Sunday, November 17, 2013

Between a Mother and a Daughter: Mirror Image

To My Darling Daughter,
God sees you in the fullness of His purpose. Although you may struggle with your self-image, I implore you to love what He had created. He does not make mistakes, but makes all things beautiful. Only by seeing yourself through his eyes can you appreciate and accept your unique qualities and joyfully fulfill His calling on your life. You should be excited that He chose you to contribute in such a way...I know I am!
"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful, I know that full well."
Psalm 139:14 (NIV)

Love,
Mama



Dear Mama,
The world is constantly telling me what I should be and how I should look. In this day and age of the media persistently vying for my attention, I have to learn to tune it out. If that means refraining from particular magazines, blogs, TV shows, etc., I will do my part in eliminating it from my life. God crafted me in His hands, formed my being with the reflection of His image. In Christ alone can my true purpose be revealed and the light of His beauty shine forth in my life.

Love,
Your Daughter

Sunday, September 15, 2013

His Love For Us

Buried within the pages of Scripture are the teachings of Jesus, covering a multitude of subjects, that are applicable today. To better reflect Jesus, we need to sit at His feet, as Mary did (Luke 10:39) and glean from the Teacher. I believe His greatest teaching was the Good News that man would be reconciled back to God, through His death and Resurrection, and His promise to come again.

Because of the Fall (Genesis 3:1-24), God sent His only begotten Son to be the sacrificial Lamb who would atone for man’s sin and reconcile Him to God. It is no wonder Jesus dedicated His ministry and teachings to share the Good News (Mark 1:14-15). He had a love for the lost and admonished people to repent of their sins (Matthew 4:17). Early in His ministry he began His ethical training, better known as the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:1-7:29), to anyone who claimed Jesus as their King. The first portion of the Sermon, the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12), provide wisdom and guidance for our everyday lives. Compatible with Jesus’ teaching style, the Beatitudes are in parable-like form. Another meaningful teaching parable, so pertinent today, is the Prodigal Son found in Luke 15:11-21. Jesus’ message about restoring a rebellious son brandishes His affection for the lost. This love Jesus demonstrated for sinners fueled the fire for His rejection by the Pharisees (Luke 15:2). They had no tolerance for these unworthy souls, because they erroneously believed that good works warranted God’s favor (Matthew 23:5). The Apostle Paul would remind us otherwise in Ephesians 2:8-9 (NKJV), “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; [it is] the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Jesus’ teachings are paramount to me as a parent and a disciple. As a follower of Christ, I am a work in progress and strive to manifest each day the godly principles taught by my Lord. My family will attest that I am not shy when sharing my faith and often will engage those I encounter. I have met mothers of prodigals and understand their agony over that part of their flesh who has wandered away. The parable of the prodigal provides hope knowing that Christ’s pain for their son or daughter is greater and rest can be found knowing He will lovingly receive and restore these children when they return from the pigpen. The wisdom one can glean from Jesus’ teachings is timeless. With the moral decay eating away at our society, hope can be found at the foot of the cross.

In the final hours before His crucifixion Jesus prayed (Luke 22:42). He knew the time was near for Him to “drink” the cup of wrath and judgment of God. In His Father’s loving way, He sent Jesus an angel to strengthen Him (Luke 22:43). With fabricated charges, not deserving of death, Pilate planned to punish and release Jesus (Luke 23:13-22). However, the crowd demanded He be crucified (Luke 23:23-24) and so it was. It is interesting to note what Jesus said about His death, as recorded in John 10:18 (NLT), “No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again. For this is what my Father has commanded.” He came to finish the work of His Father’s plan of redemption. Upon arriving at Calvary (Luke 23:33 NKJV), which means “Place of a Skull” (Matthew 27:33 NKJV), Jesus was crucified between two criminals after being beaten and scourged beyond recognition as prophesied in Isaiah 52:14. How fitting at His moment of death for Him to exhibit an unfailing love as He asked His Father to forgive His executioners (Luke 23:34). Three days later He rose (Luke 24:6-7) so we could claim victory over death. His shed blood was our ransom and though our “sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow” (Isaiah 1:18 NKJV). While I did not bear witness, the Resurrection has made a permanent mark on me as my sins are paid in full. Still, the image of His horrific death brings me to tears. Realizing what His death on the cross means to me further drives my desperation to share the Gospel. We should all have a desire to proclaim His sacrificial love to minister to our lost and dying world. Daily, I am reminded how our society falls short of His glory (Romans 3:23), yet live with His undying promise of spending eternity with Him.

