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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

God's Amazing Grace

I remember how amazed I was when I first heard Jennifer Rothschild’s testimony. Jennifer is a speaker, author and a singer who was diagnosed at age 15 with a disease that was taking her eye sight. I have heard her share her story on numerous occasions and each time I am more inspired than the last.

Think about it, if you were told today it is only a matter of time before you will no longer see anything for the rest of your life what would your reaction be?

My first thought would be to go and see everything I could possibly see. Take in every color, every mountain, every cloud, every sunrise and sunset, wallpapering my mind with as many sights and memories as I could so when the day came I could no longer see I would be able to remember.

Then I would think of my children yet to be born, I would never see their faces or my husband’s for that matter. I would never be able to even see what I looked like as I aged (well that one might actually be ok). There would be no reading of a good book on a cold rainy day. As I would ponder these thoughts I am sure they would spiral me into a deep dark pit of depression.

But this was not Jennifer’s reaction. Not one time does she speak of any of these actions or thoughts.

So what was Jennifer’s first reaction? After that fateful doctor’s visit, she and her parents drove straight home in a car filled with dreams dashed and hopes vanished. After she walked through the doorway she would one day not be able to see, but have to feel her way through, she walked straight to her piano and proceeded to play and sing. Amazingly she was playing it in a key she had never played in before. The song she was singing? It is Well with My Soul

Oh, to handle such devastation with that kind of dignity and grace could only be God.

2 Corinthians 12:9 tells us, “…My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness…”

How could Christ’s power possibly work better in my weakness?

I once heard of a lifeguard who was not rushing out to a drowning man to save him but remained on the shore just watching him. An onlooker asked the lifeguard why he was not doing his job and he responded that if he was to go out there the man would panic and because of his strength pull the lifeguard down and they would both drown. He told the onlooker I have to wait until he is about to go under, when he is at his weakest point, then and only then can I save him.

At our weakest point is when God has total control over our salvation. That’s how God’s power works best in our weakness.

Salvation for you today may be a physical healing, a new job, bills being paid, a relationship restored, exercising forgiveness or maybe just a little dignity and grace enabling you to deal with the overwhelming circumstances life can bring.

No matter what type of salvation you need it is through grace that we all are saved and it is something we do not have to earn but simply receive as all gifts are. (Ephesians 2:8)

I am sure Jennifer never would have chosen to go through her adult life with no sight. But on the other hand it has been her salvation because in her weakness Christ power has developed her strength and character enabling her to walk in the darkness and it has worked many mighty miracles. There are books and songs that would have never been released, Bible studies never written and countless lives that would have never been touched.

As I look back to the weakest moments in my own life, I see where God reached down and saved me just before I was about to go under. No, I too would have never chosen to walk in my times of darkness, but I am so thankful I did because my reliance upon Him and His grace toward me has shaped, molded, stretched and matured me into the woman I am today.

They say experience is the best teacher. I pray that every negative and weak experience you and I encounter throughout our lives God’s power and grace would always remain greater.

And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. 2 Corinthians 9:8 (NKJV)

Reflection:

What have been some of your weakest moments in life? Have you given it all to God? Did He let you drown or can you vividly see His salvation?

Are you better because of the experience you have walked through? If so, give thanks to God for His power and grace that is always greater than our weakness.


Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 1:2
Tina

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Ignite the Flames

Hello Friends!

If you follow this blog at all you know that my main purpose and goal is to give you encouragement and strengthen you, using God's Word, as you travel through your daily life. My post are on weekdays, but this weekend I wanted to share with you something I feel very passionate about, and that is my marriage.

Mark and I have been married 18 years. I can honestly say our marriage, I believe, is greater and stronger and we are more in love 18 years after we said "I do" than any two people should be allowed to be. But it did not just happen overnight. Oh, no my friend. Lots of tears, 'loud talking', and asking for forgiveness have been part of our journey helping pave the road for the wonderful marriage we have today.

