With God, We Fly Above the Storm

With God, We Fly Above the Storm

By Denise Schmeer

It was Tuesday, May 17, 2016 and my plan was to leave work early in order to drive my son, Kirk, to the airport.  He was heading to Europe with some friends for a much-needed break from his doctoral work.  However, as the weather started to change for the worse, I thought it wise to leave a little earlier.  Must have been a “nudge” from God, for as I drove from Fort Pierce to Vero Beach, the deluge began.  We have lived through a number of hurricanes and flooding, but this was downright crazy weather . . . tornado level winds and over 11 inches of rain pounded down. 

I called my son at home and asked, “Are you sure your flight is not cancelled?”  He replies, “No Mom, just waiting for the power in the house to come back on so I can take a shower.  See you when you get here.”  Well, more easily said, than done!  

Our street was flooded!  And not just our block, but at least three blocks back!  No way could I take the usual route.  With heart pounding, a few more side street maneuvers and by the grace of God I made it home.  Kirk jumped in the car and off we headed to Orlando airport.

I expressed my concern to Kirk about the wisdom of flying in this “Armageddon” type weather.  He looked at me and said, “Mom, the plane flies above the storm.”  Ahhhh . . . yes!  Of course, and so it is with God.  No matter what is happening in our lives, with God we are above the storm.

But those who trust in the Lord for help will find their strength renewed.  They will rise on wings like eagles; they will run and not get weary; they will walk and not grow weak.  (Isaiah 40:31 GNT)

So Kirk’s flight took off on time and the drive home was just as wild and crazy with wind and rain buffeting the car around like a . . . well, like a paper airplane.  Nevertheless, I was pretty “chill.”  Jesus and I chatted all the way back to Vero Beach.  We talked about everything and anything.  Well, I did all the talking and Jesus just smiled and did all the listening.  

Such a blessing to be reminded that with God, we are always above the storm – no matter what the situation.  If we trust in Him, lean on Him, talk to Him, He is there to advise, comfort, listen, heal, refresh and renew.  We are protected by God’s almighty power, great mercy and strength. With God, we fly above the storms of life – lifted up as on eagle’s wings.  

Enter The New Year With A New Heart

Enter the New Year with A New Heart

By Mavis Tipton

Prov. 4:23 “Guard your heart more than anything else, because the source of your life flows from it.” 

This past year was a year of much prayer for Buddy’s heart and overall health.  Seeking the Lord to bring healing either miraculously, or through guiding the doctors.  

After several attempts to shock the heart back into rhythm and it failing to stay in rhythm it was decided to do a Heart Ablation. 

This so far is working, which we are very thankful for. Buddy is being monitored for an extra heartbeat, which doesn’t happen all the time, just once in a while.  

Heart disease can be caused by many different things. Not taking care of yourself, abusing your body, hereditary factors, and the list goes on.   

The heart a small organ the size of a closed fist, yet it empowers the entire body.  It is a complexed strong, delicate organ. Without the heart we will die.

The heart not only allows the human body to function it is the center of our being.  The heart is the mind,emotionsand the willof our soul.  The heart is where the inner man and outer man contact.  

Something that one of Buddy’s doctors said to us, was “you need to get this done soon, as the longer the heart stays out of rhythm, the harder it is to get it back in rhythm.  It doesn’t want to change.”

How true this is for the spiritual heart.  When the spirit-man is neglected and not cared for, he drifts further and further away from his commitment to the Lord, and he develops a harden heart.  The Good News is the Great Physician is there waiting to do ‘heart surgery’ to refresh, renew and restore, like only He can do. 

As the scripture says: “Guard your heart more than anything else, because the source of your life flows from it.”

Do you guard your heart more than anything else? The definition for Guard; (protect, keep safe, be cautious.  Defend, a watchful state.  Prevent injury.)  Are you doing these things to guard your heart both physically and spiritually?

God our Father has given us the only tool we need to guard our hearts and that is His Word.  As you read and study God’s Word He directs you.  Holy Spirit speaks to your spirit-man and as you listenand obeyHe protects you from those things that can bring harm to you.

God has our backs, but more importantly our hearts. He only wants the best for His children.   

I invite you to take a moment to come before the Father, and surrender all to Him.  To ask Him to do whatever ‘heart surgery’ He needs to do, so you can “Have a new heart for a new year.”

Matt. 19:26 “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We Are Not Perfect but He Is

We Are Not Perfect but He Is 

By Debbie Walker

Our Christmas celebration wasn’t perfect!  Some of the peanut butter fudge wasn’t cooked long enough and went into the garbage.  The cat partially opened more than one Christmas gift.  One online ordered gift is still yet to arrive. Tears over things not being just the way I wanted may have been shed. Our nativity scene bought the year before on clearance is missing Joseph!  Although, we do have 4 wise men; two of them twins, haha.  

But that’s just it… nothing that we do will ever be perfect and it never will be perfect because we live in a fallen world.  There is nothing wrong with striving to have that perfect family celebration, however, it is okay to have mishaps.  It is not the end of the world when something doesn’t come out just right.  

