TLM Blog - Transforming Love Ministries

12
Mar

Mindshifting: Going from Ugh! to Hallelujah!

There I was sincere, genuine, Jesus-loving me going into a full-blown meltdown! And it was getting ugly! I wanted to blame everything – my household responsibilities, my husband, being an entrepreneur, and most especially my hormones! Yet I knew, underneath it all, I was letting my thoughts get out of control. That’s what mindshifting is – letting your train of thought take you from logical to illogical thinking OR vice versa.

Unfortunately, our thought life always seems to be hanging in the balance, ready to come unraveled at any time. It takes practice to learn how to control those thoughts and images that come into our minds. Since they are so tightly connected to our emotions, if our emotions are yo-yoing, chances are our thought life is as well.

So how do Christians finally break this cycle?

First, we must remember that God has given us control over our thought life. Through the power of Jesus, we need to use our authority in this area daily. In 2 Corinthians 10:5, Paul states: “We are destroying sophisticated arguments and every exalted and proud thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought and purpose captive to the obedience of Christ.” (AMP)

Paul had learned that it not only takes effort, but warring against negativity, to control the thoughts that entered his mind. Though there will be some trial and error, we must not give in to a nature that tries to convince us we cannot win in this area.

Next, we must allow God’s Word to come in and replace those thoughts that are trying to distract and destroy us. Paul instructs us in Romans 12:2: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (NKJV)

Third, in Ephesians, Paul gives us a picture of the armor of God, which every Christian should use to defend themselves from the enemy. To assist us in controlling our thoughts, Paul states “put on salvation as your helmet” (Ephesians 6:17 NLT). By knowing who we are in Christ – the saved and redeemed – we can proudly turn away any thoughts that try to convince us that we are still trapped by our past.

Lastly, we need to replace bad thoughts with good thoughts. Again, Paul gives sound advice in Philippians 4:8 when he states: “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” (NLT)

How did Paul get so smart about mindshifting? Well, he had some serious challenges to work through.

We patiently endure troubles and hardships and calamities of every kind. We have been beaten, been put in prison, faced angry mobs, worked to exhaustion, endured sleepless nights, and gone without food. 2 Corinthians 6:4-5 (NLT)

Can you imagine being in even one of those scenarios? Yet, Paul suffered them all. Was Paul some kind of Biblical superhero? No, he was just a man who had placed his faith squarely in his Savior and after enduring one trial after another had also learned to control his thoughts. We would do well to study Paul’s life and receive the advice he gives us, and while we practice mindshifting, allow Jesus to guide us one thought at a time!

What kind of thoughts have you been struggling with lately? Do you have a favorite go-to verse that assist you in regaining control of your negative thoughts? Feel free to comment below, and let’s work on moving our thoughts from ugh! to hallelujah!

Blessings to you and yours!

 

 

 

 


Amplified Bible (AMP) Copyright © 2015 by The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, CA 90631. All rights reserved.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Publishers Inc.

26
Feb

4 of Paul’s Most Powerful Prayers

Prayer is simply talking with God. Seems like a simple concept, doesn’t it? But oh, how we complicate it!

All the usual questions come to mind – Where should I pray? Is there a specific position of prayer that really expresses my sincerity? How long do I pray? And most importantly, what should I pray?

The Bible provides some great examples of prayer from both Old and New Testament characters, like:

  • Habakkuk (Habakkuk 3:2-19)
  • Jabez (1 Chronicles 4:10)
  • Jesus (Matthew 6:9-15)
  • Stephen (Acts 7:59-60)

Personally, I don’t believe that God is so much concerned about the place, position, or length of prayer we pray. In those areas, do what comes naturally to you, because most likely, He is concerned about the matters within in our hearts. Would you agree?

Therefore, if we take the first three elements of prayer discussed above off the table, that leaves the content of our prayers. Today, I propose that we look at the prayers of Paul as an example of what to pray. (And, of course, I would suggest that we do it in light of the teachings of Jesus).

