume that God has to hear and support us. After all, we have always heard the saying “Ask - and you will be given”, but if it is so, then why then so many prayers stay unanswered?
I see only one reason that can stand behind this – many modern people may attend church and behave like Christians, but how many of them really KNOW the Lord and really keep their hearts and souls opened for Him?! Unfortunately, not as many as it may first seem.
Why don’t we devote enough time to building our relationship with Him and then, during the hard times we get confused and are wondering why He didn’t answer us? This all happens only because we don’t realize what we really need, what we expect to get from Him and then, after not getting what we wanted, we lose our faith.
Speak and you will be heard!
Where to find God? No matter how banal it may sound, the God is always next to us but turning to Him and listening to His answer are two quite different things, which we need to realize and accept. By listening to Lord, we open our minds for him and hear His will.
Unfortunately, today, many people are a little wary of this because in the modern world our turning to God is called prayer, but His appeal to us I often considered as schizophrenia. Due to the fact that the ideal was lost, our relationship with the Almighty became very difficult and if it is still present, it is often unilaterally, which means that we talk to Him, but often do not even listen to His answer. He speaks to us, and we can't hear. Any communication requires the cooperation of two people, in our case – you and your God: When we pray about something and then He listens and responds, we are supposed to listen, otherwise it would be a monolog.
Why do people lose their faith?
Anger and disappointment towards the Lord are something that has always confronted many people – both believers and unbelievers. When something tragic happens in our lives, the first thing that we do is ask Him “Why?”.  It is our natural reaction. But what we're really asking is not so much “why” but more “why me, Lord?" and this statement indicates two flaws in our thinking. First, as believers, we often live with the belief that life should be easy, and that God should prevent any tragedy in our lives. When He does not, we are angry at Him. Second, when we do not fully understand the extent of the power of God, we lose faith in His ability to control circumstances, other people and the way they affect us. We get angry at God because we think He lost control of the universe. And especially over our lives. We lose confidence in God's omnipotence because our frail human flesh is grappling with our own frustration and lack of personal control over what is happening. When all is well, we often attribute this to our own achievements and success, but when bad things happen, we rush to blame God, we are angry at Him because He did not prevent them.
Open your heart and accept His love!
Now let’s look at this from another perspective. After someone had faced a difficult situation in the life, he prayed but didn’t receive any answer – was it the Lord who didn’t want to answer or maybe we just can’t determine when he speaks to us? Maybe sometimes the answer comes, but not as quickly as we would like.
I would say that God always answers a sincere prayer, but often we can't understand His answer or simply didn’t expect to hear such answer, and therefore we don't accept it and deny the Lord’s help. Agree, if you talk with your good friend, but he's not responding or gives answers that are not relevant to the subject, and this continues for a while, you can get disappointed and this can even become a reason why your friendship might come to an end.
The same is here. When we don't hear the answer from God or the answer is not in line with our expectations, we feel frustrated and it gets very easy to lose faith just because we don’t see the purpose for our prayers. But you should always remember that God always stands by, waits for you to speak to him, and he is always ready to give you his love, the only thing that you have to do is to keep on believing and following His will!

Learn how to find Him. Learn to hear God's voice, whispering all the mysteries of the world within us, worship and love him, and then He will treat you the same way as we all are His children!



Lisa Griffin is a blogger whose lifestyle credo is “Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”

Monday, May 1, 2017

Run...Mary Jane...Run!

In December of 2015, I ended a relationship that was basically built upon lies, not mine but his. When God showed me how all the pieces would fit together, I was shocked at how ugly the picture was going to turn out. And so I walked away…and when I did, I felt like the life of faith and creativity that I had once known was being sucked out of me and in its place, a stronghold of fear. What I wanted so badly had turned into a nightmare, a mental battle for my character, my authority and my peace of mind.

