From the Couch to the Throne

By nature, I am a couch potato.

I don’t mind a day at home with no plans, a blanket and a couch to myself.

That, to me, is a picture of a wonderful day.

However, I came to realize today that this “couch potato” personality trait can become more of a hindrance than I once thought.

Thanksgiving Break. A chance to break away from the routine of work (for me a teacher) and relax. Every year, I look forward to time spent at home being a “couch potato”. And if I’m honest, this is simply all I really want to do. Yes, spending time with family is something I enjoy as well but there’s just something about waking up, eating breakfast, then hitting the couch.

However, this break was a little different. Without even realizing it, every day of break was full of a list of “to-dos”. As I looked at the week ahead of me, I saw a rushed week instead of a relaxing one. This is where the bitterness began.

Bitter about no free time for me…

No time to relax watching the Today show, my Hallmark series, the back of my eye lids etc…

Bitterness, by definition, means “anger and disappointment at being treated unfairly“.

After reading the definition, can I say guilty as charged?…

As I sat on the couch this morning for the first time all week, the Saturday before going back to work, God woke me up. (I was not sleeping I might add…)

For me, when God wakes me up it feels at first like a little tug on my heart, or a whisper to me heart and today that is exactly what occurred…

His whisper to my heart said, “Come”.

But my heart said “No”.

You see Jesus, all week I have been running around or letting my schedule run me but today, I finally get to do what I want. I finally get to lay here with my blanket, my coffee and the TV. I am finally getting to “relax”. I would rather “come” to You later….

Ouch… Hearing that come out doesn’t feel quite like it did the first time…

But in all honesty, this is exactly what my heart whispered back to God this morning.

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE spending time with my Jesus but this morning, I chose Me instead of the Master.

In James 4:8, James says,

“Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you.”

His drawing nigh to me is dependent on me drawing nigh to Him. He longs to draw nigh and invade our moments but experiencing His “nighness” is up to us.

He, the Creator of the Universe, longs to draw nigh to me.

And this morning, I rejected that.

I chose to cling to my own bitterness instead of the presence of the Almighty.

Although today was just one example, if I’m honest, I reject Him more than I care to admit.

I choose selfish over selfless almost daily.

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James goes on to say in verse 8,

“Wash your hands you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”

So, I am washing my hands.

This verse should be my response each time I see my selfish heart for what it truly is, a dirty, filthy mess.

But, when I choose to wash my hands and my heart, Jesus honors that.

After continually rejecting Him, He still chooses to look past my mess and see Himself.

Now looking back on my rushed week, I see God given opportunities to create memories and moments with others which was in a way, relaxing.

That’s just what God does, transforms what we see into what He sees.

So today, I am choosing to get off my throne of a couch and enter the “throne-room” of my Father. Where He always bids me come….

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First Thanks, Then Giving

I love the Thanksgiving season. Time to reflect, enjoy and spend cherished moments with family. Whether that be around a dinner table, at a special location or at a family member’s home. For some this year, holidays may not be a time that has been anticipated but a time that brings great sorrow for a loved one that isn’t present around the “table” this Thanksgiving. Whichever situation you find yourself in this season, we can all choose to make this Thanksgiving the most memorable one yet.

As I began to think on the word Thanksgiving, being the teacher that I am, I started to break apart the word. “Thanks”, “giving”. Not only is it a time for great thanks but it is also a time for great giving. What if we stopped not to think upon what we’re going to gain from this Thanksgiving but instead, chose to think about what we can do for others. No matter if this is a time of sorrow or a time of joy, we can choose in either situation to give, out of the abundance that we have been given.

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In God’s Word there are many instances where various people chose to give thanks but one instance, in a room filled with His closest friends, Jesus gives us direction in regard to giving thanks.

“He took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, ‘Take this, and divide it among yourselves.”

Luke 22:17

In reading this verse, a few things Jesus chose to do should be our guide in giving thanks this Thanksgiving.