There is joy in knowing that our Father in heaven is perfect and that He sent His perfect sacrifice for us. We can take refuge in Him. We can strive to do our very best and when things go a bit wrong, it is okay.  We move forward in Christ. 

We will keep hosting celebrations and enjoying the good things and good people in our lives.  These upcoming celebrations will not be perfect but we can have perfect joy in knowing that we have a perfect Father who loves us. 

Psalm 18:30 As for God, his way is perfect: The Lord’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him.

 

 

 

Observations of a Bell-Ringer...Those Who Are Called?

Observations of A Bell-ringer . . . Those Who Are Called?

By Denise Schmeer

Woohoo!  I was so excited to be a bell-ringer for the Salvation Army this year.  As a child (and even as an adult), I knew it was Christmas time when I heard the Salvation Army red kettle bells.  Plus, it reminded me of my Dad who very much admired the work of this organization . . . something he experienced as a young soldier serving in Europe during WWII.  

Anyhow, my expectations of this bell-ringing adventure and what happened were somewhat different.  I had no idea so many people would stop and tell me their stories! Who knew . . . as I had hoped to be a blessing . . . I was so blessed.

Every passerby heard, “Merry Christmas” or “Have a blessed day.” Those who stopped to chat . . . well, sometimes I would even have a chance to ask a name or if they would like me to pray for them.  Incredible!!

There was the WWII veteran who remembered how the Salvation Army gave the troops hot coffee when they came into port . . . the sweet grandmother who talked lovingly about her granddaughter up north . . . the woman who said money was so scare she didn’t think she could make a donation, but came back with her husband anyway . . . the adorable little girl with her Dad, who told me she was a Christmas princess . . . the man who told me this funny joke about the little boy who wrote letters to Jesus about wanting a bicycle for Christmas.  The list goes on.

But, what really struck me was how easily people with blank stares and down cast eyes would just light up when they heard “Merry Christmas” and my smile connected with them.  How hungry our very own community is for the love of Christ!  

So let us not become tired of doing good; for if we do not give up, the time will come when we will reap the harvest (Galatians 6:9 GNT)

So for every blessing each of us passed along this Christmas season, with every “Merry Christmas” we spoke into someone else’s life, that we were shining the Love of Christ.  In our own way, we were feeding the spiritually hungry and comforting the lonely heart.  And I pray, that this Christmas renewed and strengthened our resolve to Go throughout the whole world and preach the gospel to all people (Mark 16:15 GNT)

A Cord of 3 Strands

 

A Cord of Three Strands

By Debbie Walker

Every night, my husband and I pray together before going to sleep.  We lay in bed together and hold hands and pray together.  We then kiss the back of each other’s hands and kiss each other good night.  

Honestly, most nights, this prayer is not the fanciest prayer ever. It often is short and to the point…Lord, help us to sleep well. Bless the kids.  Thank you for another day and so forth.  Other times, it will be much longer and include our families, our friends, the people we minister to, etc.…

It is not what we pray for that is most important, it is who we pray to.  We intentionally stop each night and remember the third most important strand in our marriage. 

Our marriage has lasted for over 26 years now and this is mostly due to the fact that we know that we need God to be included so that we are not quickly broken.  

We started out praying together because we heard that we should pray together to help our marriage last.  We even took turns praying; odd days were my turn, even days were his turn.  

Now, it is a vital part of our day.  We go to bed remembering that we need God in the middle of our marriage. This helps us to wake up the next morning being intentional to keep the Lord in our marriage and in our lives. 

When is the last time you prayed with your spouse?  

I encourage you to start praying together each night no matter how long you have been married. Praying together has helped us remember that we are not alone in this journey.  

Ecclesiastes 4:12

Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves.  A cord of three strands is not quickly broken

 

Sitting on Hope

Sitting on Hope

By Jacqi Ballough 

“What is Hope?” the little girl asked.

My mind laughed at the irony in the question. What my heart and mind yearned to say at that moment was far more than this little eight-year-old could handle. Therefore, I answered, “Hope is the hope-chest my father built for my college graduation present. It sits at the foot of my bed. Sometimes we need to go sit on Hope to think about our words and actions, how they affect us and the people around us.” 

Only moments before, I had asked my son to “go sit on Hope.” As parents, my husband and I discovered Hope was a savior to our parenting difficulties. We don’t have all the answers and sometimes need a break ourselves to sit on the hope Christ gives us. He tells us in the Bible to pray for wisdom, to regard our children as holy, not to discourage them with harsh words or anger, but to build them up and train them up to know Him. 

The times when we send our son to Hope are the very times we are seeking the hope in God’s promises, because parenting is tough. You definitely have to put your selfish ambitions aside and deny the fleshly responses to the insurmountable inconveniences that can crop up throughout the day. Bad attitude. Lack of self-control. Pride. Mischievous antics. Disobedience. Laziness. The list can go on. 

Many times these short breaks of “sitting on Hope” help us reflect on our actions, in light of our knowledge of Christ and his teachings. As parents (and humans in general), we have to take time to seek wisdom on how to respond to different situations. Sometimes it is as simple as praying to God as a family, seeking His forgiveness, and finding a better way to respond next time. Kids and adults alike need to be taught and then sent off to try again. But other times, if warnings and teachings have been ignored, there are more extreme consequences leading to privileges being revoked or extra work to be had. 