For almost nine months, the enemy of my soul flooded my mind with so much negative criticism that it was hard to combat the depression. I had a hard time reading the Bible and listening to Christian music because I felt condemn not only for what had just happened but then the enemy headed for my past insecurities as well. Now, I know condemnation is not from God (Romans 8:1) but I felt powerless with the heavy on slot of accusations. Just because you know what to do doesn’t make it easy to do it in a time of pressing trouble. I tried speaking and reading the Word out loud. Claiming the promises. However, whatever I did, my ‘believe’ was not there and so my faith was cut short. It looked like life had forever changed and with little hope, I was going downhill fast. However, I felt compelled to keep going forward to fight the good fight of faith with the little hope that I had until I regained my lost mental territory.

During all this time, the Lord was relentlessly faithful to me through the love and faithfulness of family, friends and church. Also, I saw 10 10 everywhere which to me could only mean one thing.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy;
I came that they may have life, and [a]have it abundantly
John 10:10
                                               
Then there was the word He gave to me personally as the healing had barely begun.

January 7, 2016

You are my darling wife to be. I had to come rescue you. I love you, appreciate you, and adore you. I did not want you to be swallowed up by your circumstances. Come follow Me back to health, both physically and spiritually. See what I can do in a short period of time. You are not alone neither have I forsaken you. You have wanted to quit but I won’t let you. You are my precious child who I want to help. Yes, you lost your way, but I grabbed you by the hand and rescued you and have put you on solid ground. Seek me Mary Jane. Trust that I will bring you through. I know you are afraid right now and I have my loving arms around you. You are not alone. Follow Me, Mary Jane, follow Me.

With all the affirmations and confirmations, the enemy sought even more desperately to destroy me and my relationship with the Lord.

When my prayers changed from “Oh God, help me!!!” to intensionally praying for others and praying the opposite to whatever the enemy was telling me, my mind slowly began to respond. I knew then that I had broken down a line of the enemy’s defense. God was doing His part. Now I needed to do mine.

Afterwards, I heard the Lord say, “You have got to get out and walk.” As much as I wanted to stay sheltered, I knew I had to listen to His directions. In late October 2016 after walking for about six weeks, I started seeing major release from the enemy’s mind control. I was gaining confidence and courage to resist all the lies. It still was not easy but I was determined.

Since my mind was beginning to clear from the negative thoughts, I started to see my positive creative imagination began to peep out. Oh, how I had longed for my writing to spring forth again.  The Lord was right. Being out in nature was helping me to heal.

Lastly, I felt the Lord say, Running your race will give you endurance,” so that’s what I did. I started running some and then some more. Each week or so I would increase my running a little bit more.  And each and every week I was gaining back my mental strength. In November of 2016, I entered my first 5K at South Mountain Christian Camp. As I crossed the finish line to win 2nd place in my age group, I knew I was well on my way to being myself again.

 As of today, I have racked up many 5Ks, a couple of 10Ks, with my latest goal of a half marathon coming up in three weeks. My main goal there is to finish within the allotted time. Pretty good for an out of shape 61-year old beginner, don’t you think? Do I love to run now? No, I can’t say that I do but I love where it is taking me and that keeps me joyfully putting one foot in front of the other as fast as a can.


PRASIE BE TO GOD FOR HIS WONDERFUL FAITHFULNESS!


Are you going through a mentally tough time right now? I know it is not easy and sometimes your fears seem like they are going to over take you. But do not lose heart. Jesus is right there with you, holding your hand too. Read the words the Lord gave me again but insert you name instead. He wants to help you overcome whatever it is you are facing. Go to Him the best way you know how. No matter what the situation is, Jesus is waiting for you to let go and let Him help you.

********************************



As I prepared for a recent 5miler race in downtown Columbia, I told the Lord I could not do this without Him. What He answered me with was a vision of me running down the street with a large angel, flying overhead. At the race, as I came around the corner to run the last quarter mile, my earlier vision came to life. The two scenes were exactly the same. I knew without a shadow of doubt that a large angel was flying overhead cheering me on.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Keep Yourselves From Idols

Dear Children,
Keep yourselves from idols.
I John 5:21

Recently, a friend of mine asked me to look at houses with him. We began our search through the Internet to pick out the ones he wanted to see. Afterwards, he called a realtor in the area.

