Ready or Not?

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It isn’t very often people face life or death situations.

Most of us rarely think about death or it’s significance. We wake up and go to work, eat and sleep, mark things off of our checklist feeling accomplished when we complete the most menial of things.

“It was a great day! I mowed the lawn, cleaned the house, and finished my college essay…”

Today as I was driving home my life flashed before my eyes. I don’t really know if my life was actually in danger, but in those few moments, my heart felt as though it was going to stop, and that feeling alone was enough to remind me that it all could end…this life I have…in the blink of an eye.

This life with Aaron, the dreams we have, the connections and bonds we have with others, many need me in their lives. And what about my destiny? The Prophecies spoken over Aaron and I both when we were attending the Columbus School of Supernatural Ministry…the things I haven’t done or said or accomplished…

Real accomplishments…in those terrible moments I wasn’t thinking about dishes in the sink or the lawn needing mowed, I was thinking about the impact I was supposed to make on this Earth, the children I was supposed to raise, and the helper I was supposed to be to Aaron for many years to come.

I wasn’t so afraid of myself, or what would happen in death, but I was beyond terrified of what I would leave behind…those I would leave behind, and the unfinished work, all that unfinished potential, and glory I still want to give to God here.

Would my passing turn others away from God? Would they blame Him? I refuse to be stopped so easily! And yet, is it really a choice?

I’ve seen both miracles and suffering in this life. It seems that miracles happen almost by chance when you least expect them, and the times when you are on your knees pleading for a miracle, with tears in your eyes…nothing happens.

But even still, that isn’t always so either. I’ve pleaded with God, I’ve cried out in desperation and He has heard me.

Several years ago my dad died on our living room couch. In those seven longest minutes of my life, as mom and I did CPR and waited for help to come I pleaded with God with all my heart, I screamed with all my strength, and I would have given anything to save him.

God heard me then, and my dad is alive and well today. But there are other times when I’ve prayed…perhaps too late? And people have died, very much by surprise…like a thief in the night. Was it my doubt? My unbelief?

I don’t know all the answers, only, that even if we die…victory is already ours. Satan will do all he can to slow us down or downright stop us from making an impact in this world, he may even kill us…but he cannot kill our soul or rob us of God’s promises.

If I died today, surely God would fulfill my destiny through another. If I died this hour, surely, my final words would not be in vain…God would work through them, He would bring beauty from ashes, and He would continue to work in the lives of those I love. Why? Because He loves them fully…and I only know a small taste of that love.

Maybe people don’t need “me”, but rather, the “Jesus” in me. Anyone can be His vessel, I’m not that special.

The world keeps spinning, the sun keeps rising, and I keep breathing until the Lord says it is finished. I believe that, for believers, hope is eternal. So instead of the phrase, “where there is life, there is hope,” I believe it is rather, “there is always hope.”

As long as God exists, Jesus died for us and rose again. Hope has no limitations, and clearly, death can’t squash it either.

And so, all I can say is…value your time here. Set out to accomplish great things, not just small. And remember that with God all things are possible, so no dream is too great…in fact, it may be your destiny to achieve the unachievable.

LIFE is a GIFT.

Use it well…

 

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A Father’s Love

This is a beautiful song about God’s love for us. My favorite line is this; it’s God speaking to us: “Don’t you think I know best? I’ve been a Father a long time.”

Our earthly dads, no matter how old, have only been father’s a very short time compared to our Father God. In that way alone, He cannot be compared to our earthly dads, however, there is more…

God is all-knowing. That may sound redundant, we all know that God “knows” everything because He created everything. One thing may not come to mind with this statement and that is that an ALL-knowing God knows ALL about you. Those times when our earthly dads don’t know what’s really going on, when they mishandle situations or misunderstand your intentions…God doesn’t make those mistakes.

Not to bash on the importance of our earthly dads, they are vital no matter what society tries to say or brainwash us to believe. Look around you, the majority of our society’s problems lie in the lack of strong father figures. Many grow up without a dad, or with one who tears down rather than builds up. The first sin of man really was passivity, and we see that today, fatherhood is a lot of work, and sadly, many don’t rise up to the call.