  1. Give Thanks

It sounds so simple but how often we choose to meander through our days without stopping to give thanks for the blessings God grants us each and everyday. The air we breathe, the house we live in, the food we eat, the shoes we put on our feet. All blessings granted by our gracious God! One thing God has been teaching me lately is that He never guaranteed that when I became a child of His, I would have the necessities of life, but He chooses to bless me with them. Me, even me.

2.  Accept or Take His Blessing

The necessities of life, that we just discussed, are not earned but freely given by a loving God. He, the Creator, loves His creation so much that He chooses to lay out blessings before us. We can choose each day to accept those blessings or reject them. I’m sure we can each think of family members that have rejected the blessings of God. Whether it be a wandering son or daughter, husband or wife. However, not only are they quick to reject His blessings, but we as believers can choose to reject His blessings as well when we fail to take part in His will for our lives. Our days can go by with us choosing to go our own way instead of God’s way full of blessings with each obedient step. One obedient step would be to take part in God’s way this Thanksgiving, share His good news with those wayward family members. Another way would be to follow His lead and listen to what He would have you do in order to bless others with food or encouragement. Who then would be receiving the bigger blessing?

3. Divide or Give Among You

Blessings are even more joyous when we have the opportunity to share them with others. What a miraculous event a child being born is but it is even more joyous when family and friends come to celebrate and share in the special day. How wonderful it is when a child comes to Christ, but how much more joy we receive when we share the occasion with others. Choose this Thanksgiving to divide, share or give blessings to others. Whether that be the blessing of food to a needy family, a kind word or encouragement to a hurting friend or family member during this season, or the gift of Jesus to a wandering heart. Choose to share out of what has already been given to you.

 

Give thanks, accept the blessing and then divide it among you.

The night before Christ gave it all, He chose to spend it modeling what it truly meant to give thanks. Around a table, with His closest friends sharing in His blessing and enjoying a meal.

Let us choose to do the same.

When God Interrupts…

Days when God interrupts the everyday tasks to make Himself and His will known are my favorite kind of days.

With Fall coming closer, the smells of crisp air, pumpkin scents and the warmth of sweaters and scarves; I cannot help but be in a good mood.

However, as good as those days are, a day interrupted by God is far greater!

Today was one of those days.

Recently, I have taken on the role of fixing a meal for my grandparents every Monday to take out to them. Each time I cook, I blast Christian worship music which helps me “whistle while I work”. As I began to sing and cook, I heard a song that stopped me in my tracks and caused me to rush into the Holy Spirit.

All throughout my faith journey, God has spoken some of the sweetest words to me during and through a song. A song will take me to the Scriptures and then cause me to intensely listen to what God is about to speak to me.

Today, as I rushed in to listen, I heard these words,

“I may look like I’m surrounded but I’m surrounded by You

This is how I fight my battles”

Recently, God has taken me down a road of unsuccessful doctor’s visits, failed medications, negative test results and symptoms of unknown origin. Throughout this journey, I have resolved to deal with issues that have failed to improve.

I have taken this need to the Lord, to my friends and family but each time I am still left empty with questions, unanswered cries and a strong spirit.

However today, when I heard the words in this song, it caused me to take a moment. I heard God speak through my situation yet again. You see sometimes, He speaks to us and we fail to stop and listen.

A few months ago, He spoke the words in Isaiah 40:31 to me,

“But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.”

I heard Him but at the time, I passed it by as just a powerful, good verse but never stopped to listen. A few weeks ago, the verse came up again. This time in a song I, myself, sang in a drama. Again, I thought wow God, that’s pretty awesome that You keep speaking that theme to me. And then, on my way to work I heard a pastor on the radio cite the same verse.

Throughout those days, if I would have taken the time to stop and pause with Him, I would have felt His comfort and strength in the soaring. I would have not grown weary or came close to fainting but chose to allow His strength to empower me instead of me trying to shoulder it all on my own.

Each time, I heard the same message but failed to pause and allow God to speak His words directly to my heart. That is what is so incredible about our God! He can take a verse that an entire room of people hear, but speak various specific words to each individual person. But, we have to be listening….

Today, I chose to listen.