So I want to let you know about a great five week marriage class taught by Mark beginning Thursday, February 5th at the Alachua Woman's Club in Alachua, Florida. There is no cost but we do need you to register by clicking here. This class will start at 7pm and last one hour. Even if you are not married yet this class is for you. Being prepared today will help prevent many issues from becoming big problems tomorrow.



"Every marriage has its ups and downs. It’s all part of the seasons and cycles of having long and lasting relationships. Unfortunately, far too many people give up on the process before they can really discover how beautiful and fulfilling a healthy relationship can be.

God knows and understands the struggles we have trying to find contentment and peace in our marriages and He has provided us a blueprint to achieve it. Whether you have a wonderful marriage or your flame is about to flicker out, these five weeks of teaching will change your relationship and ignite the flames of love again."
J. Mark Johns


Would love to have you join us!
Tina

Friday, January 23, 2009

Dream a Little Dream

God’s dream for you is bigger than you can imagine!

Do you wonder how anything “big” could ever be produced from your ordinary life?

Here is a thought for us, we all are ordinary.

Years ago there was a woman who just wanted to simply love and care for the poor and less fortunate. Through her ordinary service she made an extraordinary impact on not just Calcutta, but the world and in 1979 Mother Teresa won the Nobel Peace Prize and India's highest civilian honor, the Bharat Ratna, in 1980 for her humanitarian work.

God wants to do something huge through you and me too.

In Matthew, Jesus shared a story about a master who entrust part of his treasure to three of his servants while away on a trip. Upon his return, he calls the servants together to see what they’ve done with his money. Two made the money grow but one did nothing because he was afraid of losing it. The two are commended and the other was condemned.

For the two who were good stewards, Jesus said these words, “Well done, good and faithful servant!…” Matthew 25:21

Doing big things for God does not mean that you have to radically change your life, just live the life you have in front of you. Listen to the words of Mother Teresa, “Be faithful in the small things, and God will entrust more to you as you mature and grow in your faith.”

I’m sure she never could have imagined the dreams God had for life, she was just simply doing the things God placed in her heart.

So if you long and desire to do big things for God, just be faithful with what He has called you to today, even if that is just taking care of your home and family.

What does the rest of verse 21 say?

“...because you were loyal with small things, I will let you care for much greater things. Come and share my joy with me.”

Living God's dream is a joy greater than we could ever imagine!

Reflection:

Are you presently doing the task that God has called you to today? Are you doing it to the best of your ability for Him?

When we believe God truly has big plans for our lives it may require us to make some changes. What changes do you know you need to start making today so you can live God’s dreams tomorrow?

Have a great Friday!
Tina

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Seasons Change Part 2

Ok, so let’s dive into this seasons thing a little deeper.

Yesterday we compared the seasons of the year to the seasons of our lives and noted how all seasons will come and then eventually will go.

How exactly does the different seasons work? Well, in nature things come forth, grow and fulfill their purpose and then die. The seasons of our lives work in the same way and we are all in one of these particular seasons right now.

But our main focus yesterday was the season of cold darkness and dreary days. The last place we want camp out and stay… much like winter.

I was in Indiana the week before Thanksgiving and it was so cold and snowy. We were in the middle of farm country and this Florida born and raised girl has never been in snow like that. While staying with our friends they taught us how they live and operate in the winters and let me tell you that EVERYTHING slows down. Where the speed limit is 55, because of the ice and snow, you go 25. School starts later and running to the store to pick up a gallon of milk is something you just don’t do. If you ain’t got it chances are you ain’t gettin’ it. Strategically planning your days is a must.

Believe it or not the cold winters are very necessary in the farm country because as the ground gets very cold and freezes it kills all the germs and bacteria that could be harmful to the crops (or harvest).

God has so designed it that both things here on earth and in life operate in seasons.

