Contentment, Love, Prayer, relationships, Uncategorized

Day 9: "Love"

Love is large and incredibly patient. Love is gentle and consistently kind to all. It refuses to be jealous when blessing comes to someone else. Love does not brag about one’s achievements nor inflate its own importance. Love does not traffic in shame and disrespect, nor selfishly seek its own honour. Love is not easily irritated or quick to take offense. Love joyfully celebrates honesty and finds no delight in what is wrong. Love is a safe place of shelter, for it never stops believing the best for others. Love never takes failure as defeat, for it never gives up.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (TPT)

According to Dictionary.com love is “a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person.” The Bible’s expression of love is found in the personhood of God himself. HE IS LOVE!

In a society full of self-promotion and constant striving to “get ahead,” how do you outwork God’s definition of love giving preference and honour to others? How do you extend love to someone who wrongs you? And then keep no record of it?

Think about how easy it is to extend love to a small child. She needs your help and it’s difficult to deny a crying baby what she needs. So, you selflessly lose sleep, skip a meal, and work overtime to meet her needs without any thought to yourself. This is love.

Somewhere along the way, the grace begins to wane. You decide at a certain age, people “should” act a certain way or not require so much from you. Expectations aren’t wrong. However, if what you covet falls short of the mark, you become hurt and disappointed.

Love isn’t so easy anymore.

What if you took off all expectations today? Set aside what you want others to do for you and focus on doing for others instead?

Someone in your world needs your unconditional love today. There’s always be a reason to disqualify someone, to be angry, to be offended. If you are to live at peace, honouring God in your relationships, you must learn to love better.

Continue to dig deeper in your time of prayer and fasting, reflecting more of Christ in every way. Like water off a duck’s back, you have a heavenly perspective and what once seemed an important point to make is now moot. You’re bigger than all that pettiness. You desire peace above being “right.” You can serve the ones you love with no strings attached.

God has no expectations for you to perform. He loves you just as you are. Sins and scars and mistakes and all. Sometimes, you act like you have to put on a costume and dance around all day ticking boxes, hitting all the right notes in a perfect performance in order to receive God’s love. Strip off the garb of pressure. Put down the microphone. Turn the spotlight off and bask in the quiet place of rest in the presence of ‘Love Himself,’ almighty God.

*Think about your relationships today and what expectations you might need to give over to God in order to extend love. Ask God to show you how he sees the people in your life that are hard to love. Include yourself in this assessment and ask him to reveal his unending love to you.

Courage, Personal Growth, Prayer, Resilience, Uncategorized

Day 7: "Fill Your Arsenal"

I don’t know about you, but I’m running hard for the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve got. No sloppy living for me! I’m staying alert and in top condition. I’m not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself.

1 Corinthians 9:26-27 (MSG)

Life IS a box of chocolates, as Forrest Gump once said… you never know what you’re going to get. Day to day, you can become exhausted from the force of life. You need courage, resilience, and the ability to handle adversity. You require scripture, friendship and encouragement, wisdom from God. You’re one week into this annual time of prayer and fasting. This endeavour is spiritual conditioning, supplying your arsenal with spiritual battle weaponry you will soon need.

Jesus reminds you that in this life, you WILL have troubles. But, you can take heart in knowing him because he has already overcome the world. What troubles are you currently facing? How do you handle the sour taste left in your mouth when you expected something sweet instead? You anticipated a raise and your boss fired you. Your son made a huge mistake and you’re disappointed and afraid. Your best friend betrayed you after you trusted her with your vulnerability.

When you know your future is secure and you are “battle ready” each and every day, you can handle adversity. As a matter of fact, your response to the curve balls life throws you testifies to your time spent in preparation. If you’re weary and ill-equipped, you will be taken out. But, when you have spent time stockpiling the ammunition you need to fight, you can continue to rebound when you’re knocked back.

See each day as an empty silo or storehouse for your weaponry. You’re taking time to fill it by praying, reading the word, and fasting. Hide away something useful today. Do it again tomorrow. You’ll be amazed at your supply levels over time.