So what really is hope? Hope is faith in the promises of that which we can’t see. Webster’s dictionary defines hope as “a cherished desire with anticipation of fulfillment; to expect and want with confidence.”

What is my hope? My hope is in Christ, my Redeemer. My hope is that I honor him by my actions and fulfill my God-given purpose, that my husband and I raise up the son he gave us to glorify His name and carry His Word to all nations; and that our son will be equipped to carry out the purpose God has for his life by the time he leaves our home to begin his own. 

“For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have HOPE.”Romans 15:4

What is your hope?

The Eyes of The Lord

The Eyes of the Lord

Audrey Botts

When I was a little girl, my family and I moved into a new apartment in Chicago, Illinois.  I think I was around 3 or 4 years old when I found this beautiful painting propped on the floor of my new bedroom.  I think it was left by the previous tenants.  It was a picture of a man in a white robe with a glowing radiance all around him.  He had one hand with two fingers up and the other hand over his bare heart.  I was only a small child, but I wanted to know who this man was.  So I asked my mother and she said “that’s Jesus!”  

Who was Jesus?  And why did he leave his picture behind?   I was very young and naïve, but I remember how captivated I felt by this man in the picture.   I felt like his eyes were always watching me.  I felt strange at times when I was disobeying. I thought that Jesus would come out of the picture to reprimand me.  How silly I was…  I look back and laugh because little did I know that Jesus was not just in that picture watching me, but Jesus was everywhere and his eyes are always upon those that love him.  You never have to feel alone, your faith in God will always be your companion in life. He will never leave you or forsake you.

1 Peter 3:12 says, “For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are open to their prayer.” 

2 Chronicles 16:19 says, “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him.” 

I want to share the lyrics to this beautiful song written by Civilla D. Martin, 

“His Eye is on the Sparrow”

Why should I feel discouraged, why should the shadows come,
Why should my heart be lonely, and long for heaven and home,
When Jesus is my portion? My constant Friend is He:
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

I sing because I’m happy, I sing because I’m free,
For His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

“Let not your heart be troubled,” His tender word I hear,
And resting on His goodness, I lose my doubts and fears;
Though by the path He leadeth, but one step I may see;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

Whenever I am tempted, whenever clouds arise,
When songs give place to sighing, when hope within me dies,
I draw the closer to Him, from care He sets me free;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

 

God Is A lot Like Gravity

God Is A Lot Like Gravity

By Denise Schmeer

If faith is a lot like Crisco (see an earlier blog under my name), then God is a lot like gravity!  This inspired thought came to me after I had a conversation with one of my children.  This particular child was raised in Church, had an encounter with God as a teenager, but casually said to me recently, “Well, I don’t believe in God.”  Now, granted, I had noticed, as sadly happens with many young adults (myself included), the drift away from God, from Church, from what was learned at home.

After this somewhat startling, but not necessarily surprising proclamation, this child went on to talk about Jesus . . . how if Jesus were walking the Earth today, He would be turning over more than just tables in the temple, etc., etc.

Needless to say, I was somewhat taken aback by the “Well, I don’t believe in God.” comment and wise words eluded me.  But it did start me thinking.  It was as if my child thought by declaring “I don’t believe in God,” that somehow God ceased to exist!  How ridiculous is that?  I mean, it is like saying, “I don’t believe in the law of gravity” and expect to just float away.  Will a declaration, no matter how firmly believed, change the Truth?  No, of course not.

Whether this child likes it or not, believes it or not (right now) God is here.  God is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the Master Creator of the Universe and all which is in it.  

God loves each of us, with an indescribable, unimaginable love. God is calling each of us into a profound and deep relationship with Him.  And I am reminded how very important is it to “Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”  (Proverbs 22:6)I hold securely to the story of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32) and pray for the day my child comes to himself and returns home.

So now, I pray also for all the “prodigals” who have squandered their inheritance, lost their way, and are floating in the absence of the “gravity” which would anchor them to salvation, to their Heavenly Father, to their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.  (Luke 15:20)

Dear God, thank you for doing whatever it takes to bring our children home – to call them back to your loving arms.

The Weapon That Promises Victory 

By Vicki Molinari 

“Don’t point it at me and don’t touch the trigger”, he said as he gave us permission to pick up the rifle.
The shop in Williamsburg was quaint and simple with every tool needed to make guns.  They were real replicas from Colonial times. The handguns were simple with brass accented wood bodies.  The rifles were beautifully crafted, yet weighty on purpose. The round bullets would project with great force so the gun must be steady and heavy.
I don’t hold guns often, actually never so this experience was new for me. 
As a parallel to the practical instruction given, was the quiet voice I heard in my spirit.
Don’t point, don’t pull and there is no effectiveness with this weapon.  However, when needed, like in the battle of Yorktown, these weapons were greatly effective to assist in a victory for their freedom!
Today, I find myself fighting my own personal battles of which I desire freedom and victory.
Perhaps you can relate. You have found yourself in a struggle where you are fighting for a victory, too. 
Perhaps it is overwhelming stress at work, a once thriving friendship shut down, you feel like a failure as a mom, you have lost a loved one or maybe you are experiencing struggles in your marriage? 
There is hope and victory my friend! I promise.
It is in these battles we need to pick up our weapon.  
The Bible. 
It is the only weapon that promises truth, peace, joy, love and yes victory when in the midst of our personal life battles. 
When I consider God’s word, I am assured it is sharper than any two-edged sword. It is as a valuable weapon for the believer who uses it effectively.
It says in Hebrews 4:12,
“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”

