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…

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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.

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

Set Your Sights on the Impossible

Matthew 19:26

“Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.”

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The impossible.

Most of us dwell on what we see right in front of us. Something to grip ahold of, something seen, something we can do.

However, what if we were called to make the impossible, possible?

Often times we read The Word and see many miracles, answered prayers and sovereignty and are left thinking, “Wow, that is impossible!”

But is it really impossible?

In looking at verse 26 of Matthew chapter 19, we see that Jesus adds the phrase, “Humanly speaking”. Why didn’t he just leave that part out?

Those two words are very important in understanding what Jesus is calling impossible.

He is calling us as humans and our strife, our weakness, our controlling attitudes impossible.

He is calling our human flesh, impossible.

Now don’t get too depressed just yet, because right after that phrase is the purpose of our daily walk with Jesus.

Jesus says, “But with God everything is possible.”

When we encounter each day without the Word of God or without spending time with Him, it’s as if we’re telling God, “I got this”.

You see, God gives us the tools to empower His possible in our impossible. It is our inability to use His tools that results in us seeing the impossible in situations.

When we see things as impossible, we are viewing our situations in the light of our flesh and human viewpoint.

But when we see the impossible become possible, it is then we choose to believe what Jesus clearly stated in verse 26.

That God is our Possible!

We are the im- in the word impossible. It is when we take ourselves out of our circumstances and into the presence of Jesus that we see the possible come to life!

It’s time we choose to erase what we think is impossible and let God make the possible happen.

What in your life do you see as impossible? What do you see through your own eyes that just doesn’t seem possible?

I pray that you think upon that one thing in your life and place it at the feet of Jesus where His power can make our impossible, possible.

Let’s watch God change our focus on the possibilities ahead!

Quiet the World

Now, more than ever, I feel God speaking stillness into the depths of my heart. In every quiet time, in every study of the Word and in every promise given, I am reminded that He speaks in the stillness.

When my soul is quiet, there I find Him. (Psalm 62:5)

When I am weak and need His strength, He calls me to “come to Him” and He will give me rest. (Matthew 11:28)

When I feel that the next step is one of uncertainty, He says “Be still”. (Psalm 46:10)

When I feel that the chaos around me is closing in, He says “Meet me in the stillness”.

In everything, He calls me to just be still.

You see God speaks to our hearts when we are ready to hear what He has to say.

As long as our minds and souls are in an uproar, we cannot hear God’s still small voice.

Often we are so caught up in waiting for God to speak and we think that He must not want to speak to us.

The problem is, our own voice is so loud that God’s voice cannot be heard.

Only in the stillness, can we hear His still, small voice.

One story that comes to mind when I hear about calming or quieting our soul is the story of Moses and the Israelites in the wilderness. Just after God had rescued them from Pharaoh’s wrath, they were so quick to focus on their present situation that they forgot what God had rescued them from in the past. God spoke through Moses and told him to relay a message to the Israelites in Exodus 14:14,

“The Lord Himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.”

So often, we are just like the Israelites. We want to place our present situation at the forefront of our minds and think that nothing is worse than our current state. We quickly forget where God has brought us and the promises He has given us for the future ahead. We forget that this life is not ours to win. God has fought the battle for us on the cross and continues to fight for us each and every day in every situation we face. We are simply called to stay calm, focus on His promises, and be still.

Just as the Israelites were about to give up all hope and let their situation take over, God parted the Red Sea and, once again, rescued them. (Exodus 14: 15-31)

Give God your stillness and see Him part the Sea ahead of you.

For after all, it’s His plan and not our own.

Approach with Boldness

Hebrews 13:20-21

“Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, 21 equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”

Encouragement.

At what point do we trade in our discouragement for encouragement?

Today as I was reading in the book of Hebrews, God spoke to me and led me into a time of encouragement. Every moment I meet with Jesus is meant to encourage my walk with Him and increase my faith in His perfect plan. Today was another time spent in His Word where I looked up with a new perspective and a new outlook on what this present season of waiting should look like.

In Hebrews chapter 13, Paul writes to encourage fellow believers to stay strong in their faith and encourage them on their road of persecution for the sake of the cross. Throughout the book of Hebrews, he addresses the audience, us as believers, to keep the faith and remember that our present struggles are not any comparison with the struggles of our Savior.