As Christians we anticipate our Lord’s return. The appointed time, predicted but unexpected (Matthew 24:44) like a thief in the night (2 Peter 3:10), will be commanding of everyone’s attention. Before His death, Jesus spoke of His return and forewarned us not to be deceived by false prophets (Matthew 24:4-5). As I look around my world today, I can attest to the signs He painted that would foreshadow His return. On the news we hear of wars, nations rising against nations, and an increase in lawlessness (Matthew 24:6-12). As society continues to turn its back on God’s ideologies my heart breaks. With the stage being set for the trumpets to sound (Matthew 24:31) I remain vigilant to share His Good News and return.

God’s love for humanity surpasses mankind’s fall into sin and reconciles us to God. Jesus, our Redeemer, should be our example of how to live. There is no greater love than to teach us how to live in a fallen world, to die on a cross and to be raised from the dead, just to restore our fellowship to God and return for His children. 

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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

"Between a Mother and a Daughter"

Join us as we begin our new series entitled "Between a Mother and a Daughter".

Older women are exhorted in Titus 2:3-5 to not only be godly examples but to teach younger women. During our time together we will discover the heartfelt wisdom from a mother to her daughter and in turn be enlightened by the daughter's response that flows from the Lord abiding within.  We pray you will join us and be encouraged.  Also, we challenge you to re-evaluate your relationships and purpose in your heart to create a kindred spirit "between a mother and a daughter".


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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A Painful Journey Towards Healing

There I lay sprawled out on the floor, as if I had just taken the final blow to my stomach in a boxing match. Tears filled my eyes and the floodgates unleashed before I had time to react. Hopelessly, I cried out in anguish…although no one would come to my rescue. Despite all my questions lacking answers, the one I kept circulating in my head was, “why”?

WHY would God allow this to happen?

WHY would He allow such agony to rip my heart into thousands of tiny little pieces?


If He loved me so much, WHY didn’t He prevent this?

Through the days, weeks, and months that would follow, my nerves became raw. I felt exposed, broken, and vulnerable…the result of any toxic relationship. I developed into quite an expert at “faking it” with a smile even though the pain inside was shaking me to my core.  My thoughts turned out to be my worst enemy as I battled between what was truth and the lies that managed to get tangled up somewhere in between. Depression sunk me further into the darkness as the struggles and fears, I fought so hard to bury as a little girl, snuck in through the cracks and reared their ugly heads.

Something within me shifted and although I knew the correct response, I didn’t want a Sunday school answer.

How on earth did I think I was strong enough to handle this on my own?

Have you ever felt that way? You know where to seek healing (in Christ and His Word), but you don’t run there. Maybe you don’t want to hear what He has to say or know that in order to receive healing there is action that must take place on your part. Perhaps you don’t want the responsibility that comes with surrender.

Sometimes we crave just a little more time to wallow in our self-pity, but God does not desire for us to stay there. He loves us too much for that!

“We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed,
but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God,
We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed.”
2 Corinthians 4:8-9 (NLT)

Even when I was at my lowest point in life, God remained faithfully by my side. Only when I stepped away and gave Him control over my circumstances did my actions warrant the beginning of a journey towards healing. Admittedly, it came through painful cleansing. God cut straight to the chase and began to purge my heart of all the lies I had held onto for so many years.

While the world would whisper one thing, I began to hear the sweet promises echo in my mind and heart that He had nestled in His Word. I began to write scripture He placed on my heart onto note cards and place them all around my room so that I would constantly have His truth at the forefront of my mind. My prayer of needing to “feel” His love more was answered and every day He was finding new ways to woo me, drawing me in like a groom to His bride. I was captivated. Intoxicated. His love for me made me giggle like a child!  Slowly, but surely, He was changing me from the inside out. I didn’t think my heart could ever heal properly from the turmoil it went through. I thought it had been damaged far too great, but His loving hands were gentle and healed even the slightest of cracks.

Though the pain was great, God made everything beautiful in its time (Ecclesiastes 3:11).  He gave me a new heart and restored joy like I had never seen.  As the years have gone by He has shown me how even through the ruthless of circumstances, His glory can be magnified and He can use my story to encourage other who have walked down a path just the same.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort; who comforts us in all our affliction so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (NASB)

I think we all go through struggles, albeit at different times and with diverse circumstances, in life. We all toil, with pain that seems beyond our strength of coping, and all ask, “why”.  When we go through difficulties, be assured God will be with us. When the storms of life are crashing in all around, we can rely on His strength to get us through and those experiences can be used to encourage others who are going through similar things in life.


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Sunday, March 17, 2013

Self-Centered vs. God-Centered (Day Thirty-One)

Today we conclude our journey of "31 Days of Love". We hope that you have enjoyed our voyage together and have gleaned more about the true meaning of God's love just as much as we have.

