By Amy Hafner

 

 

“I spend my time with God at 4:30am,” a wise pastor once said to me. “Well, mornings just aren’t my thing,” I replied. I went home thinking, “I want to give God my best and my best is in the evening.”  When I did study his word, pray, or worship Him, evening would be the time.

 

About a year later I was feeling empty in my relationship with God.  I wasn’t absorbing His Word.  Sure, I was reading but I didn’t feel His Word was speaking to me. My heart wasn’t changing.  To be completely honest, time with Him was boring and I was doing it to check it off my giant to-do list. I didn’t enjoy it at all.

 

One morning, while getting ready for my day, I prayed, “Father I don’t know what I’m doing wrong, I want to know you better, I just don’t know how.” A few weeks later, I went to a conference with my husband.  The theme that kept popping up to me was, if you really want to know God, you need to know God’s word.

 

I heard a woman speaker there, who was also an author.   She had something about her that I wanted.  She could quote more scripture than anyone I had ever met.  She had so much confidence, so much joy, and so much energy and I wanted it too.

 

I went to her breakout session and she hammered home reading the Bible and reading it in the morning.   She talked about the One Year Bible Plan and I felt God convicting me.  Committing to this was something I needed to do and I needed to do it in the morning.

 

“Seek first the Kingdom of God” Matthew 6:33

 

Remember, I don’t like mornings. I didn’t want to wake up earlier.  Mornings are “ugly” for me. Then something hit me, God’s unconditional love for us.  He doesn’t care what any of us look like in the morning, if we have messy hair or if even we are grumpy.  And personally, that was probably why I should be hanging out with Him first thing!

 

 

No matter what side of the bed I roll out on, if He is on my side, my day is better and my day has more meaning.  Hopefully, if I don’t fight Him, I will do His will, not mine, which I’ve learned is such a better plan.

 

When God is on my mind first thing, He tends to be on my mind all day and I am continually in prayer.  I’m able to be a better, wife, mother and friend.

 

If you have been struggling with your relationship with God, pray.  This has been a journey for me and the beauty of it is that He has a unique journey for you! He wants to know your heart. He loves you, and He is waiting.

By Ashley Kuczynski

 

 

We were smack dab in the middle of our “Believing Jesus” study by Lisa Harper and deeply engaged in the book of Acts.  A member in my GFC summer group asked, “How do you all feel about asking for help?”  The verse in Acts 2:32 says “All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared in everything they had”. The community of the early church was such that what was literally mine was also yours and the pool of resources were distributed based on need. The early church lived together, worked together, ate together, worshipped together, and met the needs of each other together.

 

This summer I’ve been reminded time and time again that God is the God of community. In fact, He’s the creator of community with the climax of creation and the original community… The Family. Following the creation of community throughout the word of God are testimonies of His mighty power in the presence of our togetherness.

 

The Israelites were delivered from slavery together, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego survived the fiery furnace together, Gideon and his soldiers were delivered from a fierce enemy together, the walls of Jericho fell when a group or community of men marched around them, and Jesus would not even begin his ministry until he had assembled a group who would be with Him in ministry.

 

As I reflect back over the times in my life where I have audibly and tangibly witnessed involvement from God, it has been in the presence of other believers in Community.  God literally arrives when we are in the presence of each other. His word says that where two or more are gathered in His name there He will be (Matthew 18:20).

 

 

In January at the Fearless conference, I attended the “Organizing Your Home” breakout session. After teaching methods and organizing hacks were shared by the speaker,  our session was opened for questions. A woman named Felicia raised her hand. She proceeded to explain that she’s a single mom of twin 10-year old girls, works full-time, is also in college struggles in organizing her home because it takes time that she truly does not have.

 

Another woman in the group named Mia, a complete stranger to Felicia, piped up and said, “I’d like to help you. I didn’t know why the Lord told me to come into this session but He told me to come in because He had something in here for me”. The interaction was sweet and I remember it well.

 

Several months later I ran into Felicia at a Saturday night service. As we caught up and connected in conversation, she proceeded to tell me how Mia had honored her offer and had started to come over and help her in organizing her home. She said their was an instant bond as they connected over shared single motherhood and this new friendship has made her feel less alone. Felicia said that she went to the Fearless conference expecting and knowing that God was going to do something big, but that something manifested in an unexpected way and has confirmed how much God really does SEE our needs.

 

For me, the question is not how I feel about asking for help, but rather, am I surrounded by those who recognize when I need it? I was reminded that worship takes on many forms and sometimes it’s two new friends connecting together while cleaning and organizing a home.

By Michele Laccabue

 

 

Fear is a part of human nature.  Fear can grip us in the most obvious situations or catch us off guard when least expecting it.  When fear rises, are we prepared and equipped to handle it?

 

Our Fearless Conference, in January, left me fired up and ready to charge ahead with greater boldness and fearlessness for Christ.   How could I not after seeing Lisa Bevere extend her arm towards the heavens holding up an impressively huge sword?   Powerful image.  Powerful reminder.  Power of the sword.  The Sword of the Spirit.  God’s gift of His Word.  Our go-to weapon when fear rises!

 

Immediately after the conference, I joined a Freedom group and soon pinpointed areas where fear rears its ugly head in my life story.  For me, the fears of rejection, failure, and loss had taken root in my soul.  I discovered that my life is peppered with examples of  “me, myself, and I”  trying to push through fearful situations without waiting on God and depending on His lead and His timing.  Oh, the Enemy has so enjoyed watching me struggle trying to do things my way.