Dads were created to demonstrate what God is like, they were given important roles to fill in the family structure, and they ultimately bring discipline and security in the home. The world is lost without fathers, and there are many children/adults who live feeling orphaned and unloved. When people point them to God they think in their minds, “like I need another absent or angry father!”

Those who have been orphaned will feel unworthy of a home, those who feel unloved will feel unworthy of it. And so the idea of a father is met with rebellion, resentment, and guilt. All of this covers up the pain inside, the inner hunger to have that void filled, truly.

I could jump deeper into this topic of fatherlessness in America, how the destruction of marriage and the feminist movement has devalued the importance of fathers or men in general. However, today I merely want to acknowledge that these problems exist and that we desperately need God as our Father.

God is genderless, he is in essence nonhuman and within Him are both the male and female qualities. Much like Adam before Eve was taken out of him. Marriage can in some way be termed as the combining of that which had been separated, creating again, “one flesh.”

And yet we do not call God Mother, but Father. Not just because the Father (husband) is the head of the family, but because He knew that what the world needed and was lacking most was Fathers. They instill identity and lead their families spiritually.

This Father’s Day, whether you grew up in a loving home where both parents were present or not, I want you to know that you are so loved and that you have the greatest Father, God, who is always present, always active, always guiding, always protecting, always blessing, and always pursuing YOU.

Happy Father’s Day!! And God Bless!

 

Disciplining In Love

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“Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.” 

-Proverbs 13:24

Anyone here like Andy Griffith? I remember the first time I watched the TV show, laughing at Barney and falling in love with that small little quiet town of Mayberry. What I loved most were the moments between Sheriff Taylor and his little boy, Opie. It seemed like Andy always knew how to handle his son, as well as manage a town full of disorderly adults.

Andy taught me that when dealing with kids, we should “simmer down.” Don’t react in anger, raise your voice, or feed the flames of chaos by adding your own emotional stress. In other words, the more loud and upset a child gets, the calmer you should become. You set the thermostat of emotion in your home.

Andy taught me that when a child has wronged you should talk it out. Anytime Opie got in trouble, it was often due to the influence of others or even simple matters of misunderstanding. After Opie had cooled off, Andy would always sit with him and calmly explain why Opie’s actions were wrong. This is how kids learn and grow.

Andy taught me that we can be both loving and firm. Andy sticks with what he says, and Opie has a respect for his father because of it. It isn’t so much that he fears punishment, but that he fears to disappoint his father. That is parenting done right! Boundaries and rules should be clear and unbending to the child’s will. In this way, children feel safe and loved.

Lastly, Andy taught me that the best way to teach and correct a child is through example. Opie, like many children, look up to adults and like to mirror them. Watching how Andy treats people, how he handles situations, and how he even apologizes when he makes a mistake, in turn, influences Opie who sees Andy as his hero.

In particular, boys learn from their fathers what it means to be a man. How they are to treat women (Episode: Ellie for Council), how they are to handle confrontation, as well as how they are to control their emotions lest they control them.

I don’t know what it’s like to be a parent yet, but I’ve worked with children at a daycare, multiple church kid ministries, and now I am the director of our church’s preschool class. At the daycare, I watched kids from 2 years-5th grade, from 7am-7pm Monday through Friday.

The daycare systems have sadly become “parents” to many children who come from broken homes or foster care. I’ve seen how divorce affects children, how neglect and abuse affect their emotional and social development. And most of all, I’ve seen what a lack of proper discipline has done to these kids, and the lasting damage it ultimately causes them.

Undisciplined children do not learn as quickly, struggle to develop friendships, have trouble coping with their emotions, often are starving for love and security, and ultimately find “growing up” very challenging.

The children I disciplined the most became the children who needed me the most. They were the ones who craved my attention and wanted to sit in my lap.

I remember watching these twin 4-year-old boys. When one got in trouble, the other would scream and do all that he could to get in trouble also. This feeding off of each other led to them being separated.

