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Matthew 17:20

 He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

 

It has been 6 weeks since I have written a blog post. I have now been in Georgia for 4 months and I love the area. I have had to take a step back and focus on what God’s purpose in this move was. I have been hibernating a bit this past 6 weeks. I have been working on obtaining my certification in biblical lay counseling. I have been conquering my anxiety issues. I have been spending time with God and discerning where He wants me to serve. When I moved down here, I was determined that I would not take another go- nowhere -stress-me-out job that doesn’t pay enough to live on. I want more than that. I have always had a missionary heart and I wanted to move here to serve the community. I had a couple of false starts, but I have found a community ministry that fits me like a glove! Living Bridges Ministry is in Valdosta, Georgia (45 minute drive from where we currently live). The ministry is moving into a new building and has some really AWESOME programs for those living in Valdosta.

Clothing Closet

Mom’s Connection Group

Transformation Group

Community Garden

Kid’s Connection during the Summer

Seasonal events

and more programs in the works

I am excited to get plugged in and to see where this goes! There will be a pastor who will have an office there to provide counseling. Does it pay? No, but the opportunities to serve others through programs that God has given me a passion for is worth the sacrifice. If I can be that example of a living and breathing faith then that is what I will do. It is scary, but it is also exciting. It is such a rush to see how God is going to work when we step out in faith with no safety net. I have no safety net. I am completely dependent on God to provide for my car insurance, gas to drive 1 1/2 hours a day to serve and my other expenses. It is exhilarating, but it is scaring me silly! Faith the size of a mustard seed. A mustard seed is very small. God, being fully aware of our human nature, only asks us to have the faith of a tiny mustard seed in order for Him to work on our behalf. I made the move to Georgia. I have dwindling funds. I have no safety net. I have faith in a God who has always gone before me, stood beside me and watched behind me. He has my back.

I start my new adventure on Monday. There is no better job than being able to follow my missionary heart in community ministry and love others to Jesus in this beautiful city of Valdosta, Georgia.

 

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Jonah: Part 4

 

 

Read Jonah: chapter 4

Recap: In chapter 1, Jonah runs from a direct command from God to go and warn the people of Nineveh to repent or God would deal harshly with them. In chapter 2, Jonah has been swallowed by a huge fish and is now crying out to God in his distress. Chapter 3 finds Jonah back on dry land (having been vomited up by the fish) and obeying God’s command to go to Nineveh and warn the people there of God’s judgement.

In chapter 4 we find Jonah angry that God has had compassion on the people of Nineveh. He proclaims that this is why he tried to run, because he knew that God is a compassionate God and would have compassion on these unholy people. Nineveh was the oldest and most-populous city in Assyria. From the description of Nineveh in Nahum 3 we see that the people of Nineveh were wicked, evil people and Nahum 1 tells us that they were enemies of Israel and of God. Jonah was angry because God had compassion on these sworn enemies of Israel. God teaches Jonah a lesson in compassion through a plant that grows and provides shade for Jonah and then withers away, leaving Jonah in the scorching heat. Jonah was angry about the plant withering away and in verses 9-11 God addresses Jonah’s anger:

9 But God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the plant? “It is,” he said. “And I’m so angry I wish I were dead.” 10 But the Lord said, “You have been concerned about this plant, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. 11 And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals?” 

Yes, we could focus on Jonah, who seems to be acting like a petulant child, but I want to focus on the bigger picture. I want to focus on the lesson that God is trying to teach Jonah.

In verse 2, Jonah describes the character of God:

He prayed to the Lord, “Isn’t this what I said, Lord, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. 

When Jonah went to Nineveh in chapter 3 and warned them of their impending doom, they turned from their wicked ways. The people listened to Jonah and repented. Because of their transformed hearts, God chose not to deal with them the way that He had intended too. He sent Jonah to warn them before He wiped them off the face of the earth. Even though they were His enemy, He still gave them a chance to repent. Why? God had created the people of Nineveh, just as He created the rest of us and He didn’t want them to perish. He didn’t want to have to deal with them harshly, just as He doesn’t want to deal with any of us today harshly. He sends His people to warn us of  the impending consequences of our sin. Romans 5:10 tells us:

 For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!

We have ALL been God’s enemies! He has chosen to save every one of us because He is gracious, compassionate, slow to anger, and abounding in love. We don’t deserve His compassion any more than the people of Nineveh did, but He relents from sending calamity when we repent and transform our hearts.