As long as the earth continues, planting and harvest,
cold and hot, summer and winter,
day and night will not stop.
Genesis 8:22 (NCV)

So is there a purpose to our winters? Yes, our winters in life are necessary to kill a few harmful things that will keep you from producing your harvest. It might be that unbelief needs to die or maybe a little pride. Lack of trust in God will definitely keep you from your harvest too.

God wants you and me to be and do the mighty things He has placed us on this earth for and the winter is where He will teach us, train us, and even kill a few things in us. Then and only then are we ready to reap our harvest. You see the farmer does not get the harvest first. Oh it would be so nice not to have to go through all the plowing and planting and all the sweat and tears and 5am mornings. But it is only when we have worked hard for our harvest that we appreciate and protect it the most.

So until spring time comes, what do you do in your winter? Trust God. Lean on God. Learn from God. And know that this is just a temporary season that will come to an end.

And when you have done all you can do and know to do, then, just like the farmer, you will have to patiently wait.

Now listen to the words in Galatians 6:9 and let them give you strength and courage.

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

Oh, please don't give up yet. You do have a due date that has been set by God. And just like giving birth, the contractions may get harder, the pain more intense, but when all is said and done you will be holding the greatest bundle of joy that only God could bring you. And oh yea, it is going to cause you to stretch a little. (That's another blog for another time)

I am so praying for each and every one of you for God to uphold you, comfort you, and bless you. Whether you are in your winter, spring, summer or fall, God is with us in all the seasons of our lives.

Hope you are staying warm,
Tina

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Seasons Change

With all the cold temperatures this week it sure has made me so long for endless sunny days of endless sandy beaches.

I know that will not be a reality in my near future so until then I will layer up, grab my coffee and head out the door to my frost covered car and drive to my windowless office. (sigh)

No matter how cold I get though, or how white my legs are (lol), I have hope because spring is on the way! I know this because I have been experiencing the changing of seasons every year since 1973.

Yes, suffering through the cold is not a major issue in the grand scheme of all the hardships in life, but just like each year we will cycle in and out of seasons, rest assured that in our lives we will experience cycles as well.

I know it can be very difficult to live in the present when your present may be dark and dismal and all you long for is to see the sun shine again. But God wants you to know in your cold and dark days The Son is shining on you and know that His Word tells us He will never leave you and He will never forsake you. The world may all walk out on you, but rest assured that is when Christ walks in.

This posting may not be for you today, but I just feel that there is someone out there in bloggy land who needs a little encouragement.

Not one year has gone by in my soon to be 36 years that spring did not come, not one, and your spring my friend is on its way. New life is coming back to you. Not because I say it is, but because God says it is.

There is a time for everything,
and everything on earth has its special season.
Ecclesiastes 3:1

Every situation in your life is there for a season and just like summer, spring, fall and winter, seasons will come and seasons will go. But you must know that your seasons are not without purpose and tomorrow I want to discuss that in more detail along with what to do in the middle of your seasons you feel are never going to change.

Until then, have hope for your future. One definition of hope is the feeling that what is wanted can be had.

All things are possible to them that believe. Mark 9:23

If you believe, what you are hoping for today will and can be the reality you live in tomorrow!

And I promise your latter will be greater than your past.

Hoping to see ya tomorrow!
Tina

Friday, January 16, 2009

What's in Your Vault?

Hello Ladies, and again, a few Gentlemen, I am so excited to share with you an awesome story today.

Wednesday night we had dinner with a couple we have a great friendship with. The purpose for the dinner was to see them for the last time before they move back to the husband’s home town in Nebraska. They are such a sweet young couple. (FYI, anything under 40 is considered young to me, lol)

The husband’s former boss has offered him a great position at a bank and as we shared our ‘last supper’ together they told us the story of how they made their decision to return home.

After many, many days of praying to find God’s perfect will the deadline to give their answer to accept the job was quickly approaching. Knowing he had to let the man know the very next day the husband came into the bedroom where the wife was watching TV and said, “OK, what’s it going to be?” Her answer, “I don’t know.”