Though Paul would not have the opportunity to learn about prayer directly from Jesus like the other apostles, his prayers were completely God honoring. They show a level of spiritual maturity that was also reflected in the overall behavior of Paul. And the subject of his prayers provides real guidance for Christians attempting to further their walk with Jesus.

Ready? Let’s jump in!

  1. Praying for Spiritual Wisdom

I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places. Eph. 1:16-20

In this prayer, Paul is praying for those new to the faith to be given wisdom. You can bet that before Paul ever started praying for God’s wisdom to be given to the Church that he was in constant prayer that God would give him wisdom. And he would be right, because as the saying goes, you can’t give what you don’t have. To help mold and shape the Church, Paul would need wisdom.

When God provided that wisdom, Paul was eager to share it with others. In our walk with Christ, we should first seek the foundational building block of wisdom. From there, our understanding of everything else will grow.

2. Praying for Spiritual Strength and Growth

I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. Ephesians 3:16-18 NLT

Right after praying for spiritual wisdom, Paul prays for spiritual strength and growth. Knowledge of God’s ways is life changing in and of itself, but it takes inner strength to carry out God’s instructions daily. Paul knew firsthand what it meant to come face to face with the truths of God’s Word.

He also knew how the daily grind of life as well as the challenges of being of a believer could wear away at the soul. So, he prayed for strength, knowing this in turn would give room for spiritual growth on more than a superficial level. And in tandem, the believers’ spiritual growth would fortify their spiritual strength, allowing the cycle to repeat.

3. Praying for Knowledge Regarding God’s Will

So we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better. Colossians 1:9-10 NLT

In this prayer, Paul repeats some of the same themes he has used in other prayers (e.g., wisdom), but he also adds a new line. Paul asks that the Church be given complete knowledge of God’s will. So, what’s the difference between knowledge and wisdom? Knowledge is simply the information you have been given. Wisdom is the ability to take in information, make sense of it, and then apply that knowledge correctly when making decisions.

Initially, Paul would seek from God the ability to understand His will and then once fully prepared, ask God to reveal His will. I like to think of it this way. Had we not been prepared in 2nd grade to take on the information coming in 3rd grade, once we reached 3rd grade, we would not have been able to fully use what we were being taught. To know God’s will on a level that makes it useful to us, we must be ready to receive it.

4. Praying for Partners in Ministry

In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Phil. 1:4-6 NIV

What I love about Paul was his insatiable appetite for all followers of Christ to be active proclaimers of the gospel. As one person who took as much territory for Christ as possible, Paul was keenly aware that if his efforts were doubled by others also taking ground for Christ, the gates of Hell would be completely crushed sooner than later. Likewise, we should be constantly in prayer for our fellow Christians and rejoice when they succeed.

What would happen if we prayed these types of prayers? What if we could stay others-focused? I am the first to admit, I struggle with those questions. However, I have also been a witness to what can be accomplished if we pray with conviction for wisdom, strength, growth, knowledge, and ministry partners. To that end, I will repeat Galatians 6:9 –

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. (ESV)

I’ll be praying for you!

 

 

 

 


Scriptures from:

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

14
Feb

15 Signs of True Love

Happy Valentine’s Day!!! I hope love is in the air for you today!

Although we are not exactly sure when Valentine’s Day started, it has long been celebrated for hundreds of years. Do you remember the first time you received a Valentine? To be honest, I can’t remember exactly, but I do know I was introduced to the holiday in grade school.

We all went out and bought those cheesy little Valentine’s Day cards that you could attach a piece of candy to and proudly passed them out to everyone in our class. Or sometimes we would hit the motherload when someone’s mom would bake cupcakes and send them to school!

As I got older, however, and entered that awkward teenage stage, those with boyfriends were the only ones that received something on this special day. It was then I learned that love could be selective (or what I thought love was).

