Unbroken 

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.” Corinthians 9:24

Today we began a series entitled “At the Movies.” Our pastor takes a popular movie, shortens it to fulfill  the purpose of his message, and inserts himself in the film and provides biblical commentary.

The film today was Unbroken, which is about the life of Louis Zamperini. It recounts his amazing odyssey of triumph that he contributes to the unfailing grace of God.

His life was such a powerful testimony! We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us and Louis proved just that! His brother Pete gave him a mantra-“If you can take it, you can make it.” This gave Louis strength for the journey  during his 97 years on earth.

I was moved to tears during the showing and sat on the edge of my seat. It was hard to watch the evil he endured.

I could relate to so much of his life-the low self esteem, facing trial after trial that would break most, and the strong will to make it despite the odds.

Pastor Dave reminded us that the devil has no real power over us and he can only trick us into destroying ourselves. He plays a lot of mind games and excels at convincing us that we  are worthless. In the case of Louis, the devil used the Bird to try to break his spirit. It was obvious that the Bird saw greatness in him, too and hated him for it.

Pastor Dave also talked about how living out of season can hamper us. Louis defined himself as an Olympic runner and was almost destroyed when he lost a race as a prisoner. His focus should have been on survival instead of his past glory. We must stay in the present in order to appreciate the blessings that we do have.

It is true that God prepares us in advance to fight future battles. Louis was “trained” as a youth with the many gladiator type battles he faced as an Italian immigrant in his neighborhood and his Olympic training as a runner.

The most astonishing part of his story was the ability to forgive his captors-the very men who tormented him as a POW. He actually met with them all except for the Bird who refused. Again, another solid example of how we can do anything as long as we rely on the strength of the Lord.

Louis spent 47 days at sea after their military plane crashed. He vowed to God that he would dedicate his life to him if he would only let him live. God granted his request and Louis eventually kept his promise.

I have been down-but never out, bent-but not broken, and I’ve been through many fires-but I never smell like smoke-Hallelujah!!!!

I want to encourage anyone reading these words today to keep running the race! Our sufferings are never in vain and all things can be used for good by God. He hears every prayer we utter and stores them in His golden goblet in heaven. Never grow weary of fighting the good fight of faith my friend!

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Refuge 

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”—Psalm 46:1

In July I had the pleasure of spending a week in beautiful San Juan, Puerto Rico-in the Condado Beach area to be exact. One morning I decided to take an Uber and go to old San Juan. I heard it was a sight to see and indeed it was. I fell in love with the colorful buildings and the blue-yes blue, cobblestone streets. 



I wanted to take a picture or two of myself but it was hard to get a good shot solo. I saw a group of ladies on a corner and approached one of them to take my picture. She happily agreed and they all participated and turned it into a photoshoot.  


Afterwards I asked where I could go for breakfast which is where they were heading and they invited me to tag along. The ladies ranged in ages 61-68 and had been friends since they were small children. Maria and Frances still lived on the island. Nell lived in New Zealand and was there to visit friends and her ailing parents. Mary lived in San Antonio and was there for the same reasons as Nina. 


I spent about five hours with “the girls” who treated me to breakfast and taught me a lot about Puerto Rican history and culture as they graciuosly took me on a walking tour. They dropped me back off at my hotel and I left them transformed by their kindness to a stranger. I hoped that we would stay in touch.


Sometimes our lives intersect with strangers and we are richer for it. In light of the hurricanes that hit both Puerto Rico and Texas, I have not stopped thinking about my new friends. I have been trying to get in contact with them to no avail. I pray that they are okay. Through my church we have sent more than $100, 000 in funds to Texas, Florida, the Caribbean, and Puerto Rico. But I wish I could do so much more. I have agonized over this and today God told me to write this post and pray. 


So I ask you all to please help me stand in the gap for “the ladies” as well as the thousands of others suffering due to the storm. Let’s gather in His name on their behalf. Let us pray that they remain hopeful and faithful in their time of trouble. Let their needs be met and take comfort because Help is on the way!  The Bible says that the prayer of the righteous availeth much! 

