Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thankfulness is a Choice

In the spirit of the season, I thought I'd focus on thanksgiving today.
Not the holiday.
The heart attitude and life changing perspective of gratitude.

One of my absolute favorite writers, Ann Voskamp, 
wrote a book called "One Thousand Gifts." 

In it she explains the simple yet profound truth that
giving thanks for something every day can literally change your life. 
She goes through her own life story - and much of it is agonizing and tragic- 
and gives God thanks for the little things through it all.
The little things that most of us would miss.
She sees them.
Because she makes a choice to see them.

Thankfulness is a choice.

How many little things do we miss because we're focused on all the big things that went wrong?

Life is definitely tough.
There's no getting away from that reality.
But our attitude can make or break us.

When tragedy strikes, do we blame God for the pain?
Do we blame ourselves for what we did or did not do?
Do we blame someone else?

Or, do we thank God through it?
And give ourselves grace to be imperfect?
Do we offer that same grace to others?

Thankfulness is a choice.

It's not something we can just fall into.
We have to pick it up. 

When the snow is piled high in our lives, we have to dig until we find it.
Our hands may get cold.
We may start to shiver.
But when we find it...oh the warmth that takes over.
Thankfulness becomes a warm blanket to our cold souls. 

It brings relief.
It brings joy.
It brings life.

Thankfulness is a choice.
It can literally save your life.

Without it, we are dying a slow, painful death of soul- hypothermia.
We become bitter and cold to the blessings in life.
We become frozen where we are.

But when we say, "Thank You, God", JOY ENTERS IN.
And we notice the little things. 

The heart shaped leaf among the huge piles we have been raking all morning reminds us of God's love.
The endless rain on our roof reminds us that He is pouring out His goodness on us until we overflow.

Oh, how so much joy can come from such little things!
You'd be amazed.
Just try it.

Let your heart be embraced by the joy it brings.
I'll start.

Thank You, God, for today.
That I woke up.
That Your mercies are new every morning.
That Your word is true.
 That my family is with me.
That my needs are met.
You are the author of all that is good.
And I am thankful.

Buy Ann Voskamp's book here:

Monday, November 25, 2013

Forgiveness: Part 3

Ephesians 1:7
"In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins,
 in accordance with the riches of God's grace."

Many people walking around today don't truly understand that they are forgiven.

And I'm not talking about unsaved people. 
I'm talking about those that profess to be saved. 

They believe they have to confess daily.
They believe that they're only forgiven for their past sins. 

But the truth is that forgiveness is an ongoing, forever and ever thing!
It's even a past, present, and future thing!
And it all takes place in that one defining moment of salvation. 

Why do we make it so complicated?

When we get saved, we are forever made clean. 
Jesus took care of it on the cross. Once and for all!

Isaiah 43:25:
“I—yes, I alone—will blot out your sins for my own sake 
and will never think of them again."
Once we grasp what He did for us we can't help but be changed. 
We've been forgiven and our sins have been forgotten!

No more shame and guilt. 
No more condemnation.
No more!

Accepting His forgiveness of our sins is the only pathway to true FREEDOM!

Understanding that we don't have to constantly ask Him to forgive us 
is the key to getting out from under shame, guilt and condemnation.

Why are we forgiven?
Because God loves us. 
Plain and simple.
He loves us so much that He sent His son to die for us.
Jesus is the answer. (John 3:16)

How well do you know this revelation- truth?
Is it heart knowledge or head knowledge?

Cause we can't live the same anymore once we grasp it! 

And no-one is exempt from this eternal forgiveness. 
Just believe and receive!
Yes.He saves us. 

Anyone. Everyone. 
For anything and everything. 
We only have to ask Him once. 

Then we get to spend the rest of our lives giving thanks 
for this priceless gift of forgiveness!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Forgiveness: Part Two

I want to hand you a lifeline of grace today.

Here it is wrapped in a shiny bow from me to you:

We ALL have a past.
We ALL have made mistakes.
We ALL wish a situation turned out differently.

If you really think about what I just said, you should feel relieved.

Relieved that you're not the only one  who's done something she regrets.

