Category Archives for "Weekly Encouragement"

June 30, 2016


Written by Petra Rodriguez

Purpose, is the reason for which something is done or created, or for which something exists.  In the book “The Purpose Driven Life” by Rick Warren, one of his catching quotes that grabs readers’ attention is “What On earth Am I Here For?”  Sometimes we may feel as if there is something missing or more that we should be doing, but we don’t exactly know what. 

In his book some of those titles are 1) You are not an accident 2) The reason for everything 3) What drives your life.  God knew exactly what He was doing, when He purposely, intentionally created each of us individually. Your birth was no mistake or mishap, and your life is no fluke of nature. You are a masterpiece! Your parents may have not planned you, but He did. Each of us was given different talents, gifts, and abilities.  This difference is no accident. You are unique, one of a kind! A masterpiece! You were not meant to be, look, act, and sound just like everyone else. 

These attributes are not meant to be kept for oneself and for selfish reasons. They were given to us to pay it forward, to benefit and help others and for others to benefit and help us….share it.  What drives you; what moves you: Everyone’s life is driven by something, guided, controlled, and directed. What’s your driving force: materialism, approval, fear, anger, guilt?  Is it love, trust, hope, giving, helping, and joy?

Knowing your purpose is a key to gaining meaning to your life.  The greatest tragedy is not death, but life without purpose! I’ve come to realize that purpose is LOVE….created intentionally to be loved and to love. These are some of the words that come to my mind when pondering the word purpose; loved, accepted, forgiven, significance, wanted, hope, prosperous, ability, favor, eternity, joy, breakthrough, victory, family, job, and life.

Consider those things in our lives that are put there that make no sense at the time, but eventually prepare us for that purpose in our lives.  Believe you’re here for a reason and that your purpose is greater.

“Your life has purpose. Your story is important. Your dreams count. Your voice matters. You were born to make a difference and an impact.” Genius Quotes

“The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” Pablo Picasso


Think about the purpose in your life, sit and imagine how you were purposely made to come into existence, God planned it! Wow!  You have great significance in this life!

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June 23, 2016

Yielded Under Pressure

Written by Amber Lawton

Some of my fondest memories of creative discovery can be found in the latter portion of adolescence. Taking pictures of friends, then watching the film develop in the dark room of photography. Choosing color swatches, and learning how to “open up a room” for my project for interior design class. Even writing for a creative writing class in preparation of open mic night. Although, I didn’t quite look forward to the actual performance aspect. With each class a new process of creating, staying affixed to my own creative vision, while attempting to find satisfaction in completion, not perfection.

The class that posed the greatest challenge, yet holds the fondest memories, was ceramics. Kicking the wheel trying to control the speed while trying to form something out of a mound of nothing was not as seductive as the movie Ghost made you think. The process was messy. There was a bit of science to the art. You have to keep your clay moist enough to be moldable, but not so moist that it becomes sludge. The slightest pull or push could drastically change the shape of what was to be a bowl into a warped plate.

As I remember the intricacies of forming a mug, vase, or bowl, there is one step to the process that is rarely mentioned, but significant. The very first step is ‘wedging’ the clay. Before clay is every ready for the wheel the potter must wedge the clay. Wedging involves rolling the clay while applying the right amount of pressure. Cup, roll, press. Similar to a baker kneading dough, the potter cups the clay, and continues until they have repeated this process between 75-100 times.

When done correctly wedging mixes the clay, removes moisture and air bubbles, and aligns the molecules in the clay to be workable and conducive to making vessels. When done incorrectly wedging can cause air bubbles to be added to the clay instead of being removed. Air bubbles will not affect your creation at this stage of the process. However, they can prove to be detrimental at the final stages. The wrong level of moisture, or air that cannot escape, will cause an explosion in the oven (kiln) while the vessel is in the final stage of cooking. Of course there are those who have their own theories of explosion and wedging, but roll with me here. This is the process I learned, and has significance to what I am about to share.

Just imagine, you’ve taken the time to press and press on clay. You throw the clay, shaping and forming your desired vessel, only to place it in the oven and have it crack or explode! Unlike other art forms, explosion leaves nothing salvageable. What’s worse is the potential loss of other vessels in the oven simply because one exploded.

