Category Archives for "Weekly Encouragement"

January 9, 2014

Loving Father

“When you are going through something hard and wonder where God is, remember the Teacher is always quiet during the test.”

I saw this posted on Facebook the other day. Normally, I do not comment on things I do not agree with, mainly because so much can be misinterpreted via text and because it is annoying when you can’t post something without someone else coming along to offer correction, clarification or multiple contingencies on why your statement isn’t true in ALL cases. Not wanting to be THAT person, I paused as I read the sentence over again, understanding the lie it was communicating about my Jesus, but debating whether I would speak up. That statement, in its bland attempt to be mildly philosophical, was a fancy way of saying… “When life is at its most difficult, God won’t talk to you because He wants you to figure it out on your own.” It draws the picture of a sink-or-swim God, Someone who cares but makes you go through things on your own to see what you’re made of. What kind of God are we believing in, if we have to endure the hard stuff by ourselves and gamble with the chance of frequent human failure?

fatherhandsIf you’ve seen Taken, the movie that no doubt sent milliliters of adrenaline through the veins of every viewer (who can forget the gut-wrenching moment when Liam Neeson stoically says, “They’re going to take you”), it is easily apparent in the first 5 minutes of the movie that Neeson’s character loves his daughter. What really captures the audience in the following storyline is the passion this man has for his daughter and the lengths he will go to rescue her. By the end of the movie, you want to cry alongside Maggie Grace as she sobs into her father’s arms after she is rescued. Neeson memorably brought to life the image of a wonderful father. If God is known to me as The Almighty, Lord of Heaven and Earth, Ruler of All and every other prestigious accolade and title included in the Bible, but isn’t known to me as just Dad, I’ve bypassed something crucial to my understanding of His heart towards me. Knowing Him as Dad gives me access, anytime, to the greatest Father Who ever has been or will be, One Who has all the answers, my greatest Resource, Who understands me perfectly, Who sees me, Who accepts me, Who loves me, Who defends me and fights for me. He hides things sometimes, not be a drag, but to delight in my discovery of the things He has hidden for me to find at the perfect time (Proverbs 25:2 NLT). He always keeps His promises (Deuteronomy 7:9, MSG) and never leaves me or gives up on me, no matter what choices I make (Deuteronomy 31:8).

Each of us are faced with moments where we get the opportunity to choose what we believe about God. These choices usually come at the intersection of really hard things, when our experiences and emotions contradict Who God is. If we choose to believe what we FEEL is true, we mold and form God to fit into our circumstances and secretly say to ourselves, “God is good, but only sometimes.” But if we choose to believe ACTUAL TRUTH (i.e. The Word of God), He slowly, according to our daily choice, transforms our mind, will and emotions to Who He is (Romans 12:2) and in turn, He works out everything that concerns us, because He knows we love Him and desire to do things His way (the better way) (Romans 8:28). Regardless of religious teaching, or even the different facets of God’s character displayed throughout the Old and New Testament, He’s demonstrated over and over (Moses and the Israelites, Abraham and Lot, Hosea and Gomer, and, you know, JESUS) that there is no limit to His love and His persistence and pursuit of us as His kids. That is the unrelenting, passionate Father we have.

I ended up posting Jeremiah 33:3 (ESV) under the Facebook post, which says, “Call to me and I will answer you and I will tell you great and hidden things you have not known.” Now if only I would have known that “great and hidden things” probably included the answers to problem-solving math questions like, If there are two trains and one leaves the station going 23 mph…..Never could figure those out.

Written by: Ruth Sanchez. If you’d like to reach Ruth, please email her at

January 3, 2014

New Territory

I will never forget how relieved I was when the words penetrated my heart and thoughts-

“You have been on the operating table for a while now…” I remember laughing out loud and thinking “that is exactly how I feel!!” I have been in bondage over 40 years and I was OK with who I was. I thought I was given a bad deal in life and I accepted it. I had built a fortress, formed a hardened heart, lived in a tortured mind, and I was my own worst enemy for most of my life. God’s operating table would soon be made available to me. He would provide the experts and bandages for the procedures and aftercare I needed.

staring_out_windowI came to the Lord in 2009. God had already been tugging at my heart, but I had no idea what I was in for. I accepted His invitation in the fall, along with my husband. We thought we were set to go. Boy, were we in for a Big Surprise!! I remember trying to “FIT IN;” I was good at becoming a “MARTHA”. All the compulsive disorders I had developed due to the dysfunctional upbringing kicked in and wore me out.