We're all human and imperfect!

Every single one of us needs a Saviour to rescue us. 

2 ""

Psalm 40:2-3-
"He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire.
He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along."

Thank You Jesus!
Now that I realize this truth, I am free to forgive myself!

We have to be willing to let it go.

Whatever IT is.
The thing that has been gnawing at you all these years.

There is no guilt or shame in forgiving yourself. 
Don't let anyone convince you to stay stuck in that place.
You are imprisoning yourself when you do. 

Galatians 5:1-
"Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! 
Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you."

Can I tell you something, ladies?
When we don't forgive ourselves, our whole identity is compromised.

We don't believe what God says about us.....

That we're beautiful (Song of Solomon 4:7)
And wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14)
And radiant (Psalm 34:5)
That we're captivating (Song of Solomon 4:9)

We can't see ourselves the way Christ does if we are looking at all our flaws!

When we focus on what we did wrong
 then we're not focused on the only One who did it all right.

When we look at the bad choices we made 
then we've taken our eyes off the One who is the best choice!

Let me encourage you today with the lyrics 
from the song "Forgive Yourself" by Downhere.

You keep laying down $100 bills
On the counter of your untamed guilt
And you'll keep paying out from your empty purse
Until you feel you've satisfied your curse
No one here is throwing stones
But you have got to drop your own

Forgive yourself, forgive yourself
Anyone who bears a scar wants to forget it
Forgive yourself, forgive yourself
Nothing ever frees you more than just believing
That you've been forgiven, come out of the prison

Can you tell me how you spend every day
Looking in the mirror of your shame
And staring like a judge, you are ruling for yourself
You tied a stone around your neck
You're drowning in a past regret

Don't believe it's okay to be like this
Don't believe you deserve to live like this
'Cause every part of you wants to know
Just one reason why you should let go

Forgive yourself, forgive yourself
Nothing ever frees you more than just believing
Come out of the prison
You've been delivered.

Let's drop our baggage today.

I'll do it with you.
Take a deep breath, breathe out and LET IT GO. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Forgiveness: Part 1


Forgiveness is a touchy subject.


Because we assume that forgiving someone means we are excusing their behavior.
We think we have to trust them again to prove that we forgave them.

So we don't forgive.
We hold pain, bitterness, resentment and anger inside towards that person.
Because those feelings seem justified.

No, my sweet sister in Christ.
Being justified in feeling something doesn't make it ok.
All that does is make your life miserable.
And what you really want is for your offender's life to be miserable.


Un-forgiveness is a slippery slope. 
The enemy lurks near those with unforgiving hearts.
He knows he can get you to replay the hurtful situation over and over again in your mind.

But, how does that help you?

I might have every reason to get revenge on the guy/girl who hurt me 10 years ago. 
I might feel justified in my actions. 
The devil wants you to FEEL justified.

Did you know we can't let our feelings dictate our actions?
Feelings trick us!

All we need is one excuse 
to stay stuck in un-forgiveness.

But, what does Jesus say about it?

Ephesians 4:31-32 NIV- 
"Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you."

You know what I've discovered about forgiving others?
That we can't do it on our own. 
We have to have help.

I can never muster up the courage to forgive in my own strength.
I have to surrender the offense into Christ's ever capable hands.
Only He can give me the ability to forgive.

I am not going to feel like forgiving that person.
But if I give it to God, HE WILL HELP ME.
Every single day...

If forgiveness were easy, 
then the world would be doing it!
But we, as Christian women, 
are not of the world, are we?
We are set apart! 

Deuteronomy 14:2 says, 
"Remember you are people who have been set apart for Him; He has chosen you to be His own possession out of all the peoples on the earth."

When we forgive, we show people that we really believe what we preach:

 God forgave us SO we can forgive too!

No one said it would be easy, though.

I don't know what you've been through.
But, I do know Someone that does know.

And He promises a day to come without pain, sorrow and tears. 


Until then, we have to learn to forgive so we can truly live.

And the only one who can teach us is Jesus. 
He is and will always be the ultimate example of forgiveness.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Can you handle the truth?