If we are setting ourselves up for victory, we must pick up our weapon - the Bible- often. Get familiar with it. Know it’s feel when holding it, perfecting our skills when using it.  We must allow it to penetrate our minds and hearts so that when in battle, we aim with confidence and we shoot/we speak it with power and authority!  
Let’s proclaim victory by using our most effective life weapon, the Bible. 

 

 

Sing To The Lord

Sing to the Lord

By Debbie Walker 

Recently I was at a week-long conference with about 400 people who all serve in the same organization as our family.  Many of these people I have met over the years and consider friends or even family. It is like a big extended family reunion that you want to attend.  

This conference is a great time to catch up and hear about the ups and downs of others’ journeys.  Many of these journeys are marked with the hardship of serving the Lord full-time.  

Conference is also a time to worship and pray together and to be encouraged by speakers.  Each morning and evening sessions were started with worship.  

As the week went on, it seemed that the worship grew sweeter and sweeter.  There is nothing quite as amazing as a room full of people, whole-heartedly worshipping Jesus together. 

Worship was sweet not because we did not have troubles, but despite the troubles we were choosing to stop and sing together.  Life is not easy and there are many times that the tough circumstances of life seems bigger than anything else.  It is at those times that we need to sing praises to the Lord.  We need to proclaim His salvation over our lives. 

It is easy to sing praises to the Lord when we feel blessed and all is going well.  It is not so easy to sing praises when things are going rough.  

Regardless of what is going on in our lives, the salvation we have received through Jesus is more than enough to sing about in our lives. 

Choose in the midst of every day, in every circumstance, to praise the Lord; to sing praises to His name. 

Psalm 96:2 Sing to the Lord, praise His name; proclaim His salvation day after day. 

 

 

 

  

A Simple Christmas

A Simple Christmas

By Tammye Hamilton 

Remember when a few weeks until Christmas seemed like an eternity? Oh the anticipation of the big day!  

When our children were young, we didn’t put the wrapped presents under the tree until after they were all tucked in on Christmas Eve.  Mainly because we didn’t want them focused on the gifts and what they were going to get but also so they wouldn’t be tempted to guess or peek.  Some surprises are worth protecting! 

I am especially feeling that excitement this year because all of our children and their families will be with us for Christmas. I started planning our time together as soon as we heard they were coming. 

Every year for the past few years, I have chosen a word to represent what I wanted for the holiday season. Last year I chose the word ‘Joy’. I focused on having a joyful season and even though we were a small group for our family, it was joyful. 

This year as we get ready to celebrate our family traditions, I have chosen the word ‘Simple’. That might seem ridiculous knowing there will be at least 21 people in our house, including 6 children under 4. Okay, it is pretty ambitious.  

But somehow I know that it will matter. Like my mother before me, I tend to go a bit overboard this time of year. I put a lot of expectations on myself and I have wanted things to be more perfect than peaceful, but this year I’m committed.

So here’s my plan.  

Simple means simple. I am crossing things off my list that will add stress to this season of joy. I don’t have to decorate every surface of my house. Some of the decorations will stay in their boxes.  Every meal doesn’t have to be impressive. There will be lots of pizza. 

I will purchase and make fewer gifts. If ‘gifts’ is your love language this might be hard.  Gifters need to find the perfect present for everyone on their list. We have a few of these in our family. We draw names every year (big family hint) and our children, who turn everything into a competition, work hard to “out gift” each other. The winning gifts are not the most expensive but the most thoughtful.  Simple is the biggest blessing.  

I will be present.These moments I will have with my family will come to an end all too soon. They will return to their homes in other states and countries. I will spend every moment I have with them.  

If your children are small, you already know how fleeting the years will be. Being present in the moments matter. The way you live these special times together helps to shape your family identity.  

These memories will become an integral part of their futures and what their families will look like. Let their memories be of you simply enjoying togetherness. They might remember a few special gifts but they will really remember and cherish those quiet and noisy moments together.  Keeping it simple eliminates all that pressure and stress perfection wants to put on us. 

When the Son of God was born in that smelly stable so long ago, nothing about it was perfect and yet everything was. He came for us. He came to be with us and to redeem us. 

That is how simple the Gospel really is.  I hope your Christmas reflects that simplicity. Whether your family is large or you are alone, you can marvel in HIs perfect Gift. He came for you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hidden Meaning

Hidden Meaning

By Jacqi Ballough

In the center of our home, an evergreen Christmas tree covered with lights and cherished ornaments collected throughout the years is one of the first holiday decorations up. Once the tree is fully lit and adorned, the final touch takes team effort: a red star. Since my son was a toddler, he has climbed upon Daddy’s shoulders and while giggling with delight, set a red star on top. It is a family tradition. 