What Jonah is not understanding is that God expects the same of us. We are to be gracious, compassionate, slow to anger, and abounding in love. We are to be willing to forgive an enemy. We are to warn those who are buried in their sin. We are to warn them from hearts of compassion and love. God gives us ALL chance after chance after chance to repent and change. Why do we think that it is okay for us to just write other people off just because they have offended us or they believe differently? Why do we think that it is okay to wallow in our anger and self-righteous attitudes, when it is so far off from what God wants?

I admit that I have been known to hold a grudge and have spent some time wallowing in my anger over a slight or perceived injustice. Even when I was justified in my anger, I allowed it to harden my heart against those who had bullied me or hurt me. I did not act as God would want me too. I acted as Jonah and I too, became a petulant child who was only interested in my pride, my pain, myself. I did not care about praying for the situation or about seeking reconciliation. I was willing to write the person off and never think of them again.

NOT A VERY CHRIST LIKE ATTITUDE!

My Challenge To You: Is there anyone that you think of as your enemy? Why? I challenge you to start praying for that person and the situation. Ask God to open up the doors of communication that would allow healing in the relationship. Be an example of grace, compassion, peace and love as you seek to build that relationship. Do not allow your anger turn you into a dramatic, all about me, petulant child.

James 1:19-20

19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.

Jonah was out of control. Don’t allow his attitude to keep you from God’s will for you and for those He is seeking to save. Luke 19:10 tells us that the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost. We have the same mission on this earth. We can’t seek and save the lost when we are wallowing in our self-righteous anger. Let go of the anger and take on the characteristics of God. We are to be obedient to God’s will. ALWAYS!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jonah: Part 3

 

Read Jonah: Chapter 3

In chapter 1, Jonah ran from a direct command from God and ended up in the belly of a huge fish. In chapter 2, Jonah cries out in his distress and God commands the fish to vomit Jonah on dry land. Now in chapter 3, God again commands Jonah to go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim God’s message there. Jonah obeys this time and goes to Nineveh and gives the residents there God’s message.

What I find myself wondering is: what is Jonah’s motivation for obeying God this time around?

Is he wholeheartedly and gratefully obeying God’s command?

Is he reluctantly stepping out in obedience because he knows he doesn’t have a choice?

Is he obeying, but still holding onto a rebellious heart and a grumbling spirit?

Motivation matters. For me, I usually obey reluctantly and fearfully. I don’t think I have ever obeyed with a rebellious spirit, but I know that I usually don’t obey wholeheartedly and gratefully. I will admit to arguing with God and making excuses as to why He shouldn’t use me.  Moses and Gideon were reluctant servants. Although, God does bless the reluctant servant, I believe that He would prefer us to serve like Jesus, who served from a humble heart. Jesus was on this earth to fulfill His Father’s will (Luke 22:42). Jesus never complained about His God-given assignments. He never argued with God. He did what was expected of Him from a posture of submission and love.

My Challenge To You: I want you to reflect on your own motivation to obey God. Use a journal and ask yourself the following questions:

1. Are you obeying a command from God reluctantly because you know you don’t have a choice?

2. Are you obeying, but still holding onto a rebellious heart and a grumbling spirit?

3. Do you argue with God and make excuses, trying to convince God that He needs to choose someone else?

4. Are you obeying wholeheartedly and with a humble heart like Jesus?

5. Are you obeying because you know that God’s will is above your own and that is the only thing that matters?

6. Are you obeying out of love for God and others?

Be honest with yourself. Your answers will reveal where some heart work needs to be done. I have heart work to do myself. It is a part of the process of sanctification and transforming ourselves into the likeness of Christ. It is a lifelong journey. Don’t get discouraged. God sent the Holy Spirit to guide us and encourage us in the journey, so never give up. Keep moving forward and remember that God works all things for the good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).

 

Jonah: Part 2

 

Read Jonah: Chapter 2

In Jonah chapter 1, we find Jonah disobeying a direct command from God. Instead of being obedient, Jonah ran the other way.

Jonah chapter 2, we find Jonah in the belly of a big fish. Because of his disobedience, God had a big fish swallow him. Jonah is now dealing with the consequence of his actions and he is not happy about it. He starts to pray a prayer of desperation, ” In my distress I called to the Lord” “from deep in the realm of the dead I called for help.”