They decided to pray, one more time, together for God to give them an answer and peace regarding His will. Just a short simple prayer was all that was needed. After they said amen they returned to watching Storm Chasers on TV. In this particular episode the two teams were watching their monitors and radars to see where the next tornado would touch down. Finally one man says, “There is something big getting ready to happen in Nebraska. Should we go or should we stay?”

(Have you got goose bumps yet?)

After struggling and debating and vacillating over what to do finally the lead man said, “That’s it! We are going to Nebraska!”

Coincidence? I don’t think so.

I am so thankful for when God so conspicuously answers our prayers.

My husband gave some great advice to this couple and said, “You need to take that and store it away in your faith vault because there will come a day when you will need to retrieve it and know that if God heard your prayer and answered then, God definitely will hear and answer you again”

That is so true. God was faithful yesterday, is faithful today and will be faithful forever. I can’t thank God enough for the fact that He cares about every one of us and cares about every one of our needs, concerns, desires and dreams.

And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him. 1 John 5:14-15

Reflection:

Think back to the time God answered a prayer in your life that you knew beyond a shadow of any doubt it was God. Take that memory and place it in your faith vault so the next time you need encouragement you can retrieve it and know God will always remain faithful.

If you are new to this faith walk with God and do not have a memory to store, when you are in need of a little encouragement you can turn to the Word and read where God answered Moses, Daniel, Samuel, Sarah, Hannah, Paul and many many more and know that God is not a respector of persons, if He did it for them, he WILL do it for you too! Acts 10:34

Heading off to store some things in my vault,
Tina

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Looks can be Deceiving Part 2

As I noted in the last post we are continuing our thought today regarding deception.

Let’s look at two scriptures in Matthew.

Matthew 7:15-20

Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves. You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.

A few years ago I was wondering if I was being deceived. As usual my husband preached an on-time word that answered my question. In his sermon he spoke of “wolf proofing” yourself. He told us the best way to see if you are dealing with a wolf (or deceiver) in sheep’s clothing is to look at their tracks. That may seem simple but it was such a revelation for me at the time. As I contemplated my situation it was definitely the tracks of a vicious wolf instead of a harmless sheep that was marking the ground around me.

Now let’s read Matthew 10:16. Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.

I was so thankful for the wisdom and instruction of my husband. I want you to have the same warning and wisdom as well. When dealing with any situation you will always find answers and help in the Word. Matthew 7:15-20 was the Word I needed at the time I needed it.

So if you are not sure if a situation you are encountering is legitimate or not, you can always look at the fruit being produced and the tracks left behind. They won’t lie even when the Enemy does.

Then pray! Pray that God will protect you and give you wisdom in all things. And if it is a person who had tried to deceive you, pray for them because the closest person to them the enemy is deceiving is not you, it is themselves.

Until next time!
Tina

Monday, January 12, 2009

Looks can be Deceiving

Having a 17 year old son carries many… how can I say this… ups and downs. One of the ups is his ability to drive. Therefore when we are lacking a few ingredients for our breakfast-for-dinner what’s a mom of this almost-an-adult to do? Send him on a little shopping spree to the nearest grocery store of course.

Funny thing is I sent him with a list consisting only of eggs, OJ and bacon and he came back with things not strategically placed on said list. Now how did he know I needed more waist expanding, temptation calling, willpower killers in the house? (Great, right now Marie Osmond is on the TV showing off her 45lb weight loss. Well good for you. No, I’m not jealous… or bitter… or jealous. OK, maybe a little.)

Focus Tina… back to my son.

He came home Sunday afternoon from his little mission trip to the grocery store with some glorified, off brand, Little Debbie Swiss Rolls. I have to admit they looked like they were going to be the best 240 calories I put in my mouth on that wonderful Lord’s Day. But my whole family agreed they were not. Lesson #1 … Looks can so be deceiving.