Then came my crying-out to God “Lord, you know I am a mess and could you PLEASE send me some AMAZING WOMEN OF GOD to help me be who you created me to be??” I remember shortly after I said that prayer I thought “I don’t know why or where the “”WOMEN”” came from in that prayer”. You see, I was a Tom Boy and never really cared for women relationships. But God knew! The next day, an awesome woman I felt comfortable sharing with, Kim Gutierrez, invited me to this event called Life Builder Seminars. She smiled and said “I think you might enjoy it!”

I remember that day traveling to Brea, not knowing what to expect, but hungry to be healed. I don’t recall the topic but I do remember the twinkle in Pastor Cathy’s eye and the warm hug I received when introduced and I thought “She see’s something in me that I can’t see in myself!” Wondering what that something was, and hungry for more, I couldn’t wait for the Life Builder seminar. My heart was racing, mind overthinking…I knew I had found a treasure. A place I could go and feel safe and heal. A place where my past, pain, and shame wouldn’t be thrown in my face, instead I would be embraced.

The healing began. The operating table was set before me. The experts were instructed when to perform. Life Builder Seminars prepared me for my new journey.

God knew exactly what I needed when I cried out to Him. Just as the Word promises in Matthew 7:7 Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you. Jeremiah 33:3 says Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.

Preparing For A New Season. Entering New Territory.


Written By: Deborah Negroni

If you’d like to reach Deborah, you can reach her by contacting

December 26, 2013

Disappointed About My Gift

It was the early 90’s and I was a wee child excited for Christmas Day, yet distraught because there were only three presents underneath the Christmas Tree. To make matters worse, all the gifts had mine AND my brother’s name on them. I was not big on sharing and I could not believe that there was not at least one gift just for me. All three gifts were big and heavy so I held out hope that one of those boxes was a new Super Nintendo.

To my dismay the boxes contained a computer, a printer, and a box of paper. My parents actually wrapped up the box of paper. You know, that accordion style computer paper with the holes on the side. I was deeply disappointed. At that time not a lot of people had computers and I just couldn’t fathom how a stupid computer was better than a Super Nintendo. My Dad did not make me feel better when he told me about the encyclopedia software and the other educational software that he purchased to help us with our homework. I thought that was the worst Christmas gift ever. Usually my parents got me a few things on my list but not that year. They completely ignored my requests! No Barbie Dream House, no boom box, no cute clothes. It was a disaster…. or so, I thought.

GratefulA few weeks later, my parents had to tear me away from the computer every night, and my brother and I were constantly fighting over it! I found several games that I was determined to beat, and the encyclopedia software was much easier than using the heavy encyclopedia books that we had been using for years. For you youngsters that don’t know what an encyclopedia is, please Google it, and then thank the Lord that you never had to bother with those things. That Christmas I was blessed with a great gift and I did not even realize it.

As I was remembering that Christmas gift, it reminded me of the wonderful gifts that God gives us. Wonderful gifts that I do not acknowledge or thank Him for enough. First, there is my gift of salvation. It’s easy to take salvation for granted yet there are many (some sources state over 2 billion) people that have never heard the gospel. We all know at least a handful of people that are not saved. But by God’s grace I have been saved. The Lord pursued me! I turned my back on Him and ignored Him throughout the years, yet God never once stopped pursuing me. He faithfully sent people to encourage me, pray for me, and invite me to church. And He was always there with me, even when I was running away. God pursued me until I finally accepted His gift of salvation.

Then, there is the gift of people. When I stop and consider my amazing family and friends, I am grateful because they are all gifts from God. When we think about it, it is quite astonishing to realize the number of people that God has placed in our lives. Nurturing mothers, fathers to protect and teach, family members to support, ministers that help guide, and teachers that inspire. Then, according to Proverbs 17:17, there are the friends that love at all times and the brothers and sisters that are born for adveristy.

I used to believe this verse meant that brothers and sisters are born for you to fight with; that certainly seemed to be the case in my home 🙂 Later, I found that the verse refers to brothers and sisters that have been placed in our lives epecially to stand with us in times of adversity. The people that stand with us in our darkest hour and pray, or simply listen, or just hold us. The people that cry with you, fight for you, and sacrfice for you. What a priceless gift. Yet as relationships are strained and as life happens, like my Christmas computer, we sometimes undervalue and don’t appreciate the gift of people that God has given us.