For our final post on love we will be exploring what it means to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength.



"And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength." Mark 12:30 (NLT)


We are to love God FULLY - with every fiber of our being. He must be the center of our lives, but as fallen human beings with a sinful nature too often we put "self" as our focal point. Look at the world around you...most people are living self-centered lives in which their needs, wants, and desires are all they care about.

You can witness this on numerous occasions throughout the day, whether it be someone holding up traffic in the intersection because they don't have the courtesy to wait for the next light or while visiting the "Happiest Place on Earth" a group of people and all their friends manage to cut in front of you.


People are so self-absorbed - it's all about them.

Here in this verse each particular word holds a distinct connotation...    


Heart: Embodies the physical, emotional, and spiritual life of human beings. It is the birthplace of our feelings and emotions. When we love God with all our heart we love Him entirely and personally.

Mind: Refers to our intellect. The center where we reason, think, and learn. In order to love God with all our mind we must study Him and in doing so we continue to mature and gain knowledge of all He is.


Soul: Indicates the complete life of a person - your soul is both who and what you are. Loving God with all of our soul means that we allow Him to differentiate who and what we are.


Strength: Implies the energy you put forth in your work, job, etc. When we love God with all our strength we work the best we can, doing all our work unto Him and not man (Col. 3:23).


Many of us tend to connect to God and love Him in one area while still falling short in the remaining, but when we put the above four pieces together we are loving Him with all of ourselves. However, if we are putting "self" at the center of our life, our existence will be hollow and full of dissatisfaction.



Who does your life revolve around?


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Monday, February 18, 2013

No Fear, Just Love (Day Thirty)

To fear or not to fear?

"Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.  We love each other because He first loved us." 1 John 4:18, 19 (NLT)


To fear God out of "awe" or "reverence" is the appropriate admiration we should have for our Savior, but here in this verse John is speaking of the kind of fear that robs us of our joy and involves torment. This kind of fear is in contrast to the relationship we should have with our Father. When we demonstrate anxiety of this nature, it only shows that we are not complete and mature in His love.


We have no need to fear our past, for God has erased it (Psalm 103:12).


...no need to fear our present, for He loves us, is watching over us, and will not allow anything to enter into our lives unless it is for our eternal good.


...no need to fear our future, for He has made a promise to be with us to the end of the age (Matt. 28:20) and His Spirit resides within us (John 14:17).



His perfect love dismisses any fear we would have.


As verse nineteen states, "We love each other because He first loved us."


Do you believe that?!

Ponder that idea.
Mull it over in your mind.

The creator of all loved us while we were still sinners (Rom. 5:8).


Before we came to faith in Him, He loved us.


Before the worlds were created...



HE LOVED!


Our love for God is always in response to His love toward us. 
He is the motivator and in return we answer.


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Sunday, December 23, 2012

His Love is Better Than Life (Day Twenty-Nine)


“Because your love is better than life, 
my lips will glorify you.
Psalm 63:3 (NLT)

You can see this every day if you look closely.  Empty people.  Amidst this season of glitter and lights, of parties, shopping, and gifts…empty.

Perhaps you have bumped into one such individual as you make your way through a crowded store in search of the perfect gift that you know will make a loved one happy. 

We see people everywhere in pursuit of a rich life full of blessings…all of which are only temporal.  Maybe you have thought, “If only I can get the promotion, then I will have enough money to make me happy” or you find yourself at a local market in front of the cashier spending your hard earned cash, in lieu of paying your utility bill, for lottery tickets that are sure to be winners.  Life keeps happening and we continue to desire in our heart rather than enjoying what is in front of us.  Time ticks away…

Let me present to you the stark reality…

absent of God’s love is nothing more than death.

Sobering, isn’t it? 

Many people spend their lifetime pursuing worldly blessings that possess no eternal value.  They are in essence living in the shadow of death and forfeiting the light.

After the seasonal gifts have been unwrapped and the feast partaken, many will sink back into a mire of hopelessness and pain.  They cannot find a reason for rejoicing.  But, hark! 

There is indeed hope!  As the Angel spoke… 

“Do not be afraid; for behold,
I bring you good news of great joy 
which will be for all the people.”
Luke 2:10 (NASB)

Joy for everyone!

“for today in the city of David there has been born 
for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”
Luke 2:11 (NASB)

There is one more present for you.  Our Heavenly Father placed this present on the tree and not under it.  He awaits your receipt of this free gift that pledges an everlasting benefit…

His Son.

When He is living within our hearts only then will His LOVE overshadow the obstacles of life and will we be able to sing praises to Him no matter what circumstances we are in.  

It is at this place we can claim victory!

Forever His,
Anita