Here are a few more lessons I want us to look at today.

Lesson #2 Deception is nothing new. It did not begin with those glorified, off brand, Little Debbie Swiss Rolls. As a matter of fact we read in Genesis that sin came into the Garden thousands of years ago all because Satan was able to deceive Eve.

Then the Lord God asked the woman, “What have you done?” “The serpent deceived me,” she replied. “That’s why I ate it.” Genesis 3:13

Lesson #3 Deception produces pain. Eve had to go through a lot of pain, literally.

Then he said to the woman, “I will sharpen the pain of your pregnancy, and in pain you will give birth…” Genesis 3:15

Unfortunately all women are effected by that one. Which leads us to the next point.

Lesson #4 Deception will affect others. Eve being deceived effected Adam too and has even reached through the portals of time to us today.

And to the man he said, “Since you listened to your wife and ate from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat the ground is cursed because of you. All your life you will struggle to scratch a living from it. It will grow thorns and thistles for you, though you will eat of its grains. By the sweat of your brow will you have food to eat until you return to the ground from which you were made. For you were made from dust, and to dust you will return.” Genesis 3:17-19

Today we are seeing that one of Satan’s chief tools is deception. Ladies, and a few gentlemen, please do not be deceived into thinking you could never be deceived like Eve. The prudent understand where they are going, but fools deceive themselves. Proverbs 14:8

In 2009 I want us to be so aware of his devices that nothing, I mean nothing will slip by us. We do not have to be ignorant to his schemes. The Word gives us ample instruction on how to “wolf proof” ourselves. This will be our topic for tomorrow.

Until then, I want to urge you to get alone with God and ask Him to reveal areas in your life where the enemy is trying to deceive you. It is up to you and me to be proactive in guarding our hearts and minds in protecting ourselves because when we get lax is when we get weak. When we are weak we are easy prey.

OK Ms. Marie, I’m off to the gym.

Hope you have a great Monday!
Tina

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Hello 2009!

Another Holiday Season has come and gone. My tree is on the burn pile, ornaments packed away by color and garland stored (crammed) in totes. The house is clean, for a couple more days, but it’s not just clean, it’s bare… empty looking. No more lights glistening or candles glowing. It almost makes me feel sad but on the other hand, it signifies a newness as well.

So... out with the old and in with the new. A new year, a new freshness, a new adventure and maybe some new d├ęcor.

It’s great to be able to begin again. No matter how many resolutions you meant to keep last year, today is a new day. Paul said it best when he said, "forgetting what’s behind, I press on."

I have found over the years that it can be much easier to hold on than to let go, especially to good things, but do we realize God maybe trying to move us on into better things? Paul did not say, “I let go of the difficulties of my past,” he said I let go of the past… good and bad.

My Christmas tree was pretty this year (deer antler topper and all) but it can’t be Christmas all year. If you walked in my home in July and I still had it up, lights plugged in and poinsettias all over my mantle I hope you would say, “Tina, I think it is time to move on.” And I hope I would listen otherwise you all might think I was crazy (which, if you ask my kids, is not a far stretch).

Is God telling you in 2009, “It’s time to move on from some things in your life.”?

Do you trust Him enough to let go, even of the good?

I’m really not good at making resolutions. So this year my desire is to listen to the heartbeat of God for my life more than I have before.

He had some big plans for my life last year. When 2008 started, I had no idea I would be leaving one ministry to start another one. Absolutely no clue.

Being on staff at CCLC for 10 years was a good thing that Mark and I had let go of in order to move into our destined future. Our mission has changed but thankfully the friendships we made over those years will always remain the same!

I hope you are getting my point, God will move us even from the good things in our lives. But if we never let go, fighting to hold on, we are binding His hands to do even greater miracles through us and for us.

I just wonder, what’s the end of 2009 going to look like? If I listen to the voice of God I know it will be greater than I can even imagine.

Anticipating the future!
Tina