“Do I ask God to remove the pressure… or teach me how to endure pressure?”


 We are halfway through 2016 and I can’t help but reflect on all that has occurred. The months have passed so quickly. I’ve had to face unexpected pressure, deal with emotions, all in the hopes of becoming a more stable, and balanced person. In other words, I need to get over myself, and just plain grow up. Don’t get me wrong; the life I have lived to this point has matured me…to a degree. But I went into 2016 willing to recognize that there are hurts from my past that have deeply wounded me and affected the lenses from which I view life. So why was the pressure unexpected? Because I thought that if I handed my hurt, deep hurt, over to God that miraculously my vision would be clear and I would see better. Well it turns out that maturing is more of process.

My deepest desire is to be a willing vessel yielded unto him. My willingness does not determine when or how I could be used. In being completely yielded I have to hand myself over as a lump of clay recognizing there are imperfections He must take out of me first.

Yielded by definition means to give way to pressure. Being yielded to Him means being teachable, learning from mistakes. Being yielded means submitting myself to Him, and those He has placed in my life that have wisdom in areas I need understanding. Being yielded means being pliable, learning how to “go with the flow”, and trust He is in control. Willingness is absolutely great but limits your ability to be used if you are not completely yielded to His will. After all, water doesn’t flow freely from a vessel with a warped lip.

 In Jeremiah 18 God sends Jeremiah to the potter’s house where he watches the potter make a pot. When the pot is not to the potter’s liking he begins again with the same clay in order to make a pot that pleased him. In verses 6-7 God speaks to Jeremiah and says: “O people of Israel, can I not do with you as this potmaker has done?” says the Lord. “Like the clay in the pot-maker’s hand, so are you in My hand, O people of Israel.”

 As I read this passage I couldn’t help but think of the preparation the clay went through prior to being on the wheel. I began to revisit memories of unpleasant circumstances that led to the hurt I was dealing with. Most I had dealt with. A few I had not – air bubbles. As the air bubbles began to rise to the surface I had to make a decision.

 I chose to learn how to endure. I knew that the pressure being applied could only be from Him. That the more pressure I felt, the more I could see just what he wanted to heal and correct in me. Like the clay I had to take the pressure He was applying in order for my molecules to be in proper alignment. I had to see that I couldn’t become the vessel he wants without persevering under pressure.

There are many times we attribute what looks to be a negative circumstance to the enemy. Still, there are plenty of times where the Lord will use these circumstances to reveal the condition of our heart. James 1:2-4 says we should be glad when our faith is tested, because through the testing of our faith we learn how to persevere. I recently watched a video and the speaker said we may not have been able to control everything in our life, but we must become accountable for how we deal with what’s happened. This hit home for me because much of what I have been spending time on in the last month has been learning how to correctly think. Yes, I still struggle with extreme thinking at times. But if I didn’t stay the course under pressure I would have never discovered the error in thinking patterns or sought help. I am clay.

As a lump of clay I give in to the wedging, understanding the initial process of perfecting is not only for my good, but for others around me. As a lump of clay on the table I trust the potter’s hands to prepare me for the wheel and fire. As a lump of clay on His wheel I yield to the pulling up and tearing down. I mold to the shape He is forming me into. A vessel He is pleased with that will withstand the added pressure in the fire in order to be used. 

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June 17, 2016


Written by Kelly Elders

One day after an event I walked into the parking garage and the car next to me had it’s hood up with a woman holding battery cables. We all know what that means, car trouble. The woman couldn’t start her car and needed someone to help recharge her battery. I lifted my hood and we charged her battery. She thanked me and we went our separate ways. On my way home I stopped to have lunch with friends and as I parked my car my battery light went on. Here I was helping someone with their battery and all the while my battery was in trouble.The next day I couldn’t start my car and had to replace the battery.

