Friday, April 26, 2013

What a Friend

I have this friend who is unlike any other. She has a birthday tomorrow and yesterday I considered writing a post all about her.

This friend has been such a blessing in my life I felt that you all needed at least a piece of her. The problem I encountered however, was my lack of ability to truly represent her before you. There is so much to be said about my friend, and I knew I could never share her with you in words alone. So I scratched the idea and decided to just enjoy her myself this weekend surrounded by thousands of women being washed in the Word together.

And then I stopped by Lisa-Jo's Five Minute Friday. And what do ya know… today's word- FRIEND. I'm working on hearing God's voice and knowing when He prompts. I think this was a prompting. Several promptings actually.
So, Five minutes writing all about my friend, Tresta- here goes-

It all started when I was nineteen, newly married, and a confused, lost, lonely new mommy. By miraculous happenings, I went to church. It was a teeny tiny little body but the people who filled it had large hearts with wide open doors. And she was one of those people. I knew she had something I didn't. Something I needed.

Flash forward to months in Mexico and returning home with nowhere to live. We were 'missionaries' and God was calling us back. There she was again- welcoming us in like we were a part of her family. She never wavered in opening her heart and her home.

When I struggled to homeschool and knew I was incapable, she reeled me in, ministered to me and helped me minister to my children. She taught me to teach and she listened to my fears and doubts. She cried with me and prayed with me. She was a light that lit the way to the One who could really strengthen and guide me.

Today she is a mom, wife, friend, and disciple I look up to and praise God for. She's the kind of woman that you get to know intimately- to know the real behind the outside shell- and come to love more and more.

I don't get to see her enough, but I follow her written thoughts regularly and never cease to be blessed, encouraged, and challenged by her thoughts and convictions.

That was five minutes, and I was right- I cannot do this friend justice with keyboard and simple words. I think she'd be okay with that though, because she's a simple girl herself and wouldn't want me to spend more than five minutes shining the spotlight on her. Please visit her at and be filled!  

Lisa-Jo offers the challenge week after week: take a measly five minutes and write. No over thinking, no backtracking, no ‘wait, that’s not spiritual enough, and I can’t share that in cyber city’ mentality. Only writing. Writing for five minutes and risking the outcome. {and don’t forget to spend some time commenting on the post of the person who linked up just before you.}

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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Writing When It's Not Worth Reading

I have such a need to reflect on my thoughts, chew them up for a while, think on them some more, and then spill it all out here somehow. My intent is for you to consider with me. My desire is that everything rolling around in my thoughts will pour out perfectly through fingers and keyboard, inspiring you to reflect, think, think some more, and then come back and converse with me.

The problem is, I'm never completely settled in these random thoughts of mine because I'm constantly learning and deciphering, and changing my mind, and then forgetting and having to learn again. So I set myself down intending to get bare before you; to be raw and real, but then I realize the issue isn't quite right within myself and the thoughts I thought I needed to share are only half thoughts and not really worth sharing at all.

And then there are the other bloggers. You know the ones! They take something as meaningless as a lifeless stick, or the neighbor's ugly cat, and turn it into life changing words that convict the heart and speak to the soul. Their poetic language produces emotions within us that we're not quite sure how to manage. They reveal truth to the reader unlike anything else could. They leave us feeling refreshed, refined, replenished, and somehow hungering for more all at the same time.

Between my struggle to take a thought and stick with it long enough to form a solid conclusion, and the knowledge that there are thousands of other bloggers out there with infinitely more wisdom than I, it is impossible to deny my discouragement and lack of ability. I simply cannot compete and honestly, I don't want to.

And that's the whole point. This is not a competition. This whole site and writing thing is for the purpose of glorifying God and sharing simple things that He bothers to share with me. I want to look back and remember where He took me and how we got there. Together. I am not here to exalt myself or cause anyone to think I am something great or someone other than me.

“You will never make a good impression on other people until you stop thinking about what sort of impression you are making. Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring two pence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it... Give up yourself, and you will find your real self.” 
 C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

If I've been successful in sharing only two simple things on this site, let it be that He is everything and I am nothing. I will continue to seek His face, meditate on His Word and His truth, sporadically share my inconclusive thoughts, and pray He blesses others with my dull, unoriginal words. I will persistently set myself before a computer screen intending to share a particular idea, and watch the whole jumble of words morph into something entirely different, wondering all the while how and why this is happening. But I will write because, as Peter and John would say, for I cannot but speak the things which I have seen and heard.  