In fact, I am that person who gets so excited about Christmas that our tree goes up Thanksgiving week. And yes, I love listening to Christmas music beginning that week as well, and buying gifts, arranging the Nativity scene, preparing greeting cards, baking, and hanging the advent calendar! I love all of it! 

Why? It all points to Jesus! 

As a young mother, I yearned to share the true meaning of Christmas to our son and not become lost in materialism. Unfortunately, I didn’t know much but was ready to find out! By God’s grace, I had a friend who gave me a book, The ADVENTure of Christmas, by Lisa Whelchel. It explains the Biblical roots and significance of many of our traditions, even candy canes and Old Saint Nick. Through its short stories and simple holiday crafts, I have learned and taught both young and old for years. 

For instance, did you know circa 700 AD a missionary named Winfrid (Saint Boniface) was supposedly the first person to use the triangular shape of the evergreen as an object lesson symbolic of the Holy Trinity (God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit)? The color green represents everlasting life and the point at the top sets our gaze to heaven. 

And have you noticed the boughs of the tree extend like Jesus’s arms on the cross, reminding us of his loving sacrifice? For us He came, and for us He died bearing “our sins in His body on the tree (the cross), so that we might die to sin and live for righteousness.” (1 Peter 2:24)

Another fascinating legend is of Martin Luther’s contribution to our tradition. He was walking home one December evening amazed by the beauty of God’s creation and the stars in the night sky reflecting onto the evergreen forest. He was filled with awe and wanted to re-create the scene for his family. Therefore, he chopped down a tree, took it home, and set it in the center. Then in an attempt to mimic the stars reflecting onto the trees, he placed lit candles on the boughs. This is a wonderful illustration of how the heavens declare the Glory of God and Jesus is the Light of the World. 

And why do we place the tree in the center of our home? Because our lives are to be centered around Christ. Our actions, words, and heart. He is our salvation, hope, and future. Merry CHRISTmas!

 

 

Just Breathe

Just Breathe

By: Robin Houde

Do you ever find yourself striving to please others? As a woman I have often postponed spending time with God in order to take care of or do something for someone else. 

The bible is filled with stories of women who went against what was thought to be acceptable behavior. These women challenged societal standards as they followed Jesus. Mary of Bethany had a desire to know more about Jesus. She sat at his feet to listen to His word and ignored her chores. When her sister, Martha came into the room to fetch her and scold her for not helping out in the kitchen, Jesus pretty much told Martha that she worried too much.

Luke 10:40 -42 (NKJV)-  Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached him and said, "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore, tell her to help me." And Jesus answered and said to her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chose that good part, which will not be taken away from her."

Martha was the type of woman who showed her loved for others by serving. Mary however, showed her love and devotion to Jesus by sitting at his feet, listening and learning.

As Mary drank in Jesus' living water, her sister was fretting about getting dinner on the table and cleaning up the mess. It was Martha's natural desire to make sure that everyone else's needs were met but deep in her heart she was becoming frustrated and discouraged. She seemed to feel like Jesus didn't care about her either. How many of us go through life acting and feeling just like Martha? We get so caught up with making sure the needs of others are met that we end up feeling disappointed and alone. When we don't put our trust in God, we become frustrated and stressed out about how many tasks we need to complete. 

Think about the last time you flew on an airplane. As you were getting ready for takeoff the airline staff most likely went through some sort of safety briefing with the passengers. Part of it would have been demonstrating how to buckle your seatbelt and put on your air mask. They always say to put your own air mask on first, then assist others with theirs. This is because we need to have breath in our own lungs in order to help others breathe. We, as believers, have the breath of God in our lungs. If we allow ourselves to soak in God's refreshing word of truth, and if we allow Him to fill us with His Holy Spirit on a regular basis, we'll be so much more equipped to 'save' others. 

God wants you to know that your desire to serve others is important and valuable, however, knowing Him and being in His awesome presence should take priority over everything else. 

Matthew 6:33 (NKJV) - But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added to you.

 

Is Thank You Enough?

Is Thank You Enough?

By Mavis Tipton

Please and Thank You, two little phrases we learn before we can talk, and among some of the first words we say.

In the book “Good Manners, Matter” it tells us that 4 out of 25 good manners we learn tell us to say ‘thank you.’ 

What other words can express thank you, like ‘thank you?’  I don’t about you but sometimes it is difficult to find other words that express what is my heart.

Thank you can be an incredibly powerful pair of words, especially when the person you are thanking really needs to hear them and even better when it isn’t expected.

We all like to hear ‘Thank You’ for the things we do for others, even when we don’t need it or expect it.  It reassures us the act of kindness was needed and appreciated, and cherished.

Being thankful expresses gratitude, being grateful and blessed.

No matter how you may try to express ‘thank you’ differently – it still comes back to those two words.  How powerful they are.