Leading on Empty

Sometimes we are helping and giving to the people around us and yet we are living depleted lives. When we stay on the side of giving and never stop to receive we will begin to feel overwhelmed and even frustrated with people, church and ministry.  Living on empty will cause you to move from church to church or position to position trying to find out where you feel fulfilled. Fulfillment comes from our relationship with Christ not from our position in church. Serving is all about others not ourselves. It’s not to make us feel better by making us feel accepted, forgiven or righteous. All those things are found in Christ alone. We serve because He invites us to share in His work on this earth. It’s an honor to be able to function as His hands, His voice, His heart and His feet. He wants to use us immeasurably and also keep us filled.

Who wants to help people succeed, grow and walk into their destiny if they themselves are not experiencing all of those things too?

When you have faith for yourself to win in life, it’s much easier to help someone else live by their faith. I wouldn’t want a trainer at the gym to train me if they had a muffin top and a donut in their hand. You can only take people as far as you have been so as you grow you can then propel others forward.

If you have been in the church long enough you have heard people say they can no longer serve because they’re just burned out! “Burned out” people are people who serve on low or empty. The easiest place to hide your emptiness is while you are serving. If you stop attending church people assume you are in a bad place or feeling defeated but how about all those people who volunteer every Sunday on empty. No one notices you are actually starving and serving at the same time. Soon you can deceive yourself into believing you are no longer hungry and instead revert to become hangry.

Hangry vs. Hungry

Have you ever met someone who gets hangry? They are angry cause they’re hungry. They can’t make a decision or they become easily frustrated because they haven’t eaten. This drives me crazy! I want to keep an emergency slice of bread in my purse for people like this. I can’t understand how someone can let themselves get to this point when they have every ability to grab a snack instead of attack. Yet many Christians are so hungry they become hangry. They respond to people out of their hunger and hurt others with their words and all because they choose to live on empty.

God has made Himself available to us for our every need through His Holy Spirit and through His Word. He longs to fill us and wants us not only full but running over. Jesus tells a parable in Luke of a story of a man who prepared a banquet table and everyone he invited had an excuse as to why they couldn’t attend. One man couldn’t attend because he bought a field, another just bought oxen and another just became married. People are still using the same excuses for not sitting at His table. They are working too much, consumed with all the material wealth or their relationships and have no time for Him. Jesus continues to tell the story of how the man sent his servant out to call anyone willing to come. God is filling those who hunger after Him and He is sending out those who love being filled while filling others!

The better you are, the better the quality of what you have to give.

Filled People

Filled people spill over onto others. Have you ever met someone who can’t hold in a secret? They have to release it or they feel they will explode. We need to feel that welling up to want to tell others what God has done in our lives. We should have stories of how good He has been to us and how grateful we are for His goodness. These stories should spill out of us. When we live with hearts of gratitude we notice even the small things that God does on our behalf. We notice and thank Him for the perfect parking spot, the short line at the grocery store, keeping you from an accident and every good thing that happens, each time He intervenes or protects.

Today, choose to focus on the good things and continue to fill yourself with His Word, last Sundays message, a podcast and just conversations with God and as you are consistent you will feel the infilling happen each day. As David Katina said, “Good, better, best, don’t let it rest till the good is better and the better is best.” 

More from Kelly Elders at her blog.   

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June 9, 2016

Slow Down

Written by Amber Lawton

Three weeks. I had three weeks. Truthfully I had way more time to complete my homework, but I kept finding myself stuck. When you’re a (former) perfectionistic, approval-seeking, analyzer like myself you would think I would utilize the time I had to my advantage. Instead my penchant for procrastination kicked in. Combine this with the greatest gift known to woman, multitasking, and I thrive in the excitement of finishing.

Like many of my peers I have found ways to accomplish multiple tasks in my day at the same time. I’ve read what the experts have to say about the ill effects of multitasking; split attention, less effective, and mediocre results. But who knows better than me how I get things done?   Forget the fact that this homework is for a class at church intended to increase my spiritual growth, and teach me how to walk in my God given authority. Nevermind the fact that if I finish these assignments I will probably find a greater peace in my life. In the time given to me I allowed anxiety set in: ‘what if I don’t pass?’ ‘I need to find a job.’ ‘What am I going to do if I run out of money?’ ‘I promised I would help.’… and on, and on, and on.