Not until I met my husband did I realize what true love was – a feeling between two people that was wrapped in commitment. See if you stop at love being just a feeling, then you’ve missed the point. Love is more than a feeling, it is a long-term commitment and it requires a little work.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 is probably one of the most celebrated passages of the Bible when speaking of love. We have these words read at Christian weddings. These verses are displayed on plaques we place on the walls of our home. But do we, have we, taken the time to really let the words contained in those verses speak to us? Since the divorce rate among Christians is as high as among non-Christians, we would do well to review those lines again.

Today, I am going to use the Amplified Bible translation because I like the expanded language of the verses. Now if you are a strict King James version or New Living Translation user, don’t worry! The Amplified version only provides a little more context to what is already expressed in scripture. It helps simple-minded folks like me really wrap my brain around the meaning of some scriptures.

So here we go!

Love endures with patience and serenity, love is kind and thoughtful, and is not jealous or envious; love does not brag and is not proud or arrogant. It is not rude; it is not self-seeking, it is not provoked [nor overly sensitive and easily angered]; it does not take into account a wrong endured. It does not rejoice at injustice, but rejoices with the truth [when right and truth prevail]. Love bears all things [regardless of what comes], believes all things [looking for the best in each one], hopes all things [remaining steadfast during difficult times], endures all things [without weakening]. Love never fails [it never fades nor ends]. 1 Cor. 13:4-8

Let’s break that down a little, shall we? As we do, remember, this passage is not just about romantic love, but about loving others in general. (That stings a little, doesn’t it?)