The one who fed off of the other did well without his brother around, the one who often started the trouble only escalated. The teachers told me he was too much, and they carried a tangible stress about it as their efforts to re-direct or calm him didn’t seem to help.

One day I was walking by that class and heard the young boy causing a commotion, he wanted to leave the classroom and go outside but he wouldn’t listen to the head teacher. I walked in, held the door closed, told him that he must be quiet and stand in line, then I waited. He tested my resolve by turning the lights on and off. When that didn’t elicit a response, he went around knocking all the chairs over, I responded by shrugging at him, “that won’t get you outside, nor will it get you out of this room.” I stayed calm and so the rest of the class was also calm and waiting, some of the kids even picked up the chairs he had knocked over.

I remember him staring in shock at me, he was completely confused at what to do, apparently making a scene and tantrums had won him attention before. He laid on the floor and I picked him up and put him in a chair, “if you can sit there quietly and apologize then we will go outside.” I placed him back in that chair probably 15 times before he gave up and said he was sorry.

After that, he hugged me and I told him I loved him. I then asked him what was wrong because I know he is a good boy and he told me he just wanted to be with his brother, I said that he would have to behave better, which I know he can do, before we would consider moving him back and after that day he became much better, wanting to sit with me every time I was in there and read to him.

This is just an example of a time I know I handled discipline right. As adults, we still are learning, and we still are being disciplined. Maybe we make a mistake at work and get chewed out for it, maybe we said something out of anger and have to apologize to the one(s) we wronged…the list continues. No one is perfect, no parent is perfect, and so all we can do is the best we can, raising our children under the guidance of God’s Word. Through God we all practice disciplines and obedience. What greater example is there than that?

Oddly enough, kids have taught me a lot about life. They have made me face my anger and anxiety, as well as reminded me of what it means to really believe. Child-like Faith is more powerful than we give it credit for. And despite the stress and challenges of child-rearing, the times when tantrums involved kicking and screaming, the times when all respect had gone out the window and I felt underqualified to take charge. I have discovered a deeper love within myself for each and every child I meet, and a heart that understands those who need love most.

Some of you may be reading this thinking, “yeah, I’m not called to work with kids so…”

I used to say the same thing, then God called me. The children are our future, and they carry the future of the church as well as the future influence of our world. That is why it is my firm belief that everyone is called to serve, teach, give, love, protect, discipline, and sacrifice for their sake. They are the “king” of this nation.

And they need you.

 

One Wish

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An old man was walking by when he heard the voices of two young men. He pursued the sound and called out to them just as they were about to enter a cave.

They turned and waved.

“Hello, sir!” called the oldest of the two, no more than 30 years of age. He shook the old man’s hand and his eyes were alit with adventure. The youngest, a mere 18-year-old, stood back, impatient to continue traveling.

After all, the old man was slow going, with a cane and unconcerned with the passing of time, surely he would hold them back, and they wouldn’t make it to their destination.

“Where are you boys heading?” asked the old man.

“We have heard a tale about a magician who lives at the top of a cliff some distance away, if you can make it there before nightfall, he will grant you a wish, but only one.” The oldest smirked at his young friend, “no matter who is with you, after one wish has been made, he will disappear from sight, and you won’t find him again for some time.”

“I see,” said the old man in interest, “what is it that you hope to gain?”

The young men hesitated, not wanting to disclose such information to a stranger. At last, the oldest said, “I want a wife, I’m at the age where I want to start a family and begin a new adventure as a husband and someday, a parent.”

The youngest quietly said, “I want to know my purpose, why I am here, what I’m supposed to do….that’s all.” He glanced at his feet shyly.

The old man smiled, “great wishes, very wise. Is it alright if I come with you? As you can see I am old and nearing the end of my journey. The adventure you are going on may just make me feel young again.”

The 30-year-old shrugged, “fine by me, I understand.” meanwhile the youngest frowned but nodded anyway.

The journey was long and harrowing. There were many obstacles and times when everyone had to face their fears. The cave was dark, the forest eerie, the open fields never-ending, but finally the steep cliff stood before them.

They formed a circle at its base. “We made it, and the sun is just setting, we should storm up it as fast as we can!” The youngest said, his face red with sweat pouring down his brow.