This pattern is not new to me. Over the course of my many years of employment I found myself committed to too many projects. Deadlines looming over my head I would agree to help others with their work knowing I had not completed my own projects. At times I took work home, and spent even less time in what should have been the highest priority – my relationship with God. Reading my bible became reading a scripture in a devotional when I could. Prayer became quick thank yous in the shower, and a blessing over meals. The most time I could commit to with the Lord was in my car during the morning commute. I’ll be honest those were not always the finest moments as I tried to pray, or worship, only to be cut off and cussing. That’s right. Road rage was in full effect. So I essentially stuck to listening to Christian radio hoping whatever message I was listening to would sink in. Yet, my thoughts never quite lined up with what I was listening to as they quickly went to the day’s tasks, or bills, or whatever else was a concern for that day. Instead of living a Christ-centered life my life looked more like a pie chart with Christ being the smallest piece of the pie.

In this new season of my life I didn’t expect to have to revisit how I prioritize my time with God. Still, I found that with holding off this homework came a slow depreciation of my time with Him. The busier I got, the more worried I became. Then there was the self-defeating thought that said “just a little bit of time with God is better than none.” That’s right this is a self-defeating thought because if I find my peace, hope, joy, love,  freedom, and ultimately myself, in Him why would He be at the bottom of my priorities? Contrary to what you may have heard alone time with God isn’t meant to be a shadow to your list of to-do’s.

I wish I could tell you that I heard some gentle message of Mary & Martha that caused me to want to sit at the Father’s feet. No, quite the opposite. I was attempting to do a low priority task because it was less challenging, and didn’t push me spiritually. That’s right I was avoiding the change I needed. Because after all, once you know better, you do better, right? I was sitting at my computer when the Holy Spirit said very clearly “One thing at a time. You need to do one thing at a time. Prioritize. What is priority?” I immediately felt convicted because the very thing I needed to do first was the thing I put off for last. The assignments I procrastinated to complete were directly connected to my assignment in the Earth. How could I possibly attempt to do anything related to purpose if I couldn’t draw closer to the one who gave me that purpose in the first place?

I recently heard John Bevere teach that ‘it was the good of the tree that Eve was drawn to when she was deceived. The tree we know as good and evil. Eve was enticed by the good because she thought it would make her more like God. Much like Eve, many Christians are deceived by the good of a thing, not noticing the compromise it brings to their lives.’ How applicable this statement is to my very circumstances. Essentially I could have said “I shouldn’t be convicted, because after all it’s not like I don’t spend any time with God. And hey all the things I’m distracted with are for Him for the most part anyway.” But what is the value of  a sacrifice when you are giving up a calculated measure that doesn’t mean much in the first place? How much are you changed or even becoming intimate with your Father when you are more consumed with projects, tasks, money, and things?

Mark 4:19 (NLV) says: “But the cares of this life let thorns come up. A love for riches and always wanting other things let thorns grow. These things do not give the Word room to grow so it does not give grain.” This scripture says ‘other things’ which is broad when you think about it. Things can be your career, your house, children, or education. Things could be physically tangible items. Things could be tasks or projects. Think about things. What ‘other things’ are growing up like a thorn in your life and choking the seeds of the word? Hard questions, I know. But I had to ask this of myself as well. If I intend to be a doer of His word I must do more than hear His word. In order to know Him I must know His word. In order to draw closer to Him I must be diligent, and whole-hearted in my pursuit. I must sit still, prioritize, and take one thing at a time.   

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June 3, 2016


Written By Judy Smith

It seems that there’s no break from cares, concerns, anxieties, and worries. I have children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren who I pray for, and each one from the youngest to the oldest is going though some sort of crises, myself included.

As we take the time to pray, help and be a support others, at times  the weight may cause us wonder if it is possible to care too much. Where does Jesus draw the line for our compassion? Matthew 9:36 says, “But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them because they were weary and scattered like sheep having no shepherd.” The NIV translation says that they were harassed and helpless. Another versions says that they were distraught, mislead, and heart- broken.