I appreciate all of you who faithfully read and offer encouragement!
Thanks for blessing me!

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Saturday, April 20, 2013

How Many Loaves Do You Have?

Matthew 6:7-12, 30-44~~~

They were not just sent- they were sent two-by-two. He commanded they take only a staff; no bread, no money, not even a change of clothes. They were given power and released. Sent to proclaim truth. So they went out and preached that people should repent. And they cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick, and healed them (Mark 6:12-13).

What a mission trip it was! What a season of growth and faith building. They experienced the power of God through them in a way you and I could never imagine. The twelve would never be the same.

Upon their return they surrounded the Sender, rejoicing in what they had done and what they had taught.  Their Master celebrated in their excitement, but didn't neglect their weariness. "Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while."

In a world full of need and want, there is no escape for Jesus. The crowd pursued and when Jesus saw them, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were like sheep not having a shepherd. So He began to teach them many things.

The day turned to evening, the crowd turned to thousands, and the disciples began to worry. "This is a deserted place, and already the hour is late. Send them away, that they may go into the surrounding country and villages and buy themselves bread; for they have nothing to eat."

"You give them something to eat."

Their response seems a little sarcastic- maybe prideful? "Shall we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread and give them something to eat?"

It was the same twelve. They taught. They healed. They cast out demons. And now they were done. Send them away Lord, and let them take care of themselves. It seems that from the moment they returned, praising themselves for the work they had done, they began taking their eyes off the One that empowered them, sent them, healed and spoke through them.

"How many loaves do you have? Go and see." It looked hopeless and impossible. Just five loaves and two fish, and over five-thousand hungry souls. 

And when He had taken the five loaves and the two fish, He looked up to heaven, blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to His disciples to set before them.

Jesus performed the miracle. He did the breaking. They did the serving. He does the miraculous, and simply allows us to participate. How is it we ever neglect to see this? How can we ever view our good works, our service to God, as some great feat we have accomplished by our own strength?

Do you praise the hammer that drives the nail, or the man that swings that hammer? Do we boast in ourselves for miracles and good works or in God for using a simple, insignificant tool; a tool that is here today and gone tomorrow?

They mustered up a measure of faith and walked into the crowd with a broken piece of bread. It was no longer a question of how to feed hungry people, but a lesson in trusting the Giver to multiply the gift. And multiply the gift He did! So much so that they fed five-thousand men plus women and children. 

They didn't feed only to satisfy their hunger. It wasn't just enough to get them by until they returned to their homes. No, they fed them so they all ate and were full.

And the Giver didn't stop there. Afterwards, the twelve took up twelve baskets full of fragments and of the fish.

He didn't leave them hungry. He didn't simply satisfy. He didn't just meet the need. He provided exceedingly abundantly above all they could ask or even imagine. The people were hungry and God filled them to overflowing. The greatest miracle- He used puffed up servants to do it.

In crediting ourselves for God's work, we cease seeing God. And when we cease seeing God, we neglect to offer the Bread of Life to those hungering for Him. Instead we send them on their way, still boasting in our hearts about the works done by our own hands. 

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Sunday, April 14, 2013

Equipping the Saints to Hear God's Voice

In a world of chaos, we crave a moment's peace. From the blaring alarm first thing each morning to the latest sitcom in the evening, we are inundated with voices and distractions, busyness and chaos. Even driving our little ones to school or soccer practice becomes a tiresome chore. Shouldn't life be more than dragging ourselves out of bed each day simply to run in circles, and falling into bed at night so we can do it all again, and again, and again?

At some point most of us come to a decision; a decision to get our priorities right, enjoy our kids more, be a better spouse, and become content and thankful for what we have. We tell God we're going to spend more time in prayer and in His Word. Oh, we have the best of intentions, and we usually begin strong. Launching forth at the start line, we are focused, and we are driven.

We set our alarm clocks earlier, peel open tired eyes, sit before our Bible sipping coffee, and waiting in expectation. We tell ourselves that this is what God wants, and this is when God speaks. And oh, how we've longed to hear His voice!

Suddenly we're unsure where to go from here. We half-hazardly flip our Bible open, hoping God will somehow turn these pages for us. We attempt to read, and we ask God what He would say to us in this moment. We try to pray and sit silently waiting for a response. Any response that will assure us He's here, He's listening, and He's speaking.

