Friday, December 26, 2008

Being Blessed to Be a Blessing

As we come to the end of 2008 I would like to share a testimony of God's blessing.

My husband and I have been in ministry for over 25 years and have preached tithing and have seen the benefits of giving faithfully tithes and offerings. We have been attending a local church while my husband is finishing up his Doctorate in Virginia Beach.

Last December during the church's yearly building campaign I felt God impress on me to pledge for my real estate business (while Stan is working on his Doctorate I am bringing income in by selling real estate.) Now the real estate business is not the greatest right now, but right after I filled out my pledge I was invited to be part of our company's relocation team. In order to be on this team you have to complete a certain criteria. I had not reached that criteria and they asked me to be on the team under a mentoring program. I was with another company the previous year and had not had any sales and had only been with my present company for 6 months.

That was a blessing from the Lord. I began receiving clients through this relocation program. Over the past 12 months I have closed 10 transactions. I have faithfully given my tithe on every transaction, and have tried to keep up with my pledge. At the end of November we had extra income I put toward my pledge. I debated on whether to do it or not because of the cruise we were going on in two weeks. I told God I was giving this money toward my pledge and trusting Him to provide the rest of my pledge by the end of the year.

As soon as I put the money in the envelope I received a phone call from a woman, in California, I had been in contact with since April. They were suppose to come to Virginia Beach in October and wanted me to help them find a house. I had not heard from her in a couple of months. She called me, said they were in the area and had decided to rent, but they wanted to purchase the house and wanted me to represent them. We closed on the house on the Monday after I returned from the cruise. The money to fulfill my pledge came from that closing, along with money for Christmas for our kids.

The reason I am writing on giving is to encourage each of you reading this article to faithfully give your tithe, and trust God as you pledge above and beyond what you think you can give. If you give what you know you have, you are robbing yourself of being blessed by God. I would like to challenge you to get out of your comfort zone of giving and pledge to give God a certain amount this year to some ministry. An amount in which you have no idea where it will come from. I am not just speaking about financially. I am speaking more importantly about being blessed spiritually.

As you step out in faith, trusting God for the impossible, your faith is challenged and growth is inevitable. It is my opinion that Christians, for too long, have just trusted God for what they need to just "get by." That is wonderful! Think about this for a moment...what about trusting God to meet your needs and bless you with more than "just getting by" so you can be a blessing to someone in need?

It is so amazing and fulfilling to see what God can do with what you give Him to use. You may not be able to be actively involved in ministries like A21 Campaign or Project Rescue (both of these ministries help rescue girls and women from human trafficking) but you can help them by giving financially. This is just an example. There are many ministries in your individual churches that can be blessed by your giving.

"Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. But you ask, 'How do we rob you?' In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse - the whole nation of you - because you are robbing me. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this, says the Lord Almighty, and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it." Malachi 3:8-10 NIV

Ok the previous verse was Old Testament, so here's what the New Testament says,

"Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." Luke 6:38 NIV

Throughout the Book of Acts you will find examples of people giving to those in need.

If we are barely getting by how can we help those in need when we feel a tug in our spirit to do so? We need to carefully look at our lives, especially during this time in our nation and world. Economics is not all that great, but we serve a great God. Trust Him to meet your needs. Do what you can do to help your family. Give the tithe on what you are receiving. Trust God to bless you. Give a little extra when you don't think you can and see God bless.

Now you have to be careful to not just start giving in order to get for selfish reasons.

I believe the correct way to look at this is...give out of the goodness of your heart, knowing God will bless you, in order for you to be a blessing to others.

In other words...

Be Blessed to Be a Blessing.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

God is Amazing!

Since we have moved back to Virginia Beach we have been able to receive nursing care for our son Daniel. One of our nurses is from the Virgin Islands. I was talking to her about her family and where she grew up; and mentioned we had some good friends, Pastor James Bell and his wife, Ailene, as well as St. Claire Mitchell, that were from Dominica. She got so excited because Pastor Bell was her pastor as a child and her mom knew him well.

When she heard we were going to St. Thomas she was excited because that is where she went to high school and her mom is still there. While we were in St. Thomas I called her mom and she met us and took us to her church and introduced me to her pastor, Ashley Estrada. Her mom is very proud of what their congregation has been able to do. The congregation built their church and it is debt free. It is a beautiful church.

I am including pictures for you to see. They view is can see the ocean from the balcony of the church!

The old saying, "It is a small world," is so true. There have been many times we have run into people who know people that are friends of ours. God's family is so big and awesome. It is amazing.
It could be a glimpse of heaven.

I will be posting again soon...until then enjoy the pictures of Kingdom Life International Christian Center in St. Thomas.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Off to the Virgin Islands!

I just wanted to let everyone know I will be offline for about 9 days or so. Didn't want you to think I had forgotten to blog. Our family is off for a special vacation that God has blessed us with and I am going to devote my time to the fam. Hopefully I can convince my teenage daughters to devote their time and thoughts to the fam and not their friends...we'll see.