I imagine that Jonah has now realized that God is not messing around and he has started to panic. Will he die in the belly of this fish? Will God spare his life and give him another chance? Will God still be willing to use him for His purpose?

The big lesson here is that we CAN’T hide or run from God! Adam and Eve found that out when they tried to hide from God after they ate fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in Genesis chapter 2. I am almost certain that most of us turn to God in desperation when we are sinking in the mess of our own making and can’t seem to find the way out on our own. We call out to God in distress when we are stuck struggling with the consequences of our own sin.

Jonah would have saved a lot of time and heartache had he obeyed God in the first place. In my own life, I have been running from God. I have been hiding behind my anxieties. Using my anxieties as an excuse not to do what God is calling me to. But Guess what? God did not just leave Jonah to die in the belly of that fish! After Jonah prayed, God had the fish vomit Jonah onto dry land. God continued to pursue Jonah! He did not seek someone more willing to carry out this mission. God had handpicked Jonah for this job and even though Jonah wasted time in his disobedience, God waited until Jonah got over himself.

WOW! I see where this is going, Lord! My hiding behind my anxiety is a sin. Anxiety IS NOT from God and the longer I wallow in it and use it as an excuse to keep me from my God-given mission, the longer I keep other women from hearing about the love of God or knowing that they are loved by a risen Savior. God has pursued me for years now. I run and I hide. God will not choose someone else to fulfill a mission that He has handpicked me to accomplish and I guess I better stop playing Jonah and get my act together.

MY CHALLENGE TO YOU: If you are running from God or hiding behind an excuse so you won’t have to fulfill a God-given purpose, STOP RUNNING! STOP HIDING! Take it from me, it doesn’t work. God will not give up on you. If He has handpicked you for a special mission then, believe me, He will pursue you until you crack under the pressure and become an obedient vessel that He can use. Don’t choose living in sin over being obedient to the will of God. It never works out. It just makes you miserable. I am there. Living a life trapped in a prison of anxiety for years is no fun. I am crying out to God and I will be seeking help. FINALLY! And when God commands this big fish of anxiety to vomit me out, I will be ready and willing to accomplish His will in my life.

Heavenly Father,

I am so sorry that it has taken me this long to see the anxiety for what it is, SIN. I have wasted so many years wallowing in my own pathetic issues. I have wasted so many years making excuses for my running and hiding from your will. I am so sorry for my disobedience. I have been horrible and yet you pursue me still. I am 49 years old and you still pursue me. Never once, did you give up on me and choose someone else for this mission. I am humbled and I am grateful. Forgive me, Lord and help me heal as I seek help. I am here, Lord, use me.

In Jesus name,

Amen

Side Note: Many times when I write a post, I don’t know where it will go until I start writing. They all end up going in directions that I never intended. That is God. I am the instrument and He is the author. This one is very personal. It touches on something that I have struggled with for ages. I had no idea when I started writing this post that it would go this way. I could have kept it personal and not publish it, but I made a promise to be transparent. I want to let you see my mess, so that you can see a God that loves and heals. My blog has been a journey in my relationship with God, as I have struggled with my own humanness and God’s continual pursuit of me.

 

 

Jonah: Part 1

 

 

Read Jonah: Chapter 1

I think we have all heard the story of Jonah, the guy who was swallowed up by the fish because he ran away from God. In verse 2 God tells Jonah, “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.” In response, Jonah boards a ship headed in the opposite direction. This did not go over well with God! He sent a storm that terrified the ships crew. They eventually confronted Jonah and at Jonah’s command, they threw him overboard. The Lord sent a huge fish to swallow Jonah and Jonah was in the belly of the fish for three days and three nights.

In this chapter, we need to address the sin, the consequence, and the presence of innocent bystanders:

The sin:

Jonah was disobedient to God’s command. Instead of going to Nineveh as God commanded him, Jonah took off in the other direction.

The Consequence:

God sent a huge fish to swallow Jonah. Jonah sat in the belly of the fish for three days and three nights.

The Innocent Bystanders: 

The ships crew were innocent bystanders that got sucked into the mess Jonah made when he tried to run from God. They were thrown off schedule because of the storm. They lost precious cargo because they threw it into the sea, trying to lighten the weight of the ship. They dealt with emotional trauma because of the storm and ensuing chaos and didn’t know how to make it stop. These men suffered because of Jonah’s sin.