(noun)the facts about something; the things that are true 

John 8:32- "Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."

What do you believe is true?
About your life? About your relationships? About your future?

Are you living a free life? 
Do you have joyful, encouraging relationships?
Are you walking out your hope-filled future?

I've recently discovered that I've been believing some lies about these things.

Did you know that Satan is called the "father of lies" and there is "no truth found in him"? (John 8:44)
That's pretty serious stuff.

But we, you and I, if we know Jesus as our Saviour, know the TRUTH.
And that TRUTH sets us free.

There are things in this world that pretend to be the truth and trap us!
Things like: 

Commercials- "Wow, if I buy that hot red car then I'll be able to drive on the freeway with the wind in my hair and all my cares will fly away. That car will help me run away from all my problems."

Magazines - "Oh that model on the cover sure does look gorgeous. I'll buy this magazine and find out how she looks like that because noone will love me if I don't have her body."

Talk show hosts- "Obviously, she knows what she's talking about. She is super successful and everyone else listens to her advice so I need her new book. Who cares if she doesn't believe that there is only one God. She's a self-made woman, so I can be too." 

Those may seem like obvious traps but given the condition of today's youth, I think far too many fall prey to these lies.

How can we stop believing the lies?
By focusing on the TRUTH.

It sounds cliche I know. 
But it works.

Did you know that lies steal from you? They promise fulfillment, pleasure, joy, love and on and on....but all they do is take those things from you. 

You bought that hot red car and now your monthly check goes directly to the payment. No carefree living for you!

You read the article in that magazine but can't seem to work out 2 hours a day with a personal trainer and cut out all meat in your diet. You binge eat to get over this reality and actually gain weight. 

You listened to that talk show host and left your husband because he wasn't attentive enough to your desires and needs. Now, you're all alone and broken searching for something or someone to fill that hole in your heart. 

How sneaky, huh? 

But what does God say about you?

Psalm 54:4- "God is my helper!
    The Lord is the provider for my life."

John 15:15- "I call you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from My Father."

Jeremiah 31:3- "God told them, “I've never quit loving you and never will.
    Expect love, love, and more love!"

God helps us and provides for us! 
He calls us friends! 
He loved us before, He loves us now and He'll love us forever! 

So those promises must mean that you're pretty special....that you have worth and value....that God sees you and believes in you. 

That my friends is the TRUTH.
And when we get that TRUTH deep down in our hearts then we can tune out the lies that steal from us. 

God's truth GIVES. 
It never TAKES. 

If that doesn't set you free then I don't know what will!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Abundant Life

-(noun) a large amount of something; plentiful; 
fullness to overflowing

My heart is full of hope 
and I want to share with you
That joy in life is not
Found in what..... but in WHO

I can have everything I want
And still be in desperate need
Of love so pure and true
And grace so light and free

Oh, nothing can compare
To the abundant life He gives
And all I have to do 
Is believe on Him that lives

For every day I need
to be reminded once again
That if it wasn't for His blood,
I'd be dead and buried in my sin

But the God of all things gracious,
full of mercy and of love,
Came and found me at my worst
And proves daily that He's enough

So to live this life in darkness
All covered up in shame
Is to believe the lie that says
"You're not worthy to be saved."

But when I listen to His voice,
the Truth drowns out the lies,
And my heart begins to see
with eyes wide-open to the Light

Then my pathway becomes straight
and my journey more serene,
as I cast my cares upon the Lord
and let Him take the lead.

Cause it's not about how far I get
or what I do along the way,
It's all about His love
And bringing glory to Jesus' name

When my vision becomes clear
And my focus is on the One
Then there's nothing I cannot do
No race I cannot run

So today I choose to look
beyond what my eyes can see
To a life of never-ending joy,
Overflowing with His peace

Yes, abundance is within me
It's all around me, front and back,
And I will not look away anymore
No, I will not live in lack

My inheritance is fulfillment  
My destiny is great
I will live this life on purpose
And choose each day to celebrate!

John 10:10-
"The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. 
I came that they may have and enjoy life, 
and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows)."