Gratitude helps you to grow and expand; gratitude brings joy and laughter into your life and into the lives of those around you.

Words escape us when we are to trying to say ‘thank you,’ differently and yet ‘thank you,’ is all that is needed and speaks volumes. Thank you shows respect.

How we respond back is important as well. Sometimes ‘thank you,’ makes us feel uncomfortable, but we need to welcome the expression and let the person know their happiness has brought us joy.  “I was happy to do it.”  “I know you would do the same for me or someone else.”

So why am I writing about “Is Thank you Enough?”, because I was in a setting where we were praying, and as this person prayed, they began thanking the Lord over and over, and in the midst of praying said, “Lord is thank you enough?”  Immediately the Lord spoke to me and said “Yes, it is when it comes from the heart.” 

The Bible is full of scriptures that tell us to ‘give thanks.’  They instruct us to praise and thank the Lord.  The Lord delights in the praises of His people.

1 Chro. 23:30 “And each morning and evening they stood before the Lord to sing songs of ‘thanks and praise to Him.”

In this scripture praisehalalmeans to praise, to thank; rejoice, boast about someone.  Halulis the root from which “hallelujah; is formed.  The phrase is a command:  hallelu-Jah (all of you must praise Jah). Also derived from halalis tehillah.  A tehillahis a praise, a psalm, or a song.  The Hebrew title of the Book of Psalms is Tehillim, literally “Praises.”  

The Lord created us to praise and give thanks. When it is done from the heart He never grows tired of hearing it…and yes, it is enough

As we celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas with expressions of praise and thank you, may each recipient know without a shadow of a doubt it is coming from our heart.  And if you aren’t quite there with it coming from your heart, do it in faith. Please don’t stop with the holidays, may we put into practice every day the following quote. 

Christine Caine says: “Let’s choose gratitude as our attitude.”

Happy Thanksgiving 

And

Merry Christmas

 

On The Radio

A Radio Message from God

By Denise Schmeer

Vacations are great!  There we were my husband and I, driving up I-95 to our final destination – Lake Lure, North Carolina.  The radio was tuned to a Christian station and we were happily singing along with the songs.  Eventually the announcer came on and, seemly without warning, posed this question: “What if tomorrow, we woke up with only the things we thanked God for today?”  

WHAT??  WAIT!!  What did he say?  WOW – to say that his words made my eyes pop out of my head is an understatement . . . a most startling thought for my vacation-focused mind!

Immediately, I found myself assessing what I had thanked God for yesterday.  Then, WAIT, I thought . . . Did I even remember to thank God for anything yesterday? My mind began to race.  I imaged, did I thank God for my children . . . my husband . . . our home . . . the food on our table . . . the country we live in . . . our Church family . . . the clothes on my back . . . every breath I took . . . our neighbors . . . the list in my head went on and on.  Finally, I calmed down, but what “food for thought!” I mean, are we remembering to be thankful in our daily conversations with our Heavenly Father, or are we just giving God a shopping/laundry list of things we need from Him?  How does that verse go?  Rejoice always, pray continuously, and in ALL things give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.  (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

God’s will for us is to give thanks in ALL things . . . Hmmmm . . . not just the good things, but in ALL things.  There must be a reason the Scripture says “all things.”  Perhaps because the hard things are what help us grow? The tough roads are what strengthen us and the rough patches are what open our eyes to see our blessing more clearly. As God walks with us through the trials of life, our faith increases, our hearts grow softer, His light shines brighter in us and through us. 

So, I will give thanks for “Mr. Radio Announce” and his wise and thought-provoking question:  “What if tomorrow, we woke up with only the things we thanked God for today?”  

Well, as for me, from now on, when my head hits the pillow and I close my eyes for the night, I am saying to God . . . “Thank you, God today – for everything and I do mean absolutely, everything!”

Be The Light

Be the Light

By Audrey Botts

 A few years ago, I was debating whether I should stay at my current place of employment.  I had been there almost 20 years and I felt like I needed a change.  

The working conditions were getting unbearable and I would come home drained and stressed from dealing with all the negativity in that environment.   The heavy workload was putting a strain on the few employees.  Our pay scale was low compared to other hospitals and our salaries had not changed in several years.  Employees were getting tired of the low wages, while other places were paying more…so they left.   

So, you may ask why was I still there?  Well, during this time I asked the Lord if I should seek employment elsewhere.   I waited to see if he gave me the “thumbs up” to go, but I heard nothing.  

There were rumors that the employees who had left were getting higher salaries than what they were getting at our facility.  I was envious and I wanted to leave too, but I still was not given the okay to leave. 

Then one day, I heard the Lord say to me; “Have I not provided for you all these years that you were alone?  Were you ever in need?  I will be the one who provides for you, not your job.  Your job is to be a light in this dark place.”  

“You are the light of the world.  A town built on a hill that cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl.  Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”  Matthew 5:14-16

I was so humbled by his loving words.  His words spoke life to me and showed me what my purpose was in this place.  

I never saw my workplace as a mission field, I only saw it as my career, a place to earn an income.  It had nothing to do with my faith, but I then realized everything we do in life has to do with our faith in Jesus Christ.  To share the gospel and be a light to the dark places.