May God truly bless you as you live life this week and as Jeanne Mayo says, be "Jesus with sking on."

Signing off for now.


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Oh How He Loves Us

I am posting the video of "Oh How He Loves Us." This is the song I posted the lyrics to from Extravagent Love of God a few days ago. It is an awesome song...such passion...which we all need...ENJOY AND BE BLESSED!

Friday, December 5, 2008

God Gets the Last Word!

I am sitting in the hospital with my son, Daniel. He is the one who had meningitis at 15 months of age and left him totally dependent on others for his survival. Now, that is a story in itself, and one day I know God will restore Daniel. If Lazarus' dead brain cells can be recreated God can do that for Daniel's dead brain cells caused by disease.

Our family has been blessed to go on a nice vacation, starting next Friday. In all our years of ministry, every time we planned time away from our church something would happen to try to discourage us from taking it...when Stan was working on his Master's Degree and ordination Daniel was put in hospital with meningitis and not expected to live through the night. One year while on our way to Oklahoma the gas we filled our van with was mostly water. Someone we didn't even know paid for our hotel and the work done on our van. What an angel in disguise. Many times while away we would receive calls that someone in our congregation had passed away unexpectedly, or some other traumatic incident.

Now, while planning our big cruise excursion for next week, in addition to Stan trying to finish his assignments due today for his DMin, Daniel is once again in the hospital. He is happy and in no pain, but because he has a g-tube we noticed blood in his stomach. There is so much blood the endoscopy procedure could not see in his stomach. We have had to do 2 endoscopy procedures and are scheduled for a third Sat. morning.

Last night I was settling in to sleep on the chair in Daniel's hospital room and couldn't sleep until I turned the light on and wrote down what I felt God telling me. I wanted to share a portion of what He was saying to me, "The first 30 years of our ministry had a purpose (and He reminded me of those things), but the second 30 years of ministry IS GOING TO BE BETTER THAN THE FIRST (and he gave me a little insight to what that might be, but that is between me and Him right now.)" That inspired me and this came to mind,

"Satan has tried to thwart our calling and mission, but we are coming back with a vengeance, declaring war in the heavenlies and victory for the cause of the King and His Kingdom."

My whole point in even mentioning these things is to encourage each of you reading this blog. When you are doing what God has called you to and you have positioned yourself where He wants you, satan will try his best to keep you from succeeding. Some things will be obvious and some things not so obvious.

God gets the last word...

"Keep a cool head. Stay alert. The Devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you napping. Keep your guard up. You're not the only ones plunged into these hard times. It's the same with the Christians all over the world. So keep a firm grip on the faith. The suffering won't last forever. It won't be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in Christ - eternal and glorious plans they are! - will have you put together and on your feet for good. He gets the last word, yes, he does." 1 Peter 5:8-11 The Message

Keep moving forward, into all God has for you! He is right there with you all the way.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Extravagant Love of God

Eph. 3:14-19, “My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit – not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength – that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all Christians the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.”

What do these phrases mean to you?

• Glorious inner strength
• Extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love
• Reach out and experience the breadth
• Test its length
• Plumb the depths
• Rise to the heights
• Live full lives, full in the fullness of God

As I read these scriptures I was overwhelmed with how much God loves me. How much He loves you. It is not a surface love. It is a love that goes deep into our innermost being.

For some of us that might be hard to comprehend. For others we might have become accustomed to it and quite possibly might take this love for granted. I want us to honestly search our innermost being and try to grasp, just a little, of what Paul is trying to get us to understand. When we begin to grasp hold of this truth we will start developing the “glorious inner strength” Paul talks about.

The dimensions of Christ’s love spans every aspect of our lives: our self worth, our family relationships, our jobs, our leisure activities, our worship, our ministry, the list goes on, to whatever your life encompasses. Do we allow God to love us in every aspect of our lives, or do we only allow Him to love us in the areas we feel worthy for Him to love. Are we ashamed of some of the places of our lives? God wants to be a part of those places.

There is so much in these words! It can be overwhelming, especially if we do not understand fully who we are in Christ. There may be women, who are in ministry even, that have a low self worth. They may feel inadequate for what has been placed before them. There may be wives of pastors who have been beaten down with negative words from their congregations. These women are trying to do what God has called them to, but the congregations do not understand the precious gift God has given them in their pastors.

In the midst of all these circumstance God’s love is extravagant! I looked extravagant up on the Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary. Here is what it means: exceeding the limits of reason or necessity, lacking in balance, moderation, or restraint, extremely or excessively elaborate, spending much more than necessary, (and I love this next one) extremely or unreasonably high in price. Wow! What higher price than Christ’s life?

