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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Strange Fruit 

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” ~Galatians 5:22-23

For a long while now I have been fighting against myself and not dying daily as we are urged to do.  As a result of this, my spiritual fruits have suffered and have no resemblance to Christ. Just as a tree is known by its fruit, so is man. 

I had an epiphany the other day that I can only be who God created me to be. I have to continue being kind, thoughtful, merciful and loving regardless of how others treat me.  I will no longer allow my emotions to be manipulated. The Bible says in Proverbs 16:32 “Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.” We are expected to exhibit self control. The Lord has fully equipped with the ability to do so. We should reflect the  character of God to all we encounter. 

2 Peter 1:5-9 reads “For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.” With that being said I realized that I could not effectively witness for the Lord with the stench of my strange spiritual fruit rotting all around me. I was operating by flesh and not spirit and disregarding Galatians 6:7″Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.” 

I was only offering love to those who loved me, I was not counting it all joy nor being content in each of my life’s circumstances, my peace was long gone, I had no concept of long suffering and was very petulant at the thought of having to wait for something, my faith tank was on empty, my gentleness depended upon my mood, and my self-control was questionable. It was obvious that I had not matured spiritually. 

I had forgotten all about the fruit of the spirit. Instead, my “works of the flesh” were evident.  But God has clearly warned us “…I tell you beforehand, just as I also tell you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” ~Galatians 5:21

I am glad God gave me this me this revelation. It feels so liberating to know that I have the power and kingdom of God within me because “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Romans 8:28 

Letter to My Son

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” ~James 1:17

Last week my son went on a senior retreat  for his last year of high school and parents were asked to write letters. I thought I’d share mine as a testament to the goodness of the Lord. 

Dearest Chad, 
God allowed me to have a dream about you a couple of months before you were born. I dreamed about a beautiful, big, brown-eyed baby boy with dark wavy hair. And true to my dream, this is exactly what you were. You have always been the child of my dreams. I knew I loved you before I met. 

I remember your first night at home. Quiet, you gazed about your new surroundings, your luminous eyes taking it all in and your little rosebud lips forming a perfect O. I thought that you were the most precious, exquisite, and adorable thing that I had ever had the fortune to behold. And I still see you this way. 

I remain so thankful that when God chose a baby from the Cabbage Patch (my version of the birds and bees) that he handpicked you just for me. There are no words in the English lexicon adequate enough to express the depth of my love or the amount of pride I have for you, though pressed to choose, magnificent comes to mind. 

You are one of the best blessings God has so graciously bestowed upon me. If God gave me a choice of sons I would still choose you a thousand times…and then one more.

There are so many things I love about you. I appreciate how kindhearted, polite, funny, respectful, inquisitive, insightful, intellectual, and intelligent you are. One day you will make some lucky young lady a good husband. 

I am proud of you for making a choice daily to do the right things despite the worldly society we live in. To paraphrase Proverbs 31:29, “Many sons have done well, But you excel them all.” Chad, raising you has been a pleasure. Now if I could only get you to keep your room clean!

I pray fervently that God may forever keep You in His shadow. Always remember Matthew 5:5 “Blessed are the meek; for they shall inherit the earth.” I love you to infinity and beyond (in my Buzz Lightyear voice)!

 

Mom

 

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. 


Born

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you;Before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.” ~Jeremiah 1:5

Today I have been on earth exactly 38 years. I am filled with a gratitude that no words in the English lexicon can adequately express. 

I only know that Our awesome God chose to grace me with another year of life.

I have no grand plans. Nor a desire for a party, a cake , a multitude of gifts or to celebrate the whole month long. 

I am content in the knowledge that even before I was a thought, God already knew me. I was chosen specifically by the King. 

I am thankful for my mother who chose to have me even though she had just turned 16 a little over a month before I was born. So this day, of course, makes me think of her sacrifice. It reminds me of Romans 8:28. I like to believe that I am the good born from her youthful indiscretions. 

Today I received such an outpouring of love at both home and work-I was quite overwhelmed-in a good way for once. God used most all I encountered today to express His everlasting love for me. 

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.