I was so humbled by his loving words, where a realization came over me that this was my mission field. This is where God wanted me.   I asked the Lord for forgiveness and I stayed in my current job.  

A few months went by and I was called to our lab director’s office.   My director said “I had been underpaid for many years” and gave me a 10% increase in my salary.   Wow!  God is good! He doesn’t forget to take care of his flock.

My workplace is still stressful and it has its ups and downs, but it is where the Lord has me to be His light.  Do you know where your mission field is?  It’s probably right before your eyes.  

 

Guard Your Heart at All Times

Guard Your Heart at All Times

By Debbie Walker

My summer discovery was poison sumac.  It is a plant that has the same allergic reaction as poison ivy; rash, swelling, itchiness…NOT fun at all.  So, I have been an itchy, irritated mess on medication!  I got it while helping my Dad clear his driveway. I have thought a couple of times, “I was helping God!  Why this?” 

One thing that I have learned is to replace the question of, “Why?” with, “What do you want me to learn from this?” and, “What do I do with what I have learned?” 

So, what have I learned?  Well, I got this unknowingly.  I knew I was cleaning out plants or weeds, but I didn’t know what type I was clearing.  I went to town so to speak pulling out these weeds. I did not guard my skin at all or avoid this at all.  I know how to identify poison ivy so I avoided that plant. But I didn’t know what poison sumac looked like so I didn’t avoid it.

Our daily lives are often like this. We are careful to say the right things and bring encouragement in situations that we know are “toxic”. But we need to be careful in all situations to be positive and bring encouragement.  We need the Lord’s help and to guard our hearts so that we can bring the encouragement to others.  And to not be brought down with the poisons of this life that destroy.  

Proverbs 4:23 says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”  Out of our hearts flows life so we should always be guarding our hearts so that we have good things coming out. We need to do this at all times so as to not be filled with the toxins of the world.  We are currently living in the world but that doesn’t mean we have to be the same irritated mess that we see around us.  Be the positive to others that we want to see. 

 

Warrior

The Warrior

By Robin Houde

I would classify my previous relationships with people as complacent. I tolerated people I didn’t love them. I mean yes there were close family and friends that I obviously loved unconditionally. I’m talking about difficult people, those that aren’t easy to love. 

There were many areas in my life that were lacking. I had a feeling that something was missing but I wasn’t sure what it was. I once thought that it was others, not me. That I wasn’t getting what I needed from other people. Not the other way around. 

It wasn’t until the Lord spoke to me one day. He reminded me that I’m commanded to love as Jesus loves, with mercy and grace. He said, “Those around you may not deserve it but neither do you.” 

At first I was really offended and I pled my case to Him. I defended myself by reminding Him that I’m involved in my church and that I do serve people, mostly with a smile on my face. 

I went on to explain that I’m very patient and let people cut in front of me in line at the grocery store as well as in traffic without getting angry. I wasn’t sure what more He wanted from me. 

It was then that He said, “I want your heart. I want you to LOVE it. I want you toLOVE THEM! If you don’t love them then you don’t love me.”  Wow! I was blown away to say the least.  1 John 4:8 (NIV): “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”

I felt so convicted and ashamed that I had missed the mark. At that point, I fell to my knees and I vowed to make a conscious effort to love like Jesus. To love the unlovable. Love those that don’t deserve it. 

Of course, this lesson was two-fold. I also learned that with love comes forgiveness, and with forgiveness comes freedom! Love and forgiveness not only frees the one that receives this precious gift, but it also frees the one that it comes from. 

Mark 11:25 (NIV): “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything againstanyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”

Without love and forgiveness in my heart, my circumstances often had me feeling overwhelmed and defeated. Being a warrior at heart, this did not settle well with me so I fought. I built up these enormously tall, strong walls. I armed myself with weapons such as sass,sarcasmand attitude.

These weapons held me captive and prevented me from experiencing deep, loving, mature relationships and also kept me from my true potential in the Lord. 

You don’t have to be perfect or have it all together but you have to be spiritually open to the things of God or you won’t be able to hear His voice. 

If you’re praying and it doesn’t seem like your prayers are being heard or if you no longer hear His voice, you may want to check yourself. God’s Word commands that we do fight battles but not battles against flesh and blood. He also tells us to arm ourselves with weapons of warfare but not worldly weapons:  Ephesians 6:10-13 (NIV):

So be a warrior, a warrior for the kingdom of God. Fight for your spouse, your children, your family, your friends. Fight for all that is good in the eyes of the Lord. And the Lord will bless you!  Deuteronomy 31:6you.” 

What's In a Name Anyway?

What’s in a Name, Anyway?

Denise Schmeer

My mother, Delphine Quinones Preziosi died on Good Friday, April 6, 2012 . . . just 66 days after my dad, Fortunato Preziosi.  They had been married 63+ years.  

Neither of them went by their “formal names.”  My mom never liked her name.  It was an unusual and somewhat uncommon name, so she shortened it to Del and everyone called my dad, Fred.  