God sees us, just where we are right now, and loves us. We may be hurting. We may feel dirty and used. We may wonder how we got to the place we are in now. Everything in our life may be going well. That is so wonderful. In each of these areas God’s love is great. We need not forget that.

Several years ago I got to a place in my life and ministry where I felt God had abandoned me. I allowed circumstances that happened in our church and life crowd out God’s love for me. Because of the circumstances I felt as if God didn’t love me. How could He let things happen to me that did if He loved me? Why wasn’t He helping me through all this instead of having everything taken away? I was allowing negative thoughts like this to crowd out God’s love. He didn’t abandon me. I was not thinking right. At that point in my life I was exhausted, hurt, and discouraged and not allowing the Holy Spirit to speak to me. The negative was speaking louder than the positive and I was listening.

It took several months for me to recover from all that. God loves us enough to place people in our lives to restore and strengthen us just when we need it most. That’s his extravagant love. He will never let us go. When we are hurting and don’t quite feel His love, He is there. He will not abandon us. HE LOVES US AND WILL GET US THROUGH THE TOUGH SITUATIONS WE ARE GOING THROUGH.

Again read what Paul is saying, “take in with all Christians the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.”

Meditate on those words: breadth, plumb the depths, rise to the heights, live full. Wow. If we just grasp a little of what those words mean in our lives we would be awestruck. How magnificent is God. How amazing. Reach out to Him and allow Him to love you in your circumstances, at this point in your life. Close your eyes and imagine crawling up in His lap, allowing Him to speak into your life and strengthen your spirit.

The words to a song just popped into my mind…

He is jealous for me
Love's like a hurricane, I am a tree
Bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy
When all of a sudden, I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory
and I realize just how beautiful You are and how great your affections are for me.
Oh, how He loves us
Oh, how He loves us
Oh how He loves.

So we are His portion and He is our prize,
Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes
If grace is an ocean we're all sinking
So heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss and my heart turns violently inside of my chest
I don't have time to maintain these regrets when I think about the way

That he loves us,
Oh how He loves us
Oh how He loves us
Oh, how He loves

View song on Youtube

Monday, December 1, 2008

Just Being Thankful

I am so thankful for my heritage and being surrounded by people who speak into my life and my family's life. After doing some research on the human trafficking my heart aches for those women and girls who are not as fortunate. My husband and I couldn't believe that human trafficking is in existence today. It seems unreal, yet the statistics are there. If you haven't read the stats check the previous posts, you will be astonished.

I know Paul was writing to Believers in Phil. 1:3; but what if we read it and think of those less fortunate...those who are trapped in a lifestyle needing help to break free? My prayer is that I thank God for what I have, but keep an open heart for those less fortunate...keep a prayerful, glad heart, knowing I can make a difference in someone's life...someone who may be crying out in desperation, looking for the least little bit of hope that there is truly someone who cares.

Phil. 1:3, "Every time you cross my mind, I break out in exclamations of thanks to God. Each exclamation is a trigger to prayer. I find myself praying for you with a glad heart." The Message (bold emphasis mine)

Some of us may not be in a position to physically help someone like this, but can help by supporting causes that do make a difference. If you have a heart for this then there are two ministries you can help, just check previous posts.

In addition to this ask yourself what you can do to help women and children in your local area. It may not be as drastic as human trafficking, but there are women and children trapped in abuse, trapped in addictions, and trapped in dysfunctional homes. You can be a light to their world of darkness. In your prayer time ask God to reveal to you ways in which you can help those in desperate situations.

Often times we purchase gift cards, help the Angel Tree in our area, and various other things; but what about "getting our hands dirty?" Volunteer to help in a soup kitchen. Find out what ministries are available and offer our service once a month. It will change our life dramatically.

Ask God to bring women and children to mind who are being abused and say, "Thank you God for showing me a way in which I can help set them free." It is very easy to surround ourselves with the comforts of our home and church, but let's ask God to stir our spirits. Lift these women and children up in prayer. We may not know them personally, but God can give us burden to pray for their freedom.

We are here for a greater cause. Are we living up to that cause? There is so much we can do with God's power behind us. Sometimes it is hard to see all the potential God has for each of us, because we are insecure in our relationship with Him. That is not bad...but God has so much more. He loves you and wants to use you to do amazing things for Him. Open your heart and ask God to fill it to overflowing with His love and compassion.

I use to tell those in our youth ministry to let "your lives ooze Jesus." In other words be so filled with Jesus that Jesus is all others see when they see you. Jeanne Mayo says be "Jesus with skin on." Think about that this month and begin asking God how you can be filled with more of Jesus in 2009. What can you do to help other women and children be able to accept Jesus as their savior?

So...Yes, I am thankful for my heritage. Because of this heritage I understand that God has great things in store for each of us. We can...Live like:

- we love Him with all our heart
- we care about a kingdom cause
- Jesus is returning tomorrow

In other words let Jesus "ooze" out of you.