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?

By Dara LaPorta

 

 

I’ve had my fair share of embarrassing moments.  Some are funny, like the time I was back-flipping across the gym floor in front of a crowded gymnasium cheering on our high school basketball team, lost control and crashed.  The crowd let out a collective gasp, to which I quickly sprung up and exclaimed, “I’m okay!”

 

But one story leans less towards embarrassing and more towards humiliating.  Around six years ago, my husband was playing professional baseball and we were enjoying the company of one of his teammates and his wife, rejoicing in her success, as she had recently fulfilled her dream of starting her own cookie business.

 

Kindly, Justin (Matt’s teammate) turned to me and thoughtfully asked, “Dara, what’s your dream?”

 

I panicked.  I stuttered.  I stalled.  I had nothing.  Not one thing came to mind, not one small goal or crazy dream.  Outwardly, I avoided the question and laughed it off, but inwardly I was devastated.

 

Proverbs 29:18 (GNV) says,  “Where there is no vision, the people decay.”

I was decaying and didn’t even know it.  What had happened to me?  I used to be motivated and disciplined and hard working.  I used to be confident (maybe even overly confident) of who I was and sure that God had amazing things planned for me.  How had I become passion-less, purpose-less, dream-less?

 

Looking back now, it’s so clear.  Because of the transiency of my husband’s professional baseball career, I struggled to find a place of my own.  I chose instead to invest all of me into his career, into his dreams, ignoring the dreams and passions God had built me for.  I had forgotten that God made me not to JUST be Matt’s wife, but to be HIS daughter.  He made me for a unique purpose and I had abandoned it.

 

Psalm 139:13,14 says,

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

 

 

Have you forgotten too?  Have you placed your dreams, your gifts, your hopes on the back-burner, assuming your best days are behind you?  Did you forget God created you with purpose and intention?  He created you with gifts and characteristics unique to you, all to bring Him glory?

 

Ann Voskamp said this and the words have been ringing in my ears ever since I read them:

 

“Now is not the time to be demure with the gifts you’ve been given.  Share them lavishly.  Now is the time to let your life be poured out as ink in an epic story of bold sacrifice and startling courage.”

 

I wish I could say that after that humiliating encounter, I took immediate action right then and there.  Unfortunately, it took me another three years to recognize my decay and take those first steps into rediscovering God’s purposes for me.  Even now, I am still learning how to dream boldly, share my gifts lavishly, and press on without fear.

 

So now I turn to you and thoughtfully ask, “What is your dream?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Pam Otto

 

 

A couple weeks ago I started the Summer Study “Without Rival” by Lisa Bevere.  While reading through a few chapters of the book, I was reminded of some things she shared when she was speaking at our Fearless Conference this past January.  I didn’t have to read more than a few pages to be taken back once again by her phrase “God doesn’t love us equally; He loves us uniquely!”

 

What???  What do you mean He doesn’t love us equally?  How could that be?  Our God is a God who loves everyone, right?  Why wouldn’t He love us the same?  Lisa goes on to explain that God’s love can’t be measured and that His love for us is unique~ without equal or rival.  She said that there is no rival for God’s affection for each of us!  Wow!  I believe that…mostly…usually…don’t I?

 

 

As our small group began to unpack this statement, we came across some truths that challenged us to walk out and possibly re-learn some things that we once knew. Here are a few nuggets to ponder:

 

  • “God loves each of us as if there were one of us”
  • “You are the only example of You”
  • “No one can do you like you!”
  • “You are His delight”
  • “You don’t have to fight for your place at the table or win His love.  No one can take you out or replace you.”

 

Yikes! If I deeply believe and own these truths, then I’m pretty sure I can do a better job of thinking, acting, walking and living like it.  I know and believe that God truly loves me, but sometimes I get stuck with the thought that He just might occasionally prefer others a bit more.  I mean, isn’t He more pleased with those who have more noticeable talents or gifts, or are more disciplined, or those who always seem to have the best answer or who make the right choices?  Nope, that’s not the case!

 

Look what Romans 12: 5-6 says:

“So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ’s body, let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other or trying to be something we aren’t.”

 

I love when it says, “Let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be!”  What a great invitation!  We get to be ourselves!  God wants us to be the person that He intended for us to be!

 

I don’t know about you, but I can be a great cheerleader of everyone else, building them up with God’s truths and believing the best in them.  I can declare God’s word over my family, I can pray over my friends, I can encourage those who need a timely word, but when it comes to my own identity, I can too easily get defeated by my persistent flaws and weaknesses.  This study is a good reminder to be continually aware of the love that God has for me, the unique and unrivaled affection for who He made me to be.

 

My prayer is to allow God to step into those old, messy ways of thinking and replace my faulty thinking with His unique and complete love for me.  How about you?  Are you able to hear the words of life that God is speaking over you?

 

By Lisa Crumbley

 

 

I love how God is always inviting us to know Him more personally.  It amazes me the ways He reveals Himself and that He can use any and all circumstances to do that.

 

My current circumstance is that I have been deeply hurt by a family member who has engaged me in a horrendous legal battle. I have been verbally attacked and have spent a small fortune defending these untruths. I have cried out to God. I have sought truth. And yet, here we are in this terribly hurtful situation that has the potential to bring all sorts of anger and fear in my life.

 

Without God, I would be going bananas! The “Old Lisa” would have possessed an unforgiving spirit as well as harbored bitterness, anger, and resentment. I am embarrassed to admit that this church going, Bible study teaching, Christian woman, would have also really been revengeful. But, as I have grown in my faith, the “New Lisa”, has chosen a different path… and the peace that I have is worth the choice!

 

I choose to rise above the situation, turn to God and realize that I cannot change the other person. The only thing I have control over is how I react to the lies being thrown my way. If I rise above it, I can pray for the opposition as I realize that he is in control of his choices. I have come to realize that my trials have brought me closer to my Savior who is eager to show me what He wants to teach me in this situation.

 

As I was in His Word pondering the “why”, God revealed to me all the ways he has my back! In fact, I almost ran out of yellow highlighter as I underlined all His names! He told me he was my Defender, Deliverer, Fortress, Strength, Refuge, Advocate, and Comforter. Only He can stop me from going “BANANAS” and fill me with peace in the middle of this awful fire storm.

 

I then had another revelation. What I am about to share might not be quite a revelation to you, but some sort-of-a light bulb went off for me. All the different names for our ONE TRUE GOD covers all our vast emotional needs. I am excited to continue my personal discovery of the innumerable names of God as it helps me to know Him on a more personal level.

 

God is Healer, Good Shepherd, Alpha and Omega, Rock, Bridegroom, Strong Tower, Creator, Teacher, Merciful, Counselor, Jehovah-Jireh, and Shelter. Which name for our ONE TRUE GOD are you relating to right now and why?