Going into this new year, let’s value and appreciate all that God had given to us.

Written By: Remaliah Evans

You can reach Remaliah at

November 20, 2013

Undo Button

The undo button is my favorite button. If I accidentally delete a whole page, I press undo. If I accidentally type over some words, I press undo. The undo button saves me an abundance of time because after pressing undo, it’s like the mistake never happened. What a perfect idea! God Bless the genius that created this button!undo-button
Can you imagine life with an undo button? Once, I started a new job as the office receptionist. My boss and trainer, a very social person, began telling me about her weekend. Two minutes into her story, I let out the biggest yawn known to man and I did not even bother to cover my mouth! I’m pretty sure she saw my tonsils. I have no idea how I forgot to cover my mouth and to this day, that is the only time in that I have yawned in someone’s face.

After my yawn I watched all enthusiasm drain from my boss’ face and she stared at me for a few moments in disbelief. All I could do was giggle through an apology because I was so embarrassed, and sleepy. I am quite goofy when I am not well rested. After regaining my composure, I earnestly apologized and explained that I had only slept a few hours the previous night and that my yawn was no reflection on her weekend adventures. Fortunately she was more understanding than most and continued with her story.

Now that was a time when I wish that I had that fabulous undo button. There have been many more instances when I wished could press undo and erase my mistake. Those wishes never came true but I have learned that even though I cannot erase my mistakes, I can learn from them, and I can do my best to rectify them. I have also learned to help other avoid the mistakes that I made. Most importantly I have learned that God does not abandon me or shun me because I make a mistake. His promise to me is that when I repent, He is faithful and just to forgive my sins (1 John 1:9). So I don’t have to live under the clouds of condemnation and shame when I mess up. Not only does He forgive, He restores, He redeems, and He loves me unconditionally. That’s better than the undo button!

Author: Remaliah Evans

November 13, 2013


This morning I was in prayer and after I was done, I decided to stop and listen for God.  I began to hear Him comfort me with His word when all of a sudden I heard “Thank you”.  I stopped for a moment after wondering, was that God telling me thank you?  I have never heard of such a thing.  As I pondered on that being the voice of the Lord I felt the tug of His heart wanting to let His children know He values and appreciates them.  I thought of how His word states in 1 Peter 5:7 Casting all your care upon him; for he cares for you.  And Matthew 29:29-31 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.  And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. See we are cared for and loved by a good God.  All over the word of God we are taught to be thankful and show our adoration and love towards God.  And this brings me to the following scripture in John 5:19 Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does Son also does.  Here we see that everything we do is because we see our Heavenly Father doing it.  So why do we show thankfulness and appreciation towards others and God?  Because of all He has done for us.  It is an honor to serve Him because He shed His blood for us.  It is commanded in His Word to give thanksgiving unto God.  I have often heard that as we pour out our love and thanksgiving to God during worship He pours back out on us.  If God has enabled us to be thankful, appreciative of what He has done for us, do you think that He is thankful and appreciative of what you do for Him?  Not that we deserve a thank you from God for surely we are nothing without Him or His righteousness, but I thought how we teach our children to be thankful and appreciative.  Where does this enabling come from?  Perhaps the fruit of the Spirit gives us the ability to be thankful? Galatians 5:22 says, But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.  The fruit of the Spirit are traits of the Spirit of God.

Is thankfulness characterized by any of the traits listed? Thankful is defined as feeling or expressing gratitude; appreciative. While looking up the definition of Joy, I found one to say:  something or someone greatly valued or appreciate.  Thankfulness comes from the fruit of Joy in our life, that is a fruit of the Spirit of God, that appreciation comes from Gods spirit inside of us, therefore we learn to appreciate and value Him and others through His spirit.  Though I have not found a scripture that God says thank you, I have found a fruit of HIS spirit that teaches us to be thankful.  Saying thank you comes from God so to hear Him express appreciation for all you do for Him shouldn’t feel foreign either.  He is a good God, a God that loves us and teaches us how to reflect His image and glory.  Today God wants you to know that He appreciates what you do for Him.  Many people are wounded feeling unappreciated and are burnt out in ministry, at work or in the home for lack of appreciation, but God appreciates you!  He values you and is thankful that you choose the path of Life with Him, I believe God wants you to know that He thanks you for serving Him, for walking in His steps, as He laid down His life for you, you have also laid down your life for Him, what a beautiful picture we have today.  Now hopefully this blesses your heart and makes you want to serve more knowing that you are appreciated and thanked by your Heavenly Father.  Oh How Good He IS!