I adored my Dad!  The relationship with my mom was . . . well, complicated.  I could never really seem to be the daughter she wanted to love. How do I know this?  Because, whenever I did something “out of line” or not to her liking, I would hear, “If you don’t listen to me, I won’t love you anymore.”  YIKES! Really, mom!!  

Nevertheless, on Thursday, April 7, 2016 while driving to work, I cried out to God.  “I miss my mom so much!  Please God, I just want to hold her hand one more time, give her one more hug.”  That was it.  By all accounts, a crazy prayer . . . but remember, “with God, all things are possible.” (Matthew19:26)

So fast forward to the next week, Tuesday, April 12, 2016 – a number of churches in Vero Beach were gathering at the Indian River County Fairgrounds for corporate prayer.  No praise and worship, no preaching, no speaker . . . just prayer – “A Scared Assembly.”

I arrived early, but another couple in our Cell Group arrived even earlier.  They chose a great spot for our group, but decided . . . no, they needed to move to another section.  So they did. 

We all sat together and waited for the rest to arrive. It was really starting to fill up and the friendly chatter was getting louder.  

While waiting we said hello to the people behind us.  I struck up quite a conversation with this older woman, who – it turned out – had just moved from California.  She had family in Vero Beach and had been to Central Assembly a number of times.  She said she thought she recognized me as part of the Praise & Worship Dancers. No, I love to dance, but I was not part of that group.  

By now, the room was really filling up and the chatter was even louder.  But remembering I had not introduced myself to this sweet older woman behind me, I turned around, took her hand in mind and leaned in to say my name was Denise and how much I had enjoyed talking to her.  She said her name was “xxxxx.”  What I thought I heard was impossible!  “What did you say your name was?” 

“Dell,” she said, “you know, like Farmer in the Dell.” I started to shake and sob.  Still holding her hand, I asked, “Could I just give you a hug?”  “Of course,” she said.  Then though my sobs, I tried to explain to her my earlier prayer to God.   

And so here was my prayer answered, a gift given. I mean, really . . . what were the chances I would be sitting in that exact chair right in front of her – a woman just relocated from California – a woman with my mother’s name – who thought I was a dancer?  By the way, did I mention, it was my mom who insisted I have dance lessons.  

The Scared Assembly Gathering that night was amazing!  Afterwards we all went off in different directions, but the powerful impact of that miracle remains with me.  

On the drive home, I once again began to shake and sob at the memory of the moment when Dell told me her name – remembering the hug I gave her and her hand nestled in mind.

God’s miracles happen all around us, every day . . . even the seemingly impossible is within our grasp, if we just ask, believe, have faith, and then wait.

“Now to the One who can do infinitely more than all we can ask or imagine according to the power that is working among us.” (Ephesians 3:20 ISV)

Running

Running

By Jacqi Ballough

The white line was just 30 feet away. I kept telling myself I could make it. I can do it. When running, the cliché of “I can do all things through Christ” comes out, although I was gasping for air and my body was undergoing a horrid suffering. 

My goal was the white stop-sign line. Now only a few strides away, I stopped to walk. I had literally been running for less than a mile and at every street had made these white lines my target, thinking that once I was there I could walk for a minute and then do it again.  

My problem: I would always stop exactly four or five steps shy of the finish line. Why?

Was it that I loathe running? Give me Pilates, planks, or a step aerobics class and I am an energizer bunny, but running makes me feel like I am going to die. I honestly don’t like it but know the cardiovascular exercise helps my heart. Unfortunately, it seemed my heart was not in it. 

During these attempts to run, I talk to the Lord in my spirit. I had been thinking about the wonderful job opportunity that I was offered. It was not only very financially rewarding but was also in a beautiful, elite place. I would be in a position of authority and was praised by the people I worked for. It was a “dream job,” but my heart was unsettled. 

Again, I asked, why? 

The Lord answered as I stopped before the finish line, “Finish the race.” 

I knew what the Lord had called me to do 11 years ago when our son was born. I had asked for a child and promised to raise him up to know Jesus. When it came time to send him to preschool, again I was reminded to train him up in the Lord with homeschooling. Now in middle school, the Lord is telling me to “finish the race.” 

The temptation to stop and run to a more glamorous job is real, just like the rich man who was told to sell all he had and follow Jesus, but dejectedly turned his back on Jesus instead. I knew I had to trust and obey God’s will for me to continue teaching our son. 

My reward doesn’t come with worldly glamor but with watching my son fall in love with Jesus. Watching him minister to the elderly neighbors, witness creation to his friends, and tell me his revelations from God’s word. These are things I have to treasure in my heart to finish the race well and ward off the weariness.

Thankfully shortly after saying “no” to the “dream job” the Lord sent a wonderful momma to encourage me in the race as well. She has been at it far longer than I, and I thank God He connected us.

Hebrews 12:1-3 states, 

Since we are surrounded by such a huge cloud of witnesses to the life of faith, let us 
strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily hinders our progress. And 
let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from start to finish. He was willing to die a shameful death on the cross because of the joy He knew would be His afterward.….Think about all He enduredso that you don’t become weary and give up.