How far should our compassion extend? As much as Jesus’ does! The difference is, He has the ability to bear caring for all of our needs at once. We were not created to carry these cares; we were created to take the cares to Him. 1 Peter 5:7 AMP casting all your cares [all your anxieties, all your worries, and all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares about you [with deepest affection, and watches over you very carefully].

1 Colossians 3:12-14 “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” If we do these things first and then give every care to Jesus, then the pressure is off!! We can choose to put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. This is how I have learned to handle cares in life.

As soon as I’m overwhelmed with difficulties, I bring them to Him with a thankful heart. Then I ask Him to show me how to handle the situation. The very act of thanking Him releases my mind from negativity. As I turn my attention to Him, the problem fades and loses its power to dominate my thoughts. He lifts the burden and gives me peace as I am in His presence.

Philippians 4:6 “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” Learn to relate to others through His love. Human love is limited and flawed. His loving presence and His love is perfect, unfailing an unconditional. His love motivates us to reach out and help others.

We can become drained from interacting with many needy people, while not taking time to rest. Take time to rest in the presence of Jesus. He will restore energy and give grace.

Matthew 11:29 “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” We can approach each new day in Jesus’ presence, before you get out of bed. He has already made the crooked places straight, He has already prepared a path for your day and there are hidden treasures strategically placed along the way. Look for them!

Some of the treasures come out of the trials, which shake us free from self-dependence. Other treasures are the blessings that reveal His presence, such as the beauty of nature, strong friendships, and answered prayers.

He has not abandoned us. He is still present. He is still all-powerful. Search for the deep treasures as you go through each day. You will find Jesus along the way.

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May 26, 2016


Written by Petra M. Rodriguez

Where does Leadership begin? Leadership usually starts at home, as we learn how to make productive and wise decisions from our parents. When parents lead by example, it teaches us to be strong leaders. Leaders are charged with the task of not only holding everyone on their team accountable, but holding themselves accountable as well, thereby setting an example of what they expect from the team.  There’s hardly anything worse for company morale than leaders who practice the “do as I say, not as I do” philosophy. When this happens, you can almost see the loss of enthusiasm and goodwill amongst the team. It’s like watching air go out of a big balloon. This allows the opportunity for much disappointment and let down. 

As a leader, your team looks to you for guidance and strength. Part of being a great leader is to inspire the people around you, inspiring them to push themselves and return the team to greatness! To do this you must show them the way first by setting a good example.  If you make a new rule, you must follow it first, then your team will follow it too.  

We are all leaders whether we think so or not. Family, friends, and people all around us are looking for someone who will inspire them to do more and strive to be better. We can all set good examples and not just do the “same old-same old” routine.  Be a positive example they can follow.  Sometimes, to be that person, it takes courage. With a positive attitude and a genuine heart, we can help build people up on our team. Eventually seeing them become team builders themselves, leading people to excel everyday!


“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” John Maxwell

“A leader takes a little more than his share of the blame, a little less than his share of the credit.” Arnold H. Glasow

“Leaders become great, not because of their power, but because of their ability to empower others.” John Maxwell



Be courageous -It has been said that courage is not the lack of fear, but the ability to face fear, and overcome it.

Be an optimist – Everyone can choose to be an optimist or a pessimist; to see the best in people or the worst in any moment.

Know what you believe in and live it! – An effective leader clearly understands their core value, objectives, and important beliefs. They live their convictions and lead with integrity to build successful people.

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A Frozen Heart

Written by Kelly Elders

I recently read an article of a Pennsylvania man who was found dead in the snow. He told his dad he was on his way home in sub zero temperature and when he never arrived his father went out searching for him. The father found his son in the snow, frozen with no pulse or heartbeat. He was taken to a nearby hospital. Doctors could not declare him dead until his body was warm. He was given CPR and chest compressions for over two hours then flown to another hospital where they were able slowly warm the body. Miraculously, as his body warmed his heart began to beat again. He made a full recovery only losing a couple fingers and toes due to hypothermia.

Sometimes in our own walk we can struggle to survive the severe storms causing us to fall and freeze. When others look at us they see death but God will surround you with people who refuse to call you dead!