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As I look at all the doctors that are trying to figure out what’s wrong, my friends and family asking so many questions and having their doubts, my symptoms that keep attacking me without warning, I heard His words today….

“I may look like I’m surrounded but I’m surrounded by You

This is how I fight my battles”

I have thought that throughout all of this that my circumstances are surrounding me but when I step back, I see that God is surrounding me and the circumstances are His to overcome.

After listening to the song, He took me to 2 Chronicles chapter 20, where King Jehoshaphat has just been told that the kingdom God had uninhabited for him and given over to the descendants of Abraham was now being attacked. King Jehoshaphat then calls his people to fast and pray to God. As a king, He gave up his right to order his army to rush out and slaughter those who came to destroy and had a moment where he stopped and chose to pause to inquire of the Lord…

Then in verse 15, God says

“…This is what the LORD says to you: Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not your’s but God’s”

Then in verse 17,

“You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out and face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.”

After this encounter with God, all who heard bowed down and worshiped the God who was about to deliver them.

And how did God choose to deliver them you might ask? Well it just so happened He commanded them to sing His praises at the front lines of the battle. You can read chapter 20 if you choose to learn more about this defeat.

After this encounter with God today, I am left feeling so humbled that the same God that spoke to me a few months/weeks ago and I failed to pause with Him, would continue speaking to me until I chose to stop and take a moment with Him.

So today, I am choosing to look at what surrounds me and see God, not the circumstances.

In this life, cancer will try to win, illnesses will try to win, broken marriages will try to win, sibling feuds will try to win, fear will try to win, doubt will try to win, a fallen world will try to win….

But God ultimately has won and will win!

Choose to stop and pause with Him when He speaks, it is so worth it.

 

Here is the song I referenced below…

Testing 1…2…3

My nature is not to post my life for all to see. Especially when things are difficult, I take the role of keeping my dignity enough to deal with it within my close family. However, our lives as Christians are to portray that of Christ.

As I read the Scriptures, I am learning that to Christ, His life was meant to change, transform and guide others to Him. Therefore, whether it was to document His temptations, His private prayer sessions or His emotions, He chose to lay it all out for others to see.

In any learning experience, there comes a stubbornness of keeping things comfortable. However, comfort is something that Christians should shy away from. And because of this, I am throwing comfort out the window.

Here we are again. Hospital visits, doctor discussions, blood draws, car rides and waiting rooms.

When God calls us to a “higher calling” sometimes that higher calling calls us to climb up higher mountains.

Growing up, I witnessed and prayed with many who suffered a great deal of pain and heartache but that was just it, I witnessed and prayed. I heard people say that “Your testimony is the most powerful witness you have”.

In the back of my mind, I began to wonder when the “test” of my testimony was going to happen.

As Christians, our testimony is what reaches those who are longing for something “real”, past the veil of religious Christianity and toward a real life encounter with Jesus.

2 Timothy 1:8-10

So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God. He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, 10 but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.”

Even though my “test” isn’t over, I know that it is turning into my testimony.

Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day.

Two days that seem so love filled but those were the days in 2017 that were filled with pain for me and those close to me. Those are the two days that a child was in the early stages of becoming “my” child. Instead, those were days when those children were “fearfully and wonderfully made” in my womb and heart but that is where they stayed.

To the world, these experiences are devastating, hopeless and life-changing but to a Christian, this is just the “test” in the testimony.

To some, what I’m about to say my seem heartless, surprising and unbelievable but to some, it will make perfect sense….

I count my miscarriages a blessing.

When Christ is the One you’re living for, this life’s sufferings produce a perseverance that comes in the midst of running the race toward our life’s finish line. Running a race can bring exhaustion and feelings of “I can’t” but its in those moments in our journey to Jesus that we get a second, third and maybe even a fourth wind. For we know that Jesus is who we’re running for, not a medal, a pat on the back or a pick-me-up.

I know that my test isn’t over, my pain isn’t over and my emotional moments aren’t over but I do know that my faith in Jesus is only beginning. Knowing that He chose this test for me because He knew that with Him, I could rise above it all.