Our minds begin turning and questioning: Of course He's not speaking. Why would He when I haven't spoken to Him in so long? We are reminded of our failures and we begin to feel oh so small and insignificant next to the Almighty Creator of the universe.

We flip through more pages in our Bible and are left wondering what it all means and how it applies to us. Why do we bother with this 'talking to Jesus and hearing God's voice' thing anyway? What is the point when all we feel is condemnation and rejection? God, are you even there?

God desires so much more for us! He created us to have fellowship with Him (1 Corinthians 1:9), and to worship Him without confusion or question (John 4:23-24). When the Israelites were thirsty, and crying out in despair, God spoke to them and said

"If you will diligently heed the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statues, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the Lord who heals you." Exodus 15:26

Are you in that place of thirst and frustration? Do you desperately desire to heed the voice of the Lord your God? Do you crave more from your quiet time with Him?

Through the work of the Holy Spirit and with the conviction that every believer should know the Lord's voice and be able to quickly and easily distinguish His voice from others, God Speaks Bible was created. God Speaks Bible is a tool designed to help you better hear God's voice and better understand His Word. You will be able to easily identify every occurrence and unique way that God speaks in His Word. You will effortlessly locate God's miracles and will in turn grow in your ability to hear His voice and develop greater intimacy with God- your Creator. Learn what it means to abide in Christ and see first-hand His wondrous works.  

The study tools offered in this book will bring God's living Word to life, pointing to visions, dreams, and angelic encounters. Your daily time with God can go from frustrating and sporadic to rewarding and Spirit filled. Stop questioning God's voice in your life and start reading God's Word with purpose and understanding.

Want to help promote the reading of God's Word and encourage people to learn how to hear God's voice? Imagine a color coded study Bible and multi-media application highlighting when God speaks to you. Operation Light Force (OLF) is a ministry devoted to equipping people to do what Jesus did, setting captives free, healing and preaching. Richard Mull is the President and Founder of OLF and the General Editor of the God Speaks Bible and many other books and was featured on TV and media. Help us spread the word.

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bible, god speaks bible, hearing god, god speaking, god speaks, hearing god's voice

Friday, April 12, 2013

When Passion Brings Pain

A unique process takes place as we consume and digest foods. They enter into our bodies and bloodstreams, and soak into our pores. The good and bad are filtered and separated, and put to proper use in these bodies. I have no idea how it all works. I simply know it does. The food we digest becomes a part of us.

So it is with the Words of God. As we read them, think on them, meditate on them, read them again, and again, the power of the Word takes residence within us. When this process has begun, a change happens: we become one with the Word; the Word becomes one with us. It all sounds so christianees and religiously scandalous, I know. 

But I also know it to be fact. I know because I've experienced it. I have experienced a true passion and desire for God's Word. There are times I want to consume it more than anything; days I want spent doing nothing but soaking it in and digesting piece-by-piece. The only comparison I can make is the passionate need and yearning we have for loved ones. Those times you want to squeeze your child and never let go. When you need your spouse like you've never needed anyone. When the sight of your sleeping child stirs such an inner awareness of love that you can't pull yourself away. You wish the whole world could experience this moment. 

How do we restrain such affection? And do we really want to? Aren't these the true-life moments we live for? Isn't this what makes life worth living? And isn't this the smallest glimpse of God's inconceivable love for us? Oh how He desires to hold me for eternity. I know He looks at me as I look at my own sleeping child- in all that purity and transparency- and feels only love and adoration; a desire for nothing less than oneness.

Unfortunately, this passion comes at a price: guaranteed pain. And I'm not talking about small needle-prick pain, but terrible pain which pierces deep, leaving lasting scars. I feel it when my child is ridiculed and rejected. When my husband is misunderstood, unfairly judged, or taken advantage of. It would be crazy to say my own heart shouldn't ache with anger and sorrow simply because the offense wasn't directed at me. Just because it's not happening to me personally doesn't mean it's not happening to one that is personally mine. And I hurt as if I were the one ridiculed and misjudged. And I know I'm not alone in this cruel world of callousness and hate.

And so as a mother, daughter, or spouse, you must know the grief, anguish, and tortured pain I feel when my God is blasphemed, ridiculed, rejected, and when the very Words of His mouth are misunderstood, or used against Him. My Lord and His Word are a part of me. I have no other way to describe it except to say that when a loved one hurts, I hurt with them. And oh how I love God and His Word.