  1. Love endures with patience and serenity. In our fast-paced, instant access world, when was the last time you exercised patience? I know for me, the older I get, the less I have! But not only does love tolerate even the most difficult of circumstances without getting emotional (patience), love also expresses a state of peace about it (serenity). (Ouch!)
  2. Love is kind and thoughtful. I think most of us would agree with this one and say that when we think of love, this is what we think about. But hold on tight – we have 13 more characteristics to go!
  3. It is not jealous or envious. Aren’t these the same? That’s what I have always thought to, but when looking at their definitions, there is a slight difference. Jealous occurs when another person is involved. We get jealous when someone is shown more affection than us and we feel ‘replaced’ by the person receiving the affection. But envy is really more about possessions. We simply want whatever it is someone else has, like a house, car, or jewelry. See the difference? It takes true love to feel completely secure in these areas.
  4. Loves does not brag. Somehow, I have never put these two together as opposites, but I do understand. It is one thing to express excitement over something great your kid did, but it is another to turn it into a competition with someone else’s kid. Bragging always implies an underlying competition and love does not compete against another. In fact, it cheers the other person on!
  5. It is not proud or arrogant. AMEN to this one, right? Proud people have an inflated sense of self-worth, while arrogant people try to outwit everyone with their knowledge in an attempt to make themselves feel more dominant. Who in the world wants to be around those types of people? No one, that’s who!
  6. It is not rude. We often say a person is impolite when they are being rude, but it can also be someone who is abusive, blunt, boorish, crude, or obscene. Regardless of the behavior, it simply shows that the person has no regard for the person or persons around them. NO THANKS!
  7. It is not self-seeking. The line between serving others and being self-seeking is such a fine one. Do you like (or in this discussion, love) a person for who they are or for what they can do for you?
  8. It is not provoked [nor overly sensitive and easily angered]. So, for people like me, this one is tough. It has taken years to get all my emotions in check, and a few of them still need a little more work! It’s hard to sit back and not react, isn’t it? But every day, if we are going to love others, we have to practice emotional restraint. The only person we can control is us!
  9. It does not take into account a wrong endured. Oooooo….my! I realize for some folks this is extremely hard, because the wrong you have endured was a nightmare. But some of us can get caught up on the stupidest stuff, and we need to stop. Regardless of the wrong endured – work it through. Not for the person who wronged you, but for yourself!!! You’ll thank yourself later.
  10. It does not rejoice at injustice, but rejoices with the truth [when right and truth prevail]. In this political age, this one is tricky. Most good people hate to see injustice, but what is your benchmark for justice? Let me just say this, if we are calling ourselves Christians, we better be seeking the truth in God’s word and not the newspapers. Today, the truth of God’s word is being turned around and labeled injustice. We need to know the difference. (Rant done!)
  11. Love bears all things [regardless of what comes]. If ever commitment is required, it is when one person attempts to love another regardless of future issues. It is absolutely true that love can conquer all, but it can only occur when both parties are fighting for the relationship. It is inspiring to see couples regain their marriage after one has cheated on the other, but it took commitment and a LOT of work on both of their parts to get there! A plea: If you are in an abusive relationship, whether physical, emotional, or sexual –please get out! God never intended for you to stay in that type of relationship!! It is not love!
  12. It believes all things [looking for the best in each one]. Let me just say, after being married for almost 24 years, if you don’t get up each day and look for the best in your spouse (or your kids and other relationships), you can easily pick them apart. Thank goodness, my husband seems to have the ability to do this automatically because there are days I can get off course and he always brings me back! Love is positive not negative.
  13. It hopes all things [remaining steadfast during difficult times]. Easily said, not always easily done. Somehow, however, during difficult times, we tend to turn to love more easily. We long for it. I think of the tremendous amount of love shown for 9/11 victims and their families not only in this country, but from all over the world. If we could muster that type of love for each other in times like the 9/11 aftermath, we can have hope that it can be done even in the day to day difficulties we struggle through. Let’s determine within ourselves, we will make it happen!
  14. It endures all things [without weakening]. Listen, I think when we feel certain emotions we feel that somehow our resolve has weakened. Like when we grieve the loss of a loved one a little longer than some people believe should be necessary. No, we are not weak for grieving – we love that person still. There is nothing weak about love.
  15. Love never fails [it never fades nor ends]. Oh, that we could wrap our human minds around this one. Some of us have been extremely blessed to have found this type of love. But even if you haven’t, there is someone who can show it to you! His name is Jesus, and His love NEVER fails!!! It has been in existence before we came to be and it will be in existence for all eternity. My friend, He is faithful! He IS love!

Well, there are your 15 signs of true love. How many do you receive in a day? How many do you express yourself to someone else?

I hope you feel inspired today! If you need to work on one of the fifteen characteristics of true love, do it. You will never regret erring on the side of love. We were created because of and for love. Be the love you are longing for and watch how life changes!

 

xoxo

 

 

 


Amplified Bible (AMP) Copyright © 2015 by The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, CA 90631. All rights reserved.

28
Jan

5 Verses To Help Us Understand Change

When people and situations in our life change, it can sometimes be a little overwhelming. Most folks aren’t crazy about change, but it doesn’t have to be a bad thing. In fact, in some cases, it is necessary for us to be able to move forward.

If someone had told me five years ago what I would be doing today, I don’t think I would have believed it. Life has changed! But changes were necessary in order to position me for what God has called me to do today.

What about you? Has anything of significance changed in your life lately? I realize not all change is happy change, but hopefully, even in those times that the world feels upside down, somehow you can find a silver lining.

Scripture is very clear that change was, is, and will be a part of life. So today, I want to show you 5 scriptures that back up that statement.

1. God commands us to change our mindset from that of world-focused to kingdom-focused.

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:2

2. Sometimes God calls us to change our physical location.

It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going. Hebrews 11:8

3. If we are a child of God, our spiritual nature should be constantly changing.

So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image. 2 Corinthians 3:18

4. Our perception of Jesus will one day change from what we thought we knew about Him to a level of complete understanding.