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You see, Christ knows just what is going to prompt a deeper connection to Him and He chooses specific tests based on current circumstances. For you, it may be cancer, a son or daughter addicted, a life threatening disease or diagnosis, fear, a broken marriage…. you add your’s to the list.

God allows us to walk through things so that we can know His strength through it all, instead of relying on our own strength to get us through it.

Throughout my first miscarriage, I saw that God was there but I also thought it was just a fluke, a one-time thing and that after that, having a baby would be a piece of cake.

However, as I am walking through the second one, I see that God wanted me to seek and find out more about Him than simply believing that “15-20% of all first pregnancies end in a miscarriage”.

I am learning that through these tests, He is still faithful. Even if situations don’t turn out the way I want them to, my family wants them to or the world says they’re going to…

I know that my current situation does not surprise my All-Knowing Father. He saw this coming the moment I was formed in my mother’s womb. My life was a Best-selling book written by Him and awaiting the first page to be read and for this chapter to come to pass.

What strength we can find in knowing that our present sufferings were written way before our first breath. God sees, knows and walks right beside us because nothing surprises Him.

I know that someday, my “test” will be purposeful for someone’s life even if I can’t see the purpose right now. Someday, there will be a moment when someone asks, a couple’s heart breaks, a mother’s pain wrenched heart longs and my testimony will give birth to a heart transforming moment.

For now, I will choose to be unashamed of my suffering and know that it is producing a faith that cannot be measured by a world of why’s and why not’s.

Psalm 116: 1-9

“I love the Lord, for he heard my voice;
he heard my cry for mercy.
Because he turned his ear to me,
I will call on him as long as I live.
The cords of death entangled me,
the anguish of the grave came over me;
I was overcome by distress and sorrow.
Then I called on the name of the Lord:
“Lord, save me!”

The Lord is gracious and righteous;
our God is full of compassion.
The Lord protects the unwary;
when I was brought low, he saved me.
Return to your rest, my soul,
for the Lord has been good to you.
For you, Lord, have delivered me from death,
my eyes from tears,
my feet from stumbling,
that I may walk before the Lord
in the land of the living.”

Rest in knowing that the God of the Universe already wrote in the sufferings that you will face and have faced into your story before your story even began.

Who better to walk and talk with than the Author of your story.

 

 

Suffering for Eternity

Suffering.

None of us want to hear it, experience it or talk about it. But the truth is, everyone of us hears it, experiences it and talks about it. Think about your last conversation with someone. I’m sure in the midst of that conversation of catching up, some form of suffering was brought up within that time. Whether it was about your suffering or someone else’s, suffering is something that each and everyone one of us hate.

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As a follower of Jesus, I have been raised to know that suffering is a part of our walk with Christ. All the scripture we read, the church services we attend and the prayers we offer up are to equip us when the days of suffering come. However, all of that does not ward off suffering. Suffering does not pick and choose who it affects, it just happens.

When I think of suffering in Scripture, I think of many men and women that endured a lot of suffering but one man was not on my radar until I came across this passage in 1 Peter,

“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; 13 but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing; so that also at the revelation of His glory, you may rejoice with exultation.”

1 Peter 12: 12-13

When I read those verses, my first response is to say “Who are you Peter that you tell me to not be surprised?”

Our first response when suffering comes is to be surprised. We are caught off guard, unprepared and in disbelief. So, why does Peter tell us to not be surprised?

Peter starts his journey as a man chasing after Christ upon meeting him. Peter walked with Jesus on a daily basis, saw Jesus perform miracles right before his eyes but yet, he still denied Christ. He still had a faith shaking experience even after seeing Jesus. However, his message to us was to not be surprised when sufferings come. Not simply that sufferings were going to come, but that when they come do not be surprised. As Christians, our response to situations should be vastly different than that of the world. However, it is easy to say that when we aren’t going through a struggle ourselves.

How can we not be surprised when suffering knocks on our door?

I know when I found out I was having a miscarriage, surprised is the feeling that rushed over me. However, I went back to what I knew about God to be true. I have watched God work in the lives of those around me through suffering. I never thought I was going to struggle with pregnancy but isn’t the art of suffering the same for all of us? Not matter the suffering, we all have the same choice to make.