Rachel Mireles

November 7, 2013

Hit Your Target

When I heard about the November Life Builder topic Hit Your Target, I immediately thought to myself “what does it take to hit a target?”  A target could be a goal you want to reach, a decision you have to make, or a change that you want to achieve in your life. For me, it took commitment on my part, endurance, and most of all patience to stand through the circumstance. The greatest weapon we can have is joy. Sounds good at the time when you’re not going through anything, right?

woman praying silhoutteRecently, I had to make some pretty hard decisions that were life changing, not only for me but also my family. As hard as it was, I had to trust that God would make a way and trust that HE would be the only one to get me through. There were many obstacles that hit me and tried to steal my joy and peace. Then I reached a point where I was tired of being a victim and allowing tough situations in my life to dictate how I would live and feel. I thank Life Builder Seminars for having topics every month that instill Godly principles that can be applied to everyday life. Every time I leave a seminar, I feel like I can conquer anything that life would bring my way. The seminars remind me that I can rely on God.

As I navigated the series of changes, I decided to let God guide me through each situation. I handled one thing at a time even though there were several challenges that demanded immediate attention. I was struggling with my marriage, children, work, and health issues. It felt like I was being suffocated. The enemy would have liked to see me give up but I made a choice to press through. I had come too far and knew too much to just keep getting robbed of all my blessings. I knew God did not intend for me to live a life full of stress, fear, and unhappiness.

Joshua 1:9 declares, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be discouraged, for the Lord God will be with you wherever you go.” No more victim mentality for me; I surrendered to God even though things looked bad. I believe the greatest victory I had was learning to surrender and trust that God was bigger than any situation I was going through. I learned that I had to encourage myself in the Lord. When I felt like giving up I continued to depend on the Holy Spirit to guide me. In the end, I grew up a little more. I can honestly say that I have set a goal to achieve happiness and live a life where the peace of God is truly my strength. So I encourage you my friends: don’t ever settle for less in life. Be strong, remember God has never forsaken you, and most importantly, through Christ we can do all things!

Post Written by Arlene Cruz.

You can reach Arlene by emailing her –

October 30, 2013

I’m the Mother of Four and I Think I Look Good

My-CobiclanLet me see…how do I start this off?  I am the beautiful daughter of a seemingly, doting father and parochially strict mother.  But that part of my story is something for another time…in another place…in a galaxy far, far away.  This story has to do with the chapter in my life I like to call, “Motherhood” or “Shouldn’t I Be Getting Paid for This Reality Show”.   My household consists of four children, two cats, two dogs, and then there is big Daddy, which we lovingly refer to as the Big Kitty.

One day when I was taking my children to school I was hit with a memory from my own childhood. I remember hearing my friends talking to one-another, “Have you seen Tina’s Mom? She is beautiful!  This would be the first of many times throughout elementary I would hear this same phrase.  Instead of swelling with pride, I felt like they were saying, “She is beautiful, therefore Tina must be adopted.”  This my friends was the door rejection crept in through.  The voice of rejection said, “How will this chubby little girl with greasy hair live up to that?” and “Maybe my brother was right and I really was found in the trash can in the alley.”  Fast forward to my own children’s school years and rejection’s voice once again telling me I can’t be a good parent and I will never measure up.

The years sped by so fast, I feel like I took a breath and they were no longer toddlers, no longer in diapers, reading, in school plays, having volleyball and basketball games, playing in band concerts, dancing across the stage, winning tournaments and finally donning a cap and gown.  We had gone warp speed from Elementary into Middle School and High School and stopped at our very first High School Graduation.  The years chatting about their day, laughing until I almost passed out, and even the times disagreeing about their choices, had flown by me like a whirlwind.  As a mother, I sought to always do my best to ignore the nagging voice of rejection.  I began to listen for the heart of God; always asking Him to help me to be the mother I had to be for the sake of who my children would become.  Those years were filled with good and bad decisions, mistakes I would never be able to take back and hard choices that were not popular at the time I made them.

My beautiful nineteen year-old, stood before me in her cap and gown wearing her red and white, flowered lei, diploma in hand, she was done with this chapter of her life and ready to step up to the next level.  Leaving the ceremony, in the back seat of our van, she giggled and laughed jovially with her siblings as they picked on each other and snapped pictures of their big smiles together.  The day before her graduation we had attended the promotion for my baby girl.  She is my fifteen year old beauty and Steven Spielberg in the making.  At fifteen she is working on her first fictional novel with the sequels already in the planning process.  I can see glimmers of myself in their eyes, and I can hear myself in their sense of humor, but I see more.  I see pieces of me sprinkled into them, just a dash of mom on top of the awesome ones they already are and I like what I see.