There was one property in particular that got our attention. As we viewed the house, we noticed there were pictures of different gods hanging in several of the rooms. Then when we toured the ground, we discovered two large wooden platforms with concrete idols on them.  As I inquired of the Lord, he told me this was like the idols of old in Isaiah’s time. I knew this form of worship still existed but it was strange to see it in an area so close to me. Needless to say, if my friend chose this property, he would have to make sure all the idols were gone and the land was cleansed.

Most of us in the Christian world cannot really identify with statues and that kind of idol. So let’s go a little closer.

What is an idol? Idols are anything that distracts us from the one true God who is our identity and true source of supply. We are drawn to idols because they can foster our need to be loved and accepted . Then of course, we have them to help us in our time of need. (But do they?)

As I thought about this more, I asked the Lord for a deeper meaning. This is what he gave me.

I     Deny     Our     Lord
access to my life.


What does it mean to deny?

·      to refuse to agree with
·      to withhold possession
·      to refuse to recognize or acknowledge
·      to withhold accessibility

In other words, when we deny the Lord, we are not allowing his influence to reign over a particular area of our life.

Now… most of us can name some of the biggie idols that we could have… our career, pride and ego, materialism, sports figures, TV personalities, children or even grandchildren. However, let’s dig a little different direction. How about…

·      Negative attitudes and criticisms of others, the need to be right
·      Offenses, bitterness, and unforgiveness
·      Worry and guilt
·      What others will think of me

Suddenly, idols may be closer to home then what we would like to admit. Idols are sneaky, if you are not vigilant. You give them an inch and they can take a mile. They start out innocently but slowly dig deep roots into our heart. Idols take away our sense of spiritual reasoning and choice. The thing about idols is, when you get in a pinch and really need the power to overcome, idols have no power to save you from whatever you are going through.


So what is the answer?  The real answer is not an idol at all. It is a personal relationship with Christ Jesus. He is not man made idol but  the true Son of God who has the power and grace to help us through whatever situation we face. If you haven't met Him personally, I encourage you to seek him out. Discovering Jesus's love for you will change your life forever.


The devil comes to kill, steal and destory but I have come to give you life and that more abundantly. 
John 10:10

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Melinda's Desire

The old car needed to many repairs! As Melinda prayed about the situation, her mind wandered back to an old Cadillac that had been given to her second hand years before. She smiled as she thought about that light blue beauty being the perfect car. It was a little worn but still roomy and luxurious inside. For her, it wasn’t just something that carried her from place to place but she felt special and set apart. Her meager circumstances seem to melt away as she dreamed of greatness for a time to come. Oh how my heart would sing if I could have that feeling again, she thought. Then, reality began to creep in again. I really need an economy car not a big luxury car; she contemplated with a sigh, a small one that gets good gas mileage. And with those thoughts securely in place, Melinda began her Internet search of the near by dealerships.

After a prayer, Melinda began to look for a car at the three local dealerships; she found it didn’t take long before the car hunt became frustrating.  She looked earnestly and honestly for one economy version after another but there were none she could afford or get excited about…none that made her feel like she wanted to take them home for a long time. Annoyed she began to pray again.

Then…she got a tip.

“Go to Moore’s.” the salesman at the Ford dealership said, “They may have what you want and they’ll make you an honest deal.”

Feeling like the Holy Spirit was leading her, Melinda decided to
try it out. What could she lose and she was running out of options.

As Melinda surveyed the car lot at Moore’s, her eyes seem to gravitate towards a black 2005 Lexus SUV. “I don’t think I can afford that Lord!” she assumed. Nevertheless, she looked inside and a smile came over her face. This car has more luxury then the Cadillac and it was roomy too. I could get excited about taking this car home Lord, she mused.

Was God providing Melinda with something she desired instead of having to settle for the car she thought she needed? Turns out, that is exactly what God was doing as He lead her by faith to negotiate the details over the next few days. For Melinda, this car was God doing something extra special for her, something far beyond what she had imagined he would do for her. She felt abundantly blessed and now continues to praise God for His generosity.

What is your need and deepest desire? Our Heavenly Father is waiting for us to focus on Him as we put those needs and desires into His loving hands. He is a good God and wants to bless us with good gifts. God not only wants to answer our requests but at times go beyond what we have asked for to what He knows we really desire. Go ahead…think big!


Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works with us.

Ephesians 3:20