  1. Are we going to let our suffering surprise us?
  2. Or, are we going to choose to let God surprise us?

God can surprise us through our suffering and create something amazing out of a time when amazing seems so far away.

Are we going to let Him?

We need to look past the first few words in 1 Peter 12:12-13,

“…but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing; so that also at the revelation of His glory, you may rejoice with exultation.”

You see we could never share in a suffering so great that it surpasses the degree of sufferings our Christ endured for us. Because of that, we should keep rejoicing! For the same Jesus that conquered death itself and shared in far more sufferings is on our side! He is fighting for us in the suffering and giving us strength to help us through it.

So like Peter, let us allow God to surprise us as we rejoice in knowing He endured it all so that we can endure it with Him.

God’s surprises have an eternal reward.

 

 

My Masterpiece…Still in Progress…

Life is ironic.

As some look at their lives, they see an ever changing work of art with all it’s many shades and colors that often times mean nothing to you if you are not the artist.

As Christians, we know the Painter who’s perfecting our work of art.

However, we may look at our life and feel the work of art is portraying a painting that is very different than we would have imagined.

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February 6th, 2017.

A day I will never forget.

The day I received a positive on a test that would change the course of my husband and I’s journey.

With excitement we looked into each others’ eyes as our hearts raced with each glance of those two small lines.

A day I had been anticipating for my entire life.

A day that I had dreamed about.

Growing up, I was often seen with a child attached to my hip or children flocking to my side. It was ingrained in me to be a mother. A trait God wove into my innermost being before I was conceived.

Therefore, I anticipated and longed for the day when I would hold, care for, and tend to my own child’s needs. Although this was the picture I thought my work of art would display, my masterpiece is looking a little bit different today.

The week of February 6th was filled with excitement, plans, goals and dreams that were being fulfilled right before my eyes and my husband’s. We could see the expressions on our parents faces as we told them the news that they were going to be grandparents. The expressions on our siblings faces as they were going to be aunts and uncles. However, the next stroke of the paintbrush looked a little bit different than we had imagined.

The week of February 12th is a week I will also never forget. A week of shattered hopes, dreams and goals.

You see, that week beyond all other weeks, my hope to become a mother in a few short months ended just as soon as it had begun.

Although I never saw a miscarriage in my work of art, I know that my God was not caught off guard by any of it.

At the time, I was in a fog of denial and grief. It was a time when no one understood and no one seemed to help.

But God…

You see, He saw it coming and looked at me with hope-filled eyes and hoped that this shattering news would lead me straight to Him.

He saw His children, my husband and I, grieving and waited for us to turn to Him instead of to the fear and questions that would meet us in our heartbreak.

There were days and still are days when fear meets me when I wake, but there is also a God who meets me with encouraging words and calming whispers that quiet my heart and cast out the fear that was ready to tangle me up.

It was in those times, spent with my Father that I realized this trial can either define me or my God can define me through the trial.

One February morning, I sat with my Bible opened praying that God would speak to me so clearly and give me “something”. Have you ever been there?

“Just give me something Lord?”

The awesome thing about our God is that He holds and hears every prayer and every tear.

This is where The Painter cleans His brush and knows He isn’t finished yet…

In my state of grief, He met me and this is what He said….

1.Give up everything (Luke 14:33)

Yes, the cost of being a disciple. Now there are two things that Jesus meant when he tells His followers to “give up everything”. In one instance, yes we must give up any material possessions that are hindering us from Christ. But also, there is the call to give up everything in our hearts that also keep us from fully following Him. These are the things that try to fill our hearts when our hearts are meant to be filled with Him. In my case, I needed to give up my hopes, dreams and goals that I held onto so tightly my entire life and let Him be my hope, dream and goal.

2. Be still, It’s time to say “Enough!”  (Psalm 46:10; 1 Samuel 15:16)

So often my mind runs so fast that I forget it is in the stillness, when I quiet my soul that I am able to hear God speak. I am reminded through these verses that it is time to say “enough!” to the world and all its noise and be still before the Lord. Too long have I let the world’s noise run rampant in my mind and in my life and it’s time to say enough and just be still….