Your words were found, and I ate them,
And Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart;
For I am called by Your name,
O Lord God of hosts.  ~Jeremiah 15:16

Call it crazy and heretical, but God is a real, living, breathing Person- a Person that feels true joy, pain, and sorrow. This Person- He's living in me, abiding in me, making His home in me!!! And when He is hurt, oh how I feel that pain- pain as if inflicted upon myself; it's deep, it's raw, and it's real. For in Him I live and move and have my being.

I have treasured the words of His mouth
More than my necessary food.  ~Job 23:12

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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

What I REALLY Want for my Children

For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?
Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? ~Matt 16:26

Or what would a mama give in exchange for her child's soul? I read of God's people following after the ways of the world and sacrificing their children to demons (Psalm 106:37). Why would you do such a thing? What drives a parent to give their child over to such wickedness? The world. Fear. Doubt.

This morning I was led to pray failure for my children. Failure! Why? Because I've been trying something different during prayer lately.

Can Jesus Christ see the agony of His soul in us? He can't unless we are so closely identified with Him that we have His view concerning the people for whom we pray. May we learn to intercede so wholeheartedly that Jesus Christ will be completely and overwhelmingly satisfied with us as intercessors. ~Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest

I've been seeking/striving/learning to not use my time in prayer for prayer alone, but for worship. Can I really practice one without the other? Can I really pray in Jesus' Name without first recognizing who He is? Can I agonize with Jesus for another without becoming one with Him? A mysterious thing happens when we offer praises to Almighty. I'm not talking about out of body, mystical experiences. I'm referring to real-life changes in our thoughts, our desires, and our understanding of people and events around us.

If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire and it
shall be done for you. John 15:7

My motherly flesh has ideas about what's best for my children: academic success; a stable, high paying job; good health; a secure retirement plan; anything that will guarantee their comfort and safety. But what does their Lord want? Because ultimately they are His first, and mine second. I have them on loan for just a brief moment, and my only responsibility- point them to Jesus.

So I worship and sit in awe. I envision a grand throne, and on it sits the Savior. He is my Master. He is praying for this mama and for these little ones; the ones entrusted to me. And what is His desire? I find no longing for prosperity, or safety, or success, or even health. This Perfect One has one perfect care- that they would hunger and thirst for the God that quenches and satisfies.

And which of us with full bellies and fat checkbooks will plead to God for needs that don't exist. Why would my children seek out Living Water and the Bread of Life when they are feasting on greasy cheeseburgers and deep fried french-fries? In making themselves rich, and having need of nothing, they can't see that they are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked.

It's in their weakness He's made strong. It's when they fall, He lifts them up. It's through the deep waters and burning flames that The Rescuer is revealed.

I don’t want to ask that "we make it safely to school this morning" but rather, "Lord, whatever it takes to show us our desperate need, and make us crave you more, let it be!" I don’t want it to be easy, I want it to be fruitful. I don’t want my children to do it all right and never know the disappointment of seeing the flesh fail. I want them to fall face first and see that they are nothing without Christ and that while Christ is everything with or without them, He pursues them so that they will pursue Him.

What drives a parent to sacrifice their children's souls? Fear. When I imagine my children failing, I transfer that failure to myself. Suddenly their failure becomes my failure. All of a sudden I bear all responsibility for that poor test score, the missing homework assignment, or the really, really, really bad choice that was made. And if I am responsible for their failure, then I must be just as responsible for their success. And when they see me beating myself up and knocking myself around for their failure, they will either condemn themselves for my sake, or grow in bitterness toward me because I am the reason they can't do anything right.

No one is perfect! No, not one! Reflecting their failure on myself requires taking the light off of Christ. And taking the light off of Christ means they will not run to Him in need.

What good is it if they gain the whole world and lose their souls? What benefit is the best education, finest stick built home, and secured bank account when you're spending eternity in misery?

Self sufficient, independent, strong and capable children who recognize their desperate need for the Risen Lord- Impossible? No, but rare.

Yes, I want them to succeed, be happy, live pain free, and not have to worry about tomorrow. But what I want more than that is for them to hunger and thirst! I need them to need the Savior. The self-sufficient, independent, strong and capable child lacks nothing and has need of no one. He who finds himself poor, blind, destitute, and lonely also comes to find himself in Christ- not in a career, or a sport, or a spouse, or even a religion.

In Christ alone the lost are found,
To the one in need- will grace abound.
The rich, the proud, the able one,
How hard it is to need the Son.
But when you fail and when you fall,
You come to find He's your all in all.

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