Dear friends, we are already God’s children, but he has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is. 1 John 3:2

5. One day, even the heavens and the earth will change from their current status to something gloriously new.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. Revelation 21:1

Are you starting to get the picture? God is a God of change. But luckily for us, it is always out of love that He moves and shifts our lives around.

Today, take some time to list out the things that have changed in your life over the last six months to a year. Then, ask God to show you why the change was necessary.

If we all took a few minutes each week to jot down how our life is changing, we would probably start to see some patterns. I challenge to you to journal any changes you experience over the next 30 days. And then, talk to God. He would love to show you where He is leading you. Will you be open to guidance?

Blessings to you and yours!

 

 

 


Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

 

15
Jan

Defining Your Top Fifty Goals in 2017

We are officially two weeks into the year! How is 2017 going so far? Did you set any New Year’s resolutions, or for those who don’t make resolutions, did you pick out some goals for the year? What’s driving you this year? If I asked you to come up with the top fifty goals you would like to see happen, could you? How long would it take you to create such a list?

Recently, I was asked to list the top fifty goals I would like to carry out if there were no restrictions on my obtaining them. And then, I was asked to label them as a 1, 3, 5, or 10 year goal –meaning the timeframe in which I thought they could be accomplished.

It was both interesting and fun to sit and actually let my mind wander! What did I want to happen in the near future?

Believe it or not, it took me a few days to list 50. Oh, when I started writing my list, thoughts just came flying, and I feverishly wrote them out. Then, around 20-25, the process became much harder. What else did I want to happen? “You mean I can list more?”

More seemed so greedy, more seemed so selfish, but after a while MORE came!

What about you? Are you struggling to set a few goals or can you easily come up with 50? What categories do they fall into, such as family life, wealth, or ministry. What do they say about you as a person or as a Christian? Exercises like this one can really help us do a “heart-check” on where we are spiritually. Listen, I believe we can and should think bigger. We serve a BIG God, and those that make the big ask delight Him!

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” Matthew 7:7-8

However, though we can ask for anything; we shouldn’t expect to receive everything!!

Now wait a minute, Matthew 7 said “ask, and it will be given.”  Yes, it does, but don’t take it out of context with other scriptures along the same subject:

And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. 1 John 5:14

 

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence. 2 Peter 1:3

Now I’m just confused!

Don’t be! We should allow ourselves to dream. Dreaming brings creativity and allows us to think beyond what we can readily see. Sounds a little like walking by faith versus sight, doesn’t it? (2 Corinthians 5:7). Yet, as Christians, our requests must align with the will of God. If not, well then, the answer is most likely no! (no magic 8 ball required)

So now, let me give you the rest of the instructions (yes, I left a few details out, but only to help make a point). Once you have your 50 goals and have labeled them by their potential year of completion, from the goals you labeled as one year goals, pick the top 4. How closely does your top 4 goals line up with your Christian faith and God’s will for your life? It makes a difference, doesn’t it?

If only we did this exercise on a regular basis! It could really help to steer our life into a more meaningful, God-oriented existence. And if we were successful in living completely under the influence of God’s will, what would our top 50 look like then? This year, let’s lean into Him and allow Him to shape our top fifty goals! There is no telling how blessed and enriched life will become. I, for one, am ready for it!! Will you join me?

Blessings to you and yours!!

Elaine


The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

31
Dec

Figuring Out Your Spiritual Gifting in 2017

Can you believe another year has come and gone? 2016 was rough for a lot of people and so, we gladly welcome 2017 in hopes that spirits will be lifted and positive life change will happen.

With the New Year comes dreams of making a difference and/or making a change. One way to have an impactful year is to figure out and understand your spiritual gifting. Ever wondered what your purpose is in life? …or in other words, what you spiritual gift is?

I recently entered into an agreement for mentorship –I am being mentored by someone who can help me get very specific in 2017 on where God would have me take Transforming Love Ministries. Part of that process is figuring out and refining the mission and goals of TLM –there has to be a game plan in order to accomplish anything! My mentor asked that I take a spiritual gifting assessment as the first building block in this process. It is very validating to clearly know your strengths and weaknesses.