3. Step out of the traffic (Psalm 46:10 MSG)

In my bible, I have a split reference from the NIV to The Message. In referencing Psalm 46:10, I glanced over to The Message reference only to find these words in my quiet time with the Lord that day,

“Step out of the traffic! Take a long loving look at me, your High God’ above politics, above everything.”

Wow, what clear and powerful words those were and are to my heart. This world gets us wrapped up into all of it’s traffic that we forget to stop and just see/experience God for who He truly is! The traffic of life is so busy that we fail to realize that we’re swept up into it. As Christians, we are supposed to be the “different” the world is looking for. And until we step out of the traffic our lives are going to look just like their lives. So, what about that looks different?

On that day, my painting that could have turned dark, began to reflect gladness and joy. I can picture God cleaning His brush, smiling as He added some yellows and oranges bursting with happiness as His daughter listened to His still, small voice.

You see, life, as ironic as it may seem, is not ironic at all.

Because God doesn’t see irony, He sees opportunity.

In this trial, I saw His strength in my weakness.

I saw His joy take over my mourning.

I saw His gladness wrap around my sorrow.

It is in these moments that God’s jealous love is more evident than ever.

Not that I am glad this trial was brought into my life, but I am glad that I experienced His love in a moment that seemed so dark to get out alone.

I am so glad God had His paintbrush cleaned, and ready to place yellows where there were blacks.

I can say that I am a work of art, not because “I” have painted anything but because God is still the Painter and I am His canvas.

Lead Them to The Rock

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There is a place in Uganda that the locals call “The Rock” which you can see in the picture above. To the locals, this place is where they take visitors to trek to the top. At the top of this mountain, you can see a sight of Uganda that is unlike any other. Each time I have made the journey to the top, the view still takes my breath away. I remember looking out onto the country of Uganda and praying for the culture that they might come to see God. This moment, as well as many others, I will never forget.

Today, as I was reflecting on New Years Eve and reading about various resolutions, reflections and anticipations people had for the new year, I began to wonder what this year and the year to come meant to me. But God….

You see that’s how God works, He takes something that is ordinary and turns it into a moment that is extraordinary.

As I began reflecting on the past year and looking forward into the year to come, God whispered to my heart something that stopped my thoughts immediately.

He said, “Lead them to the Rock”….

When I look back on the past year, I can say that my husband and I journeyed together with the purpose to accomplish that very goal. To lead others to Christ. However, if I am honest, it is so much easier travelling to another country and spreading the Gospel than to openly discuss Christ here in America’s public arena. To me, third world countries feel like home. I feel at home when I am placed in a culture where joy, a smile and family are rich and the material possessions of this world are scarce.

Upon returning from our journey this Summer, Christ began working in the lives of my husband and I. We both felt that God wanted to do more in and through us in our local community and ministry in the church. As God continues to speak, we are walking out and obeying His words as we look forward to 2017.

As this year comes to a close, God’s commission for me seems simple but speaks volumes to my heart.

“Lead them to The Rock”.

As a daughter in Christ, my main mission should be to spread the Gospel of Christ. As I ponder all the many missions that are going to be set in place the next couple of days, I wonder how many people, followers of Christ, will choose to make the Gospel their main mission. It is so easy to see others making resolutions to lose weight, be less stressed, find joy, get organized etc. and feel the need to make a resolution of our own. However, is that God’s intention for your new year?

How many of us have stopped to ask God what He would have us do this new year? I am not saying that resolutions are always a bad thing but if their centered on “self” and not Christ, what is the goal?

In the book of Numbers, the people of Israel had a similar celebration to commemorate the new year. In ch. 29 verse 2 it states,

“Present a burnt offering to the Lord, an odor pleasing to him…”

Upon anticipating the new year to come, God’s command was for them to present an offering to Him. There is so much to be said about that today in every celebration.