Confirmation 

“…You, who have shown me great and severe troubles, Shall revive me again, And bring me up again from the depths of the earth.  You shall increase my greatness, And comfort me on every side. ” ~Psalm 71:20-21 

Tonight I was reading the Bible and came across this gem of a scripture. This is spiritually right on time for as I was in dire need of a word.  

This gives me strength to continue. I know that God is well aware of all that ails me. 

Verses 14-17 of the same Psalm tells me just what I need to do: “But I will hope continually, And will praise You yet more and more. My mouth shall tell of Your righteousness And Your salvation all the day, For I do not know their limits. I will go in the strength of the Lord GOD; I will make mention of Your righteousness, of Yours only.” 

The Missing Pieces

“I will put My trust in Him.” ~Hebrews 2:13

It feels so good to trust in the Lord and lean not to my own understanding. 

I often liken life to a billion piece jiggle saw puzzle. Each event, experience, trial, blessing, etc. in our life represents one piece-thus it rarely makes sense to us. 

But God…literally and figuratively speaking, the Creator of the puzzle, has already put it together and can see the big picture. Trust Him my friends. 

  

Hannah’s Prayer

“O my lord! As your soul lives, my lord, I am the woman who stood by you here, praying to the Lord.” 1 Samuel 1:26

Today I was reading scripture when I came across Hannah’s prayer. I was really struck by it so I thought I would share: 

My heart rejoices in the Lord; My horn is exalted in the Lord. I smile at my enemies, Because I rejoice in Your salvation. 

No one is holy like the Lord, For there is none besides You, Nor is there any rock like our God. 

Talk no more so very proudly; Let no arrogance come from your mouth, For the Lord is the God of knowledge; And by Him actions are weighed. 

The bows of the mighty men are broken, And those who stumbled are girded with strength. Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread, And the hungry have ceased to hunger. Even the barren has borne seven, And she who has many children has become feeble. 

The Lord kills and makes alive; He brings down to the grave and brings up. The Lord makes poor and makes rich; He brings low and lifts up. He raises the poor from the dust. And lifts the beggar from the ash heap, To set them among princes, And make them inherit the throne of glory. 

For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, And He has set the world upon them. He will guard the feet of His saints, But the wicked shall be silent in the darkness. 

For by strength no man shall prevail. The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken in pieces; From heaven He will thunder against them. The Lord will judge the ends of the earth.  

He will give strength to His King, And exalt the horn of His anointed. 


The Blood Still Works

“You were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.” (1 Peter 1:18-19)

On Good Friday, I had my fourth surgery. I’m so thankful to serve a God who keeps His word and answers prayers. 

He didn’t have to spare my life but for some reason, He did. In Romans 9: 15-17 the Lord tells Moses “I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I have compassion. So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy.” I give God all the glory for this victory as it was not won by my hand. 

The theme of blood runs like a  literal red thread throughout the Bible. Songs have been written about the mighty blood of Jesus. Through His bloodshed we are cleansed and made whole. Even the enemy Satan has been conquered through His precious blood! 

There is so much power, protection, and promise in the Blood of the sacrificial Lamb that is not known to many people.  Although I did go through the fire, but because of this holy covering, I was able to come out of it without even smelling of smoke, hallelujah! 

This is nothing new as he did the same for Daniel’s friends Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego “…and they saw these men on whose bodies the fire had no power; the hair of their head was not singed nor were their garments affected, and the smell of fire was not on them.” Daniel 3: 27

I hope whoever is reading this today finds hope in my message. He saved me and can do the same for you! Try the Blood-it still works! 

He Loves Me

“The wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial, and sincere” ~James 3:17, NIV

God spoke to me today via one of my church members. He knows that I have a heavy burden pressing on my heart and sent this message to comfort me. 

I felt a tap on my shoulder and turned around and received this note: 

 It reads ” For you this week “Peace Be Still.” Well, God Himself might as well have penned it! I felt so grateful and emotional. If I may be candid for a moment, I still struggle with the notion of how much God loves me. I don’t deserve it yet He is still crazy faithful and loves me with an everlasting love. 