Keep Moving

Have you ever felt frozen or stuck? With no heartbeat or passion to move forward? So many times situations in our life can cause us to get stuck and soon have no passion for the vision ahead. Growing up in the midwest we knew that you could not dress too warm when you went skiing in the snow because you would warm up fast. Movement kept me warm in the snow. It’s when we stop moving, stop reading, stop attending church, stop surrounding ourselves with the right people that can cause us to get stuck. Eventually, our pulse on the things of God slows down and soon our heart stops beating with purpose.

Feed your heart with books, podcasts, inspiring sermons and music but remember nothing can warm your spirit like the Holy Spirit. Spending time alone with God and saying aloud your thoughts, fears, prayers and thankful words can heal your heart like nothing else. Another way to stay warm in the cold elements people embrace each other to generate heat. The same is true when your heart needs warmed is to surround yourself with people who are hot, not in looks but in spirit. Find one person or group that their hearts are pumping and they are excited about their own future and the future of the Church. Once you do this your heart will beat again.

Pump The Heart

Sometimes we find people in the same predicament. Frozen in their ways, no heartbeat for the things of God, and no pulse to the heart of God and we give up and declare them dead too soon. When truly they need someone to shock their heart, pump the heart and warm their hearts again. I know in ministry we can tend to become frustrated or even bypass those stuck but we are called to warm their hearts with love and words of possibility. Sometimes it includes effort on your part. God is looking for people who are strong enough to manually pump the hearts of those frozen due to the elements of this life. The heart was pumped for 2 hours not a lifetime. There was a time the young man had to be taken to a more advanced facility to continue the process. We are all just part of the process. Be willing to get unstuck from that frozen place so you can one day be the one pumping someone else’s heart and love them to life.

Read more from Kelly Elders at her blog.

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May 12, 2016

Peace In Troubling Times

Written By Judy Smith

We can have peace and contentment in the midst of troubling times. We think this is impossible when everything is caving in on us, and in the natural this is true. If this rings true then we are forgetting the One and only wise and powerful God we serve. In my forty-four years of loving and serving Jesus, He has not let me down. In every circumstance, He worked it out in His time as I prayed, trusted, and drew nearer to Him.

Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength me. We face an unknown future because we do not know everything that the days ahead contain. Even so we can prepare for whatever lies ahead. We must view life as a learning opportunity. We can ask God what He wants us to learn from any situation that we face. Daily bible reading and prayer prepare us to receive instruction and direction from God when we set aside specific time to listen. He encourages us with His presence and promises. We can ask the Holy Spirit to give us spiritual eyes to see the lessons learned.

Thee situations we face today can build a greater confidence in God and give us the  assurance that in Christ we can tackle what lies ahead. Incident after incident, lesson after lesson,  and year after year, as we experience God’s great faithfulness, grace, and power we will gain the confidence to say, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.

In tough times Paul was stretched, beaten, and left for dead. Paul did not ask why me Lord. He asked Lord what do you want me to do? What do you want me to understand from this situation? Paul learned through everything he experienced that we should not rely on ourselves, we should rely on God.

He pulls us out of our circumstances.

2 Samuel 22:17, 20 HCSB He reached down from heaven and took hold of me; He pulled me out of deep waters. He brought me out to a spacious place; He rescued me because He delighted in me.

Difficult days come unexpectedly like a flood. You cannot plan for them, neither can you prepare for how they affect you. Though outside and unexpected forces may be the cause, they mainly come through the common aspects of life. It is the abundance of small, daily problems that can overwhelm us.

Even as adversity rages, remember that Jesus is your great lifeguard and that He is able to deliver you. Turn each problem and each overwhelming difficulty to Him. Surely He will lift you out of the deep waters and bring you out to the spacious place where you can breathe and have peace.

Psalm 31:23-24 Oh, love the Lord, all you His saints! For the Lord preserves the faithful, And fully repays the proud person.  Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart, All you who hope in the Lord.  

John 14:27 Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

Rejoice and be thankful! As you walk with Jesus through each day, practice trusting and thanking Him all along the way. Trust is the channel through which His peace flows to you. Thankfulness lifts you up above your troubles.