As followers of Christ and in preparation for the New Year, our focus should be not on what we can offer the world by bettering ourselves but what we can offer Christ. This New Year our goal should be that of Christ and not of the things that can benefit ourselves.

In a time where resolutions are running rampant, let’s choose to take God’s commandment to the Israelite people to heart. Let us offer ourselves as a offering for Christ and make it our goal this year to “lead others to The Rock”.

Leading others to Christ should be our main mission each and every New Year. We often forget that when God ascended to Heaven that was His final commission to us, to lead others to Him.

So in this New Year, as I imagine myself standing on “The Rock” in Uganda, I am looking out onto the calendar year of 2017 and praying….

Lord, I choose to take what You have whispered to my heart and put it into practice. I am not going to make a resolution but I am going to offer myself as an offering to You. I will lead “them” to The Rock, which is You. For Your commission in Mark should still be our mission today. May my offering in this new year be a pleasing aroma to You.

Will you join me in the mission?

Let us lead them to The Rock in this new year…..

In Every Season Turn, Turn, Turn

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Fall.

Everything about it makes me want to consume every moment, experience and product. I can honestly say, it is my most favorite time of the year. This is for several reasons but one of the top on the list is the breathtaking views.

Recently, as I was teaching my students about the various happenings of fall, we discussed the scientific reason behind why the leaves change colors. We talked about the green pigment called chlorophyll and how green leaves signify the tree is still living. However we also mentioned that as much as we love the colorful leaves on the trees and as beautiful as they are, it means that the tree has stopped growing for a season.

Today, as I was thinking about this phenomenon and how much I love a colorful fall tree, God spoke. Each one of us find ourselves in the fall season of life. One moment we are vibrant, green and growing and then suddenly, as if we didn’t even notice, our growth comes to a halt.

As I look at my own life, I am humbled by the amount of times I see how God moved in me to act or serve in a way that was beyond myself and how much I have grown from those experiences. However, I also see times where God called me to act and serve but my focus shifted from Him to other priorities or circumstances. My opportunity to grow was overshadowed by my own selfish desire to focus on “more important” to-dos.

Oh to go back and revive those times…

But see that is just it, as much as we would like to go back and relive those moments over, the past is in the past. Forgiveness is where our living starts.

We can only turn full speed ahead and run the race set before us now.

As Paul so wonderfully speaks in Philippians 3:13,

“Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead”

We must strain toward what is ahead, for we only have what is ahead, which is fleeting even as I type this blog.

We are not promised another breath but the great thing about our God is that He gives us our breath and as long as we are still breathing, we have His job to complete.

When we turn from our not so proud moments and turn to Him after a season of stagnant living, that is where true growth begins. It’s not just the 360 degree turn that matters, it’s what we do after that.

Just like the fall tree that goes through an entire season of no growth, we too can get wrapped up in an entire season that we will soon regret. Unless, we choose to make our dark season shorter than it has to be.

One aspect of the fall tree that speaks to us so vividly are the leaves. Just as the leaves turn, fade and die; we too must turn toward Christ and die to ourselves.

Women/Men of God, it’s time for us to turn so that we can die and in the process, making a beautiful and vibrant view for all the world to see.

Christ makes dying just as bright and beautiful as living.

When we die to what we were once holding onto so tightly, Christ can revive the growth in our hearts and our lives.

So, in every season turn, turn, turn toward Christ.

Let’s show the world the breathtaking view of our Savior who’s more beautiful than any fall snapshot can capture.

 

 

On One Condition…

Love.

The word often brings up many different feelings from many different people.

This week, I began to wonder if the love we talk about and give has become conditional.

Loving someone is something we often view as a hard thing. Something that takes work, time and a lot of effort.

However, what if love, in its truest form, was meant to be so much more than a struggle or time consuming act.

1 Corinthians 16:14 says it best,

“Let all that you do be done in love.”

So, you mean everything…my work, my daily chores, my conversations, my actions, my attitudes should all be done in love?

What a transforming thought.

Everything I do should reflect love.

Now just when you think that I’m trying to throw you under the bus while I sit and watch, think again. I struggle with this thought of “all that I do” should reflect love.