My Challenge To You:

We ALL have sin in our lives. That is simply a natural part of being human. I am challenging you to search your heart of any sin(s) that you might be struggling with today.

Journal the following:

The Sin: 

What sin or sins are you struggling with today? Be specific. This is between you and God. But, you can’t heal it unless you confess it.

The Consequence:

What consequences are you dealing with because of that sin(s)? How do you feel knowing that you could have avoided the consequence had you made a different decision? How will you address the temptation to sin in the future?

The Innocent Bystanders: 

Who are the people affected by your sin? Be sure to name everyone that was affected by your sin, even if you feel the harm to them was minimal. If someone was affected in ANY way by your actions then they have suffered and need to be acknowledged. How were they affected? For every person on your list, write down how they were affected. BE SPECIFIC! Write down every way someone else has suffered because of your actions. Lastly, what can you do to repair the damage that you have done? If you have caused someone to suffer, you need to take responsibility for your actions. You need to be proactive in repairing the damage that you have done. You need to seek forgiveness for your sin, regardless of whether you are forgiven, you need to seek forgiveness.

 

Jonah found out the hard way that sin results in consequences. I’m sure if we are honest, then we all can admit that we have suffered consequences as a result of sin in our lives. Consequences that we could have avoided, had we made a better decision. Unfortunately, other people often have to suffer the consequences of our sinful behavior too. This is not fair to the other people who get hurt because of our foolish choices. Other people should not have to clean up the messes we make because we CHOOSE to sin. SIN IS A CHOICE!

SEEK GOD:

1 Corinthians 10:13

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

Hebrews 2:18

Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

James 4:7

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

We are not tempted without having a way out. God loves us enough that He sent His Son to die for our sins. HE GIVES US A WAY OUT! We need only to ask for His help. Seek God and He will show you the way out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Matthew 26:69-74

69 Now Peter was sitting out in the courtyard, and a servant girl came to him. “You also were with Jesus of Galilee,” she said. 70 But he denied it before them all. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said. 71 Then he went out to the gateway, where another servant girl saw him and said to the people there, “This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth.” 72 He denied it again, with an oath: “I don’t know the man!” 73 After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, “Surely you are one of them; your accent gives you away.” 74 Then he began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know the man!” Immediately a rooster crowed. 75 Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.

Let’s take a look at a few verses back. In Matthew 31-35 Jesus was telling the disciples that they would all fall away on account of Him. Peter answers that even if the rest fall away, that he never will. Jesus tells Peter that he will disown Jesus three times before the rooster crows. Peter declares that he WILL NEVER disown Jesus.

Then we get to verses 69-75 where we find Peter in the courtyard, surrounded by people. The people start to accuse him of being with Jesus. He denies it three times. Not only does he deny Jesus, he calls down curses and swears to them that he doesn’t know the man Jesus. Immediately after the third denial a rooster crows and Peter remembers the words of Jesus, “Truly I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” Peter was distraught. He went outside and wept bitterly.

I can imagine how Peter felt. He loved Jesus deeply and I believe that he was sincere in his belief that he would NEVER disown Jesus. He got caught up in the moment. He was afraid of what would happen if he acknowledged Jesus. He was overcome with guilt, regret and shame at what he had done and he wept bitterly.

I have made mistakes that caused me regret. I have lashed out in anger, yelled at my kids in frustration, and I have been mean spirited to those I love and strangers who happened to cross my path at the wrong moment. I have found that there are usually three reasons for regret:

Things we have done in the past – We have all done things in the past that we regret. Those actions that haunt us for years after they happen. We carry them around and they condemn us and keep us judging ourselves harshly.

Things that we did not do in the past – Those things that we SHOULD have done, but didn’t. Those things we wish we would have done, but now it’s to late. These can be just as condemning as those things we actually did. They haunt us, making us forever tell ourselves, “I wish I would have.”

Things we are doing now – Those bad decisions that we continue to make that we regret each and every time, but we can’t seem to stop ourselves from making them. These regrets will condemn us until we don’t care anymore and we give up trying.