My God. 

Father, how grateful I am that you have found me worthy of your favor, mercy, and lovingkindness.  You know everything about me-even down to the amount of hairs that I have on my head, and yet you love me anyway. I thank you Father for seeing my pain and wanting to provide comfort. I thank You for Your compassion. I thank You for this message that I know was from You. Thank you for using such a sweet lady to send it. Thank You for Your reassuring Word Abba. In the healing blood of the Lamb, Amen. 

 

In Touch 

I get so happy when I see the latest edition of In Touch magazine! The articles are encouraging and help remind me to stay the course regardless of what’s going on around me. 

  

Each edition contains articles, poetry,  photography, and a month worth of devotionals. Sometimes there are testimonies, too. Now these really do my heart good. 

Best of all, the magazine is free. 

After Winter

“To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3: 1

After winter, must come spring. Change comes eventually” ~Lauryn Hill.

For the last 12 years or so I have been in a winter season. Despite being born during a major blizzard, I do not readily embrace it.

Even though I know that winter is a time for hibernating, renewing, strengthening, and preparing, it can be difficult to see better days ahead. Although David was anointed king at the tender age of 16, he spent the 14 years following his anointing running from Saul. It was during this time that the Psalms were birthed. Reading David’s laments, we know how unbearable winter seasons can be.  “Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice,” he says in Psalm 55:17. But we also know that trouble doesn’t last.”He brought me up also out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings” (Psalm 40:2).


Take heart. The hoary head of snow soon melts. The grass morphs from brown to green. The birds return from the south. The sun smiles again. We have visible signs of hope that a change is on the horizon.

But how do we endure in the meanwhile when the air is still polar, the nights long, and the landscape of our lives are seemingly barren? I think the answer that has evaded me my entire life is a simple one. We are to HOPE. This revelation has only come to me in the past year. Prior to this, I spent the time waiting being afraid, disillusioned, angry, and bitter. I didn’t have enough faith to BELIEVE God would get me through. I was fearful that He wouldn’t do for me what He has done for countless others. I concentrated more on the problem instead of focusing on He who is greater than any problem known to man. He’s seen it all. Nothing that we go through is a surprise to Him. He only wants to see how we handle that challenges that bombard our lives. Will we ask for His new morning mercies daily? Will we lean not to our own understanding? Will we be still? Will we wait on Him? Or will we succumb to the desire to do it our way? Will we resist the thorn that adorns the beautiful rose? Will we decline the growth that is sure to come if we just hold on?

I now know that this winter is not in vein. He is not punishing or refusing to help me. He is growing me for something greater later. God is using it to build my character. When He is ready, deliverance will come.

Patience is not my best quality and I  constantly wonder when my relief come. Some days I feel like the speaker in the Kanye West song Stronger “I need you to hurry up now/Cause I can’t wait much longer/I know I got to be right now/Cause I can’t get much wronger./” I want to plead my case for deliverance to the Highest Judge in life’s earthly court.  I need Him to know that I am not righteous like Job, steadfast as David, dedicated like Ruth, or obedient like Noah. Some days I beg or bargain for relief. I am not as strong as You think, I want to scream.

So what’s a girl to do? Here are a few things that keep me going:

1. Seeking God: I do this by reading the Bible, listening to sermons while I am doing chores, attending church, reading Christian books and devotionals, and listening to praise music.

2. Connecting With Positive People: I have cut out many negative people out of my life. I interact with those who will not judge and will keep me uplifted. Though they may admonish me, I know it  out of agape love.

3. Focusing On The Good: The Bible says “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

4. Encouraging Others: I truly love encouraging others. It makes me realize that I am not the only one with problems. And it makes me feel good to be good to others as God has called us to do.

5. Recalling Past Victories: I’ve survived many things and I can only attribute it to the grace of God. It certainly wasn’t by my hand or strength. If He’s done it once, He’ll do it again as long as I continue to fight and faint not.

I would love to hear how you wait in the comment section below.