Sometimes, love doesn’t fit in my schedule. Sometimes love isn’t first on my priority list. Often love is just too much work…

Really, what we are saying is:

God doesn’t fit in my schedule.

God isn’t my top priority.

God is too much work.

When did we take God and turn Him into a conditional form of love?

1 John 4:8 says that “God is love”.

Without God, there is no love. 

So the truth is, the world is not capable of love if they do not know God.

So love, by their definition, is not love at all.

So what does love look like?

It looks like compassion, humility, peace, strength, mercy, Grace… It looks like the face of Christ.

Love has a face, and it’s His own.

Recently, we had a tragic event take place in our community which made me realize just how love, by the world’s standard, is circumstantial.

Throughout conversations with others during this time, I began to realize that the world has lost sight of the face of love.

Instead of living a life of love, we have turned to small acts of service to encompass the love we have for a certain person or situation.

When Jesus portrayed Love, He did not sit in a room and simply send cards, flowers, gifts and such all while letting His love run short. 

This is not to say that these things are all bad (in fact, there are ministries based on these acts) but when our love turns into just simply these things, we have to examine, is it really love?

Jesus ran to where His love could be shown through Himself. He allowed His life to be Love.

And the best part is, others took notice and chose to follow after that kind of love.

That is true discipleship, that is true love.

So, what love are we portraying to the world around us?

Does our love run dry while we “assume” we are loving through our small acts?

Love is a lifestyle.

Love is The Way.

Love is God and God is Love.

Two hearts, One mission

  
At the start of our journey together, my husband and I had something that helped bring us together. Not only was our love for Christ a main topic of conversation; it was our life. But there was also a passion that Christ had given both of us that burned with such intensity that we both knew there was no quenching it. Missions is something that is near and dear to both of us and with the help of our closest friends, it is what brought us together in the first place.

Our philosophy has always been, that if God placed the passion inside of us and joined us together, our purpose and our mission together should reflect that passion.

Through much prayer and seeking, we have decided to tread on a journey together with God as our leader and we, as followers after Him.

We have chosen as a couple, to visit the two places where our passions were discovered with a goal to determine God’s plan for us as a couple in ministry to the nations. Next summer, we will be traveling to Uganda and Papua New Guinea. On these trips we long to discover God’s purpose in us for reaching the nations for His glory.

In the coming months, we plan on establishing dates, determining need areas for ministries on our journey, and involving our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ to journey with us!

That’s right, we are wanting other bold and passionate mission minded people to journey with us!

Are you longing to find God’s purpose for you in ministry to the nations?

Has missions been a calling that God has continued to bring to your mind but you have never taken that step?

We are giving you a chance to travel with us to Papua New Guinea!! We will be taking a team in July 2016 to minister with other fellow missionaries and help bring God’s love to the people who are in desperate need.

What a wonderful opportunity for you to walk out the Great Commission in your life while serving others and expanding God’s Kingdom around the world.

We are looking for up to 10 individuals who would like to discover their own passion for missions ministry. As a couple, we both feel strongly that missions is not just a trip taken to see the world, but we hope this trip causes a transformation in each person’s life to see his/her role to the nations as a follower of Christ.

In Matthew 9:37-38, God calls each of us to be a “sender” or a “goer”. We are seeking out those who long to find their place in God’s call to Go or to Send.

Our question to you is, are you a willing worker for The Kingdom?

We are asking that if you are interested, that you first pray and ask God His heart for you in this mission in Papua New Guinea. Pray that God would create a passion in you for the people of the nations.

Next, we are asking for you to send us an email with the following:

Name, Address, Phone Number, Experience with missions (previous trips in the past?) and your reason for wanting to go. Please note that you do not have to have any previous mission experience to join our team. 

You can email this information to:

kumbatiaproject@gmail.com

We are very excited for those God is calling to step out beyond their comfort zones and to experience a deeper commitment to the Great Commission and call to:

“Go and make disciples of all nations…”   Matt. 28:19

So will you join us in the call?

With Great Love,

The Castos