*Read Ephesians 6:10-18. Which part of God’s armour do you need to focus on this week? Ask God to help you and expect to divert the enemy with strength when your next battle comes.

Devotion, Fasting, Love, Social problems, Uncategorized

Day 17: “Marriages Matter.”

loveSocieties flourish when families flourish. Families thrive when marriages are healthy. And, unconditional love is at the centre of a strong marriage. 1 John 3:18 encourages us to love not with words or speech, but with actions and truth.

How can you show love to your spouse today? First, begin by praying for him or her. If you’re not married, pray for your future spouse or for important marriages in your life. Seek to look at your partner through God’s eyes today. It’s important to have him at the centre of your marriage. As each person seeks to know Jesus more intimately, intimacy grows between the couple.

You may not be married to a fellow believer. Pray for the Holy Spirit to speak to your spouse through your selfless actions of love. Ask him to reveal himself to your partner in creative ways.

Pray that marriages within the church will be strengthened. Ask God to give help those who may be struggling.

The Man said, “Finally! Bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh! Name her Woman for she was made from Man.” Therefore a man leaves his father and mother and embraces his wife. They become one flesh. (Genesis 2:23-24 MSG)

Church planting, Faith, Inspiration, Uncategorized

Juggling

busy1

I remember feeling overwhelmed in High School when I had two jobs, honors classes, extra-curricular activities, and a social life.  I would cry and stress when I thought I would never be able to stay on top of it all. I had similar experiences throughout my University studies and then…

I had kids!  The busy-ness of life went to a whole new level and I looked back at the other times I felt overwhelmed and laughed.  This new job was unprecedented.  Being available to a baby 24/7 without even a chance to plan when I could have a shower was unchartered territory.

Life went on, however; and somehow, we have managed three kids and still have our sanity albeit by a thread on some days!

Then, I moved to Australia to start a church.

Rather than rant about how long the to-do list is, how much spiritual attack I feel I am under, the amount of pressure and negativity that comes against me some days, the unknown black hole that is before me, and the three kids who are still living under my roof, let’s talk about what to do in these moments of overwhelming pressure:

Living in a measure of chaos is part of all of our lives.  No matter what stage or station, we all have stress and burdens that we carry.  We each cope in different ways.  The busier I am, the more calm I become.  It seems illogical, but at a certain point, we all must prioritize, tackle what we can, then…

LET THE REST GO!

For a control freak, this feels impossible.  For a people pleaser, inappropriate.  For a worry-wort, wholly irrational.  For an organized checklist type, insurmountable.

Forget about self-confidence; it’s useless. Cultivate God-confidence.  No test or temptation that comes [our] way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All [we] need to remember is that God will never let [us] down; he’ll never let [us] be pushed past [our] limit; he’ll always be there to help [us] come through it. (1 Corinthians 10:12-13 MSG)

God never promised us that we won’t have trials.  We have all lived long enough to know life isn’t easy, fair or simple.  For many, life’s difficulties become excuses for dismissing the God I serve.  However, I choose the opposite.  I run to my Heavenly Father as a safe refuge.  I cast my cares on him.  I entrust people to Him instead of trying to control them.  I point people to Jesus and His Word instead of to myself as the Saviour.

As a pastor, I’ll crumble if I take it as my responsibility to please everyone, not overwhelm anyone, or control the periphery ones.  As messy as it all seems with a long to-do list and a short amount of days to prepare, I know that nothing surprises my God.  I can only just keep myself prayed up and full of faith to lead this charge alongside my husband.

In the meantime, I’m cooking dinner and changing nappies (diapers). I’m making phone calls, scheduling dinners and teas, praying for my church, planning Easter service, buying supplies, packing for Colour, leading a prayer group at school, paying bills, ironing shirts, hanging out the washing, answering my phone, going for runs, all with a smile on my face!

I bet you are too!  And if you’re feeling weak and unable, you can pray this:

I love you, God- you make me strong.  God is bedrock under my feet, the castle in which I live, my rescuing knight.  My God—the high crag where I run for dear life, hiding behind the boulders, safe in the granite hideout. (Psalm 18:1,2)