My eighteen year old son won a pageant in his junior year of High School.  The pageant had sections for talent, swim suit and even an interview question.  I remember sitting in the second row, right in the center watching him.  The advisor reached into a bowl full of little white slips of paper where the random questions were written.  I prayed for him to have the right words to answer the question that he had not been able to prepare for.  Into the microphone came the question, “Who is your hero?” faster than the warp speed by which we had arrived to this place came his answer, “My Mom”.   Amidst the laughter, tears, and feelings of pride, I could hear the students seated around me saying, “Stand up…stand up!”  The moment was so surreal, I couldn’t move.  I didn’t expect to hear the  of God ring forth from my son at that school event.

My youngest who has officially reached his teenage years, seems to be able to accomplish anything he puts his mind to.  Running for ASB counsel, singing, dancing, acting, and most recently showing a high aptitude for science and math, next year it’s High School for him and I can’t wait to see where this rocket is headed.  Again, I see those speckles and sprinkles of mom DNA all over them.  Rejection has tried to destroy me at the root, but God has prevailed.  His voice has been heard and His purpose for me as a mother is coming to pass.  I see myself in my children every day, in their victory, in their beauty, in their laughter, in their perseverance, and in their love for their mother.  I am a mother of four and I think I look good.

By Tina Cobian. You can reach

October 23, 2013

A Guy’s view on a Woman’s Seminar…

09-woman-talking-when-man-isnt-listening-1I’m a man of simple tastes.  I enjoy a good steak, a good football game and a good action movie. If a good ribeye is cooked medium rare and served to me on a plate, by itself while I’m watching the Packers play, that’s a darn good day for me. My wife, on the other hand, loves the Notebook, baking cookies, then getting together with her friends to exchange the cookies (then eat them) and talking about her feelings. So, when my wife told me that she was going to a women’s bible study, I’ll be honest and say, the first thing that came to my mind was a group of ladies sitting in a circle, crying and doing some sort of group hug or exchanging cookies. I really had no idea what went on at a “woman’s seminar” and to be very candid, I wasn’t all that interested in finding out. Now before you judge me and think I’m a cold-hearted person, just know that I have a three year old daughter, whom I adore. I would love nothing more than to develop a deep bond with her and I find myself constantly thinking about how I can grow the relationship I have with her. Recently, I started the reconstruction of this website, Lifebuilder Seminars. I found myself in the position of strategizing, planning and implementing this site, alongside a group of women who lead Lifebuilder Seminars. These are women who dedicate so much of their time, energy and efforts to impacting the lives of other women. I have been so impressed and inspired by this group.  I actually attended two of the seminars to get a better feel for what they are trying to do and how to best represent their vision through the website. I will admit that I have learned a great deal about how women operate. The first meeting I went to, I was so encouraged by this group of ladies. The leaders of LBS have shown me the importance of excellence in my work, they’ve shown me how to be more encouraging to others by being so encouraging to me, they’ve shown me how to organize better, how to plan better and reminded me of the importance of thinking about things from someone elses point of view. You’d think after almost 10 years of being married, I would’ve known this stuff…but hey, God is never done teaching. Through this experience, I realized a few things. For my wife and my daughter, I have to be intentional about communicating effectively with them, even when I may not completely understand where they are coming from. I have to put myself in their shoes. Thanks to Lifebuilders, I am better equipped to do that. I also realized, in seeing the women who bring their daughters to the Seminars, that I need to encourage the relationship between my wife and daughter. I thought a lot about what that entailed and it’s not just encouraging them to hang out. It’s making sure my daughter is confident by treating her mom well. After all, I’m setting the expectation for her when she leaves (God Forbid) to go get married. Thanks to Lifebuilders, I am better equipped to do that. It’s very interesting to me how someone can find so much satisfaction from such an unexpected place. I think that’s the point, though. God works in many different ways. You never know how Lifebuilder Seminars and its amazing leadership will bless you, you’re just going to have to come to one of the seminars and find out. As a pretty stubborn guy, I can tell you that if I was blessed, I KNOW you will be. You’ll just have to come to find out.

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