He does His greatest works through people with grateful trusting hearts. Rather than fretting and evaluating, practice trusting and thanking Him regularly. This will revolutionize your life.

In closing, here are three scriptures to encourage your heart.

  • Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!
  • Psalm 95:1-2 Oh come, let us sing to the Lord! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.
  • Psalm 9:10 And those who know Your name will put their trust in You; For You, Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You.

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May 6, 2016

Go Far

Written by Remaliah Evans

As women our plates tend to stay full and then we begin living on our own strength, and nearly completely independent from God. How do we know when we are operating in our own strength or in faith? Listen to what you are saying and pay attention to what you are thinking. A telltale sign is if you are constantly saying or thinking, “I’m tired”. Now you may be legitimately tired. The question is why are you tired? Are you tired because you are working long hours and loosing sleep? Or do you feel drained no matter how much sleep or rest you seem to get?

I can work long hours for a period of time, however it is not healthy to work long hours and remain sleep deprived on an extended basis. For several years I kept two jobs and eventually I felt the Lord telling me to quit the second job. I did not quit my second job because I wanted the extra disposable income. One day I fell asleep while driving and I crashed into a road sign. Fortunately no one was hurt except my little Corolla.

The Lord told me to quit my second job because He knew I was not sleeping enough, and because quitting my job would require me to develop the discipline to budget and also trust Him to provide. Disclaimer: I am not advising you quit your job. In my case I knew that God was telling me quit my second job and I was disobedient. Having a second job was me operating out of my own strength because one, I did not ask God if should take a second job, and two I never went to God and asked Him to help me financially.

It is not a far-fetched idea that God would provide for us. He provided for Jacob, Esther, Joseph, Daniel, Moses and the widow who nearly lost her sons. Many times we operate out of our own strength because we do not believe that God will help us in certain areas of lives. But God is a good Father and like a good father He is concerned with every area of our lives.

Yes, I was legitimately tired because I was working two jobs, however when I quit my second job I had time to sleep and I was no longer tired. I am a recovering workaholic and I enjoy working because it is easier to work and accomplish work goals, than it is to deal with problems, character flaws, and develop meaningful relationships. When I work excessively, I am operating out of my own strength. The Lord says to work as if I am working unto Him.  There are times when God will instruct us to do works that require immense time and energy, however when we are acting in obedience to Him, and when we are fully submitted to what He asks us to do, I find that there is a grace to do the work.

I have been blessed to help organize a few large events. Over four to six months, this involves a myriad of emails, meetings, follow up calls, trainings, creating forms, and dealing with a slew of vendors. While there are definitely a few late nights, for the most part I do not realize how tired I am until after the event. Typically the day after the event I crash and I am in wonder at all that God allowed the team to accomplish. After one or two days of rest following the event, I am refreshed and fully recovered.

This is not adrenaline, it is the grace of God that rests upon us when we are obedient. When we are obedient and seek Him first, He is faithful to strengthen us. The word says seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to us. The kingdom of God is the rule and the reign of God, and righteousness is to be in right relationship with God. So when I seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness I am saying,” Lord, first I seek You so that You so that You will rule and reign in my heart and in my life, I am submitted to You. Above all else, I want to be in right relationship with You.”  

            When we do this, then all these things will be added to us. In reading Matthew 6:31-33 we find that the “things” referred to are food, water, and clothing, in other words necessities. God’s strength and grace are also necessities because we are called to do life WITH Him.

Another sign that we are operating out of our own strength is when we continuously say or think “I can’t do this.” When we say we cannot do something we are likely operating out of own strength because we are relying solely on ourselves. First, we must believe His promises that the steps of the righteous are ordered by the Lord, and that Lord leads us along the path that is best for our life. Thus, wherever the Lord leads us is ultimately beneficial. Second, regardless of what it feels like, God’s intentions for us are always good. He does not set us up for failure and wait for our demise.