The free, self-scoring online survey I took is a well researched and recognized testing tool developed by Dorena DellaVecchio, Ph.D. in 2005, and is based on the spiritual gifts listed in Romans 12:

We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. Romans 12:6-8 NIV

After completing the assessment, you can see your top 2-3 gifts by score. For example, here were my results:

The site goes on to give a detailed explanation of each gift and the characteristics of the person with the gift. Are you curious what it will say about you? I hope so! You can take the test here: http://www.gifttest.org

With this type of knowledge, we can charge into 2017 with a better understanding of how God wants to use us! Understanding our gifting coupled with seeking Him the way Jeremiah tells us to seek Him is a great way to ensure we make 2017 our BEST year ever!!

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13 NIV

I will be praying that you have a blessed and successful 2017! Happy New Year!

PS: Have you heard about the TLM Sisterhood? If you live in any of the seven cities in Hampton Roads (Virginia) or live in Isle of Wight or Southampton County, you are welcome to join this secret Facebook group!!! We aren’t trying to leave anyone out, we are just building a strong foundation for TLM, so we can launch nationwide in 2017!! If you would like to join the group, you can go here to request access! Once you are approved, you can invite all your friends that live in the areas listed above!!!

 

It’s going to be a GREAT year!!! xoxo, Elaine


Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

https://www.gifttest.org/ © 2005, Dorena DellaVecchio, Ph.D.

14
Dec

Silent Night ~ Holy Night

“Silent Night” is perhaps one of the best known Christmas carols to date. It is by far my favorite! I love that it brings us back to the real “reason for the season” –the birth of the Savior.

I relate to the scenery in the song that is specific to the skyline that night, mainly because I live in the country. And living in the country does have its advantages. One of them is the ability to look up into the night sky on a clear night and see millions of stars glimmering right back at you. Another is that deep into the evening, it gets quiet –deathly, but peacefully, quiet.

Having stood out recently on one of the chiller nights we have had, with stars laid out as far as the eye can see and silence all around, I closed my eyes and let my mind focus on that glorious night when Jesus made His entrance into the world as a tiny baby boy.

There in Bethlehem, Joseph and Mary would find themselves in a barn surrounded by animals, such as cows and donkeys. It wasn’t glamorous or royal by any means, but quite ordinary. They would be isolated from family and friends. Joseph would be there watching Mary careful and yet feeling quite helpless at the same time. And Mary, still a virgin, would endure every moment of childbirth naturally. And yet, in that place, under those circumstances, they would birth a King.

We have to take a moment to remember some details leading up to that night. Would you indulge me for a few minutes? Thanks!

  1. Jesus’ destiny was already arranged. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” Matt. 1:20-21
  2. Joseph was a righteous man who obeyed God. When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife. Matt. 1:24
  3. Mary was chosen from among all women. Elizabeth gave a glad cry and exclaimed to Mary, “God has blessed you above all women, and your child is blessed.” Luke 1:42
  4. Bethlehem was a prearranged birth place. And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them. Luke 2:6-7

Yes, Joseph and Mary were in the right place. A magnificent Lord would start off in humble beginnings, but He was not destined to stay there. Isaiah describes Him best:

For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isa. 9:6

Yes, that 7-8 lb baby wrapped in strips of cloth would start out in lowly circumstances, but He became the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. And even now, we are yet to see Him in all His glory! What a day that will be!

I hope you have a wonderful Christmas season. I also hope you will take some time to ponder what a miraculous event occurred that night. I am right there with you, sometimes getting caught up in the tinsel, presents, and fun that occurs this time of year. Let’s not forget to be silent, even if just for a few minutes. Let’s quiet ourselves and experience that silent night, the holiest of nights and savor the moment!