Regret. Guilt. Shame. Condemnation. These are all feelings that the devil piles on us to keep us stuck in our choices and mistakes, keeping us separated from the God who loves us. God does not want us to be stuck in our feelings of regret, guilt and shame. God does not condemn us for our past or present bad choices (Romans 8:1). We have a new life in Jesus, IF we choose to accept Jesus as our Savior. We WILL be forgiven and cleansed of our sins, IF we repent and change our ways. God will NEVER weigh us down with those negative feelings of regret, shame, guilt and condemnation, so if you are feeling any of those right now, they are from the devil and he is trying to keep you from the love of God. Go to the Father and cry out to Him in your distress. He is a loving, compassionate, forgiving, merciful God who is full of grace. He will come to us in the midst of our bad decisions and He will cleanse us right where we are.

Make that decision not to live in regret. There is no reason to allow regret to keep you from all God has for you. Keep your eyes on God and let go of those emotions that are from Satan. If there is anything I can do to help you, I am just an email away! In the meantime, God Bless!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have been in Georgia for almost 6 weeks now. Things have not gone according to MY plan! I planned on coming down here and immediately getting plugged in to a non profit ministry for single moms. I had this set up before I moved here. When I got here, the organization only needed volunteers in the thrift store. I did volunteer in the thrift store a few hours, but then had to seek God’s guidance and re-evaluate. I wanted to work with single moms. That was my heart and so I let this go.

Before I moved down here, I had planned on being involved with an emergency shelter for women. It was a mix of women from different backgrounds, not just single moms and that was fine with me. I have a heart to see ALL women made whole through Christ. I was actually offered a job as an assistant house manager. I was given a sample schedule to give me an idea of the hours I would be working. When I started to calculate the hours, I started to panic a little. Every other week from Monday to Monday, I would work 108 hours; 4 over night shifts from 5 pm to 8 am and then the weekend from 8 am Saturday morning to 8 am Monday morning. The pay period was a total of 123 hours, ALL at minimum wage (7 something an hour). Over time was not given. After talking to my 3 daughters, who all said that they would not do it, I declined the offer.

At that point, I was discouraged. Okay God, what now?

I found another single mom ministry in the other direction and tried there. This ministry has monthly meetings for single parents, so I contacted the executive director and offered my help. I received one short reply and then nothing. I messaged a couple of days before the event, again offering my help and asking when I needed to arrive. I know that she saw my message the same day, but I did not receive a reply declining my offer of help until 2 hours before the event.

In the meantime, I have been filling out applications for every job possible and getting nowhere. Not even an interview.

Okay God, what’s the plan?

I had found a program for certification for Biblical lay counselors back in January. I had pursued a degree in Psychology at one time, but really wanted to become a Biblical counselor. When I found this program, I prayed and prayed and decided that if this program was in God’s will that He would provide the funds for the program. I told God that I would know it was His will if He provided the exact amount I needed for the program. I never told anyone. It was between me and God. I waited and prayed. Right before my birthday (which is June 8th) I received the exact amount of the program in cash. I am now pursuing a certification for Biblical lay counseling. I know this is God’s will, but what am I going to do with it?

In my daily devotional time, I was crying out to God for an answer. Eventually, my money will be gone and what then? I felt this whisper in my spirit, “get connected to a church.” I had visited one church and didn’t feel like it was the one for us. We visited another church this past Sunday and I am going to give it a chance. I am going to connect there and see where God leads.

So, I am digging into God’s Word and growing in my relationship with Him. I am the kind of person that needs to see the big picture. I need to see 10 steps down the road so I can prepare for what is to come. God doesn’t work like that. He gives us one step at a time and then tells us to wait for the next step to be revealed. Maybe, my plan to serve single moms is not God’s plan for me. Maybe, I am to counsel women from ALL walks of life who are hurting and have been broken by the chaos in this world. God knows that I am more than just a single mom. I have had enough painful life experiences that I have a true compassion for ALL women who are suffering. If this is the plan, I am okay with that. I just wish God would give me a clue!

I have to admit that my biggest worry is money. But, I hang on to faith and trust in a God who provided the funds for my counseling program and who has never once failed me in any way. It is a stretching of my faith. I pray. I dig into the Word of God. I work on my counseling program. I grow in my relationship with God and I wait (somewhat patiently) for God to reveal the next step. It is making me completely vulnerable and dependent on Him. It has thrown me out of my comfort zone and pushed me to surrender ALL of MY plans. I am empty of myself. I am completely and wholly at God’s mercy. I am a vessel totally surrendered to Him and ready to be used. He has brought me to a place of complete and total dependence on Him. Isn’t that where He wants us to be?

I will continue to update as my journey in Georgia continues. I have to say that I love it here. I already feel that it is home.