I am so thankful that God spoke through Paul to write these words of wisdom down. Often in our faith journey, we become depressed and weary, in need of some words of encouragement. This is where the book of Hebrews is like a light in the midst of our present weariness. Paul writes of His struggles in the faith and His ability to overcome with the strength that only comes from the Lord. What a powerful man of God!

the throne of grace

Sometimes after reading God’s Word, it is easy to turn away and pick up our lives where we left off before entering into the courts of our King. However, God’s Word should change us and refine us upon entering into His presence. Each time we approach His throne, we are to enter with the mindset that He is about to change us in some way that will not leave us the same.

I can say, honestly, that this is not always my thought when I read the Scriptures. Often, I enter as though my time with Him is like punching in on a time card. I enter and I exit with the same intent. Ouch, that hurt for me to get that out. I hope I’m not alone in this. I would go as far as to say that more often than not, we come to the Lord when our weariness is about to overtake us but on the days when life seems as though He is shining His light the brightest, we fail to come and spend quality and not quantity time with Him.

It’s time we change our whole approach when it comes to spending time, quality time, in the presence of our King. Doesn’t He deserve more that our 10 minute quiet time?

After all, does He not spend all day with us? (Whether we choose to acknowledge Him or not.)

Lord, help us to approach Your throne of grace in reverence and in expectation of what You are about to do in our hearts and lives. It’s time for us to drop our “time” mindset when it comes to entering into your presence. For in You, there is no concept of time or place but just a sanctuary of praise. Forgive us when we enter the sanctity of Your Word without expectation of hearing straight from You. Change our minds, hearts and souls to view our time with You as Sacred and Holy. For You are the Cornerstone on which we build our lives.

The Comforts of “Church”

What a month it has been.

Returning from Uganda and getting back to the American lifestyle has been quite different. Everything, relaxing on the couch, eating a meal, driving a vehicle, going to church all have a new meaning that wasn’t there before. In Uganda, relaxing was more of a time to build relationships and be surrounded by others so now that I am back home, relaxing is a completely different task. Eating a meal in Uganda consisted of different food, a different setting and a time of bonding with the family. Dinner time in America is fast paced, rushed and all about preparing for the tasks ahead. Driving a vehicle is different, because traveling over there is done through mostly walking and riding a bus. Also, the roads are dirt so driving to and from consists of many bumps and rough terrain. The last adjustment that caused some getting used to was attending a place of worship. Reflecting on attending church in Uganda  and America are two entirely different experiences. This experience is one that I will never forget and will always hold a sweet place in my heart.

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Church.

what does it mean to you?

Comfort. One of the major factors in attending church.

It exists from the entrance of the building to the exiting of the service.

What if all of the “comfort” of the church was stripped away?

If the church building was not confined to a building that looked pleasant on the outside with glass doors and a large parking lot was instead a fence of boards covered with a pieced together tine roof?

Would you attend?

What if instead of having a padded pew or chair to sit in, there was a piece of bark holding you up from the ground?

What if there was no clock in the building there was the Spirit of God that determined the length of the service?

How about the heat or coolness of the building; would a hot Summers breeze be enough to get you to stay?

What if instead of living in the comfort of the same pastor getting up to lead a service there were hours and days of testimonies given from the congregation about what God is doing in their lives?

Would you stay and listen?

What about the offering plate, would a dirty bucket or basket at the front of the room suffice to place your money?

What if instead of tithing 10% of what you had “in dollars” turned into 10% of ALL you had such as food and clothing?

What if the congregation wearing their best to church was stripped away to wearing all you have to church?

Would you stop and stare or love and share?

Through just these few experiences in Uganda, I have grown to not just attend church based on the comfort level but attending church because God’s presence is present in His people and with His children.

Church now has a new meaning to me upon discussing the topic and entering the building.

Comfort is something that is not placed on my list when it comes to attending God’s house.

Comfort means to be at home with my Jesus and my church family.

You see, God never promised that coming to Him would be comfortable.

He promises that in Him you will find your comfort, not in a building.

(Ephesians 2: 19-22)

(Hebrews 1-:25)