Merry Christmas to you and yours!!!!!

Elaine


Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

29
Nov

Bibleverses.com – Aspiring to Serve Others

Are you like me, always trying to find that specific bible verse to fit the current circumstance you are in? Sometimes it is a good situation and other times not so much.

In today’s world, the internet is bringing information to us at record speeds. Fortunately, there are sites available that help put God’s Word at our fingertips, helping to counteract an overwhelming and never-ending stream of thoughts that seem to bombard us daily. With a few key strokes, we can find comfort, compassion, mercy, and grace.

Bibleverses.com is one such site.

In 2015, the site was restructured to not only accommodate those who see without issue, but to also be accessible by those who may suffer some type of visual impairment, such as low vision or color blindness. This is truly a unique aspect of the site.

Along with providing free access to the entire Bible online, subscribers can receive a verse of the day sent directly to their email. The site also offers a quick reference list of the top verses on specific topics, such as children, marriage, healing, and worry, just to name a few.

Another defining characteristic of the site is the associated blog. The posts contained within the blog are from both site administrators as well as Christian bloggers across the nation. I have had the pleasure of contributing to the site myself, and you can see those contributions here:

10 Scriptures to Model for Your Children

Six Comforting Scriptures on Death

In addition, you may search for specific scriptures using the website’s search engine. And don’t forget to follow them via your favorite social media outlet: Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram!

As the site continues to grow, be on the look out for more resources, posts, and site extras!

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30
Oct

Leadership Building

Are you a leader?

Wait, before you say no – are you a parent? a teacher? or even a consistent volunteer in your church? You don’t have to be a CEO of a major company to be a leader! Chances are you are doing something which requires others to follow your lead, and therefore, you are a leader!

A few weeks ago I signed up to take part in the John Maxwell International Leadership Training & Certification program. I want to grow my leadership skills so that in a few years I can help others like me to grow as well. Right now, I am just a mom, a wife, a small group leader, co-leader of a missions team, a prayer warrior, a writer, and a speaker. And when I wear any of those caps, I am influencing someone (something I recently came to realize in a big way).

John Maxwell states leadership is influence: nothing more, nothing less.

Now, when you put it that way, it is easy to see how even someone in an ordinary, everyday position can be a leader!

But as a leader, there is one person we must be sure to follow and that is God!

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God [granted by His permission and sanction], and those which exist have been put in place by God. Romans 13:1 AMP

No matter our position, we must continuously remind ourselves on whose authority we are ultimately working under. In addition, we must be humble leaders and not proud, boastful people. How do we treat those we might see as our followers? If we are Christian leaders, we should be following the teachings of Jesus.

Treat others the same way you want them to treat you. Luke 6:31 AMP

 

But Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant…” Matthew 20:25-26 NLT

Yep, if we want to be the leaders Jesus called us to be, we must be the ultimate friend and servant.

Today, take into account those you look up to as leaders. Do they possess these qualities? Do you? One thing is for certain, all of us are works in progress, so if you feel you fall short, keep working at it!

I am excited for the days ahead and for all that I will learn. Learning is growing forward! Will you join me?


Amplified Bible (AMP) Copyright © 2015 by The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, CA 90631. All rights reserved.

Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

7
Oct

Jesus Loves Me (and You)

Wow! Time has really flown by! Weren’t we just remembering 9/11? And now, it is almost the 11th of October!

I promise, you have been on my mind the whole time!

So here’s the deal. Haven’t you had those periods in life when everything is up in the air and no matter how much you try; you can’t catch your breath? The last four weeks have been exactly that for me! Yet in those tiring and tense moments, God always has a way of reminding me to cool my jets, get quiet, and just listen to Him.

The past few weeks, a group of ladies and I from Believers Church were putting together the final details of the He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not women’s event. It was set for October 1st.

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And last Saturday, it all came together and went off without a hitch! But we were sweating it there for a few days. Not because God wouldn’t see us through, but because putting events together are just plain nerve wrecking!