 

So, here I am, a few months later, doing what I think is a pretty good job of surrendering to God’s ways and walking fearlessly in His strength.  But, then, an unexpected decision arises that alters the trajectory of the ministry plans “I thought” God had given me.  My old fear of rejection crept in as I became fearful of losing something near and dear to my heart.   After shedding a few tears, I went into immediate find-the-solution- and-fix-the problem-mode without waiting on God’s direction.  I thought I was being rather strong and fearless.

 

 

THANKFULLY, three days into this charade, I snapped out of the Enemy’s lure because God placed wise women of our church in my path to speak truth.  And, one of them was wearing a Fearless T-shirt.  Boom!   Be fearless!  I remembered the sword.

 

When fear rises, we are to wield the Sword of the Spirit FIRST before we charge forward.  We are to remember what God has implanted into our hearts.  His words are living, active, and are our weapon to use against the Evil One’s lies.  They also have power to transform us by renewing the mind.  Bye bye stinkin thinkin!

 

Our good good Father reminded me of Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God.

 

Screech. Slam on the brakes. BE STILL!

I could hear God speaking this loving message, “Be still. I am God. Let me be God. Stop going ahead of me. Wait. I have a plan. Trust  me. I know it is very tough for you to be still, but I’ve got this.  You KNOW me, Michele.  Remember all I have done.  I am going to show you something new. Your next thing. “

 

And with that encounter, I was free of fear.  Faith replaced fear.  Fearless!  Thank you Jesus!

 

When fear rises, what voice are you listening to?  Do you remain still (& quiet) long enough to hear what our Lord is saying?

By Stephanie Haile

 

 

It seems like every time I go to exercise at least one person has an ailment that they want to discuss with me. I really don’t mind talking with people about what body part hurts this week, but sometimes the situations seem so helpless and I wish I could do something.

 

For example, recently, a friend at exercise class said her shoulder is preventing her from doing her normal routine. It had popped out of socket and you could see the pain in her face as she tried to lift her arm. I was moved with compassion and felt led to pray for her right then and there… but I didn’t. I said, “Awe, bless your heart.” Then I went about my day.

 

Later on, I felt God ask, “Do you really believe I can do anything?” Well, yes God, I believe You can get me a good parking spot at Walmart, I believe You can take care of the orphans and widows all around the world. I believe You will help me get through a day of cleaning and cooking and wiping and griping, etc. Yep God, I believe!

 

As you know, when God does not hear the answer He wants from us, and we have not fully learned the lesson, He asks us again.  At that point Philippians 4:13 was brought to my mind. “I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.”

 

Did I not pray for this sweet friend because I felt like God couldn’t do it? Was I afraid God would let her down? If the Bible says I can do ALL THINGS, why don’t I believe that. If God is really living in me, why do I just trust God with little behind the scenes work, instead of major awesome events that could change the world.

 

I am sure the first time one of the disciples prayed for someone to be healed, in the back of his mind he thought, “Man I hope this works, ’cause I just told this guy to stand and walk. If God doesn’t do something, these people watching are going to run me out of town!”

 

I see this journey like a baby bird in the nest. The only way that bird will ever enter into its full potential is to jump off its cozy, safe nest and fly. Yes, it does risk the chance of not flying and hitting the ground, but with God, He is always there to catch us!

 

I believe God wants us to be fearlessly bold! Will you be bold today?

By Sanjie Jackson

 

 

I was sitting in the waiting room at my doctor’s office reading a contract while waiting to be called. I had been sick for two weeks straight. While I didn’t feel sick anymore, my lymph nodes were enlarged and they became so painful that it was hard to walk at times. All kinds of thoughts raced through my mind… What’s wrong with me? Why is this lingering? Do I have cancer?

 

At that moment, my phone rang. It was work. Again. That’s when I realized how I got here… I STAY TOO BUSY.

 

A few weeks ago, I was in Haiti doing dental missions (a calling that is near to my heart). When I returned from the trip, I went right back to work. Then, soon after that it was my birthday, which was fun- filled with family and friends. All these things were awesome, but the problem is that in between all these activities, as well as staying involved at church, planning my family reunion and managing two dental practices, I made no time for rest.  At some point I need to learn to say “No” to a few things. I need to put less on my plate.

 

What happens when we don’t get enough rest? Our bodies don’t work optimally. Our immune system becomes compromised and we become more susceptible to disease. Also, our brain function diminishes. Lack of rest disrupts the neural pathways that allow information to travel smoothly from one area of our brain to another. And, eventually we can crash.

 

That is what was happening to me! My body was crashing and trying to tell me to REST.  The great thing about being a child of God is that I can rest in Him. I don’t have to look far at all.

 

Psalms 23:2-3 says, “He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me besides the still waters. He restores my soul: He guides me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.”

 

 

This is my new favorite scripture because it LITERALLY tells me what I need to do. I interpret it as God telling me to lie down AND REST. I will choose the still water, which I call the beach.  And when I rest HE will restore me. HE will recharge me. And once I allow Him to fully charge me, then I can actually hear Him and I can fearlessly follow where He leads me.

 

Psalm 62: 1-2 says “My Soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.”  Part of my rest is reworking my daily schedule to spend quality time with God. When I set aside time to have my devotions, my heart and mind is at peace.

 

So, as I begin to move forward, I am working on limiting my weekly obligations so I’m not too tired to spend time with God.  Next, I’m learning to say NO which is hard for me. I will choose to rest, I can’t do everything that I’m asked.Learning to prioritize is not going to be easy but it certainly is essential to getting rest.

 

So, What about you? When was the last time you took time to rest?