The 30-year-old nodded, “okay, but we should still be careful, nothing is more important than staying alive, wishes or not.”

The old man smiled at them, “you can take your path or you can follow me, I am going around the cliff and finding an easier route to the top.”

The young men laughed, “that could take ages, and we don’t have enough time for that. Plus, if we go together, only one of us can make a wish and I don’t want to decide, so whoever makes it to the top first will get his wish fair and square.”

They shook hands and parted, each with their own plan in mind. The youngest made for a good start, but he exhausted himself and slipped, fracturing his ankle.  His friend saw him trip and cautiously climbed toward him, offering him a hand. From there they both climbed together as a team.

In his heart, the youngest had decided that his friend deserved the wish, but kept his decision to himself for the time being.

The 30-year old, though at first annoyed, now felt sorry for the younger and knew that he wanted the wish more than himself, so he decided that at the top he would give the wish to him.

Once they made it to the top, the sun was just dipping over the horizon and an old weathered hand reached down for theirs, they accepted gratefully as the old man pulled them up. The young men shook their heads in disbelief, “you won old man, the wish is rightfully yours.”

The youngest finally shook the old man’s hand respectfully, “you were wise and I was foolish, make your wish to the magician.”

They turned and saw not a magician but an image. A vision of both the young men, the oldest married with children in his arms, the young man a doctor in a mission field, reading a bible. The old man was nowhere to be seen in the image, they turned and looked at him in confusion, the old man smiled and tears rolled down his face.

“I already made my wish, and that is that your wishes would come true.”

The young men stared at him in shock and wonder, “why?” was all they could ask.

“I am old, and my time here is almost up, there is nothing I could want for myself, and everything that I want for others. I want you to have everything I couldn’t have. You see I never married, never had children of my own, and I went nearly my whole life without knowing my purpose, until now.”

He looked over the cliff at the clouds and earth, too beautiful to behold. “I wasted so much time, and I hope this small thing will make up for some of it…now I guess my wish is to simply go home.”

To the young men’s further amazement the magician, whoever and wherever he was granted two wishes that day…the old man disappeared from their very eyes and both knew that he was home.

Later, as they stood at the base of the cliff, the moon shining and stars filling the night sky, the youngest asked, “if you could make one more wish what would it be?”

His friend smiled, “that I wouldn’t take a single thing for granted…including you.” He threw his arm around him and together they traveled back to the beginning, forever changed.

What is your one wish?

 

We Haven’t Forgotten

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“The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.” 

-George Orwell

I found this photo at a flea market. Most of the items there were gathered from barns and old forgotten buildings, most likely this photo didn’t cost a thing originally, and was merely given away…it was either that or be thrown in the trash.

Just looking at it I could tell that it was some sort of military division from around WWII, all gathered together for a picture, even the cook. This is only part of the large scroll-like image, full of people that may not be alive anymore.

I did some research on the writing, which in one corner says, O.A. Tunnell, who was a photographer around that began around the 1920s, known for his panoramic images, which is what this is.

In the middle of the picture in large font it’s titled:

Battery “A”… 55th A.A.  Training Battalion, Camp Callan, California. October 19, 1942

These men were part of a selective service program, hand-picked for Camp Callan (which was disbanded in 1944). There they were trained to use long-range weapons, protecting the coast of California from Japanese Navy attack.

March of 1940, the Luftwaffe (German aerial warfare branch) attacked the United Kingdom, also known as the Battle of Britain, this led to changes in training exercises in 1942, the year this photo was taken. These soldiers were specifically trained on combating aerial assault.

I cannot count all the faces on this one photograph, nor will I ever know all their names. Their faces all reflect a life I couldn’t understand, some of their expressions are joyful and proud, others are rather young and anxious. WWII was a terrible reality, something truly unforgettable. My uncle Herman served in the Navy during this war, and in his final days, he still remembered the horrors he faced as if it had happened yesterday.