To rely on God we need faith. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. The word says that we can do all things though Christ who strengthens us. We must change our thought patterns and speech. Whenever we hear ourselves say or think “I can’t do this” we can immediately say out loud, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

I hate public speaking; it is scary and nerve wracking. I become nervous and speak extremely fast, there are awkward pauses, and even more awkward endings. I am on a team that shares a brief word of encouragement with my church about once per month. Every single time I tell myself I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. As I tell myself this, I realize that I am not alone and that He is here to help me. It also reminds me that it is not about me, it is about what He wants to communicate through me. My motivation shifts from simply wanting to be a good public speaker; my mindset shifts from performance to believing that God will use me to bring encouragement and hope as I share His word. It is not magic. I did not declare, “I can do all things thought Christ who strengthens me” and poof! I was suddenly a prolific public speaker. However over the past two years I have grown slightly more comfortable with public speaking and I am improving as my confidence remains in Him and I ask Him to give me the words to speak.

If we believe His word then we will speak, pray, and declare His word over our lives. Even when life does not work out the way we want, when we declare and believe His word, we are operating in faith and we learn to focus on Him, and not our problems or disappointments. We learn to trust Him and His love for us despite tragedy and opposition. We learn to walk in faith and walk in His strength because trying to do it on our own strength is maddening.

The most difficult season was when a close family member passed away. The death was sudden and I was livid, confused, bitter, and for the first time I felt like life just stopped for a while. After years of hoarding my emotions, suddenly my emotions would no longer go ignored. And for many months following the passing I had to keep choosing to seek God for His strength and direction. I went to God with my unforgiveness, rage, bitterness, and questions because I knew that there was no way that I could make it through such loss without Him. It was either go to Him for His strength, or be devoured by bitterness and sorrow. During that time I had faith in His promise that He would perfect that which concerns me…. and He did.

Faith without works is dead. I had faith in God to heal me and walk me through the grieving process. The works were to not stress out, and to go to Him whenever I felt overwhelmed or burdened. The works were to keep praying and believing that God would bring healing and understanding.

We walk in faith one decision, one step, and one moment at a time. And as we see God’s faithfulness, faith becomes a way of life because we discover that His word is true and that He is trustworthy. We walk in faith when we walk in agreement with Him and His word. When we walk with Him, we will always go far.

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April 28, 2016


Written By: Petra Rodriguez

Do you find yourself feeling offended often? I encounter this reality every single day. Many people are so offended with me, by others, by places, and ideas. This past Resurrection Sunday I experienced just that; the children in our family were cracking confetti eggs on whomever they had an opportunity to do so, which is a custom on that holiday. They decided to crack some on my head, which was fine, but when it came down to getting ready to grub I asked them to stop, so that confetti wouldn’t fall into my meal. Did they listen?! No!

I felt angry, disrespected, and immediately offended throughout the rest of the day.  I replayed the scene over and over in my head because I felt wronged by my family. Mentally rehashing the offense caused me to eventually forget what I really loved about them, and all the times they have brought joy, happiness and love into my life. Holding offense was not worth losing the richness that is family. I forgave and asked God to forgive me and decided to move on.

How have you been offended? Reasons to find offense surround us- bosses, employees, and people’s beliefs. However, offense is really an issue of the self. It has nothing to do with the other person who is offending you; it has everything to do with you. Yes, some people say and do things that may seem ridiculous to you. But we as human beings must learn to love each other past our differences. Have you ever thought about how you say and do things that are ridiculous to others? The issue of being offended has to do with how we respond. Offense will be given, but it doesn’t have to be taken. Offense changes us on the inside as we hold resentment, bitterness, strife, and un-forgiveness… which in the long run turns into gossip. This robs us from having peace and being at peace with others.

Luke 17:1-4 NIV Jesus said to his disciples: “Things that cause people to stumble are bound to come, but woe to anyone through whom they come. It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble. So watch yourselves. “If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.”

“We should be too BIG to take offense and too NOBLE to give it”. Abraham Lincoln


What issues in your life are you choosing to be offended over? They could be feelings of frustration, feelings of entitlement, negative words, not feeling valued, unfairness, and/or different beliefs.

Or we can choose not to be offended, which has several advantages:

    We can listen to and understand people better.

    We increase our opportunities to learn.

    We can more easily resolve conflict.

    We grow our ability to influence the world around us.

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