We had been planning this one-day women’s event over the last 8 months, and a lot of love went into the details of it. But we couldn’t have done it without Jesus, so we also did a lot of praying!

Saturday turned out to be better than we could have ever hoped for! We had close to 85 ladies there! From the decorations to the catering to the time spent speaking, they got the “wow” experience we had been hoping for! We were there to show them Jesus loves them – and they received the message loud and clear!!

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During the day, we watched women come together and sing songs of worship, take time to pray some really earnest prayers to God, and then leave whatever it was that was burdening them at the cross. But at the end of the day, this is what meant the most – 6 salvations! 6 salvations during a women’s event on a Saturday in October!

Friends, God is never limited in where He can show up and touch lives.

Today, I want to share just a portion of my speech from Saturday. It involves a passage of scripture from Ephesians, and it is written by the Apostle Paul.

 

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I love the Apostle Paul’s expression of his understanding of Christ’s love and the transforming power of it.

Paul, formerly known as Saul, came to Christ after meeting Him on the road to Damascus. You can read about it in the Book of Acts. I think I like Paul because, much like me, Jesus had to stop him dead in his tracks to get his attention. Paul, a Jewish leader, sought out Christians and had them severely punished, jailed, or even killed prior to his conversion to Christianity. (And you thought what you’ve done is bad) But after his acceptance of Christ as Savior, he did a total 360. He became the most Jesus-loving, crazy man you ever saw. Instead of inhlmhlmn-3flicting pain, he received the pain; instead of imprisoning people, he became the one imprisoned. Paul is, for all intents and purposes, an outlier in Christianity. He truly gave it his ALL. Why the sudden transformation? Paul finally understood Jesus’ love for Him. Paul didn’t have a transaction with Christ, he experienced a transformation. Christ came in and took root in Paul’s heart and that is the source from which Paul drew strength.

Let’s look at a small section of scripture – Ephesians 3:14-18. Here Paul is writing to the Church in Ephesus, and as he is writing, which I am imagining was feverishly, he was describing the awe he held for God and His plan of salvation for both the Jew and the Gentiles…of this great love God has for humanity as a whole.

And then he speaks these words to them:

When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and earth. (verses 14-15)

I love that. There is something so sincere about it. Paul is so overcome by Christ’s love for him and all of humanity. Even though Paul use to fight against the Church initially, he is now overwhelmed…and it brings him to his knees…every…single…time. Has the love of Christ brought you to your knees yet?

Let’s go a little further…

I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. (verse 16)

Paul is simply praying for these Christians, still new to the faith, to be strengthened by the Lord, knowing that they like us must tap into the resources only the Lord possesses.

Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. (verse 17)

Paul has prayed for them to be strengthened and now he is describing the transformation that occurs in a Christian’s heart when Christ is given rule over their heart, which is that we become more trusting of God and we become stronger in our faith because we are growing roots!

And this is the one verse I want you to remember after today.

And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. (verse 18)

Let those words sink in – how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love is. Paul is giving us the best description he knows how to explain how limitless and how huge God’s love is for us. But notice we have to be rooted first to grow in this understanding.

Take a few minutes and just evaluate all that you have been feeling lately.

Do you believe Jesus loves you?

Do you believe Jesus can love you?

Those are two very different questions. The first doesn’t require an in depth look at yourself, it is really an evaluation of Jesus. The second question means we have to look at ourselves and find what is lovable. Too many times, we are hung up on what does Jesus love about me. Case in point, how many of you wives have asked your husbands at some point in the relationship, what do you love about me? Right? We want to know why?

With Jesus that answer is very simple – because he just does. Jesus loves everyone, no matter who you are, no matter what your status is, no matter who you know – He just loves people.

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Friend, today, I simply want you to know this – Jesus Loves You! Receive it and embrace it!!!

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