The purpose of this post isn’t just to shed light on these brave individuals this Memorial Day but to shed an even bigger light onto what they were fighting for and the importance of remembering their sacrifices. As well as remembering the evil that started it all…

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Statue of Confederate Soldier: Destroyed 2017
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Statue of  President Theodore Roosevelt: Defaced 2017

 

There is a reason we learn about both the Nazi’s and the Allied Forces, the Confederates and the Union, the wars against Communism, against slavery, against, more recently, ISIS, and the 9/11 attack. Why do we remember? Why is it so important for our children to look back upon what made this country and the world what it is today?

So that we don’t repeat it.

The moment we forget any of it, we invite destruction upon ourselves! A repeat in history that would’ve been avoided if we had faced the truth instead of trying so desperately to erase it.

In the Bible, there are many times the Israelites forgot their past, they even forgot what God had done for them, and each time this happened, catastrophe struck! If America continues stomping on the flag, destroying statues, removing historical events in schools and trying to change the documents that we have stood surely upon since our nation’s founding we invite the same destruction upon ourselves.

What’s happening already? America has forgotten the horrors of Communistic beliefs, they have forgotten that this country was founded on Christianity and it’s morals which are a necessity for peace, order, and equality. They have forgotten 9/11 and how it was a Muslim attack, they turn a blind eye to immigration and how open borders can’t possibly work, they murder their own babies and call it mercy! They create new laws that strategically give the government more power over the people and they radically attack anyone who opposes their beliefs, which destroys the very foundation of America: freedom and equality under God.

If this continues we will soon see the repercussions, and in fact we already have, of such acts that dismantle the sacrifices of so many soldiers of both the Faith and the Nation.

My uncle was appalled by what this country had become…he didn’t understand how Americans could be so hateful of America and what it stands for. He said, “where is the patriotism?! Where is the respect?”

My uncle was a good God-fearing man, he adopted two girls and raised them no different than if they had been his own flesh and blood, he treated everyone with equality and respect, believing that we should treat others how we want to be treated.

Men like my uncle represent an era that is dying. A time when the country was united, willing to die to defend this great nation, both black and white, legal immigrants and native-born, men and women. It was a time when nearly everyone went to church on Sunday, could walk home in the dead of night without fear. Children were the future, the sole ones that soldiers died for, the ultimate king of this nation. The TV was child-safe and the news was honest and often involved real footage shown in theatres. They left nothing out of the horrors of war overseas so that no one would be naive.

This Memorial Day, we remember it all. Not just the hand-picked parts of history, but the entire thing, encompassing all the lives lost, and those who stood for what’s right as well as those who stood for evil and what that cost the world at large.

We remember the Christians that created this country and our founders who sought the best for us all. I salute you, and I promise to remember you…it is time we Honor the past again.

“Death. Destruction. Disease. Horror. That’s what war is all about. That’s what makes it a thing to be avoided.” -Captain Kirk

 

A Mother’s Love

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His first cry reached her heart

And love poured out to greet it

Did she know that someday soon

His cries of pain would break it? 

 

The tears she used to wipe away

When he would trip and fall

Now mixed with drops of blood

While others laugh and scoff

 

Oh how she must’ve smiled so

As he slept safe and warm

Now she cannot bear the sight

Of his body, broke and torn

 

She used to help him climb the steps

Now she helps him lift the cross

Knowing that this must be

But oh! how great the cost!

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She loved him as a mother would

Her heart died on that cross

While all the memories flooded back

Of years that we know not

 

I do not think that we can know

How much she did give up

Until we walk in her shoes

With a baby in our arms

 

So thank you, mothers, all around

For your love reflects our God’s

That hopes, believes, endures all things

In children such as us…

 

 

 

 

All or Nothing

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“The greatest happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved; loved for ourselves, or rather, loved in spite of ourselves.” 

-Victor Hugo

Before we can become more and believe more, we must first know that there is more. Without Jesus, we wouldn’t know the Father’s Heart, and now that we do, we now can go further than we ever have in love.

“We love because He first loved us” -1 John 4:19

God had to first reveal to us our meaning before we could begin to believe what He said is true and start to allow His words to change us into the masterpieces of our Lord’s original intent.

We cannot hope to hope without such revelations, without the Word of God we would have no hope. It is in hope that we find our conviction, our Faith. And this, coupled with the assurance that we are loved is enough to keep us standing no matter what hardships are thrown at us.

Though our bodies may perish our spirit lives on, and so we must mature it and protect it. We must allow God to reshape us into the image of Christ and in doing that both our bodies and minds will be captors of our spirit instead of the reverse. This must happen, we must “die” to ourselves in order to open the floodgates of “more”.

What is the more? They are the miraculous signs that demonstrate the Will of God on earth. Healings, prophetic words, visions, signs, and wonders that show Heaven can and must invade our world, our temporary plane. The words we say must be demonstrated as truth to those whose faith is small and eyes unseeing.

We are ambassadors of the Kingdom of God, and so we must show our King’s intent and good faith to all mankind. We must be a witness to His love and grace, and go out into the world proclaiming it.

Those from another place stand out, their cultural differences stand out as well as how they live and believe. This is the change that takes place in every new believer as the old self dies and is replaced by the new. The two selves cannot coexist, just as one cannot be both saved and condemned to hell. Those who “fence sit” are lukewarm and the Lord spits them out of His mouth (Revelation 3:16).

And so, we must constantly remind ourselves of who we are and what has transpired by time alone with God, and time reflecting upon His Word.

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–His good, pleasing, and perfect will.” -Romans 12:2

Now that depression has been squashed, God is taking me to the next problem, the next obstacle that is hindering me. Apparently, the root of my depression started from the feeling of powerlessness in my life. This feeling alone holds me back from walking in authority, I fear failure and so I do not risk!

God reminded me of a dream I had last year, in the dream I was home looking out my front room window at a tornado, quickly approaching. I remember feeling peace because my options were few and the Lord’s Will would prevail. At the time, I believed that His Will was for me to carry out my destiny on the earth, and if I was mistaken in that, the end result would still be one of victory because I would meet my maker face to face.

I stood strong as the vile thing approached, and declared that it would stop in the name of Jesus, that it had to obey the Jesus in me. And just as the words left my mouth, the tornado dissipated, turning to mere mist and gentle breeze before uprooting a single shingle.

It was an all or nothing moment, in which everything is risk and the only option is for God to show up and make a move. I want that conviction in the face of reality when I pray for people to be healed of cancer, I want that conviction in the face of spiritual attack when demons are stirring up opposition against me, I want that conviction when I am faced with death or torture and mustn’t let my flesh consume me.

It is time that what I want becomes what I need in order to really make a difference in this world or even through my writing. Don’t you agree that our best example is set by doing rather than saying? And that before we can teach we must learn?

Faith without works is dead (James 2:14-26).

When will I give my all to this walk? I’m tired of reaping small fruit because of my small sacrifice. If I gave my all wouldn’t it be worth it? We all give our lives away to something, or rather, someone….isn’t the call of God the greatest of these….worth every single part of ourselves?

You want to slay the demons in your life? Then finally, say yes to Jesus…not just “yes” to the belief that he existed, died, and rose again…but yes to the call he has now placed upon you to finish the work he started, the Great Commission. The baton has been passed on to his disciples and if you identify as such you will continue their work wholly surrendered to it, no matter what that may bring upon you or your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.

Love….is the greatest risk of all. And I would rather love wholly….than not at all.

Nothing hurts us more than love, compassion, empathy….I’ve asked for God’s heart on the matter quite often in my life and because of it, I’ve felt the painful sting of heartbreak…not just personally but in the lives of those around me…I’ve shouldered their burdens, feeling their pain as if I’m walking in their shoes. I know that this isn’t the case, that I do not know what they really feel or are facing. But, God has given me a perspective into their pain, a taste of it, to remind me of His own Heart that is ever breaking and ever whole all at the same time.

Love is a powerful force, and it is the source of our conviction and passion. Let love in and you will be moved to action despite yourself. Hardening your heart may keep pain from coming in, but it will also keep all that is good out as well. We only fully live in the face of love, without it (the ALL) we have NOTHING.